[draft] Christian Witness in Interstitial Zones: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives from Nazarene “Indian Work” in the Arizona Sun Megaregion | Presentation at the Wesleyan Theological Society, Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee
Demographers and urban planners have identified human populations over five million as megaregions. These densely populated “interconnected metropolitan areas” usually facilitate greater ease of transportation, commerce, education, and symbols of identity tied to shared space. (America2050.org). In north America, there are eleven such megaregions, one of which is the Arizona Sun megaregion. This geographic area follows the U.S. interstate highway system from Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson into Nogales crossing the border to Sonora state in Mexico continuing south on Mexican Federal Highway 15. The sharp national boundary cutting through this megaregion also transects what sociologists and anthropologists call interstitial zones, “places where two or more cultural contexts overlap and intersect, creating a new, generally ambiguous cultural context.” (Howell & Paris, 2011, 216).
A living example of intercultural blending within interstitial zones is found in the arid suburban expanse surrounding Phoenix in the Arizona Sun megaregion, particularly the city of Mesa. Situated here are three local Churches of the Nazarene (Mesa, Mesa First, and Lehi) within a four-mile radius between the Salt River in the north to Superstition Freeway to the south. It is not uncommon for churches of the same denomination to be situated in close proximity. What is unique about these churches is that they fall into three ethnically distinct administrative structures of Nazarene polity: Arizona District (Mesa First), Southwest Latin American District (Mesa), Southwest Native American District (Lehi). To be clear, a district is defined in the Nazarene Manual as “an entity made up of interdependent local churches organized to facilitate the mission of each local church through mutual support, the sharing of resources, and collaboration.” (paragraph 200). So, why are there ethnically divided administrative structures among Nazarenes within one interconnected metropolitan area? In what ways do these churches need differentiated means of mutual support, different avenues of shared resources, and different types of collaboration? How does this differentiated missional structure provide the impetus for mutuality, sharedness, and collaboration? Or, how might this structure impede the missional trajectory of the church in this geographic area? At what time and for what reason did this differentiation arise?
This paper attempts to respond to these questions by examining the nature of Christian witness, particularly that from the Wesleyan holiness tradition, characterized by integrated, holistic views of personhood, within the cultural complexities of interstitial zones. Brief comparisons will be made with Methodist work among the Wyandot and Shawnee in two earlier North American interstitial zones of the Northwest Territory (Ohio), the Kansas Territory, as well as in-depth examination of denominational correspondence regarding the Nazarene work among American Indians in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of California, and Arizona. Contemporary application will be considered in discerning Christian witness in “third spaces” (Castells, Power of Identity, 1997) in the borderlands of Arizona/Sonora/Baja.
Context for the Research
Since 2014, I have been studying megaregions particularly Nazarene presence within what may be defined as geographic expanses of economically, technologically, and politically interconnected population networks of more than ten million people. A good overview of the development of this definition by urban planners and demographers is found at America2050.org. Research into the Nazarene presence in the eleven megaregions of north America is accessible at my personal website professorprice.net. Megaregions are population centers with identifiable hubs and transportation corridors that move people and goods from home to work and back again. These population centers are reminiscent of the Roman provinces not known for hard boundaries but clusters of people with a similar history and culture within the larger imperial context. For contemporary purposes, a megaregion, also known as a megalopolis, will redefine the city. For instance, New York City is comprised of five uniquely identifiable boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Looking at the city as a megaregion, each major urban area within the city is a borough or neighborhood, and every metropolitan statistical area is a street, and every small town is a corner niche within the larger context. For instance, the Great Lakes Megaregion has several large neighborhoods such as Chicago and Toronto, smaller neighborhoods like Columbus and Indianapolis, main thoroughfare streets such as Gary and Youngstown, and smaller side streets such as Anderson and Mount Vernon. These communities are interconnected by economic sustainability, common watershed, commute shed (work to residence), university affiliations, and cultural emphases.
The study of megaregions is a study of “pockets of people,” see Neil Cole This is a reference to Luke chapter ten when Jesus sends out the disciples two by two “to every town and place” where the “harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Luke 10:1-2 NIV). The metaphor of the road as a place of ministry is common throughout the Gospels. Jesus and the disciples move through Galilee, Judea and the surrounding villages and towns following relational pathways into common meeting spaces, such at the common village well (John 4), on the hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee (John 6), and along the road side (John 9). The most poignant illustration of the road as a relational pathway of engaging others is when the resurrected Jesus encountered two disciples on the way to Emmaus and reveals himself as the promised Messiah over a table of broken bread in one of their homes (Luke 24). The disciples responded, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (verse 32). Jesus continues to send his people into population centers by the way of relational pathways.
