A Brief History of the
Wesleyan Holiness Consortium
1. The concept was birthed in late 2002, at a breakfast meeting with Kevin Mannoia, Don Dayton and David Bundy who, in the course of conversation lamented the lack of recognition in current discussions of the influence of the Holiness message on the global Church over the past century. They discussed the idea of an event for scholars to meet and discuss this history by means of papers and dialogue. Mannoia subsequently decided to probe the idea further however determined that two significant factors must be established:
a. That any event should be endorsed and sponsored by church leaders to ensure that it was a church project thereby securing its relevancy and mitigating separation between the church and academy;
b. That it must be a series of events focused on the future mission of the Church.
2. Over the course of the following 12 months of dialogue between Mannoia and various denominational heads, plans were laid for the first of a series of three annual events under the title “Wesleyan Holiness Study Project.” Mannoia requested the denominational leaders who captured the vision to commit to three things:
a. To seek approval from the top level of their denomination for participation;
b. To send $3000 each year for three years to cover expenses;
c. To name three scholar/leaders from their denomination to participate yearly.
3. On May 10-11, 2004, the Inaugural meeting of the WHSP was held on the campus of Azusa Pacific University with representatives from: Nazarene, Free Methodist, Brethren in Christ, Missionary, Salvation Army, Evangelical Friends, Church of God. America’s Christian Credit Union also committed to creative support of the effort as part of their mission. The most visible commitment from the Credit Union came in the form of Fawn Imboden, a staff member assigned to support the work of the fledgling Study Project. She has continued each year with the support of the Credit Union president, Mendell Thompson, to support the work of the Consortium with creativity and passion. This represents perhaps the single most important contribution to the effort. Likewise Azusa Pacific University has played a valuable part in support of the WHC by celebrating and encouraging Mannoia's leadership.
4. Recognizing that a truly Wesleyan and Holiness emphasis always finds expression in practical ministry Mannoia began networking with the regional leaders (Superintendents, District Superintendents, Divisional Commanders, etc.) to consider how the Study Project might bring the influence of its reflective thought to local pastors. In the summer of 2004, Regional Leaders in Southern California from these denominations met to create the Regional Leaders Network and to plan the first Holiness Pastors’ Day. The first event was held in conjunction with the next WHSP event in 2005. This gave practical expression to the thinking of the WHSP in the pastoral work of local churches.
5. Study Project scholars made clear the need to include in the conversation those from a Pentecostal tradition in order to truly represent the completeness of the Holiness movement. Throughout the year Mannoia engaged this subject with some of the national leaders with the result that the effort was expanded to include churches in the Pentecostal tradition with Holiness roots. This included Foursquare, International Pentecostal Holiness, Shield of Faith, Church of God in Christ. Since that time we others were also invited including the Church of God Cleveland, C&MA and others. Plans also include inviting representatives of the UMC sympathetic to this purpose.
6. On May 2-3, 2005, the second meeting of the WHSP occurred followed immediately on May 4 by the first Holiness Pastors’ Day in southern California. Regional Leaders bore the entire expense of the day for their pastoral teams. Resource persons included Rev. Jack Hayford, Bishop George McKinney along with WHSP leaders. Representatives of the Pentecostal tradition were involved in both possibly marking for the first time in a century a re-uniting of elements of the black and white Holiness movement, as well as elements of the Pentecostal and Revivalist groups – all with a common focus on Holiness in the Wesleyan tradition. (Appendix 2 & 3)
8. On February 6-7, 2006 the third meeting of the WHSP was held, followed by the second Holiness Pastors’ Day on February 8. Resource persons for the Pastors’ Day included George Barna, Robert Schuller along with WHSP leaders. (Appendix 4 & 5)
9. On August 10, 2006, approximately 35 young leaders (under 30 years of age), named by their district leader in Southern California, met at ACCU for a day to capture relevant insights for the future, and to generate ideas for the coming Pastors’ Day. Regional Leaders attended with their young leaders. (Appendix 6)
10. Since the original commitment to the Study Project was nearing an end, on September 15, 2006, Mannoia convened the heads of 8 of the participating denominations in Dallas to consider the outcomes of the WHSP as well as any possible future that would be desired. At that meeting, the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium was created in order to facilitate:
- Ongoing theological dialogue among groups with common heritage and message;
- Events that would gather young leaders and other groups around Holiness;
- Multiplication of regional networks and pastors’ days centering on Holiness.
