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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
William J. Seymour relocated from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, California. He began preaching from his base on Azusa Street. Seymour rejected the existing racial barriers in favor of “Unity in Christ” and he also rejected the then almost-universal barriers to women in any form of church leadership. This movement became known as the Azusa Street Revival. This street revival is where our founder, Bishop C.H. Mason, received the Holy Spirit. It is amazing to know that the obedience of one man, William J. Seymour, to start this revival and the obedience of Bishop Mason to attend the revival could change to course of the church as we know it and spurred the movement of Pentecostalism that we know and cherish today.
Amanda Berry Smith was an Evangelist in the Methodist church who traveled around the world spreading the Gospel of Christ. Her autobiography entitled, "An Autobiography The Story of the Lord's Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith the Colored Evangelist" discussed her conviction regarding the doctrine of sanctification. Her teachings and writings greatly influenced Bishop C.H. Mason's beliefs regarding the works of grace. He began preaching on sanctification and holiness even before being filled with the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street Revival. The life and ministry of this remarkable woman left an indelible mark on our Founder and the Church of God in Christ.
Bishop C.H. Mason commissioned Bishop R.F. Williams with the building of Mason Temple on April 12, 1940.
It is interesting to note that this commission was given during the Great Depression which the effects thereof were felt through the mid-1940's. We would do well to remember that a God-given vision is not predicated upon the economy of man.
During this time Steel Plants were only operating at 12% of capacity which made steel hard to come by. Miraculously, God made the needed provisions as Mason Temple has 210 tons of steel in the roof stresses and decking and 360,000 pounds of reinforcement steel in the construction.
The Tri-State Iron Works company wrote a letter of commendation to the Church of God in Christ saying, "We have sold your church for Mason Temple for July 1, 1940, until the present time $36,697.12, every penny of which has been paid in full. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for this business and to express our appreciation for the manner in which you have met your obligations. You should take proper pride in overcoming the many difficulties that a building of this size presents, and fell a solid satisfaction of this accomplishment.”
Mason Temple was completed in 1940 at a total cost of $237,323.06 which was a substantial cost that time.
Elder U.E. Miller, the Superintendent of Construction, remarked at the completion of Mason Temple that Bishop Mason's "latest achievement, the accomplished of the Mason Temple, will leave an indelible stamp on the future generation."
Today, Mason Temple, located at 930 Mason Street Memphis, TN, still serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration. This building is so much more than mere brick and mortar; it is a manifestation of a God-given vision, and the majestic headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. In its sacred halls, many souls are yet being healed, delivered and set free. It held the service where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I've Been To The Mountaintop" speech on the eve of his assassination and provided the host venue for former President Bill Clinton to address the Saints. But more importantly, Mason Temple holds the heart of the members of the Church of God in Christ, as we look on it with pride, nostalgia and reverence, celebrating the heritage of our glorious past while embracing a most promising future. We stand united and look forward to the "Greater Works" that God has in store for this "The Grand Ole Church of God in Christ."
If you would like to learn more about the History of Mason Temple, the COGIC Publishing House has an excellent resource called "Facts About the Temple." Click here for more information.
Theme for the Church Of God In Christ
for the year 2015 A. D.
Christ’s Extreme Sacrifice Calls
for Our Extreme Commitment
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (KJV) -
Downloadable 2015 Theme Graphics:
(Click image to open in new window, then right-click image and "save image as" to download)
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Church of God in Christ
Pastoral Statement on Police Executions
The brutal execution-style ambush and killing of two New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is a horrifying tragedy. Our prayers are for their families at this time. We pray also for the vast majority of police officers across this country who risk their lives on a daily basis to defend the public. The injustices suffered by black men can in no way justify this act of insanity. All who are committed to advancing the necessary systemic reforms of police practices and procedures must condemn this murder in no uncertain terms. It is essential to pursue justice for black men in a way that does not create an atmosphere that encourages violence or a disregard for the rule of law. This outrageous murder is sickeningly reminiscent of the avalanche of black-on-black murder that plagues our young men. We must be as determined to address the roots of this violence as we are to correct the injustices visited upon us by others. As Christians we are called to seek peace and pursue justice and to stand in compassion with the grieving families of these brave men who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the community.
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!