Gunter Featured in Nashville Newspaper

Jerry PorterGeneral Superintendent Nina G. Gunter was recently featured in a news article in the Nashville newspaper The Tennessean. Dr. Gunter was interviewed by a Tennessean staff writer while she was participating in Centennial Celebration activities at Trevecca Nazarene University (see the related Trevecca article).

The full article in The Tennessean is presented here.

Nazarene Leader Says She’s Obeyed God’s Call
Trevecca Grad Began Preaching as a Teen

By BOB SMIETANA • Staff Writer • October 11, 2008

Nina G. Gunter stepped into the pulpit for the first time when she was 14, and nearly 60 years later she’s still going strong.

Gunter, a Trevecca Nazarene University graduate and Nashville resident, is one of six general superintendents overseeing the worldwide ministry of the Church of the Nazarene.
She spoke recently at Trevecca, as part of the denomination’s 100th anniversary.

She says her ministerial calling, which has taken her to 80 countries, had humble beginnings during her teen years at Wallace Church of the Nazarene in Wallace, S.C.

“In those days, most of the time when people would say to their pastor or church, ‘I have a call to preach,’ the pastor would put them in the pulpit and they would start preaching. It was an interesting phenomenon back then,” Gunter said. “I don’t think it happens now.”

At a young age, it seemed clear Gunter had a gift for preaching. By 16, she was traveling to other states and holding revivals in Nazarene churches.

But she also knew that the call was not enough. “I realized I needed some good training in the Bible,” she said.

She left home and moved to Nashville, to attend high school and then college at Trevecca.

After graduation, she and her husband, Dwight Moody Gunter — named after the famed evangelist — spent 18 years as a pastoral team.

“Those 18 years of pastoring, it was a shared ministry,” Gunter said. “On Sundays, Moody preached one service and I preached the other.”

‘It’s our responsibility’

Since the denomination’s beginning, Nazarenes have ordained women ministers.

“We believe that in Christ there is neither male nor female,” Gunter said. “My interpretation is that God gives the gifts for ministry and for leadership and it’s our responsibility, as a creation of God, to walk in obedience wherever God leads us.”

The Church of the Nazarene was formed in Pilot Point, Texas, in 1908, with the merger of three denominations: the Wesleyan-Holiness Movement, the National Holiness Association and the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. All grew out of the Methodist movement founded by John Wesley.

At the time of the merger, there were a little more than 200 Nazarene churches, with about 10,000 members. Today, the Nazarenes claim about 2 million members worldwide.

The denomination later dropped Pentecostal from its name, to distinguish it from churches that emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues.

“We have the same emphasis on evangelism and innovation,” said Steve Hoskins, professor of church history at Trevecca. “But we don’t speak in tongues.”

Gunter’s son, the Rev. Dwight M. Gunter, is pastor of Nashville’s Trevecca Community Church. He said that growing up, he thought that having women pastors was commonplace. “It wasn’t until I got into college that I realized it was unusual,” he said.

The children of ministers can sometimes grow to resent the church for taking their parent’s time. That wasn’t the case for Dwight M. Gunter, who says his parents struck a balance between work and family, spending time preaching and getting away to play sports or to fish, one of his mother’s favorite pastimes.

‘God has led me’

Before being elected as a general superintendent, she directed Nazarene Missions International, the denomination’s worldwide outreach.

“She raised a billion dollars in that time,” her son said.

Gunter said she’s just been following God’s call. “Every step has been an astounding miracle in my life, of where God has led me. It was not something I would have said, ‘Hey I want to be that someday.’ It was the incremental developments of God’s will unfolding in my life.”

--The Tennessean