Phineas F. Bresee (1838-1915) was the founder and first general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. He was the pastor of First Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles in the mid-1880s.
In 1894, Bresee withdrew from Methodism and affiliated with the Peniel Mission, an inner-city holiness ministry. Then, in October 1895, he helped organize a congregation known simply as the Church of the Nazarene. They chose the name to identify with Jesus’ place among “the lowly, toiling masses.”
In describing the Church of the Nazarene’s first building in Los Angeles, Bresee once said, “We want places so plain that every board will say welcome to the poorest.” As a result, the Church of the Nazarene grew into a regional denomination. Nazarenes number over 1.4 million members worldwide, with over half living outside North America.