'Reach, Renew And Release' Taught At Nazarene Church

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You have to give people the freedom to do good works, said Pastor David Runion. This ministry goes far beyond the paid staff of The First Church of the Nazarene, where members are encouraged to make a difference in the world.

Pastor Runion's goal is to reach people and renew them with the message of Christ's hope, and then release them to do ministry in the world around them.

"Ultimately, that is where you make a difference," he said.

Runion sees his pastoral role as supporting people in the mission they feel God has given them.

"We've got to reach out into the community, draw people in to share Christ's message of hope," he said. "We hope that in renewing (people) that they find growth and training and teaching."

The goal is to release people, he said, telling them, "You can do it. You can be in charge of a ministry. You can make a difference in your world. And it is fun."

Runion cites Ray Kinsman as just one example of those good works. Kinsman is coordinating the Salvation Army bell ringers this holiday season.

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There are two sides to the nursery at First Church of the Nazarene. One side, with built--in cribs and tiny toys, it is designed for infants through toddlers. The area designed for children is complete with storybooks, tiny table and chairs and bigger toys. A mural painted by one of the parishioners serves as a backdrop.

First Church of the Nazarene members originally began meeting in Payson in 1968. They purchased the land their new church sits on more than a decade ago. The new church is three times more spacious than their previous building. The large sanctuary also serves the needs of church and community as a multi-purpose room.

At 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays, the Desperate Youth Student Ministries meets for fun and fellowship, including activities like Ping-Pong and half-court basketball.

Tuesday nights the Civil Air Patrol holds its meeting there.

Friday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., Celebrate Recovery, an open group for people with addictions and emotional problems, meets. "God can help us out of our hurts, habits and hang-ups," is their motto. A meal, worship and working the 12 steps comprises the evening.

"The church is not just a church for itself," Pastor Runion said. "We have to keep an outward focus as well as an inward focus in what we are doing if we want to remain strong and healthy."

The First Church of the Nazarene feels like a much bigger, more reactive church. New members often comment to Pastor Runion about the friendliness of church members and the number of opportunities to get involved.

David Runion, Ph.D. grew up in Arizona and was happy to have the opportunity to return to the state. After ministering to a congregation in south Texas, and teaching seminaries in Mexico City and Costa Rica.

The Payson congregation supports Nazarene Missions International through the current L.I.N.K.S. (Loving, Interested Nazarenes, Knowing & Sharing) region, and a ministry on the Arizona Navajo reservation.

The congregation was successful in its efforts to leave many of the bigger trees on the property when the church was built 18 months ago. Some of these trees were planted on the church's parking lot islands; shrubs planted by members who "adopted" the islands added to the beauty.

An area to the east of the church building has been fenced in preparation of building a playground.

A gravel path on the north side of the church grounds leads to a sheltered area that is used primarily for worship in the summertime. It is a secluded, cozy spot made up of rustic wooden benches surrounded by trees.

Nazarenes are Christians who believe in personal salvation through Jesus Christ and of living by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday services are: 9:30 a.m., contemporary; 11 a.m., traditional; and 6 p.m. evening.

For more information, contact the church at (928) 474-5890. The First Church of the Nazarene is located at 200 E. Tyler Parkway.

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