The Search for Locality
Sometimes, these roads are not clear cut or have distinct origins or destinations. At best the roads lead into areas of cultural ambiguity and relational landmines. Manuel Castells, in a landmark exploration on networked societies, noted the importance of locality in the second volume of his trilogy:
“People identify themselves primarily with their locality. Territorial identity is a fundamental anchor of belonging that is not even lost in the rapid process of generalized urbanization we are now experiencing. The village is not left behind; it is transported with its communal ties. And new urban villages are constructed, shrinking the size of the human experience to a dimension that can be managed and defined by people feeling lost in the whirlwind of a destructed world. When people need to expand their community, they refer to their nations, their islands in the global ocean of flows of capital, technology, and communication. Sometimes these nations coincide with the historically constructed nation-state, but not always; and then we abet the process of affirming nations without states, as well as opposing the nation to the state.”
This could be considered an early attempt by Castell at expounding the fluid and distinct nature of a megregion. The locality offers the resources for the construction of identity. Castells further emphasizes the importance of locality along these lines:
“All identities are constructed. The real issue is how, from what, by whom, and for what. The construction of identities uses building materials from history, from geography, from biology, from productive and reproductive institutions, from collective memory and from personal fantasies, from power apparatuses and religious revelations. Both individual, social groups, and societies process all these materials, and rearrange their meaning, according to social determinations and cultural projects that are rooted in their social structure, and in their space/time framework.”
It is here that we begin to see the importance of how people gather into megaregions. They are not just contemporaneous and temporary gatherings. People as they gather are rooted in a history that is now shared in a world that is theirs but not theirs alone. It is here that unique anecdotes are not isolated but might only be understood within a greater whole. It is where geography becomes biography and nurtures within a people certain ideologies and even theologies. See Stephen Bevans, William Dyrness and Oscar Garcia-Johnson for more on the implications of theologia localis. The importance of place fills a defensive role, much like an anchor, in rapid cultural change and adaptation. Castells observed, “[L]ocal communities, constructed through collective action and preserved through collective memory, are specific sources of identities . . . [as] defensive reactions against the impositions of global disorder and uncontrollable, fast-paced change. They do build havens, but not heavens.” Locality becomes, then, a “haven” in the swirling chaos of cultural and demographic challenges. Future hope is appropriated for relief and release from present circumstances. This is especially true for contexts in which cultures blend through demographic shifts as it so happens in interstitial zones. In these places, the search for local identity may take generations.
As the megaregion research has progressed, stories have emerged from the statistics. The three Nazarene churches of Mesa, Arizona offer the best example of how difficult finding local identity might be. This case study has a larger context in time and space, in history and geography.
The three churches in Mesa is situated in the Arizona Sun Corridor megaregion. National and political boundaries, whether state or church, do not always coincide with the nebulous borders of a megaregion. What is Canada and the United States may not be as important to inhabitants, producers, and consumers of the Great Lakes megaregion as the ease in which one might travel to and from university, move goods across Lake Erie, or purchase Tim Horton’s coffee. The Arizona Sun megaregion is no different. The imposing scar of the U.S.-Mexican border does not reflect the symbiotic nature of this geographic area and its inhabitants. The stretch of Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales is the only interstate in the United States using kilometer markers rather than mile markers. When visiting a Starbucks along I-19, the author was the immigrant into a largely Hispanic and Spanish-speaking context. This megaregion traverses the high deserts of Arizona across the border into Mexico. It also includes parts of four Nazarene administrative districts: Arizona, Southwest Latin American, Southwest Native American, and Mexico Northwest. The population is projected to grow from 5.7 million in 2010 to 12.3 million in 2050, or 117.9% population expansion rate, numbering 6.7 million additional residents (America2050.org).
By 2017, the Church of the Nazarene had 89 active congregations on the four districts combined. One-third of these churches were started or organized since 2000. On the other hand, durability is one of the more striking qualities of the local churches in this area. In other megaregions, up to 70% of churches might close within twelve years, and it is true here as well, as 58% of churches closed within twelve years. What is unique is the trend toward durability of those that survive the twelve-year mark. In the Arizona Sun megaregion, average years of active ministry for a local congregation is 25 years! Broken down by ethnic group, there is long-term continuity of active ministry among local congregations: 23 years among Hispanic churches, 35 years among White/English speaking churches, and 50 years among Native American churches. In the midst of historical change, there is a constancy among the faithful presence of Nazarene adherents in this megaregion. Looking more closely at the history of this locale will show just how astounding this constant durability really is.
