A brief history of the
Wesleyan Holiness Connection
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 that the Holiness message has had on the global Church over the past century. Over breakfast, 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 as part of any action:
a) That any event should be endorsed and sponsored by church leaders thereby securing its relevancy to the contemporary church 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, Mannoia reached out to various denominational heads proposing the idea of a Wesleyan Holiness Study Project to seek a fresh articulation of holiness. Plans commenced for the first of a series of three annual events. Mannoia requested three specific commitments of the denominational leaders who captured the vision:
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, and Church of God. In the second year of meeting in 2005, America’s Christian Credit Union sponsored a closing banquet locally and subsequently committed to creative support of the WHSP as part of their mission. That commitment ultimately became most visible in the form of Fawn Imboden, a staff member of ACCU assigned to support Mannoia in the work of the fledgling Study Project. She continued each year in growing support ultimately becoming the Administrative Coordinator of the WHC. This represents perhaps the single most important contribution of ACCU to the effort. In later years, ACCU established a referent relationship with the WHC considering it the Credit Union’s spiritual covering and became the largest donor to the cause. Likewise, Azusa Pacific University has played a valuable part in support of the WHC by celebrating and encouraging Mannoia’s leadership and actively embracing the importance of the Wesleyan Holiness stream as its own spiritual heritage and future spiritual identity.
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.) in Southern California 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 to be held in conjunction with the following year WHSP meeting 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 – including Revivalist and Pentecostal currents. Throughout the year Mannoia engaged this subject with some of the Pentecostal national leaders. The following WHSP was expanded to include churches in the Pentecostal tradition that traced their roots to the Holiness movement. 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, Assemblies of God, and others. Plans also expanded to invite representatives of the United Methodist Church 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 (Foursquare President), Bishop George McKinney (COGIC Bishop) along with WHSP leaders. Representatives of the Pentecostal tradition were involved in both the Study Project and the Pastors’ Day 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.
8. On February 6-7, 2006 the third meeting of the WHSP was held, followed by the second Holiness Pastors’ Day on February 8. Using relational connections from his experience leading the NAE, Mannoia involved key resource persons for the Pastors’ Day including George Barna, Robert Schuller along with WHSP leaders.
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. This marked a clear priority and evidence of the significant multi-generational enthusiasm for a relevant holiness engaging cultural issues. Regional Leaders attended with their young leaders.
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:
a. Ongoing theological dialogue among groups with common heritage and message;
b. Events that would gather young leaders and other groups around Holiness;
c. Multiplication of regional networks and pastors’ days centering on Holiness.
Given Mannoia’s history with the NAE as an association and the group’s desire not to create a new denomination, the WHC was formed with a Steering Committee comprised of delegated persons who would be the corporate members of the entity. The WHC is a relational network 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 forming a second Regional Network and to plan a Holiness Pastors’ Day.
12. Because there were still funds available and sufficient work for the WHSP to complete, the denominational heads supported a fourth WHSP meeting. This was scheduled on March 26-27, 2007 followed by the SoCal 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, and WHSP leaders.
13. Outcomes of the Study Project are too numerous to list, a few specific ones were intended and are worthy of mention:
- Fellowship and camaraderie among church leaders and scholar/leaders of multiple denominations with a common heritage and commitment to Holiness for the 21st Century;
- 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;
- 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.
- Two Regional Networks of denominational overseers – Southern California and Indiana;
- Young Leaders’ Hangout concept;
- Manuscript for a book The Holiness Manifesto later published by Eerdmans;
- 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;
- A strong relationship between the WHC and ACCU. A growing relationship that subsequently helped to anchor APU as a Christian university in the Wesleyan Holiness stream.
- 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 in San Dimas, CA. Discussion centered on next steps and to shape the future of the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium. The Steering Committee consisted of representatives from participating denominations designated by their highest officers, the coordinators of the two Regional Networks, and at large members from the Study Project that Mannoia invited to participate. Members at the first meeting were:
Free Methodist Church of North America
America’s Christian Credit Union
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 (C&MA) as well as WHC regional leaders.