Subsequently, the WHC was adjusted to have a Steering Committee to which churches would give involvement and support rather than an organization to which they would belong. The WHC would give itself to guiding efforts and projects focused on:
- Holiness in the 21st Century for pastors,
- Unity within and among the participating churches,
- A Holiness voice to the broader Church,
- The importance of Holiness in the future mission of the Church.
11. On December 11, 2006, Mannoia convened Regional Leaders in Indianapolis for lunch to discuss the possibility of a Holiness Pastors’ Day. A decision was made to plan it and a subsequent meeting in February considered the program and emphasis.
12. Because there were still funds available and sufficient work to complete the denominational heads supported a fourth WHSP meeting. This was scheduled on March 26-27, 2007 followed by the Holiness Pastors’ Day on March 28. Resource persons for that day were Fr. Al Baca, the ecumenical officer for the Catholic Diocese of Orange, CA, a panel of young leaders along with WHSP leaders. (Appendix 7 & 8)
13. Outcomes of the Study Project are too numerous to list, a few specific ones were intended and are worthy of mention:
a. Fellowship and camaraderie among church leaders and scholar/leaders of multiple denominations with a common heritage and commitment to Holiness for the 21st Century;
b. THE HOLINESS MANIFESTO – a two-page document representing the consensus of the 38 Scholar/Leaders that was used at the Holiness Pastors’ Days repeatedly as well as with multiple denominations for pastoral training and vision casting; (Appendix 10)
c. FRESH EYES ON HOLINESS – a two-page document created by the 38 Scholar/Leaders to help local pastors consider the major issues that must be engaged as they look to the future in leading their congregations in deeper embodiment of the Holiness message. (Appendix 11)
d. Two Regional Networks of denominational overseers – Southern California and Indiana;
e. Young Leaders’ Hangout concept;
f. Manuscript for a book “The Holiness Manifesto” later published by Eerdmans; (Appendix 12)
g. Formation of the WH Consortium as a means to coordinate and oversee future events, publications, and networks in order to raise the awareness and relevancy of Holiness in the 21st Century, and to provide a Holiness voice to the broader Church;
h. A strong relationship between the WHC and ACCU primarily as Fawn Imboden continued to be present at and provide administrative support for every step along the way.
Greater awareness of the Holiness message and increased profile of the Holiness churches in the evangelical movement, the ecumenical movement, and the world church.
14. The first meeting of the newly formed Steering Committee met on December 7, 2007 on the campus of Life Pacific College, a Foursquare college, to discuss next steps and to shape the future of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium. The Steering Committee consists of the former WHSP Steering Committee plus representatives from participating denominations designated by their highest officers. Members at the first meeting were:
Bernie Van de Walle
Free Methodist Church of North America
15. The first Holiness Pastors’ Day in Indiana was held on September 18, 2007 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel with over 250 pastors attending. Resource persons included Eric Simpson as well as WHC leaders. (Appendix 9)
16. After numerous conversations between Kevin Mannoia and Bill Eerdmans at meetings where both were participating, Eerdmans decided he would very much like to publish an edited book entitled The Holiness Manifesto. Mannoia asked Don Thorsen to help edit the papers from the WHSP. Eerdmans eliminated a lot of red tape at the publishers in order to have the book out by the Wesleyan Theological Society/Society for Pentecostal Studies in March of 2008. Since then the book has sold well at Pastors’ Days and other events. Denominational leaders are using it for their pastors. It can be found in Eerdmans catalog or on the Consortium website www.HolinessAndUnity.org or Amazon.com.
