- About COGIC
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Psalm 20:16
Welcome to the home page of the General Board of the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. The men selected to lead the Church were chosen by God and the membership of the Church Of God In Christ. We hope you enjoy learning more about the Church leadership and the important role they have in leading God’s people.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalms 33:12) KJV
The General Board of the Church of God in Christ, Inc (COGIC) is responsible for establishing and executing policies for the membership, as well as sustaining and perpetuating spiritual order within the Church. These twelve bishops, chosen from the Board of Bishops, are voted into office by the General Assembly for a term of four years. Executive decisions made by the General Board are final unless revoked or modified by the General Assembly. The General Board convenes three times a year for official meetings in the months of April, November and at the time the presiding bishop deems necessary.
The Presiding Bishop of the Church Of God In Christ is Bishop Charles E. Blake, pastor of West Angeles Church Of God In Christ in Los Angeles, CA. Through his leadership the board has continued its vision which is based on Titus 1:5, in which the Apostle Paul appointed Titus to lead the people of Crete as an elder. Bishop P.A. Brooks, 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop and Bishop Jerry W. Macklin, 2nd Assistant Presiding Bishop serve as Presiding Bishop Blake’s special aides on the General Board.
As the spiritual leadership of 6.5 million members worldwide, the Church Of God In Christ General Board has a Pentecostal vision to carry out a message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
The Right Reverend
|Bishop Wilbur Wyatt Hamilton||Bishop Samuel L. Green, Jr.|
|Bishop J. Neaul Haynes|
The Constitutional General Board (1922)
The Late Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, Founder, Senior Bishop and First Apostle
|Overseer R.R. Booker||Overseer D. Bostic|
|Overseer E.R. Driver||Overseer J. Bowe|
|Overseer William Curtis||Overseer R. H. I. Clark|
|Overseer D. J. Young||Overseer E. M. Page|
|Overseer C. C. Frederick||Overseer Mack E. Jonas|
|Overseer V. M. Barker|
Former General Board Members – (1968 – 2009)
|The Late Bishop A.B. McEwen, Sr||The Late Bishop Frederick Douglas Washington|
|The Late Bishop D. Lawrence Williams, Sr||The Late Bishop John Dale Husband|
|The Late Bishop Clarence E. Bennett||The Late Bishop Ithiel Conrad Clemmons|
|The Late Bishop Wyoming Wells||The Late Bishop Cleveland Landis Anderson, Jr|
|The Late Bishop Samuel Martin Crouch||The Late Bishop William Morgan James|
|The Late Bishop Otha Miema Kelly||The Late Bishop Harold Jenkins Bell|
|The Late Bishop John Seth Bailey||The Late Bishop Ozro Thurston Jones, Jr|
|The Late Bishop Junious Augustus Blake, Sr||The Late Bishop Leroy Robert Anderson|
|The Late Bishop John Walter White||The Late Bishop Levi Edward Willis, Sr|
|The Late Bishop Willie Lee Porter||Bishop Jacob Cohen|
|Bishop DeWitt Arthur Burton||Bishop Earl Jerome Wright, Sr|
|The Late Presiding Bishop James Oglethorpe Patterson, Sr.,||The Late Presiding Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson|
|The Late Presiding Bishop Louis Henry Ford||The Late Presiding Bishop Chandler David Owens|
MEMORANDUM CONCERNING THE RECENT SUPREME COURT RULING ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court”), by a 5-4 majority vote, issued a landmark ruling making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. While the Supreme Court’s ruling clearly requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages from other states, at the present time, it is unclear how the Supreme Court’s ruling affects clergy, churches, religious nonprofits, parochial schools, and other church operated and/or affiliated entities.
In light of the uncertain impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) publishes this Memorandum to provide guidance to congregations and clergy throughout the Church Of God In Christ in regards to their current church policies to ensure that they align with the Church Of God In Christ’s resolution on same-sex marriage approved by the General Assembly on November 10, 2014 (the “2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution”). The OGC has received numerous queries regarding the impact of this ruling on religious institutions throughout the United States. While there are no definitive answers at the present time, it is important to recognize that a number of states and their law-making bodies continue to consider legislation that addresses particular exceptions for religious institutions. In the meanwhile, the OGC publishes this Memorandum to offer guidance to local pastors as churches review their bylaws, policies, practices and other rules, and conform them, if necessary, to ensure that they align with the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution.