16. After numerous conversations between Kevin Mannoia and Bill Eerdman at the Graymoor Institute during meetings of Faith & Order meetings, Eerdman 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 expedited publication 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.
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 was 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 began again in the Spring of 2010.
- As of December 2008 four Holiness Pastors’ Days had been held in Southern California and two in Indiana. Primary resource speakers included:
- George McKinney
- Jack Hayford
- George Barna
- Robert Schuller
- Al Baca
- Jim Cymbala
- Kevin Mannoia
- JoAnne Lyon
- Eric Simpson
20. While speaking to the heads of Wesleyan denominations that historically have gathered in Indianapolis, Mannoia proposed a new initiative to gather the presidents of Universities and Colleges within the denominations of the Consortium in order to emphasize their growing profile of influence within the Wesleyan Holiness movement. Strong affirmation 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 was scheduled for February 2010 in Atlanta, also in conjunction with the CCCU Forum with 28 presidents attending. Then president of the CCCU, Paul Corts, was a great help in cooperating with plans in coordination with his board schedule. Since then the CCCU has collaborated and even modeled new initiatives with schools of other theological traditions after the WHC Presidents’ Network. Shirley Hoogstra, subsequent president of the CCCU, strengthened the relationship with the WHC both relationally and organizationally. As well, she appealed to Mannoia for assistance with funding for a major study project among Christian Colleges. As a result, ACCU granted a major donation to fund the project and the CCCU established a permanent banking relationship with ACCU.
21. A third Regional Network in Oregon 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 were 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.
22. January 10, 2010 — 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 that is both personally compelling and socially engaged.
23. Over the following 18 months, significant momentum grew in the Movement. The Southern California Regional Network – the first created and the oldest – continued to meet and conduct Holiness Pastors’ Days.
24. George Barna and Kevin Mannoia served as the primary resource persons at various of the growing number of Regional Networks focusing on new material developed for publication. Barna and Mannoia released their new books. “Maximum Faith” by George Barna, and “Masterful Living” by Kevin Mannoia jointly in an experimental publishing effort – jointly by WHC Publications and MetaFormation — with an eye to starting a new publishing initiative as an arm of the WHC.
25. At the Fall 2010 meeting of the Steering Committee at the Canadian Headquarters of the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Toronto Canada, Dr. Franklin Pyles hosted the group. Significant actions were taken:
To proceed with incorporation of the WHC;
To proceed with forming a publication initiative;
To proceed with multiplying Regional Networks and Affinity groups;
To proceed with the creation of a Board of Directors.
During the following months all of these were completed or initiated.
26. In the Spring of 2011, after receiving incorporation in the State of California, the WHC received tax exempt status as a 501(c)3 charitable organization from the IRS.
27. After release of the first two books Maximum Faith and Masterful Living, at two Holiness Pastors’ Days – in the LA Area and the Portland Area – Mannoia and George Barna worked together and with other connections established through that process to develop a complete system of publication. In June of 2011, five individuals agreed to serve on a Publications Board. (Barry Callen; Stan Toler, George Barna, Don Thorsen, and Mannoia as Chair of the WHC). Charged with oversight for acquisitions, operations, editorial process, and final decisions on any works published, they would begin with their first meeting on August 19, 2011. Guiding principles were developed for the publications initiative and a basic structure that would include partnering with a full service operational partner so as to eliminate the need for hiring staff to handle the printing and operational elements of Aldersgate Press, the publishing arm of the WHC.
28. Subsequent to the 2010 Steering Committee meeting in Toronto, Regional Leaders in Seattle and St. Louis were convened and formed WHC networks. Both areas received the idea positively.
29. The Board of Directors was formed by the 2010 Steering Committee comprised of: David Bundy, Barry Callen- Secretary, Roger Green, Kevin Mannoia –Chair, Dan Schafer- Treasurer, Carla Sunberg, Don Thorsen, Vice-Chair. Fawn Imboden continued to support as Administrative Coordinator.
