One day before the Church of the Nazarene in Brazil’s 60th anniversary 13 October, local Nazarenes held a celebration in Campinas, São Paulo, where the first church was planted.
General Superintendent David Busic and his wife, Christi, participated in the celebration with South America Regional Director Christian Sarmiento and Nazarene Youth International Global Director Gary Hartke. The Brazil field strategy coordinators and Sub-Region Director Manuel Lima were also present.
“It was a remarkable night with the presence of leaders of each district singing ‘Holiness to the Lord’ in unison,” said Geraldo Nunes, Brazil holistic ministries coordinator.
A short video was shared at the celebration that told the story of the church over the last 60 years, and a Bible with an insert explaining the history of the church in Brazil was released.
The Church of the Nazarene in Brazil started when Ervin Stegemoeller, a Nazarene church member, was relocated to Brazil for work. He quickly realized there was no Nazarene presence in the country, so he reached out to Nazarene Headquarters.
That’s when pioneer missionary Earl Mosteller was asked to choose a city in Brazil from which the church would reach the rest of the country. The geographic location, socio-cultural status, and the presence of the Stegemoeller family were significant reasons why Campinas was selected as the pioneer city.
Mosteller recorded his experiences in his diary of the first service of the Church of the Nazarene in Brazil 13 October 1958.
“In our service, there were only 12 people, including children, but with God, we were the majority,” Mosteller wrote. “Today we are happy because, in addition to the beginning of this missionary project in Brazil, we also celebrate 50 years of our church in the world. We hope that in 50 years, the advance of the Church of the Nazarene in this immense country will be compared to our international church.”
After that first service, Nazarene leaders mobilized an army of volunteers, and the Gospel was delivered to the needy throughout the city. Orchestras, choirs, bands, and theater groups were formed and utilized to promote the Gospel in large public gatherings.
Many geographical borders have been broken since then. Today, the church in Brazil has more than 190,000 members and has built more than 600 churches.
“I am a fruit of the missionary work of the church in Brazil,” Nunes said. “When I look back at the history of our church, I can testify of the move of God in the whole country. We live in a time where the new generations of pastors, leaders, and members have tremendous opportunities to contribute in the preaching of the message of Christ so that more people may know Him.”