The OGC recommends that you consider the following actions:
Local congregations should adopt a building use policy that prohibits the use of its church facilities to conduct same-sex marriages and other activities related to such unions. Should your church be challenged on this issue, courts will likely conclude that the greatest constitutional protection under the First Amendment applies to churches that only allow members in good standing to use their premises for weddings or other related activities. However, such constitutional protection may be diminished or eliminated in the case of churches that rent their facilities to the general public as a revenue-raising activity. Church leaders should carefully consider the potential downside of entering the commercial marketplace in order to raise church funds. Thus, churches should avoid advertising their facilities for public use. Once a church begins to “look like” it is in the business of facilitating public weddings, it may become subject to non-discrimination commerce laws.
Local congregations should consider adopting a policy that not only limits weddings, but also funerals and baby dedications to members of the congregation in good standing with the faith and teachings of the Church Of God In Christ. “Members in good standing” should be carefully defined as members who offer evidence by their confession and conduct that they are living in accord with the faith, teachings and doctrine of the Church Of God In Christ.
Many who are opposed to same-sex marriage are encouraging churches to amend their bylaws or other governing document(s) to insert a provision defining marriage as exclusively a union between one man and one woman. While such an amendment is not inappropriate, it may be unnecessary, redundant, or ineffective for the following reasons:
First, the governing documents of many religious denominations contain provisions that provide a theological basis for a church’s definition of marriage. As mentioned above, the General Assembly of the Church Of God In Christ adopted the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution in November 2014, which prohibits our clergy from performing same-sex marriages and precludes our church facilities from being leased, rented, or loaned for any purpose related to such a union. Because the General Assembly is the law expressing body of our church and the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution governs the conduct of our licensed clergy and member churches, amending the bylaws of your local church to reflect the same is not necessary, but optional.
Second, bylaws are rules of internal governance and administration. Policies pertaining to marriage or other issues are best addressed in a policy manual.
Third, and most importantly, a bylaw amendment adding a marriage policy to a church’s bylaws is no guaranty of protection since it might be ignored by an activist court. For example, in 1983, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) had properly revoked the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University on the basis of its racially discriminatory practices, even though the university based its practices on biblical grounds that were clearly referenced in its governing documents. This suggests that bylaw amendments are no guaranty of protection.
The bottom line is that including a statement in a church’s bylaws defining marriage may be of some help should the church’s tax exemptions be challenged, or if the church is sued for violating a public accommodations law due to its refusal to host same-sex marriages, but it, in itself, is no guaranty of protection.
The November 2014 Same-Sex Resolution prohibits licensed credential holders of the Church Of God In Christ from performing same-sex marriages. Therefore, the OGC recommends that our clergy:
C. Tax exempt Status of Religious Schools and churches
A question frequently asked is: Are the tax exemptions of religious schools, churches and organizations jeopardized by the recent Supreme Court ruling? Possibly.
As discussed above, in 1983, the Supreme Court upheld the IRS’s revocation of the tax-exempt status of a university based on its racially discriminatory practices, even though the university based its practices on an interpretation of the Bible clearly articulated in its governing documents. The Supreme Court’s ruling in that case suggests that doctrinal provisions in the governing documents of religious schools that are viewed by the IRS or the courts as incompatible with the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry may not be enough to fend off IRS challenges to tax-exempt status.
This same logic could apply to churches based on the Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex marriage as a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. Some legal experts believe that churches that engage in any discriminatory practices involving sex, sexual identity, or sexual orientation should be denied tax-exempt status.
The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling leaves many unanswered questions. The OGC will be monitoring developments and will provide you with updates when warranted. We ask that if you become aware of any proposed or active legislation in your respective states or municipalities regarding this issue that you notify our office at [email protected].
 This Memorandum contains certain excerpts from Richard Hammar, Supreme Court Decision: Four Common Questions, PE News! (June 30, 2015), available at http://penews.org/Article/Supreme-Court-Decision–Four-Common-Questions/?fb_ref=Default
 Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015 WL 213646 (2015).
 A copy of the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution is attached to this Memorandum as Exhibit A. The 2014 Same-Sex Marriage Resolution reaffirms a previous resolution against same-sex marriage adopted by the General Assembly on April 13, 2004.
 Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983). In Bob Jones, the Supreme Court, in particular, held that the religion clauses of the First Amendment did not prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from revoking the tax exempt status of a religious university whose practices are contrary to a compelling government public policy, such as eradicating racial discrimination.
 Please note that churches are tax exempt by law. Therefore, a church does not need to obtain 501(c)(3) status to be tax exempt. But once a church obtains 501(c)(3) exempt status, it must abide by the federal code governing such religious nonprofit organizations.
 Senate Bill 2065, also known as The Pastor Protection Act, protects houses of worship, religious organizations and their employees and clergy or ministers, from being required to participate in a marriage or celebration of a marriage if it would violate a sincerely held religious belief.
The death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore is yet another tragic loss in a series of apparent criminal acts perpetrated by certain law enforcement officers against African American men. The Church of God in Christ offers our sincere condolences to the Gray family and to the many families throughout the nation devastated by the loss of loved ones under similar circumstances.
The swift indictment of the six police officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray is the correct message: that no one is above the law and that the lives of young African American men have value. We are prayerful that the Gray family will ultimately receive the justice that was denied to the families of so many young men who lost their lives at the hands of the police.
Police brutality along with racial inequalities in the criminal justice system have had a negative impact on African Americans since the end of slavery. In the sixties, it was the primary cause of rage among blacks identified by the Kerner Commission Report. Since then it has continued to plague African Americans of every generation provoking outrage, protests and even riots.
Harvard sociologist Bruce Western argues that the riots of the sixties fueled a national backlash and a preoccupation with law and order which was the catalyst for the current epidemic of mass incarceration which is decimating the black community.
We decry the cruel victimization that is prevalent in the inner city and seek to highlight the root causes of the injustice that African Americans across the nation suffer. We urge the immediate adoption and implementation of social policies and laws that will stem the tide of violence unleashed on our citizens by those charged with protecting and serving.
Despite the injustice African Americans face at the hands of society, in general, and law enforcement, in particular, violence and rioting are never justified. Therefore, we condemn such behavior in the strongest terms possible. Violence is antithetical to Christian teaching and counterproductive.
We must continue to follow the example of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and the work of so many other Civil Rights leaders who won an end to segregation through non-violent tactics.
We both urge and support the continuance of peaceful demonstrations which typify our preferred response in Baltimore and where ever the cry for justice needs to be heard.
The Church of God in Christ will continue working in concert with government and civil society to achieve change. We will aggressively advocate for enacting social policies and laws that will ameliorate the current, untenable situation and reverse the militarization of our local police forces while strengthening community policing practices.
The Federal Government’s recent decision to provide funding for body cameras for police forces in small and medium sized cities is an excellent example of policies that can lead to true progress. Research indicates that both police officers and the public are more judicious in their actions when body cameras are used.
We believe the ultimate prescription for our inner cities must give all citizens access to quality education, jobs that pay a living wage, a fair criminal justice system and policies that strengthen the family and promote financial literacy.
With the help of God, we can turn our urban neighborhoods around.
Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Presiding Bishop & Chief Apostle
Seventh in Succession
Church of God in Christ
SOUTH AFRICAN BISHOP NAMED NEW COGIC INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS PRESIDENT
February 25, 2015 (Memphis, TN) Bishop Vincent Mathews, Jr. has been chosen to lead the International Missions Department of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC).
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. has, with the approval of the General Board of the Church of God in Christ, selected Bishop Vincent Mathews, Jr. to be the new president of the International Missions Department. Bishop Mathews succeeds Bishop Carlis Moody who served admirably as president for over forty years.
Bishop Mathews is the jurisdictional prelate of the South African First Jurisdiction and the pastor of Tabernacle COGIC in Ivory Park, Johannesburg.
Presiding Bishop Blake says, “Bishop Vincent Mathews, Jr. has a heart for missions. His desire to reach those men and women in the countries around the globe where the Church of God in Christ is located, and beyond, will continue our church’s long tradition of empowering people to transform their communities.”
For the past 10 ½ years, Bishop Mathews and his devoted wife, Sharon Mathews, have served as full-time COGIC missionaries in South Africa. They have been married for 21 years and have 10 children.