It is important to note that this is not a study on how each ethnic group is engaged by the Church but why the Church must engage the whole population with its varied cultures and subcultures. It is as important to note that the context of church history in western and southern Arizona is not just American history or Hispanic history or American Indian history. It is, in fact, a plait of interwoven and interdependent ethnic histories that become the Church’s story told under the desert sun.
Last year a Nazarene pastor in southern Arizona conveyed an anecdote that happened within the last ten years. During a Sunday morning worship service, the pastor prepared a Scripture reading in Spanish. As the Bible was read aloud in Spanish, ten congregants stood up and left the sanctuary that morning, and, eventually, left the congregation. In a more recent conversation in preparation for this paper, another Anglo Nazarene missional leader in Arizona emphasized some of the self-imposed barriers faced by the Church: “Absolutely, [there are] language and cultural barriers, but some [barriers] are suspicions of past wrongs done. It does not surprise us. Native Americans do not trust Anglos, and have long-standing suspicions. With Hispanic and Anglos, rivalry and tensions [are] there.” Furthermore, the demographics are continually changing, since there is a continuous movement into Arizona from the west, namely, the large metropolitan areas of southern California toward Phoenix, Tucson, and surrounding areas. The pastors noted two points of interest—one, the movement of people eastward and, secondly, the suspicions between primary ethnic groups. Both of these points will need to be explored further in providing historical context to these demographic circumstances.
The first source for beginning to understand the complex history of the Arizona Sun megaregion is the 2014 book Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a well-regarded scholar of Hispanic history in the Americas. He helped uncover one of the motivations to this research: the fixation on unity in the American collective mind. Why is it that Americans are so consumed with being united? “The very diversity of Americans’ origins helps to explain why Americans typically are so invested in symbols of unity,” wrote Fernandez-Armesto. He goes on to explain that pluralism is the only “common value” held by contemporary Americans. His work offers a good overview of the Jesuit incursion into Spanish-held territory in what is now the Sonoran desert undertaken by a succession of priests with the most notable being Father Eusebio Kino. The profoundly local and financially bountiful mission communities of indios were later dismantled by secularization processes under Mexican authority in the early 1800s and not discouraged after United States victory against Mexico in the 1840s. Fernandez-Armesto puts back on the table the scholarly program of the “borderlands school” initiated in the early 20th century by Herbert Eugene Bolton and continued by investigative journalist and advocate Carey McWilliams in order to understand the complexity of this region’s history.
Bolton initiated an intensive academic research program on the history of the border from Baja California to the Gulf of Mexico. As early as 1921, his work The Spanish Borderlands identified the colonial practice of encomienda as exploitative of native populations. In short, encomienda was royal decree from 1503 that “entrusted” local native populations to be converted, protected, and civilized by colonial governors in exchange for labor by the Spanish crown. According to Fernandez-Armesto, the conquest was less militaristic and more of a “negotiated process” of local people of acceding power and giving privilege to foreign overseeers due to the “stranger-effect,” which is described as, “The propensity some cultures have to receive the stranger with exceptional honor.” So, imperial settlers were readily received in openness and hospitality misunderstood and abused by the newcomers from the West. The longer the distance traveled gives the visitor a higher status due to the emphasis given to the mystery and allure of the “divine horizon” where heaven meets earth. In European sensibilities, this respect toward the stranger might be seen in seeking marriage between a royal king and a spouse from a foreign land. Paradoxically, Western hostility toward the unfamiliar might be attributed to the same phenomenon due to the fear and mystery of the unknown origins of the stranger. The Western suspicions of the stranger might last for centuries.
An exception to the rule of the stranger-effect is the Jesuit missionary priest Father Kino (1645-1711). Arriving in the Sonoran desert in his mid-forties and spending the next quarter-century working among the native populations from the Santa Cruz River (along present-day Interstate 19) passing near the Gila River to the Colorado River in what is present-day Arizona and into Baja California. He established 24 mission centers, large herds of cattle and extensive crops, and was one of the first European cartographers to explore the American Southwest. He reportedly spoke against the Spanish silver mines abusing local laborers, and sought to be an advocate against abusive imperial policies. The advance of the Jesuit cause in the American Southwest was not long lived.
Further explanation is found in the writings of Carey McWilliams, a journalist and advocate for the people living in the borderlands of the 1930s and 1940s. The lack of consolidation among Spanish outposts led to a disparate and unorganized settlements as well as displaced and angry native populations. There was no real organizational grid toward establishing long-term settlement after Kino until the arrival of the railroad and the arrival of Mexican immigrants and Indians into the high deserts between the Santa Cruz River and the Colorado River. This is one of McWilliams’ insights into the borderlands: “No effective liaison has ever existed between these groups [from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California]; their experiences have run parallel but have never merged. For the border was broken, the links were never forged.” Missionaries arrived with the consent of the imperial governors but did not always agree with imperial policy. Bolton added, “The missionaries were expected to convert, civilize, and control the Indians, without the old abuses of exploitation.” Once the missionaries left, or removed from their position of oversight, the early scaffolding of long-term settlement disappeared with them. This happened several times during the 18th and 19th centuries as Spanish, Mexico, and the United States wrestled for control of these lands.