17. In August of 2008 Mannoia conducted a first exploratory meeting of Regional Leaders in the NYC/NJ/Eastern PA area was held on the Campus of Somerset Christian College – of the Pillar of Fire. It is an appropriate setting given the history of the Pillar of Fire and the influence of Alma White on the Holiness history. The Regional Leaders expressed desire to create a new Regional Network to plan Holiness Pastors’ Days but felt more should be present. On November 20 a second meeting was held at the same place and general consensus was to begin the process of creating a Regional Network and planning a Holiness Pastors’ Day for late April or early May, 2009. The event and Regional Network stalled and plans to revive the idea again began in the Spring of 2010
18. As of December 2008 four Holiness Pastors’ Days have been held in Southern California and two have been held in Indiana. Primary speakers include:
a. George McKinney
b. Jack Hayford
c. George Barna
d. Robert Schuller
e. Al Baca
f. Jim Cymbala
g. Kevin Mannoia
h. JoAnne Lyon
i. Eric Simpson
19. In the months leading up to the Steering Committee meeting in November of 2008, Mannoia discovered a new initiative primarily among Nazarene local leaders convening events at local settings and planned by local leaders. These Holiness Summits were intended to provide preaching and inspiration centered on Holiness for local people and area pastors. Although originally intended to be multi denominational, the events to that point were primarily among Nazarene people. Upon discussion with Dan Schafer and Louis Bustle who were helping as catalysts for these initiatives, Mannoia determined that the WHC was the perfect group to provide the interdenominational validation and networking. At the November 14 Steering Committee it was agreed to bring the Holiness Summits into the WHC representing the third focus of the WHC – a) Academic Reflection; b) Pastoral Resourcing and Networking; and with the Summits, c)Preaching and Inspiration.
20. During a speaking engagement with Wesleyan denominational leaders at their annual weekend gathering in Indianapolis, Mannoia proposed a new initiative to gather the presidents of Universities and Colleges within the denominations of the Consortium. Strong support from the denominational leaders compelled him to proceed in planning the first Presidents Meeting in January of 2009 in conjunction with the Council on Christian Colleges and Universities meeting in Washington D.C. 16 presidents attended and urged further meetings. The second such meeting is scheduled for February 2010 in Atlanta, also in conjunction with the CCCU Forum. 28 presidents are planning to attend. CCCU president, Paul Corts, was a great help in cooperating with plans in coordination with his board schedule.
21. A third Regional Network was formed in the wake of a luncheon meeting planned by Mannoia among 8 regional leaders. David Shrout, Executive Director of the Church of God in Oregon agreed to serve as local coordinator and plans for the first Pastors' Day have been laid for May 4, 2010. Likewise, each of the other Regional Networks has identified a local Coordinator thereby shifting primary initiative and guidance from Mannoia and Imboden to the regional leaders. Jerry Ferguson, District Superintendent of the LA district of the Nazarenes leads the Southern California Network; Richard Amick, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army Division in Indiana leads that Network.
