On November 30, 2014, a surprise celebration was held at First Church of the Nazarene in Edmond, Oklahoma to commemorate 50 years of preaching by Stan Toler, General Superintendent Emeritus for the Church of the Nazarene and Founding, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at Southern Nazarene University. Among those able to be present to take part in the celebration was Dr. David Busic, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene, leaders from a number of other denominations, local university presidents and leaders, as well as former staff members from many of Toler’s pastorates, and a large group of family and friends.
A book of cards, letters and greetings from around the globe was compiled and presented at the celebration, and a luncheon was enjoyed by a host of guests following the service. Toler’s call to preach came at a very early age and, encouraged by his pastor, he preached his first sermon in his home church at age 14. By age 17 he was pastor of a local church and went on to earn multiple degrees in higher education, saw growth and success as a pastor and church planter, served as an executive for John Maxwell’s INJOY Ministries, and establish a world-wide reputation for excellence in leadership training.
In 2009 he was elected General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene and served in that capacity until 2013 when he was honored with general superintendent emeritus status. In October of 2013 Toler was named Founding, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at SNU and continues to serve in that capacity, as well as pursuing his passion for encouraging and equipping leaders through his professional organization, Toler Leadership International.
A tribute prepared for the occasion is as follows:
CELEBRATING STAN TOLER’S 50TH YEAR OF PREACHING
At age seven – in a holiness revival – Stan Toler felt the stirring of a call to preach the gospel. Years passed and he was not confident enough to share his sense of calling with anyone until one Sunday night in a youth service. While singing a solo he began to weep and testify to his to his fellow teens that he had a call to preach.
The song he was singing that night was a new Bill Gaither song titled “He Touched Me”. God’s hand touched Him and he answered the call to preach. He was just fourteen.
While surely there were skeptics who doubted that this was nothing more than youthful zeal that would wane and wither – the little church celebrated this young teen’s call – and there was a wise and courageous pastor who did all he could to fan the flame of this call to preach. In short order, the Rev. C.O. Waters invited Stan to preach his first message.
On a Wednesday night he preached what was a very brief message on the subject of prayer. His message was so effective he preached himself under conviction and answered his own invitation and went forward for prayer. Soon the “preacher boy” was speaking anywhere and everywhere anyone would invite him to preach.
At 16 he received his first minister’s license. At 17 he pastored his first church, the first of six pastorates spanning 40 years. His desire to grow and develop as a gospel preacher made him an insatiable learner and fueled his pursuit of education. He became the first in his family to graduate high school. In the ensuing years he earned four college degrees, and has been awarded multiple honorary Doctorate degrees, including the Doctor of Divinity from Southern Nazarene University.
At 22 he was ordained into the Christian ministry. Over the past fifty years of continuous preaching he has preached more than 11,000 thousand sermons in tiny country churches and some of the largest churches in the world. He’s preached on the campuses of great universities & seminaries as well as nursing homes, truck stops, flea markets, prisons, and in tent meetings.
He’s preached in over 200 different denominations and church groups in all 50 States and in 80 countries. He has flown over 6 million miles and traveled untold miles by every other means of conveyance available.
His preaching has been characterized by Clarity – always preaching not just to be heard but also to be understood – and by Urgency – calling people to respond to the gospel.
In the Old Testament the 50th year was a year of jubilee – and the horn would blow on the Day of Atonement and freedom would follow. May this 50th year of preaching be such a year where countless souls find freedom and know the touch of Christ who can make them whole.
Congratulations, Dr. Stan Toler, and thank you for your example of fidelity to Christ and the faithful preaching of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.