The Gadsden Purchase of 1853 in which the Mexican government sold the northern Sonoran desert in the United States, about 30,000 square miles from New Mexico to California south of Phoenix. Eleven American Indian Tribal Lands are now located in the proximity of the land transferred in this exchange. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War later President of the Confederacy, was heavily involved in the negotiations for this land on behalf of the Pierce administration. Notably, after the Civil War, according to McWilliams, “the first Anglo-American settlers to arrive in Arizona were mostly from the states of the Confederacy . . . they lost little time in making Arizona ‘a white-buffer state’ between the Spanish-speaking people of New Mexico and those of Sonora.” This last statement reflected Fernandez-Armesto’s contention that the trajectory of American history is not a pre-destined westward expansion from Jamestown but rather an erratic and contentious northward expansion from the borderlands into the American west; hence, this notion is captured in McWilliams’ book entitled North from Mexico.
In the search for locality, the lands of southern Arizona/northern Sonora have belonged to Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Originally, the lands belonged to some of the people that still live there today – Tohono O’odam (Pima), Apache, Gila River Indians, Colorado River tribes, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Tribes, Yuma-Quechan, Mojave, Ak-Chin, Cocopah, Pascua-Yaqui, Yavapai-Apache and Zuni. The historical trajectory of the Church in Arizona and eastern California returns to the people of these lands when looking at mid-20th century Nazarene missionary presence in this place. The collusion between church and state has created a stasis along the borderlands that begs the question if missionary imperialism still exists there today as a common trait of missionary endeavors in the Wesleyan heritage.
Historical Analysis of Nazarene Presence in the Borderlands of Arizona
Historical analysis is necessary to understand the early Nazarene work among American Indians in the southwestern United States. In the Proceedings of the General Board, meeting minutes on January 11, 1941 record the adoption of a resolution “concerning the Indian work in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.” In short, the work would be supervised by the Home Missions Secretary, at the time C. Warren Jones, in terms of appointing workers, approving financial requests, and processing donations sent through the “Indian Fund.” A grant of $19,000 was established to begin the work (just over $330,000 in 2018 dollars). From the very beginning the interstitial zone of the American Southwest was treated much like a foreign mission field yet under the auspices of Home Missions directed from denominational headquarters not entirely through local supervision.
In the Nazarene Archives in Lenexa, Kansas, a rich supply of correspondence was found between the Home Missions Secretary C. Warren Jones and and four missionaries among American Indians, dating from 1941 to 1944 (listed below from the south to the north):
Ms. Ruth Halford among the Cocopahs in Somerton, Arizona
Mrs. Eastman (whom I believe was living near the Cocopahs as well]
Mr and Mrs T. P. Friday among the Yuma in Winterhaven, Arizona
Mr and Mrs C. B. Williams, among the Mojave in Parker, Arizona
Much of the correspondence consists of handwritten updates on the work to Rev. Jones as well as regular financial reports and requests. The tenor of the letters from Halford and Friday is striking. Both sets of letters are typed, showing the presence and use of technology on site. The letters written by Halford, working with the Cocopahs, seem to have numerous gaps in the news, stopping and returning to letter writing throughout the day, copy filling up the entire page into the margins, seemingly to conserve scant resources. Halford’s letters usually have numerous typographic errors and corrections and breathless accounts of a flurry of activity and constant building needs. The letters written by Mrs. Friday, working among the Yuma, are double-spaced, well-organized with key news updates on the work, a few financial needs mentioned, and some encouraging words about the work among the people. Jones seems to response positively and encouragingly to Friday, while seeming hesitant and apologetic to Halford. It is a fascinating contrast between the two sets of correspondences. Another observation is the sheer amount of correspondence that seems to pass over Jones’ desk. Not only is he responding to missionaries in their local context, and trying to understand their needs and responsibilities, but he is also trying to negotiate the organizational power structures involving district superintendents, general superintendents, and other lines of authority. There are themes that emerge from the letters as when read for key words in context.