Bishop Mathews says, “I'm honored that Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and the General Board have afforded me the opportunity to serve as International Missions President. I am confident that thousands of saints of the Church of God in Christ will join me and answer the call to extreme commitment to The Great Commission through radical, relevant and innovative worldwide ministry.”
Bishop Matthews was born in the United States and left a lucrative career in education to go on the mission field. He received a BA from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, an MA from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and a Doctorate of Theology from North Carolina College of Theology. He has authored six books and loves the ministry of worldwide missions.
About the Church of God in Christ:
The Church of God in Christ is one of the oldest Pentecostal denominations in the world and the 4th largest Protestant group in the United States with churches in 63 countries worldwide and a membership of nearly 6.5 million adherents.
PENTECOSTAL LEADERS REPRESENTING MILLIONS MEET TO DISCUSS CRITICAL TOPICS
February 23, 2015 (Los Angeles, CA) Leaders from six global Pentecostal denominations, representing over 90 million members combined, recently met in Los Angeles to discuss a wide range of international and domestic topics.
The Pentecostal Leaders Summit convened for three days last week in Los Angeles, California to discuss a number of topics including the effects of terrorism, the church’s role in racial harmony, religious freedom, and same-sex issues facing the church just to name a few.
The leaders in attendance included Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ; Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God; Dr. Glenn C. Burris President, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel; Bishop Doug Beacham, General Superintendent/Presiding Bishop, International Pentecostal Holiness Church; Dr. Mark Williams, General Overseer, Church of God; Rev. Randall A. Bach, President, Open Bible Churches and Dr. Jack W. Hayford, Former President, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Additional persons in attendance included other elected officials from each organization.
A goal of the summit was to provide an opportunity for each leader to listen and discuss the various national and international crisis-facing Christians around the globe, while also seeking to help bring unity to the Body of Christ globally.
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. says, “This gathering of Pentecostal leaders has provided each person with a unique opportunity to come to Los Angeles and dialogue with their contemporaries in other denominations, with similar beliefs, about issues that are confronting us all.” He further states, “This summit has shown us what we, as Christian leaders, have said and known for some time now: We are all better when we come together as one.”
Dr. George O. Wood states, “This was truly an historical meeting. We are all the grandsons and granddaughters of the Azusa Street revival, and in these days, the Holy Spirit is drawing us together in united witness, fulfilling the prayer of Jesus that the world would know us by our love for one another.”
Dr. Glen Burris emphasized, "There is a strong sense that the conversations among us have resonated much like the early church, that experienced a 'one accord' dynamic. An African proverb says, 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' Finishing the Great Commission will require all of us.”
The last discussion topic of the summit was how the six denominations can continue in dialog with one another and provide opportunities to include additional Pentecostal denominations and enlarge the representation from each group.
Bishop Doug Beacham shares, “People are so thankful that we are meeting like this. Whatever steps we take are important for us, for our country and for revival . . .”
Dr. Mark L. Williams declares, “Our shared history along with the collegiality and genuine respect we have for one another holds great promise and unlimited potential for fulfilling the mission for which Jesus died. Only a united church can reach a divided world. We must be one.”
Rev. Randall A. Bach explains, “It is always meaningful to gather with leaders of like faith. It is particularly joyful, however, to fellowship and collaborate with leaders of like experience, who love and pursue the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Our family of ministers and churches embrace and value our sister fellowships with love and respect. Unity in the Spirit glorifies the Lord.”
This is the first time in history a conference of this kind, with these leaders representing such a large and diverse membership, has ever taken place.
Letter from George O. Wood, General Superintendent – Assemlies of God
Bishop Charles Harrison Mason was born September 8,1864, on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. His father and mother, Jerry and Eliza Mason, were members of a Missionary Baptist Church, having been converted during the dark crises of American Slavery. Elder Mason was converted in November, 1878, and baptized by his brother, I.S. Nelson, a Baptist Preacher, who was pastoring the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church near Plumerville, Arkansas.
In 1893, he began his Christian Ministry with the accepting of ministerial licenses from the Mt. Gale Missionary Baptist Church, in Preston, Arkansas. He then experienced sanctification through the word of God and preached his first sermon in “Holiness” from II Timothy 2:1-3: “Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” On November 1, 1893, Elder Mason matriculated into the Arkansas Baptist College, but withdrew after three months because of his dissatisfaction with the methods of teaching and the presentation of the Bible message. He then returned to the streets and to every pulpit that was opened to him declaring Christ by the word, example, and precept.
