Stanley A. Toler, pastor of the Oklahoma City Trinity Church of the Nazarene and recently elected district superintendent for Southwest Oklahoma, was elected as the 39th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene on July 2, 2009. Toler was elected on the 16th ballot at the denomination’s 27th General Assembly in Orlando, Florida.
When the ballot results were revealed, Toler wept as he was surrounded by dozens of congratulators. General Secretary David Wilson escorted him to the platform, where he was greeted by the presiding and newly elected general superintendents.
After collecting himself, the casually-dressed Toler joked he “didn’t dress for the occasion.” He then spoke of his history, saying he was saved in a Sunday School class when he was four years old, was called to preach just a few years later at a West Virginia revival, and became a pastor when he was just 17.
“I have spent my whole life as a pastor,” he said. “I have never aspired to be anything but a pastor. But, four weeks ago on a Sunday morning I heard the words of Carl Summer and Talmadge Johnson ringing in my ear: ‘Don’t be so closed minded’ … and I thought if I was elected Southwest Oklahoma District Superintendent, I would do it.
“I never dreamed I’d be standing on this stage four weeks later.”
Citing a poem from father, Toler expressed peace at the center of his soul.
“I humbly accept this election,” he stated.
Toler was elected Southwest Oklahoma District Superintendent on June 4, an election which was to be effective approximately 30 days from that time.
He has been serving as pastor of Oklahoma City Trinity since May of 1997. He also served as pastor for Nashville (Tennessee) First, and Oklahoma City First.
He is a graduate of Circleville Bible College (Bachelor of Theology), Southern Nazarene University (Bachelor of Arts), Florida Beacon Bible College (Master of Theology, Doctor of Divinity), and Marantha Seminary (Doctor of Ministry).
For several years he taught seminars for John Maxwell’s INJOY Group, a leadership development institute. Toler has written over 70 books, including his best-sellers, God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times; The Buzzards Are Circling, But God’s Not Finished With Me Yet; God’s Never Late, He’s Seldom Early, He’s Always Right on Time; The Secret Blend; Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry; Total Quality Life, and his popular Minute Motivator series. His latest book, ReThink Your Life, debuted at No. 23 on the CBA Christian Living Best Sellers list.
Toler’s writings form the foundation of his teaching in 50 seminars and conventions each year. He is also speaker and seminar leader for major corporations and organizations, nationally and internationally.
Born in West Virginia, Toler was raised in a home that taught the values that have influenced his life. His father was killed in a construction accident when Stan was 11 years old; a traumatic event that shaped his future ministry, and is recounted in his book The Harder I Laugh, the Deeper I Hurt.
He and his wife, Linda, an educator, have two sons, Seth and Adam, daughters-in-law, Marcy and Amanda, and one grandson, Rhett. The Tolers reside in Oklahoma City.
With this election and the elections of Eugenio Duarte and David W. Graves earlier this week, the next Board of General Superintendents is now complete. General Superintendents James H. Diehl, Paul G. Cunningham, and Nina G. Gunter are retiring, and Duarte, Graves, and Toler will join re-elected superintendents Jerry D. Porter, Jesse C. Middendorf, and J.K. Warrick to comprise the Board for the next quadrennium.
John C. Bowling was elected as the 38th general superintendent on Tuesday, but on Thursday morning, citing a lack of peace with the decision, rescinded his acceptance. Graves then was declared the 38th superintendent, and voting commenced for the 39th.
Upon Toler’s acceptance of the election, General Superintendent Nina G. Gunter declared him the 39th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.