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The General Board

Welcome from the General Board

“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.

The Role of the General Board

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.

Members of the General Board




The Right Reverend
Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
Los Angeles, California




The Right Reverend
Phillip Aquilla Brooks, II
First Assistant Presiding Bishop
Prelate, Michigan Northeast
Detroit, Michigan




The Right Reverend
Jerry Wayne Macklin
Second Assistant Presiding Bishop
Prelate, NorCal Metropolitan
Hayward, California




The Right Reverend
Roy Lawrence Hailey Winbush
Secretary to the General Board
Prelate, Louisiana First
Lafayette, Louisiana


The Right Reverend
Frank O. White
Asst. Secretary to the General Board
Prelate, New York Eastern Third
New York, New York


The Right Reverend
George Dallas McKinney
Prelate, California Southern Second
San Diego, CA


The Right Reverend
Nathaniel Wyoming Wells
Prelate, Michigan Western
Benton Harbor, Michigan


The Right Reverend
Sedgwick Daniels
Prelate, Wisconsin Southeast First
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


The Right Reverend
J. Drew Sheard
Prelate, North Central
Detroit, Michigan



The Right Reverend
Brandon B. Porter
Prelate, Tennessee Central
Memphis, Tennessee


The Right Reverend
Ted G. Thomas, Sr.
Prelate, Virgina First
Portsmouth, Virginia


The Right Reverend
Lawrence M. Wooten, Sr.
Prelate, Eastern Missouri Western Illinois
St. Louis, Missouri

Emeritus General Board Members

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


Preservation Of Life Campaign


pict-doorhangerThis is a Church Led National Faith Action as the Church’s response to the alarming numbers of incidents of VIOLENCE and SENSELESS DEATHS.


The PLC emerges by inspiration from the biblical account of God preserving the nation of Israel through DIVINE instruction of slaying a lamb and dipping the hyssop in its blood and placing the BLOOD on the doorposts of each home to PRESERVE THE LIVES IN THAT HOME FROM THE DEATH ANGEL. The Blood served as a TOKEN of that protection.

PLC’s TOKEN will be represented through a SOLID RED DOOR HANGER symbolizing the BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST over the doorposts which will be hung on the doorknob of EVERY HOUSEHOLD THAT EMBRACES THIS ACTION BY FAITH.

This FAITH ACTION will illustrate each participant’s agreement and stand in unity throughout each community and city of a DIVINE COVERING FROM SENSELESS VIOLENCE AND UNTIMELY DEATH and the PRESERVATION OF LIFE of the occupants in each house.

We are appealing to all communities of faith, churches, faith based organizations, residents, block clubs, community organizations and faith minded citizens of in every community to join in this FAITH ACTION

Click Here To Download PDF Version

For more information contact Superintendent Michael Eaddy, Chairman, General Council of Pastors and Elders773 531-4411 or [email protected]

Defending Our Leader



Please click on the name below to see that letter of support.

Bishop P. A. Brooks – 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop

Bishop George D. McKinney – General Board Member

Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten

Elder Eugene F. Rivers

Bishop J. A. Blake

Bishop James L. Whitehead, Jr.

Bishop Joe L. Ealy

Bishop Roger L. Jones

Bishop Charles E. Brown

Dr. Joe A. Chase, Jr.

Superintendent Billie E. Johnson I

Bishop Martin Luther Johnson

Bishop Charles H. Brewer, Jr.

Dr. Elijah H. Hankerson, III

Elder Uleses C. Henderson, Jr.

Elder Frank Robinson


Memo On Same Sex Ruling



On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court”), by a 5-4 majority vote, issued a landmark ruling[2] 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”).[3]  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:


  1. Develop a Building Use Policy that Prohibits the Use of Church Facilities For Same-Sex Marriages and Other Related Activities

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.

  1. Develop a Policy that Limits Weddings, Funerals, and Baby Dedications to Members Only

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.

  1. Bylaws

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.[4]  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,[5] 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:

  1. Refrain from conducting, or engaging in the appearance of, conducting a wedding business for the public; and
  2. Consider limiting your official role in weddings to members of your local congregations in good standing with the faith and teachings of the Church Of God In Christ.  This way, pastors should have some familiarity with the beliefs and/or lifestyle of the couples they are marrying.  We understand that this may appear as a rather brash suggestion, however, until more clarity is provided on the issue, either by your local, state and/or federal legislators, caution should be taken in this area.  As of this writing, we are aware that the state of Texas has enacted the Pastor Protection Act[6] and the states of Kansas and Tennessee are pursing similar legislation.  However, there is much uncertainty in the majority of our states on this issue.  As an additional precaution, or in the alternative, clergy may want to condition their services upon the successful completion of at least one marriage counseling session with you prior to the wedding.  If you choose this option, you should not receive any money until the session is successfully completed by the couple.

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. 

D. Conclusion

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].

Click Here For Print Version



[1]  This Memorandum contains certain excerpts from Richard Hammar, Supreme Court Decision: Four Common Questions, PE News! (June 30, 2015), available at–Four-Common-Questions/?fb_ref=Default

[2] Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015 WL 213646 (2015).

[3] 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.

[4] 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.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.


A Pastoral Statement on Police Violence Against Black Men

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

Missions President Selected


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).

pict-matthewsPresiding 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 Summit

Church of God in Christ PR
[email protected]




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

COGIC History: Bishop C.H. Mason

Bishop Charles Harrison Mason: #BlackHistory #COGICHistory #OurStory

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.

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