In 1895, Bishop Mason met Elder C.P. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi; Elder J.E. Jeter, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Elder W.S. Pleasant of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, who subsequently became Bishop Mason’s closest companions in the ministry.
Jointly, these militant gospel preachers conducted a revival in 1896, in Jackson, Mississippi, which had far-reaching affects on the city.
The theophanic manifestations of the revival, which included the large numbers that were converted, sanctified, and healed by the power of faith and the dogmatic teachings of Bishop Mason on the doctrine of sanctification caused church doors within the Baptist association to become closed to him and to all those that believed and supported his teachings.
So in 1897, when these pioneering, persistent preachers returned to Jackson, Mississippi, Bishop Mason was forced to deliver his first message from the south entrance of the courthouse. A Mr. John Lee, who desired to see Bishop Mason’s ministry continue, provided the living room of his home the next night. Because of the overwhelming number that attended, a Mr. Watson, the owner of an abandoned warehouse in Lexington, Mississippi, gave his consent to transfer the revival meeting to the gin house on the bank of a little creek.
This gin house subsequently became the meeting house for the Church of God in Christ. This miracle deliverance revival was such a success it stirred up the “Devil”, causing someone to shoot five pistol shots and two double barreled shotgun blasts into the midst of the saints while they were shouting and praying. Some persons were wounded but miraculously, none of the shots were fatal.
At the close of the meeting, it was necessary to organize the people for the purpose of establishing a church with a stronger appeal and greater encouragement for all Christians and believers, a church which would emphasize the doctrine of entire sanctification through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
A meeting was mutually called by Elder Mason, Elder Jones, and Elder Pleasant, and sixty stood as charter members. Land was soon bought on Gazoo Street, from Mrs. John Ashcraft, just beyond the corporate line, upon which was built a little edifice 60×40. These charter members formed a Pentecostal body known as the “Church of God.”
Subsequently, in 1897, while seeking a spiritual name which would distinguish the church from others of the similar title, the name “Church of God in Christ” was revealed to Bishop mason while walking along a certain street in Little Rock, Arkansas. The following scripture supported his revelation: I Thessalonians 2:14, “For ye brethren became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye have suffered like things of your own countrymen even as they have of the Jews.” All of the brethren unanimously agreed to the name of “Church of God in Christ.”
Later, the church was reorganized during which Elder C.P. Jones was chosen as General Overseer. Elder C.H. Mason was appointed as overseer of Tennessee, and Elder J.A. Jeter was overseer of Arkansas. The turning point in Elder Mason’s life came in March, 1907, when he journeyed to Los Angeles, California, to attend a great Pentecostal revival with Elder D.J. Young and Elder J.A. Jeter. Elder W.J. Seymour was preaching concerning Luke 24:49, “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” Elder Mason became convinced that it was essential for him to have the outpouring of the Holy ghost.
The following are excerpts from Elder Mason’s personal testimony regarding his receiving the Holy Ghost.
“The first day in the meeting I sat to myself, away from those that went with me. I began to thank God in my heart for all things, for when I heard some speak in tongues, I knew it was right though I did not understand it. Nevertheless, it was sweet to me.
I also thank God for Elder Seymour who came and preached a wonderful sermon. His words were sweet and powerful and it seems that I hear them now while writing. When he closed his sermon, he said ‘All of those that want to be sanctified or baptized with the Holy Ghost, go to the upper room; and all those that want to be justified, come to the altar.’
I said that is the place for me, for it may be that I am not converted and if not, God knows it and can convert me…”
“The second night of prayer I saw a vision. I saw myself standing alone and had a dry roll of paper in my mouth trying to swallow it. Looking up towards the heavens, there appeared a man at my side. I turned my eyes at once, then I awoke and the interpretation came.
God had me swallowing the whole book and if I did not turn my eyes to anyone but God and Him only, He would baptize me. I said yes to Him, and at once in the morning when I arose, I could hear a voice in me saying, ” I see…”
“I got a place at the altar and began to thank God. After that, I said Lord if I could only baptize myself, I would do so; for I wanted the baptism so bad I did not know what to do. I said, Lord, You will have to do the work for me; so I turned it over into His hands.”