Boxes of Blankets and Bibles
“Quite often our people here and there want to send a box to the Indians. As a rule, these boxes contain second hand clothing and comforts for their beds,” wrote C. Warren Jones to C. B. Williams. The response four days later from Williams is enlightening, and of course, much more than Jones probably had asked for:
“Now regarding the box situation and opportunity is a godsend . . . Just the other night I was called out to take an Indian man home from the hospital who had suffered a paralytic stroke. The Indian hospital allowed four blankets to go along requesting me to return them as soon as I came back. We carried the main out on the mattress laying him in the back of my pick-up truck and when I got him home found out we would either have to lay him on the floor and cover him up with the mattress so as to take the blankets back or leave the blankets. (which the latter we did) The next day we took a quilt off our bed and took it to the man, returning only two of the blankets. This we tell you so as to show you need of these comforts and now especially and through next month which are our coldest months.”
The box ministry was not always positive, even though the missionary managed to put a positive spin on the effort. This is from a letter from Mrs. T. P. Friday to C. Warren Jones from the same month, writing from Winterhaven, California:
“As to the used clothing sent to the Indians, we have been able to make use of everything. Most of the clothing sent here was gathered by sister Sanders and we went to Pasadena for it. However, some of the clothing goes to Needles, Calif. Now and I do not know how we shall get clothing from Pasadena since gas rationing [due to war efforts in the 1940s]. I am sure if we had depended alone upon the boxes that there would not have been enough to nearly meet the demand. My suggestion is that our people send good used clothing. We have received some worn out clothing that was not worth the postage that was used to send it. It does seems lately we have been getting better clothing. We hope it continues that way . . . I know the clothing, etc sent has been a great blessing to the Indians. Many of the women have taken a new interest in fixing up their homes since we came. I have given out used curtains, scarfs, etc. I went to a home not long ago. It was so cozy inside. And it was made so, or helped to be made so, by many things we had given the family. Curtains, table spreads, a used rugs, etc.”
It is notable that the boxes arrive from Pasadena. Compare this to another letter on March 20, 1943 concerning “several boxes containing quilts, in the past week, Ohio and Pennsylvania the contributors.” Another note in the Feb 6, 1943 correspondence from Williams pleads for Bibles made as a request to Swarth, the D.S. for the nascent work, and for Jones to intervene into a rejected request for Bibles made to the American Bible Society. Nazarenes were not a recognized church by the National Committee of the ABS. Jones and Swarth would sort it out for Bibles to be eventually sent. Notably, all material gifts arrive not from local churches surrounding the need in Arizona or eastern California but from as far away as the western coast of California as well as from Ohio and Pennslyvania.
It is also important to note that the missionary is impressed by the willingness of Indian women to decorate their homes and make them “so cozy inside.” The standard for improving the livelihood is set by the outsider in this case, and not so much by those already living there. The need for curtains and table spreads seem very much what a middle class family might expect as essential for making a house feel like home. Back to the March 20 letter from Williams, which also included news of the purchase of “an abandoned Colored Methodist Church” that needed windows replaced and painting so that “we will have a very comfortable church home for our Mojave Indians in Needles.” There is a willingness to work alongside local people but progress in working with the cultural Other is measured by how much They begin to resemble Us. This is not unique to these missionaries but, even still, interesting to note.
Knowing One’s Place
Williams suggested the need to transition to local leadership in a type-written letter to Jones on April 7, 1943. The local mission at Parker would soon be turned into a “regular mission” and assigned a pastor. The previous February 2, Williams mentioned Mojave Chief Kearney Miller, who is also mentioned in correspondence from Mrs. T. P. Friday in her February 18 letter to Jones. Miller served as tribal judge and local magistraste as well as local Sunday School superintendet. Friday wrote, “So Mr Miller helps his people in more ways than one. Wish we had some leaders among the Yumas who were as spiritual as Mr. Miller.” The missionaries have already identified a potential leader in Kearney Miller. According to a report written on March 20, 1943, Miller helped organize a Mojave Camp Meeting inviting Dr. Wiley from Pasadena Nazarene College to preach. Plans were in process for Miller and Williams to make an evangelistic trip in April to Globe, Arizona and then to the Maricopa, Papagoes, Pimas, Cocopahs, and Yumas. “This will give us an idea as to openings for other Nazarene Missions among other tribes of Indians.” Miller seems to be at the center of this effort.
Jones’ reply on April 24, 1943 is instructive: “I note what you say about a permanent pastor. Do you have anyone in mind to take the work? We do not want anyone to go there without the consent of both Dr. Sanner and Rev. Swarth. Your work is on both districts.” The jurisdiction is muddled, and lines of authority was being sorted out even as the work is already taking place. Contextual awareness is trumped by organizational clarity. This real struggle shows the historical roots for today’s overlapping jurisdictions for ethnic work in the American southwest.