History Addendum -
22. In the years since 2010, the WHC expanded at a rapid rate. Upon traveling to Brazil for other ministry, Mannoia made contact with Free Methodist Bishop Ildo Mello requesting that he convene a few of the denominational leaders in Sao Paulo. As the invitations began to go out, a number of Methodist leaders from Rio de Janeiro began responding and Clovis Paradela, then president of Bennett University in Rio, asked if it would be possible for Mannoia to stop in Rio since there were so many there who wished to consider forming a Network. This would save them the travel to the Sao Paulo event. Plans were made to visit both Rio and Sao Paulo and upon arrival in Rio at the Methodist Church of Cascadura, Mannoia and his wife encountered a gathering of 350 pastors from various denominations. This marked the very first time many of these denominations and their leaders had met one another, much less conducted an event together. Subsequently the meeting in Sao Paulo convened by Mello gathered 17 denominational leaders there who went on to create the first Regional Network in Brazil. Ildo Mello agreed to serve as a national coordinator and subsequent Networks were begun in Rio with Clovis Paradela serving as Coordinator, as well as Brasilia, with Methodist Superintendent Misael Lemos serving as Coordinator there. Recently the Brasilia Regional Network of the “Fraternidade Wesleyana de Santidade” has initiated work in the state of Amazonas for a new Regional Network there. Within 12 months of the first meetings in Brazil, the WHC leaders planned and held a large gathering at the stadium in Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo. The event also commemorated Wesley’s heart-warming experience and all denominational leaders were present along with an estimated 10,000 pastors and lay persons. Since those formative days, the WHC in Brazil has continued to meet in its various networks with leadership training events and large gatherings of pastors.
23. In the early part of 2011, Mannoia proposed to the Steering Committee the formation of a publishing arm as a means to “fuel the movement” with fresh writing on holiness themes for the 21st Century. Also this would provide an opportunity for new and young writers to voice the creative thoughts and new insights which may not easily be published by traditional publishers. After consulting and working with George Barna, Mannoia and Barna each published a new release collaboratively between Metaformation and the WHC as a means to experiment in the realm of publishing. Barna’s Maximum Faith and Mannoia’s Masterful Living were both released and found fairly strong reception among the WHC constituency. Fueled by this success, the Board of the WHC formed a new Publications Team to manage and guide the formation of Aldersgate Press. Barry Callen agreed to serve as Editor of the new publishing initiative as well as Chair of the Publications Team. Others on the Pub Team included Don Thorsen, Aly Hawkins, Marlene Chase and the WHC Chair, Kevin Mannoia, who also served as Publisher. So as not to create a traditional publishing entity, the Team approved a plan that included an Operational Partner for the printing functions as well as distributed editorial reviewers. The three-step editorial process together with the Operational Partner began publishing and released the first book Heart & Life by Callen & Thorsen in the fall of 2012. Since that time, Aldersgate Press published approximately 4 books each year including those of first time authors. In each case, the Administrative Coordinator, Fawn Imboden, is able to provide books to be distributed through gatherings of the WHC and other means.
24. Under the leadership of Carla Sunberg as president of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy, conversations were initiated to frame the relationship between the WHWC and the WHC. The WHWC actually pre-dated the WHC and for many years served as the singular voice of holiness in the U.S. and world. However, the board of the WHWC was expressing a desire to align with a broader group so as not to be perceived as principally a feminist clergy group. With the formation and growth of the WHC, this became possible. The primary agenda of the WHWC was the message of holiness and in the heritage of each church, women in ministry at every level of the church was a vital principal that was being undermined by more vocal reformed publishers, groups, churches, and movements. The result of over a year of conversations culminated when Mannoia traveled to Denver to meet with the Board of the WHWC and the concept of positioning the WHWC as an Affinity Group of the WHC was formed. The WHWC continues to have autonomous structure but by so placing itself under the umbrella of the WHC as an Affinity Group, the clear signal is sent that the priority is on the holiness message. Further, in this action, Mannoia proposed to the Steering Committee and Board of the WHC that the bylaws of the WHC be altered so as to include on the WHC Steering Committee all persons who also serve on the board of the WHWC. The rationale for this is that while they do not serve as a block on the Steering Committee, the automatic inclusion of those individuals ensures that the WHC Steering Committee will always have a strong presence of women. This effectively declares by composition that the issue of women in ministry leadership is not a matter on which the WHC equivocates.