“Then, I began to ask for the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:41, which readeth thus: ‘Then they that gladly received His word were baptized,’ Then I saw that I had a right to be glad and not sad.”
“The enemy said to me, there may be something wrong with you. Then a voice spoke to me saying, if there is anything wrong with you, Christ will find it and take it away and marry you…Someone said, ‘Let us sing.’ I arose and the first song that came to me was ‘He brought me out of the Miry Clay.’
The Spirit came upon the saints and upon me…Then I gave up for the Lord to have His way within me. So there came a wave of Glory into me and all of my being was filled with the Glory of the Lord.
So when He had gotten me straight on my feet, there came a light which enveloped my entire being above the brightness of the sun. When I opened my mouth to say Glory, a flame touched my tongue which ran down me. My language changed and no word could I speak in my own tongue. Oh! I was filled with the Glory of the Lord. My soul was then satisfied.”
This new Pentecostal experience which Elder Mason found for himself, for he began to proclaim to others upon his return home to Memphis, Tennessee as a New Testament doctrine. A division, subsequently, became evident within the ranks of Elder Mason’s contemporaries when Elder J. A. Jeter, the General Overseer, Elder C. P. Jones, and others regarded the new Holy Ghost experience of speaking in tongues as a delusion. Being unable to resolve their difference in the New Testament doctrine.
The General Assembly terminated by withdrawing the “right hand” of fellowship from C. H. Mason. Elder Mason then called a conference in Memphis, Tennessee of all ministers who believed in receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to the scriptures in Acts 2:1-4. Those who responded to Elder Mason’s urgent call were E. R. Driver, J.Bowe, R.R. Booker, R. E. Hart, W. Welsh, A. A. Blackwell, E. M. Page, R.H. I. Clark, D. J. Young, James Brewer, Daniel Spearman and J. H. Boone.
These men of God organized the first Pentecostal General Assembly of the “Church of God in Christ.” Overseer C. H. Mason was then chosen unanimously as the General Overseer and Chief Apostle of our denomination. He was given complete authority to establish doctrine, organize auxiliaries and appoint overseers.
Dr. Hart was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J.A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J. Bowe the Overseer of Arkansas; later J. A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Mississippi. As the church grew, Elder E. M. Page was appointed Overseer of Texas; Elder R.R. Booker, Overseer of Missouri; Elder E. R. Driver, Overseer of California and Elder W. B. Holt as the National Field Secretary.
As the Chief Apostle, he immediately dedicated twenty days, November 25th through December 14th annually as a meeting time for all of his followers to fellowship with each other and to transact all ecclesiastical and secular affairs pertinent to the growth of the National Organization.
This segment of the year was chosen because the majority of the communicants of the church lived in farming districts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. By this time of the year, they had sufficient provisions and financial resources from the harvesting of their crops, to enable them to attend and support a national meeting.
The first National meetings were held at 392 South Wellington Street, Memphis, Tennessee. The first National Tabernacle was built and completed at 958 South Fifth Street, in 1925.
This Tabernacle, however, was destroyed by fire twelve years later in 1936. In the interim until 1945, our National Convocation was held within the Church pastored by Bishop Mason at 672 South Lauderdale. In1945, Bishop Mason was able to visualize the culmination of his dream. He dedicated the Mason Temple at Memphis, Tennessee which was built for less than $400,000 during World War II. This auditorium became the largest convention hall owned by any colored religious group in America.
Under Bishop Mason’s spiritual and apostolic direction our church has grown from ten congregations in 1907, to the largest Pentecostal group in America. The membership of the Church of God in Christ grew from three million in 1973 to an estimated 5.2 million in 1997.
Churches under the parent body in Memphis, Tennessee, are now established throughout the United States, on every continent, and in many of the islands of the sea.
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD LEADER SUPPORTS CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
BLACK LIVES MATTER SUNDAY
Memphis, TN (December 12, 2014) The Assemblies of God, the nation’s largest historically white Pentecostal denomination in the country, is supporting the Church of God in Christ, the largest black Pentecostal denomination’s Black Lives Matter Sunday.
The two largest Pentecostal denominations are standing united in solidarity to support Black Lives Matter Sunday, December 14, 2014.