Alikeness as Christlikeness
The similarities cannot be overlooked between Nazarene work among American Indian populations in Arizona and eastern California and earlier Methodist work among the Wyandot and Shawnee in the Northwest Territory (later Ohio) with John Stewart as the initial unlicensed and self-appointed preacher among these tribes. The Shawnee and Wyandot were relocated to the Kansas Territory in the 1820s. It was then that Thomas Johnson was sent to establish a mission among the Shawnee. Both of these missionary endeavors happened in the interstitial zones, and these works might inform later Nazarene work in the Southwest as in the present-day Arizona Sun megaregion.
Brief mention (okay, one page) is made of Stewart’s ministry among the Wyandot in Ohio and nothing of import of the Methodist work in Kansas by David Hempton in his work Methodism: Empire of the Spirit. There is much more to be found in local county archives and amateur histories, including Thelma B. Marsh’s Moccasin Trails to the Cross: A history of mission to the Wyandott Indians on the Sandusky plains published by the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio in 1974 as well as locally published work on the Shawnee Indian Mission by the Johnson County Center for Local History from a conference held in 1984. After a cursory exploration of these local materials, the message of Christlikeness by early Christian workers seemed to have been replaced by a message of “alikeness”: become like us to become like Christ. One wonders if the message of moral purity was not just a massaged revision of cultural, racial, linguistic, and economic segregation. One needs to ask the hard question: Where else might this be happening today?
Carey McWilliams cited the preface to an early history of Los Angeles, California. One of the co-authors, a doctor and early settler in Campo Santo, as the area around Los Angeles was originally known, wrote the following:
“’The Hispanic minority cannot be regarded as merely another immigrant group in the United States destined for ultimate absorption...While Spanish cultural influences have retreated in portions of the Southwest, they have never been eclipsed. Whether they will or not . . . their future [that is, the future of Anglos and Hispanos] is one and together, and I think neither type of race will destroy the other. They will merge.’” 
And, so it was written by J. P. Widney, doctor, amateur historian, and original founding member of the Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles.
This research is truly still a work in progress, and one century and one paper is not long enough to sort out the complexities of the work behind us and before us. The original research questions arising from the original case study of three churches in Mesa, Arizona remain on the table with this unsatisfactory attempt at a response. There is historical precedence for missionary endeavors into cultural interstitial zones. This history continually needs to inform the work of the Church along the borderlands of the American Southwest as well as among indigenous people of the Sahel in western Africa and the refugee camps in southeastern Europe and eastern Africa.
The Church cannot make same old mistakes in brand new places.
“The solidarity of creative love heals the wounds of a segregated society.”
Juergen Moltmann @moltmannjuergen
8:08 p.m. 05 Mar 18
 Delgado, Elizabeth et al. Methods for Planning the Great Lakes Megaregion. Urban and Regional Planning Program. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 2006. Accessed March 2018: http://www.america2050.org/pdf/GLMegaRegion_MethodsManualFinal.pdf
 Megaregions Research – U.S./Canada. ProfessorPrice.net. Accessed March 2018: https://www.professorprice.net/uscanadamegaregions.html
 Organic Church. (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2005)
 Manuel Castells, The Power of Identity. Second edition. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), xxiii-xxiv. The other two volumes are part 1: The Rise of Network Society (1996) and part 3: End of the Millennium (1998) under the banner title of The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. All three were originally published in the late 1990s followed by second editions in the early 2000s. The whole trilogy was published again as second edition with an updated preface in each volume in 2010.
 Ibid., 7.
 Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology. Revised and Expanded edition. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013). Castellls’ notion of locality is given theological wrapping and a more focused theological engagement with important concepts such as hybridity and third spaces in a recent monograph by William Dyrness and Oscar Garcia-Johnson, Theology Without Borders: An Introduction into Global Conversations. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015).
 Castells, volume 2, 2010, 70.
 Castells, volume 2, 2010, 68.
 The following research is from the author’s website: Openings and Closings | Nazarene Presence in the Arizona Sun Megaregion (1917-2017). Accessed March 7, 2018: https://www.professorprice.net/blog/openings-and-closings-nazarene-presence-in-the-arizona-sun-megaregion-1917-2017
 Personal conversation with the author. October 17, 2017.
 Bolton, Herbert Eugene. The Spanish Bordlerlands: a chronicle of old Florida and the Southwest. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921), p. 190; Fernandez-Armesto, p. 8.
 Fernandez-Armesto, p. 9, 13.
 A succinct and well-researched overview of Kino’s life is found in Bolton, 1921, 193-201.
 Carey McWilliams, North from Mexico: the Spanish-speaking people of the United States. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1948), p. 81.