30. America’s Christian Credit Union also increased its partnership in support of the WHC in the form of personnel assignments. The CEO, Mendell Thompson, and senior staff reconfigured the responsibilities of the staff to allow Ms. Fawn Imboden to devote substantially more time and focus to support of the WHC through logistical planning and operations. In her support of Kevin Mannoia, she embodied the commitment of the Credit Union to the WHC and its mission. Mendell Thompson also visibly expressed strong support and involvement with the WHC by assigning a staff member to support Fawn in her work. These people have allowed Mannoia and the WHC to expand and grow in ways that would be impossible without ACCU involvement. Many other intangible relationships with ACCU have developed with the WHC both to the benefit of the WHC and ACCU.
31. Another notable expansion of the WHC has been the proliferation of international networks. In July of 2010, Mannoia was in Brazil on other business with APU. Upon extending an invitation to a key leader in Brazil – Rev. Ildo Mello, Bishop of the Free Methodist Church in Brazil – movement began to build. Upon arrival there, Ildo had made arrangements for Mannoia to meet with 17 leaders in Sao Paulo. Some of the leaders from Rio de Janeiro realized there were many in Rio who also would like to meet on this agenda and requested that Mannoia visit them instead of them going to the SP meeting. Arrangements were made to do this and the first gathering in Rio involved over 300 pastors and all of the national leaders of 8 denominations including Methodist, Free Methodist, Nazarene, Orthodox Methodist, Wesleyan, Salvation Army, Holiness, Alliance. From that meeting and the subsequent meeting with leaders in Sao Paulo, new regional networks began in both cities under the oversight of Ildo who also attended the 2011 Steering Committee and reported on the explosive growth. In February of 2011, Mannoia also visited these same cities conducting seminars and encouraging growth. He also added Brasilia where a new network began to form, though smaller than the other two. In Sao Paulo the regional leaders meet approximately every other month to educate one another on the unique contribution of each denomination. Subsequently, Clovis Paradela, Methodist leader in Rio de Janeiro, networked with others in cities across Brazil ultimately catalyzing WHC networks in 12 cities of the nation.
32. In April of 2011, Mannoia also visited Argentina and met with leaders of 4 denominations to help them create a new network in the Buenos Aires area. This group was slower in growing but met 4 times also for educational purposes. It was guided by the Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army – Susan McMillan. Ultimately interest dissipated and the network ceased when Commissioner McMillan was transferred to Canada.
33. In May of 2011, the WHC in Brazil conducted a mass gathering of approximately 8000 people at a stadium in Sao Paulo celebrating Wesley’s Heart-warming. The Brazil networks have grown rapidly and have formed a new sense of unity among the denominations. The movement in Brazil became known as “Fraternidade de Santidade Wesleyana”. Because the word “Consortium” was not appropriate for use in the church in Brazil, they chose rather the word “Fraternity.” Mannoia expressed to the national leaders concern over the gender implications of that word. The Brazilian leaders began using the word “Conexao” (Connection) instead and approached him about using it more formally. The result was later action taken by the Steering Committee to formally alter the name to “WESLEYAN HOLINESS CONNECTION” thereby addressing the cultural/linguistic problem, strengthening the identification with clear Wesleyan heritage, and securing the relational nature of the movement.
34. On November 4, 2011 the Steering Committee met for its 4th meeting. Conducted at the Territorial Headquarters of the Salvation Army in Chicago, Commissioners Paul and Carol Seiler served as hosts. Significant progress is recorded in the minutes of the annual meeting. Including support of the Publications framework and support for the strategic expansion. During November and December focused energy was on getting Aldersgate Press formed and functioning in order to fuel the movement through fresh holiness writings that encourages new authors and creates a structure that is friendly to authors – including royalty rates.