The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the Assemblies of God (AG) are unified in the effort that asks churches around the country to set aside the day to pray for African American men, because of the recent controversial grand jury decisions in Staten Island, New York and Ferguson, Missouri not to return indictments against white police officers in the deaths of two black males, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the AG wrote a letter to all of the AG pastors saying in part, “First and foremost black lives matter. The lives of all people are precious to God, of course, but at the present moment, our black brothers and sisters feel that their lives are not highly valued by white America.”
He further states, “Because black lives matter, and because America needs the Church to heal its lingering racial divisions, I ask that Assemblies of God churches join the Church of God in Christ on Sunday, December 14, 2014, and pray.”
COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. says, “I am grateful for this unprecedented letter and show of support from Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Dr. Wood and the AG demonstrate the love and healing power of Christ by standing with the Church of God in Christ to categorically say, black lives matter.”
The Church of God in Christ and the Assemblies of God share a rich heritage. Today, the two church’s leaders also share a great friendship.
About the Church of God in Christ:
The Church of God in Christ is the fifth largest Protestant religious denomination and the largest African American church in the United States, with churches in 63 countries worldwide and an estimated membership of nearly 6.5 million members.
The Texas Centennial Jubilee
Commemorating 100 years of God’s overshadowing favor to the Church of God in Christ of Texas!
by Evangelist DeLisa Reed
We’ve come this far by faith leaning on the Lord! Trusting in His Holy Word, He’s never failed us yet! Oh . . . can’t turn around . . . we’ve come this far by faith!
In the year 1914, Woodrow Wilson was U.S. President, Mother’s Day became a national holiday, World War I broke out, and the Church of God in Christ in the Great State of Texas embarked upon what would be the most significant era of its young life. When researching for historical events specifically related to July 8, 1914, the day Texas COGIC received Bishop E. M. Page, it is ironic that it would appear that God specifically set this day aside in history for the birthing of this phenomenal convocation of saints who would blaze the trails of holiness for many, many others to follow.
The Texas Centennial Jubilee Celebration was nothing short of amazing, bringing droves of saints from all over the state to New Life Tabernacle Church of God in Christ for this two-day celebration held August 15-16, 2014 in Houston, Texas. Hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and, yes, tongue-speaking, electrifying praise and worship filled the atmosphere in remembering those long gone, honoring those who yet remain but who have become seasoned with grace, and commemorating and encouraging those left to energetically carry on the work. What an honor, 100 years later, to yet be able to stand and proclaim holiness and righteousness in a chaotic world discombobulated with societal, spiritual, and senseless moral conditions. Yet, and in spite of it all, the founding fathers of this great state would, nonetheless, be quite proud of the accomplishments, in addition to the impact the jurisdictions of Texas have had on this country and particularly within the Church of God in Christ.
Given the charge in achieving this grand celebratory event was Bishop A. Ladell Thomas, jurisdictional prelate of the Texas Southeast Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and chairman of the Texas Inter-Jurisdictional Council of Bishops, along with Bishop William Watson III, jurisdictional prelate of Texas Northwest Jurisdiction and general chairman of the Centennial Commission, as well as Bishop David R. Houston, jurisdictional prelate of Texas Northeast Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and program chairman of the Centennial Jubilee. In addition, included was the Texas Inter-Jurisdictional Council of Bishops representing the 13 jurisdictional bishops of Texas which originated under the leadership of Bishop Emeritus A. Ladell Thomas, Sr., and in whose footsteps his son is currently following. The influence of Bishop Thomas, Sr. has and is permeating Texas COGIC in a phenomenal way. Although retired from leadership, he has set a fine example for Bishop Thomas, Jr. in developing churches, mentoring leaders, and most importantly, modeling a sacrificial life of commitment and passionate service unto God and the people he was chosen to oversee.
Bishop Thomas stated that the event was a culmination of activities that made room for all leadership elements of the Church of God in Christ within Texas. It not only included the clergy, but incorporated the youth and women of the church as well. One of the highlights of the event was the presence of The Right Reverend Nathaniel Wyoming Wells, General Board member and jurisdictional prelate of the Michigan Western Jurisdiction, who shared with the Pastors and Elders Council about the laity report for the national church, and elaborated on ways that churches can invest in and grow their communities.