 Bolton, 1921, 190-191.
 Ibid., 83.
 Minutes from Morning Meeting No. 4: C.E. Hardy, C.E. Thomson, E.O. Chalfant, S.N. Fitkin, and Samuel Young. Proceedings of the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene. 1941-1944, pp. 70-71. Nazarene Archives.
 Halford to Jones. Indian Work Correspondence. File 211-21.
 Dandrews to Nease; Jones to Nease. Indian Work Correspondence. Nazarene Archives. File 211-22. This correspondence is not from Eastman about rather about Eastman.
 Friday to Jones. Indian Work Correspondence. Nazarene Archives. File 211-20.
 Williams to Jones. Indian Work Correspondence. Nazarene Archives. File 211-23.
 Jones to Williams, Feb 2, 1943. Kansas City, Missouri. Followed by a reply from Williams to Jones, Feb 6, 1943. Parker, Arizona. Nazarene Archives. File 211-23.
 Friday to Jones. February 18, 1943. Winterhaven, California. Nazarene Archives. File 211-20.
 David Hempton, Methodist: Empire of the Spirit. (New Have: Yale University Press, 2005), 155.
 McWilliams, 1968, 290.
"It seems as if it is almost certain . . ."
It's how Russell Fuller, a PhD from Hebrew Union College, started his first sentence in trying to defend his belief in a literal six 24-hour day creation account from the Book of Genesis.
It was from one of the videos playing at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. I made a quick visit there on my way back from a deputation service in Tennessee back in June 2010.
As they say, there was an attempt . . . or should I say, "It seems as if there was almost an attempt . . ."
Here's another response to a student from the first on-line Christian Beliefs course from June 2010. The question was about whether it is okay to just accept what has been traditional taught and believed. Here is my response:
About your question of whether we should then question all the beliefs we have always known and accepted as true. I'm not sure we need to go back and look at all of our family's or church's beliefs and question them without a good reason to do so. On the other hand, as questions arise, especially as we interact with people from other Christian traditions or other belief systems, we should not just accept them (or our positions) hands down, but learn to listen carefully, ask questions, not get too quickly scared of uncertainty, and not settle for easy answers. God will be faithful and walk with us as we learn more about Him (and what we believe or need to believe about Him.
I'm cleaning out the email this weekend as the new semester approaches.
Here is a response I sent to one of my students in the first on-line Christian Beliefs courses taught at MVNU. This was back in July 2010. I believe it was a question about the Nazarene teaching on two works of grace. As follows:
There are two ways to look at the Christian life:
1) I'll sin everyday but I'm forgiven and will go to heaven anyway (a little on the pessimistic side)
2) I'm a Christian--a child of God--I don't have to sin, but how? (on the optimistic side, but still searching for a better way)
The question of sanctification responds to the second question. As a believer, we don't have to sin, but sometimes we do bad stuff. I have yet to meet a new Christian that didn't struggle with the question "So, why do I keep screwing up even after I become a Christian?"
I think the second work of grace brings about the possibility of the purity of intention as a sort of doorway, a moment where God's grace enters our lives in such a way that we can believe and obey--that we really don't have to sin any more. I can make better choices [because I am aware that they are even a possibility whereas before I had neither real knowledge nor desire to do good]. Instead of relying on myself, I trust wholly in God to give me the power and ability to do what He asks. We have more growing to do, and sometimes, we might screw up again, but we are committed with our whole lives, not just our hearts, to "walking with the Spirit."
Sure, we might stumble, but not intentionally, and we might even really screw up, but we understand the burden of our responsibility to God--the need for forgiving and receiving grace, allowing God to lift us back up.
We also know what it means to live in a way that draws others toward God.
I think the first work of grace allows us to see God for Who He is, and the second work of grace allows us to see ourselves as God sees us.
Occasionally, I get questions about a variety of issues not only from students but from colleagues inside and outside my denomination. Here is an inquiry from a pastor friend that will remain anonymous. I will add that this pastor serves in a geographic area that is still considered largely Christian and fairly strong in terms of Nazarene presence. Even still, there is always a challenge when church folks forget who they are.
Because of your takes on other aspects of our tribe and constant cultural engagement/study, I thought maybe you could help or point me in the right direction.
We contribute as a mission giving church through the World Evangelism Fund (WEF). It’s not a tax or tithe imposed on each church but it is a way of showing tangible connection to other churches. There was a time when our local church needed help getting started, and every local church provide for others to get up and running through WEF funds.
