November 10, 2021
Nearly twenty years ago, Kevin Mannoia and a group of friends had a vision for helping the Church develop fresh articulations of the message of holiness for the 21st century. This vision has grown into reality through the work of the Wesleyan Holiness Connection (WHC). Throughout these years, Kevin has poured himself into this effort, giving of his time and energy in a sacrificial manner. A year ago, he expressed his desire to transition from his role as Executive Director and create space for new leadership. On Friday, October 29th, the Wesleyan Holiness Connection steering committee voted unanimously for Kevin Mannoia to become the WHC Ambassador. In this new role he will work together with WHC leadership to represent the organization but will not be engaged in day-to-day operations.
Several months ago, the operations of WHC were moved from America’s Christian Credit Union (ACCU) in Glendora, California to World Gospel Mission (WGM) in Marion, Indiana. Both ACCU and WGM have provided invaluable support of WHC through the years and continue to do so. The leadership of both organizations have invested in the mission of WHC.
Wesleyan Holiness Connection is pleased to announce that Dr. Dan Schafer, President of World Gospel Mission, has agreed to serve as the interim Executive Director of WHC for one year. Through Dan and the supportive staff at WGM, the vision of WHC continues at this time. The Board of WHC is working closely in partnership with Dan and his team in this transition and will continue to develop the future vision of Wesleyan Holiness Connection throughout this coming year.
We believe that these are exciting and challenging days for the Church. At the same time, these are days in which the Wesleyan Holiness message of Christlike transformation is needed more than ever. The work of WHC does not end with the transition in leadership, but simply moves into a new season where we are committed to bringing God’s holiness into full and transforming engagement with today’s culture.
Below is Kevin’s report from the October Steering Committee meeting.
Wesleyan Holiness Connection Board of Directors
Executive Director’s Report
October 29, 2021
During the mid-year of 2003, a life-long wave of passion, flavored with curiosity and dissatisfaction, found expression in a lengthy conversation with the late Dr. Donald Dayton, Dr. David Bundy and myself at a quiet little breakfast joint in Pasadena. Something clicked for me, or perhaps something snapped into focus. Not a new theological truth, not a vision, not a new idea, but simply a realization that the heritage and deep well of theological and spiritual current we embrace could really find fresh expression and new articulation in a changing world. I don’t need to describe our history or the experiences we each have in our denominational families during the late 20th century. And, I don’t need to remind us all of the ambiguity and oppressive irrelevance in how we represented holiness as our distinctive feature. It was as if the wick was guttering; or at least growing dim for lack of clarity and unity.
I admit that after whatever that was that clicked into place, the following 8-10 months were surprising, encouraging, and transformational. One after another, leaders of revivalist holiness denominations answered the phone and readily agreed to link arms and at least give a try to a fresh articulation of holiness in the 21st Century. Although some expressed reticence, most accepted the invitation to the Wesleyan Holiness Studies Project (WHSP). And after a year or so, they even supported my overture of seeing Pentecostal churches as deeply rooted and a vital part of the Holiness movement. The Nazarene General Superintendents and Free Methodist Bishops cautiously responded to me with a willing spirit. That began to open doors and hearts even more widely to the call of God to unity centered on God’s holiness that is written into our DNA.
One of the earliest Pentecostal leaders to dive in together said to me, “I’ve been trying to renew the Wesleyan roots in our movement. We really must. This will help a lot.” Well, it did. The Foursquare Church stepped in as the first in that re-weaving of the Pentecostal and Revivalist holiness churches that God continues to bring about. And through the relational connection of our Holiness identity, the Foursquare Church was introduced to ACCU – which is also anchored in this heritage from its early Nazarene roots. And today that financial relationship is strong and ongoing. Holiness even makes a difference in financial systems!