35. January of 2012 was a busy month for the WHC and it demonstrated the heightened growth:
January 5 – St. Louis Regional Leaders meet to form the Network and begin planning an HPD;
January 11 – So Cal Regional Network meets for planning the Feb 16 HPD;
January 13 – Denominational Heads meet for the second time (the first being in Dallas to create the WHC) at the Foursquare Headquarters in LA;
January 17 – the first ever meeting of Regional Network Coordinators by teleconference;
January 18 – Seattle Regional Network meets to plan its Feb 2 HPD;
January 19 – Aldersgate Publications Team meeting;
February 1 – Presidents Network meeting in Washington (4th annual).
In the words of various Denominational Heads who convened at the January 13 meeting early 2012, at the Headquarters of the Foursquare Church in Los Angeles: “This may be a prophetic indication of God’s work in the world.” (Jack Hayford). “This meeting would not have been possible ten or fifteen years ago.” (JK Warrick). “This is an historic day. It is true that the divisions of a hundred years ago are being brought back together today.” (Vinson Synan). It is quite evident that God continues to work through the submitted efforts of every leader participating in the WHC. Not for the creation of an organization, but for the cause of Holiness in the 21st Century.
36. Under the leadership of Carla Sunberg as president of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy, conversations were initiated with Kevin Mannoia to explore possible collaboration on the priority of the Holiness message which also motivated the WHWC. The formative meeting came in a visit of Mannoia to the WHWC Board meeting in Denver, CO. This initiated the formal 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. Women in ministry at every level of the church was a vital principal of the Wesleyan Holiness stream. This was being undermined by more vocal Reformed publishers, groups, churches, and movements. At the Denver meeting of the Board of the WHWC with Mannoia, 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.
37. 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 after a plenary session 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 under the careful planning and guidance of Kate Wallace. At that time, Dan Boone inspired the group and Mannoia challenged the 20 plus participants to draft a guiding document and to initiate actions of the WHC Freedom Network. 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.
38. 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.
39. 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;
- International Networks in cities of:
- Brazil – 12 (Sao Paulo, Rio, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, various other cities)
- Kenya – 1 (Nairobi)
- Philippines – 1 (Manila)
- United Kingdom – 2 (Manchester, Birmingham)
- Affinity Groups:
- WHC Presidents’ Network
- WHC Freedom Network
- WH Women Clergy
- WHC Chief Academic Officers
- Aldersgate Press
- In the years leading up to 2020, the WHC has continued to exercise significant and growing influence among churches, colleges/universities, and individuals in many ways:
- Colleges and Universities consistently sought the guidance and input of the WHC related to institutional identity so as to anchor their efforts and social positioning in a clear theological and spiritual heritage. Through Board development, administrative collaboration and document sharing, the WHC helped numerous schools to secure a clear Wesleyan Holiness anchor to these institutions.
- Denominational networking continued in the form of resourcing, meetings, document usage for pastoral training and leadership development.
- Research scholars sought the resources of the WHC for guidance in understanding the Holiness movement.
- The Global Christian Forum reached out to seek input from the WHC in understanding and guiding the ecumenical conversations in a way that included the growing and historically formative Holiness voice.
- Fresh thinking was perhaps the most important contribution of the WHC during key cultural battles surrounding the LGBTQ conversation and the tensions around racism.
- One of the major contributions came in the form of the documents created both by Mannoia in public statements in real time response to national and global issues AND the documents carefully developed through Mannoia’s collaborative efforts that were focused on key issues. Specifically these included:
- “Gracefully Engaging the LGBT Conversation” – this document involved 38 scholar leaders from multiple WHC participating denominations over a 10 month period to establish a collaborative statement that would guide denominations, schools, and local churches in adjusting to the political and social context.
- “A Call to Full Participation: Women in the WH Tradition” – this document was written in a process Mannoia guided that included teams of writers from various institutions and denominations in the WHC addressing the key elements of women in leadership.
- “A Framework for Public Engagement” – was a year-long process of establishing a clarion statement on the role of Holiness churches in engaging their communities on key social issues. It provides guidance and foundations for being true to the Holiness identity of personal and social transformation.