Connectionalism is the term used to describe the kind of church we became and is derived from our Methodist heritage. Nazarenes are not just independent churches vaguely connected by name or theological tradition. Many of the early Nazarene congregations were Congregationalist, and so we retained a sense of local church freedom to participate without making it a requirement. There some early Nazarene churches that came from an Episcopal system in which a bishop could tell pastors and thus churches how much they were to contribute and excise offerings from local churches.
The Church of the Nazarene is a Connectional church, that is one that is directly connected to every other Nazarene church. We are a global family. The Board of General Superintendents emphasized this point at the last General Assembly. We are a Christian, Holiness, MIssional, and connectional church. We are not left to our own devices (solely independent) or imposed upon by an outside hierarchy (solely dependence). We choose to be a church that is interdependent and interconnected, much like a family.
Think of paying to the World Evangelism Fund as a family plan for cell phones. One plan covers all of us, but we all contribute to it once we have matured. Not all brand new churches and new districts are expected to contribute until they have matured spiritually and organized itself well. Soon they will mature and they will contribute toward the propagation of the Church next door and worldwide.
In Benin-Togo, I worked with a budget of $1500 per month that helped me work with a district in which we started with 19 churches and ended up with 250 in four years. Our budget from WEF never increased but God provided in other ways, and the local church learned to support its growth. God gave us what we needed to start through the generosity of a global church family. Within another few years, this district grew to over 1000 churches, divided into five districts. The original district has sent multiple missionaries to other parts of west Africa and its churches pay into WEF just as churches that helped them when it was young. Today these churches now help other churches and districts around the world.
I used to tell village leaders as we sought permission to start a church in their village that the local church would not one that is planted by an outside missionary or a “big man” pastor. It is a church that is connected to a global family. When a Church of the Nazarene is started in a new place, it is connected to every other Nazarene church in the world. Every church would pray for and give to all of the other ones. I remember one time, the chief and the elders applauded and hooted when we said these words: "We are a global family, and your village will now be a part of it." I’ll never forget it.
The resurrected Jesus promised, "Remember, I am with you always, even until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20 NRSV). We promise by our presence as a local church--the Body of Christ locally expressed-- that we will never be alone and always be remembered by every local church in our global family.
The Rebel Force Radio podcast has produced ten hours of commentary and reaction to the film. It really shows the extremes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction regarding the film.
(Click on each one to go to the episode page.)
In light of some of the extreme distress in the fandom, I want to leave you with one of the best moments from The Last Jedi--Yoda's conversation with Luke on Ahch To.
For all of you that think the canon is being betrayed by J.J., Rian and their ilk, here is a short 30 minute podcast Imaginary Worlds episode on The Canon Revisited. The host Eric Molinsky invites Ben Newman, a rabbi friend, to discuss the expansion of the SW canon. It is sweet to hear them talk about biblical hermeneutics and midrashim in light of the Star Wars Universe (link below).
I've always thought there have been religious elements to Star Wars fandom. In the absence of actual religion, people will try to find meaning somewhere else.
For me, Star Wars is not my religion. I don't need it to define my life. I don't take the films or the Star Wars universe so seriously. I don't need to. I enjoy it, but that's all.
I have seen the film three times: opening night, once the next week, and again last night.
First of all, nothing brings out the kid in me like the opening crawl and blaring anthem at the beginning of a film in the Star Wars saga. I still watch these films as that kid. It's a swashbuckling Saturday matinee epic adventure for a 21st century audience.
I love it . . . but it's not my religion. I had to learn early on to stop taking it so seriously, man.
My first viewing, however, left me ambivalent. I loved some things, and I didn't care for some other things. First things first.
What I loved after the first viewing . . .
A great listen for those that loved the film, go to Rebel Force Radio page and listen to their reactions about one hour after seeing the film on opening night (link below):
Every time I teach Gospel and Culture, I'm amazed at the range and scope of the topics chosen by students for the Critical Contextualization Project. They choose a belief, practice or symbol from a religion or cultural group and followed Paul Hiebert's four-step process of critical contextualization (Understanding Folk Religiions (2000): 21-29). They presented this week briefly in class and wrote a 3,000 word research paper using an adapted form of Hiebert's process:
Phenomenological Analysis (what in the world is it),
Ontological Critique (compare and contrast with other cultures and religions),
Theological Evaluation (what the Bible and theological sources have to say about it if anything),
Missiological Transformation (how to respond with the Gospel if encountered in mission and ministry).
Here are the topics my 33 students covered this year:
Here is a list of books I use as required reading regularly in my courses at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Merry Christmas!
There are 27 books representing eleven courses. There are 32 authors. Only four are women. Five are non-white or persons of color.
I might be doing some curriculum revision so I wanted to see all at once what my required reading list looks like.