25. In March of 2013, in response to the growing need to address the plague of Human Trafficking and Slavery in a cooperative and cohesive way, Mannoia invited various persons from WHC denominations to an informal meeting at the “Come to the Water Conference” of the WHWC in Estes Park, CO. 18 met for over an hour and the consensus was that such a collaborative effort was essential at this time among Wesleyan Holiness groups as this was a fundamental principle on which each church was formed. In September of that same year, on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, the forming meeting of the WHC Freedom Network was held. At that time, Mannoia challenged the 20 plus participants to draft a guiding document and to initiate actions including the Freedom Sunday observance that the Free Methodists had already conducted. Kate Wallace was identified as the Coordinator of this newest Affinity Group within the WHC and the group responded by initiating Freedom Sunday and releasing the 2 page document “Declaration for Freedom” as a WHC statement on Trafficking and Slavery.
26. Late in 2013, the WHC had expanded to such a level that the administrative burden was becoming larger than anyone had expected. Although Fawn Imboden had been guiding the administrative functions with great competence, the growing load of serving as a Vice-President at ACCU as well as Administrative Coordinator for the WHC required adjustment. The Credit Union entered a period of deep examination which concluded in a strategic adjustment to the relationship with the WHC. In December of 2013, the CEO of America’s Christian Credit Union, Mendell Thompson, proposed to his Board of Directors that in order to better fulfill its mission of serving persons that “align with Wesleyan Doctrine” (as the official field of membership of the Credit Union declares), ACCU should place itself “under the spiritual umbrella” of the WHC so as to provide a reference in the event such a connection was necessary to preserve the Christian identity in its business plans. This in no way included any control or governance but simply a spiritual reference point. Fawn Imboden had been operating and declaring this advantage to the Credit Union and the proposal served as a significant declaration by the Credit Union of its identity and commitment to its Christian mission in the turbulent social times. In addition to approving this strategic relationship, Thompson also proposed, and the board approved, a significant annual contribution to the WHC which then allowed the WHC to secure the half-time services of Kate Wallace to serve as Operations Manager. This action addressed the growing burden upon Fawn Imboden while also allowing for the ongoing growth of the WHC and the strategic posturing of ACCU. Imboden continued to serve as Administrative Coordinator overseeing the administration of the WHC and directly overseeing the new Operations Manager thereby facilitating the continued expansion. In addition to these formal decisions, the generous relationship with ACCU has included the voluntary involvement of others on the staff for such special tasks as design, creative initiative, as well as events. Clearly Imboden served as a powerful manifestation of ACCU’s commitment to a relational connection and support of the WHC, to say nothing of her own capable insights, and formative shaping of the WHC. The intent is also for the WHC to assist with relational connections so as to provide support to the Credit Union in its own expansion among churches. Imboden’s regular presence at the many Holiness Pastors’ Days in the Regional Networks ensures a close relationship with ACCU among the church leaders. The symbiotic relationship between these two entities has served as a testimony to the partnerships that create missional, Kingdom expansion.
27. Early in 2014 visits and plans continued for the formation of still more new Regional Networks. Initial meetings in Denver, plans for meetings in Toronto, initial plans for a Chief Academic Officers Network, as well as plans for a national meeting in Nairobi, Kenya all signaled the ongoing growth of the WHC through Regional Networks of church leaders as well as Affinity Groups of like-minded organizations and leaders. At that point, the WHC included:
Regional Networks in:
Los Angeles, Oregon, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver, Indianapolis, East Ohio, Philadelphia, Toronto;
National Networks in:
U.S., Brazil, Kenya, Canada
WHC Presidents’ Network
WHC Freedom Network
WH Women Clergy
Aldersgate Press publications:
Heart & Life
A Good Walk Home
Color Me Holy
Work that Matters
Mannoia has repeatedly declared, "There is no master plan. No one has a grand strategy, least of all me." What started as a simple desire on his part to convene and think together seems to have met a deep desire to pursue God and His nature of Holiness at all levels. There does indeed seem to be afoot a hunger and a fresh move of God centered in Holiness. Interest in both the message and the newly forming Consortium continues to rise. This is truly a work of God in weaving the energy and hearts of His people together around this Scriptural theme that reflects the very nature of God.