In addition, on the opening evening of the celebration, a powerful message was delivered by one of the pioneering Bishops of Texas, Bishop T. W. Johnson, jurisdictional prelate of Texas Northeast Third Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. Bishop Thomas recalled that Bishop Wells, alongside Superintendent Jimmy Glenn, VP of the International Department of Evangelism and superintendent of Texas Northeast’s Fort Worth Central District, was very involved in an old-fashioned altar call service which saw young and old going forth to minister to souls, wanting to be healed, delivered and set free.
On Saturday morning, the Department of Women was blessed by Supervisor Joyce Campbell of Texas Southeast Second who addressed the congregants and celebrated the contributions of pioneering women who were instrumental in the development of the Church of God in Christ of Texas. First Lady Evangelist Tihara Thomas, wife of Bishop A. Ladell Thomas, Jr. was also instrumental in addressing the bishops’ wives and celebrating those women who have labored alongside their husbands in building successful ministries. One of the highlighted celebrants of the day was Mother Alexander, the widow of Bishop J.E. Alexander, one of the original four jurisdictional bishops of Texas, along with Bishop F.L. Haynes, Bishop T.D. Iglehart, and Bishop R.E. Ranger.
On Saturday evening, the Texas Centennial Jubilee Celebration was blessed to have in its culminating service, the Honorable Presiding Bishop & Chief Apostle of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., The Most Reverend Charles Edward Blake, Sr. who electrified the house recalling the rich legacy and contributions of Texas in the national fiber of the Church of God in Christ. Chairman Thomas stated that Bishop Blake was grateful for the contributions of Texas to the national church and that according to Bishop Blake, “The Church of God in Christ would not be what it is if not for the contributions made and that continue to be made by the great state of Texas.”
Chairman Thomas stated that the mission of this celebration was not only to focus on the historical but to also provide for mentoring leadership that can help to sustain the church. After all, many of the national officers of the Church of God in Christ hail from Texas. In addition, known for its innovation and creativity, Texas native Evangelist Glenda Goodson, noted historian for the Church of God in Christ, explained that the formulation of “districts” originated under Bishop E.M. Page who saw a need for the financial undergirding of the Page Normal and Industrial School located in Hearne, TX. This school was established for the children of the church but was inclusive of other children from other reformations as well. Interestingly, Bishop C. H. Mason’s son, Bob, attended this school. So, Texas has been instrumental in laying the foundation for leadership that has propelled the Grand Ole’ Church of God in Christ to heights unknown.
Now, one cannot speak of Texas COGIC history without reflecting upon the contributions made by Dallas’s own, The Right Reverend J. Neaul Haynes, Jurisdictional Prelate of Texas Northeast First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and General Board Member Emeritus. Superintendent James E. Hornsby from the Dallas Mid Cities District recalled the wonderful recognition that was given to Bishop Haynes who is the longest serving Bishop in Texas. Superintendent Hornsby spoke eloquently of the words of expression given by Chairman Thomas who “took out special time to celebrate, appreciate and revere Bishop Haynes for his untiring commitment to the church.” Superintendent Hornsby also stated that the highly revered Bishop Haynes was “notably missed by his peers and others within the State of Texas.” Recognizing that Bishop Haynes is the only General Board member that Texas has ever had, it should be noted that he has served in every facet of the church as a whole, and his influence is etched in the corridors of history within the church for the duration of time.
This year-long celebration will climax in 2015 in Waco, Texas at the convocation grounds, referred to by Bishop Mason as the 2nd Memphis, where it all began in Texas. At this time, a monument will be erected that includes the names of the pioneering bishops of Texas COGIC and the numerous superintendents, pastors, elders, ministers as well as Supervisors, mothers, missionaries, and countless other unsung heroes who have undergirded and invested their time, energy, and resources into the foundational structure of the church.
When Chairman Thomas was asked how he would sum up the celebration as a whole, he stated, “PHENOMENAL! The whole celebration was well organized and unified the family in promoting fun, rekindling old friendships, and bringing about fellowship that unites the Body of Christ. People are still talking about it today. It was a joint effort of all the bishops, supervisors, and the laity as whole in making this event one to remember.” So, from the choir stand to the usher board and all in between, the Spirit of God was experienced by all in commemorating this journey of faith while leaning on the Lord and trusting in His Holy Word. May God continue to bless and get the glory out of the lives of the saints of the Church of God in Christ of TEXAS!