Nazarene March Madness (1973-2023)

Nazarene March Madness (for the last fifty years)

I was appointed as the selection committee of the Nazarene March Madness (OK… self appointed– by a three person committee— me, myself and I). It is totally, 100%, biased based on people I’ve known or respected. Your list of 64 will be different from mine. Cool. 

As you see, I broke it down into four categories. GS Bracket, Pastor’s Bracket; College President Bracket and Theologian/Bible Scholar Bracket. I could have had two more brackets: Missionaries and Lay people. Sorry for not having those brackets in my tournament. 

As if you needed any more evidence to the contrary, this confirms any doubt of my Nazarene nerdy-ness. To quote the great theologian (not on my list) Popeye: “I am what I am.

Here are my choices (and some reasons why): 

GS Bracket

  1. William Greathouse.  Three Words: Wholeness in Christ
  2. Eugenio Duarte. When you are the first General Superintendent from the continent with the most Nazarenes on the planet you lead the list.
  3. Paul Cunningham. He might have been the #1 seed if placed in the Pastor’s bracket.
  4. Nina Gunter. When you are the first female GS you make the top four
  5. John Knight. Great theologian and leader.
  6. David Busic was my predecessor at Lenexa Central. He was a great pastor and has always been a big cheerleader and support to me.
  7. Gustavo Crocker. First Latin American GS— probably should be higher.
  8. David Graves attended Lenexa Central while he was Sunday School Director and before becoming pastor at Olathe College Church. His wife, Sharon, was the best college age Sunday school teacher, I’ve ever had. 
  9. Jim Deihl. I could listen to Dr. Deihl preach for hours
  10. JK Warrick. Look up “holiness preacher” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of J.K. Warrick.
  11. Jerry Porter. Who are you discipling and who is discipling you? I heard that sermon four times (worth it, every time).
  12. Ray Hurn. He presided over my ordination. Of course, he makes my list.
  13. Gerald Johnson. If I’m going to put Carla Sunberg on the list (see below) I need to put her dad on the list. If I’m putting her dad on the list, Carla would want him ahead of her.
  14. Carla Sunberg. She has been an inspiration to many (and growing list of great) female pastors. 
  15. Eugene Stowe. He’s on the list, just because as a young preacher I thought his voice sounded a lot like the Lord’s must sound.
  16. Fili Chambo. Another one of Africa’s finest. He must be on the list.

College President Bracket

  1. John Bowling. 25 years of faithful leadership at ONU. 
  2. Deirdre Brower-Latz. Nazarene Theological College in Manchester. Anyone with a British accent gets their IQ increased by 10%. Deirdre doesn’t need the help, she already is such sharp and gifted leader. 
  3. Dan Boone. Author, Great preacher, Leader. 
  4. Theresa Woodruff. Interim President, Michigan State University. Teresa graduated from ONU with me in 1985. Her dad was my Old Testament professor at ONU. She is navigating through many challenges including the recent shooting.
  5. Jeren Rowell. As my DS, he was terrific. As seminary president, he is equally terrific.
  6. Larry Bollinger. Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. Larry and I took a trip to the Middle East when he was Director of Nazarene Compassion Ministries; and I was with Larry and Lynne in the Boston Gardens when the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship in 2008. I was hugged by more drunk Bostonians (not Larry or Lynne) than I care to remember. 
  7. Greg Chenoweth. ONU. The Family Center at Flint Central is called the Chenoweth Center after Gregg’s parents and we have a Chenoweth Scholarship for ONU students. Of course I have included Gregg, besides he is a great leader.
  8. Henry Spaulding. When at NTS, Dr. Spaulding and I led a senior seminar for a year or two. He gave the students “C’s,” I gave the student “A’s”
  9. Ron Benefiel. When I think of Ron Benefiel, I think servant leader. That alone, puts him on my list.
  10. David Spittal. He brought MNU through a challenging time and has been a great leader.
  11. William Prince. Of course, Uncle Bill makes the list. (He’s not my uncle).
  12. Lebron Fairbanks. President of a APNTS and MVNU. A two-fer… makes the list.
  13. Gordon Whetmore. Faithful leadership.
  14. Don Owens. See above and also a great missionary in Korea.
  15. Les Parrott. President of ONU during my days and saw great growth on the campus.
  16. Terrell Sanders. NTS President during a period of great blessings and success.

Theologian Bracket

  1. Mildred Wynkoop. Theology of love is one of the great works of the 20th century.
  2. Ray Dunning. Grace, Faith and Holiness is also a great work.
  3. Al Truesdale. I wouldn’t be here without the wisdom and insight from Dr. Truesdale. 
  4. Alex Deasley. Best Bible teacher I ever had.
  5. George Lyons. Dr. Lyons also had great impact upon me during my ONU years and the second best Bible teacher I ever had
  6. Paul Bassett. Best Church historian I ever had.
  7. Tom Noble. Influenced and is still influencing this generation of pastors. I just wish his theology didn’t cost $130 bucks for Volume 1!
  8. Diane LeClerc. Author of Discovering Christian Holiness among other things, Diane graduated seminary with me. Needless to say, she was the smartest in the class.
  9. Ralph Earle. Great Bible teacher and scholar worked on the original NIV translation.
  10. Timothy Smith. I’m partial to Church historians.
  11. Carl Bangs. See above
  12. Rob Staples. A great theologian and person!
  13. Mark Quanstrom— Great theologian, pastor and now pod-cast host.
  14. Andy Johnson. Taught and is still teaching a generation of great pastors at NTS! 
  15. Dean Flemming. His work on Philippians— outstanding!
  16. Alex Varughse. Great Bible teacher!

Pastor Bracket

  1. H.B. London Hosting a broadcast Pastor to Pastor and writing a host of books on pastoring earns the top spot.
  2. Ponder Gilliland. Bethany First Church and later president of SNU— was a leader in many ways.
  3. Charles Johnson. Pastor for 61 years of the Fitkins Memorial Church of the Nazarene and civil rights leader.
  4. Scott Daniels. Nampa College. Currently the best preacher in the Church of the Nazarene.
  5. Bob Huffaker. Grove City was the largest church in the denomination under his leadership. First USA/Canada church to be 3000+
  6. Don Wellman. Built Denver First Church to be the largest church in the denomination at the time.
  7. Earl Lee. Pastor at Pasadena First Church and author of Cycles for Victorious Living.
  8. Tom Nees. Pastored Community of Hope in Washington DC, before becoming what is now called USA/Canada Regional Director 
  9. Dave Roberts. Montrose, California. Dave graduated from NTS with me. Went to Montrose, California (I don’t know what the church’s average attendance was upon his arrival, but it has grown and grown. It’s the only church he has ever pastored. He is a superstar). 
  10. Shawna Gaines. Trevecca Community Church. The leading female pastor for denomination.
  11. Millard Reed. Nashville First (before becoming TNU President)
  12. Kerry Willis. Built the Harrisonburg Virginia pastor before becoming a DS of Philadelphia District.
  13. Ron Salsbury. Pastored Pismo Beach New Life for years and years.
  14. Rick Harvey. Cincinnati Springdale and now pastoring the largest CotN in the country.
  15. James Heyward. Salem Fields, Virginia. A great preacher and leader. Central Church’s revival preacher from two years ago. One word: Wow!
  16. Mark Hostetler. Pastored one church for the last 45+ years. Secretary of the Board of Trustees at ONU.