- Key statements authored by Mannoia that were utilized broadly for insight and focus: including Immigration and “A Case for Engagement.”
- During the years of 2017- 2019, the social issue of the LGBTQ matter was front and center and occupied a great deal of focus on the part of colleges/universities and churches. Because of the particular implications on universities and colleges, the focus centered there. Especially in California, the tension grew with the introduction of legislation with severe implications on Christian schools. A group of presidents of Christian colleges and universities in California, under the leadership of Dr. Jon Wallace of Azusa Pacific University, requested the assistance of Kevin Mannoia to address the issue and bring church attention to bear on the matter. SB1146 became the focus of much attention and much of Mannoia’s activity on behalf of these schools and others realizing the future impact on the nation should it proceed. After numerous large gatherings convened by Mannoia of pastors and church leaders, SB 1146 was altered and mitigated. The subsequent year AB2943 was introduced and became equally concerning for Christian churches. Again Mannoia was asked by university presidents to become involved in mobilizing churches. In this case, because the implications were more directed at churches, the principal action was to create a coalition of pastors. After initial conversations with key sources as well as personal relationships developed with the legislators involved, especially the LGBTQ Caucus of the State of California, strong relationships and conversations were developed directly with the key Caucus leader, Evan Low. A broadly distributed Op-Ed published by Mannoia and subsequent conversations led the key author to withdraw the legislation on the final day. The basis was the request of Mannoia to dialogue and work together for the protection of ALL people from punitive discrimination. This success was celebrated. The following year of 2019, Low proposed renewed legislation and included Mannoia and a group of WHC pastors in the planning. In the personal relationship and conversations, Mr. Low finally agreed NOT to propose legislation but to proceed with a joint resolution (a non-binding statement of the California legislature). While the resulting document AR99 still included premises on which Mannoia and Low disagreed fundamentally, it was a call to appropriate treatment of all persons. More importantly it avoided legislative action by the State that would have severely affected Christian churches and schools. Criticized by more fundamentalist groups nationally, Mannoia maintained clear communication with the WHC board and steering committee to ensure awareness and support. The Board did not act to adopt the resolution but fully supported Mannoia’s engagement on the matter as a representative example of graceful engagement without compromise. Although a large distraction to the expansion of the WHC, this particular agenda, and subsequent turmoil nationally over racism, became a firsthand example of Holiness people becoming engaged in culture for transformational and Kingdom ends.
- With the opening of 2020, hopes remained high after strong meetings of the WHC Presidents’ Network, various regional network gatherings in the U.S. and Brazil particularly, but the onset of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 quickly altered plans and intentions. With global lockdowns, meetings became impossible. The WHC began to pivot to make an adjustment online. Most notably, it began weekly “Conversations with Kevin” which were 30 minute conversations weekly for church and institutional leaders. These conversations were focused upon key elements of ministry and work in the COVID environment. These included:
- Ministering to youth during COVID;
- Racial reconciliation – especially in the wake of the George Floyd murder;
- Worship online;
- Transitioning services to the virtual space;
- Discipleship in a lockdown;
- Online College learning;
These weekly conversations were all recorded for use later by church leaders.
- During the end of 2020, it became evident that an administrative shift needed to occur. A new CEO was hired at ACCU. Although she (Vicki VannBerstein) remained highly committed to and strongly supportive of the synergy between ACCU and the WHC, there was a sense that this was the time to make a change. World Gospel Mission, having been founded by the historic Holiness Movement of the early 20th Century, was hopeful of housing the administrative functions of the WHC as a further deepening of its own identity. Therefore, in the fall of 2020, the Board and Steering Committee operating virtually, made the decision to move the administrative function of the WHC to Marion Indiana, the site of the World Gospel Mission Headquarters. Soon thereafter, Ms. Fawn Imboden left the employ of ACCU in retirement. This shift has ushered in a new chapter of the WHC yet to be written.
Wesleyan Holiness Connection (WHC)
c/o America's Christian Credit Union
2100 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740
Attn: Renita Richardson