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CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST SIGNS NEW THREE YEAR AGREEMENT TO KEEP LARGEST CONVENTION IN ST. LOUIS
Memphis, TN (July 20, 2015) The Church of God in Christ has signed a new three-year agreement that will keep its largest convention in St. Louis through 2019.
The oldest African American Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), has decided to keep its largest annual convention, the Holy Convocation, in St. Louis, MO. The convention, which has exceeded over 30,000 attendees yearly since coming to St. Louis in 2010, has brought nearly $150 million to the regional economy over the past five years.
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. says, “The Church of God in Christ Holy Convocation is returning to St. Louis, Missouri and the delegates and leaders of our denomination are excited. St. Louis has been the new home for our largest convention for five years now, and the hospitality that we have received while here has been great.”
Keith Kershaw, COGIC Director for the Office of Convention Planning says, “We have chosen to return to St. Louis through 2019 because we like St. Louis and from every indication, the city likes that we are a part of its convention schedule. As one of the largest, if not the largest convention (i.e. 2010-2013), St. Louis fits our needs and has proven to be a great match.”
The 2015 Holy Convocation is sure to have an overflow attendance. Special guest speakers recently announced include Bishop T.D. Jakes and Bishop Paul S. Morton.
About the Church of God in Christ:
The Church of God in Christ is the fourth largest Protestant religious denomination and the largest African American Pentecostal church in the United States with churches in 63 countries worldwide and an estimated membership of nearly 6.5 million adherents.
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A Pastoral Letter to the Saints of the Church of God in Christ
From Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr,:
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:11-12).
On today, the 26th of June 2015, the majority of the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that has made same-sex marriage legal in all of the states of the Union. The Court made its decision based on its reading of the United States Constitution. Today, the Church of God in Christ reaffirms its long-held position that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, basing our decision firmly on the Bible. As Christians, we believe that the Bible teaches marriage to be a lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Christians, we are called to proclaim and practice this doctrine. Our ultimate trust is in God and not in any court or government. We trust God. So, I write to you, saints of God, as a stranger and pilgrim in our contemporary society.
We understand even better now why the Bible calls Christians “strangers and pilgrims” in the world (I Peter 2:11). It is clearer now why Jesus instructed us to be in the world but “not of the world" (John 17:15-16). In fact, today’s Supreme Court decision is just another legal law that makes the holiness message even stranger to our society. While the moral landscape of our society has definitely shifted, we know that the Bible is yet right and God still reigns.
In a democracy such as ours, we are to be ruled by laws. As Christians who are strangers and pilgrims, we have found ourselves at various junctures unable to find a biblical basis for key legal laws that govern our society. It is a fact that the United States of America has now added same-sex marriage to a list of legal rights which adults may exercise but the Church of God in Christ does not practice, including: gambling; the production, distribution, selling and consumption of alcoholic beverages; the practice of the smoking of tobacco; the purchase of pornography; and the securing of abortions. In the states that permit the recreational use of marijuana, we opt not to exercise the right to use that drug. As Christians who are strangers and pilgrims, we refuse to exercise these particular legal rights, understanding the Bible as calling Christians to holiness. We are not called to panic nor be anxious; we are called to live a holy life. We are called to live a Christian life as commanded by the Bible; we are called to be in the world but “not of the world." We are called to trust God.
Love is central to a life of holiness. The Bible is clear that Christians are called to love all people. We must resist the temptation only to love those who think like us. Regardless of the personal religious convictions and moral choices of people, we are called to love. We are not commanded to agree with them on all topics. The Bible commands us to love (Matthew 22:39). We are also called to recognize the legal rights of all citizens, regardless of the legal moral choices that they make.
Living in a pluralistic society, clear legal rights have been granted to all citizens. We must remind everyone that our government grants the Church of God in Christ and other religious organizations the legal right for each of us to express our religious convictions, as well as to live out our doctrinal and moral teachings. It also grants us the right to co-exist with those whose beliefs and lifestyles differ from ours. More importantly, we believe the right to religious freedom is a God-given right. We call upon the U.S. government aggressively to protect and preserve the right of religious freedom for all Americans.
As Christians who are strangers and pilgrims, we are indeed living in and “Called to Minister and Witness to a Deeply Distressed and Troubled World.” The church must prepare to receive wholeheartedly and minister effectively to people seeking the biblical understanding of marriage, a biblical Christian lifestyle, and the uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let us speak the truth with conviction and with care, with patience and with love. Let us proclaim the gospel with courage. Let us embrace our calling to live as strangers and pilgrims in society. Let us live the holy life with boldness. Let us witness unashamedly to the power of the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
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.
The theme of Vacation Bible School, at Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Pastor Ben Stephens, President of the International Youth Department, is Life and Death in America: The Role of The Church. They had no idea how close to home that theme would be.
When tragedy struck, in Charleston, Pastor Benjamin Stephens of Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ says it was felt in Kansas City, as well.
“It’s unfortunate that he wanted to hurt black people, but as I share with my congregation here at Trinity Temple, we don’t have a white issue, we don’t have a black issue, we don’t even have a gun issue, we really have a sin issue,” said Stephens.
The church is holding it’s annual vacation bible school, meaning kids are here, all week; kids who know what happened. Stephens says now is not the time to shield them, but to teach about race and racism.
“It’s going to take individuals saying they have a responsibility to God and to their faith, and to their community to reach these young children. And, I don’t believe there’s an age. If they’re old enough to say yes and no, they’re old enough to be responsible,” the pastor said.
Stephens also said if it were him, he would have allowed Dylann Roof inside his church, as well, in a spirit of love and acceptance. He says it to make the point that his tragedy could have happened anywhere, even in Grandview.
Article Published by KCTV (Meredith Corp.)
The Church of God In Christ extends truly deep and sincere condolences to the families of the 9 innocent victims who lost their lives during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on Wednesday, June 17th in Charleston, South Carolina.
We join with the millions of voices throughout the world in decrying the senseless shooting of worshippers at Mother Emanuel Church. Sadly, we are living in an increasingly perilous time.
We believe this particularly egregious hate crime to be indicative of the bitter fruit that hate always produces. Hate crimes against the African American community are instigated by powerful voices that misinform susceptible individuals about the desperate plight of our community. Instead of honestly addressing the systemic causes, voices of ignorance and hatred attribute problems within the African American community to race. Buying into this lie justifies actions such as we witnessed in Charleston, SC last night.
The tragedy at Mother Emanuel Church is yet another wake up call to the entire African American Church, calling for effectual prayer coupled with sustained action. In this moment, our hope is that the Body of Christ will come together in unity, as never before, to address the violence, the poverty, the racism, the economic disenfranchisement and inequality that is ripping the fabric of our communities and indeed the entire nation apart.
While it is certainly difficult to comprehend such senseless acts of hate and terror, we stand in solidarity with Christians everywhere, believing that the peace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, surpasses all of our understanding. May the hearts of the victims’ families be comforted by this sustaining truth alone
Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Church of God in Christ, Inc.
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.