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!