That was just the beginning. The Church of God in Christ, the UPCI, Pentecostal Holiness, Assemblies of God, Church of God…all opening doors to unity together with Revivalist holiness churches like the Free Methodist, Nazarene, Evangelical, Wesleyan, Salvation Army, COG, Methodist, BiC and others. This really amounts to the first re-weaving of these holiness currents in over a hundred years. You are part of that! You are stewards of that! And I believe firmly that through that unity and re-weaving the fullness of God’s holiness among us will flourish – personally and corporately. We need each other. We learn from one another. We moderate one another.
This message transcends us all. It is not institutional. It is not doctrinal. It is not containable. This message is fueled by humility, surrender, and open-handed graciousness. We don’t codify it. If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – it is a descriptor of God. The only access we have to it is through surrender that allows God’s very nature to be more present in us and among us. When we try to codify it, contain it, or limit it, we miss the mark. It is hopeful and healing – because it is beyond us.
I have seen holiness have effect in ways I never expected in the last 18 years through the WHC. Mostly in unifying our hearts in humility. But also in modeling engagement with our complex and pluralistic culture in ways that daily amaze me. I know that a few of you have felt a bit nervous with some of the points of engagement I have initiated, but I can assure you the Kingdom of God has been well-represented and found a foothold in places that are very unlikely. I am grateful for your patience with me in discovering and navigating some of these new frontiers.
The WHC can be proud of the contribution it has made over these years. Books, papers, positions, statements, events, all igniting a fresh zeal for God and God’s all-consuming holy nature to be poured in messy, chaotic and deeply impactful ways.
Although COVID has slowed the momentum, it is recovering. Our Regional Networks are gradually coming back online – Bay Area, Florida, Ohio, Delaware Valley, Brazil, Indiana. The Affinity Groups will come along as well – the University Presidents’ Network in February, reminding the universities of the unique contribution of a Wesleyan Holiness foundation to higher education; our encouragement of the WHWC to keep the priority of women in leadership of the church high on the radar. Aldersgate Press continuing to initiate and provide for leaders to see and have fresh resources.
Our churches, organizations, and people continue to support financially the efforts we represent. It’s a small budget, but as Dan Schafer keeps reminding us, there’s a big bang for the buck.
For a number of years, I have pushed – perhaps at times more than was comfortable – to think of the future leadership of the WHC. Two years ago in London, I was thrilled that the Steering Committee elected Dan Schafer to follow me as the Chair. This year, I am thrilled that our Board responded to my timeline targeting this Steering Committee meeting and has been active since February in forming a new leadership pattern going forward. As I said in my letter to you all about this, I am convinced that now is the time for the WHC to find its best future. To do that it’s important for me to step away so that I am not the restriction that prevents flourishing. As I’ve joked with some of you, “I don’t want to be the clog in the pipe.”
Please, keep the focus on the Holiness of God, rather than the function of our churches. It brings unity; it brings gentle power; it brings grace and transformation among Christians and non-Christians alike; it brings magnetism to those that seem to be most foreign to the Church. And as a relational network, the WHC is well positioned to expand and welcome affinity groups within this large and fast-moving holiness stream.
Please, be the holy people of God leading a movement, a flood, an invasive River of God that flows where many fear to go. There is no greater opportunity or message than this. Young people are drawn to the permeable wholeness of God’s holiness. The institutional church is transformed by its freshness. Universities are anchored in the integrative identity it affords. It is the one point of God’s nature that exudes warmth and welcome amidst the political divide, racial prejudice, personal entitlement, the gender continuum, ethnic diversity, the oppressed, the weak, the hurting and the well-positioned. Let holiness be what God wants not what we can contain.
I’m marking this Steering Committee as a really important one for me. You, this — is the central passion of my life. I will continue to write, speak, live, represent, and produce whatever I can to fuel this understanding of God and God’s ineffable nature. I will be an ambassador for the WHC always. I will give my voice, effort, and name to this message always. So, I really am with you. I am praying for you, for the WHC Board, and for the next steps that are ahead. God is holy. God’s creation thrives as God’s holiness finds expression through surrendered, holy people.