History of the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary
Established in 1970, and named after Bishop Charles Harrison Mason (September 8, 1864 – November 17, 1961), one of the most prolific and influential religious leaders in the twentieth century, the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary is a member of a cooperative theological educational venture known as the ITC. The ITC is a consortium of six seminaries and an interdenominational Christian Fellowship from different Protestant denominations. In other words, the Charles Harrison Mason Theological Seminary shares classroom buildings, a faculty, library, and an administration with five other constituent denominations and an Ecumenical Fellowship.These Seminaries and their church affiliation are the following: Gammon Theological Seminary (the United Methodist Church); The Baptist School of Theology (the Baptist Church); Phillips School of Theology (the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at the ITC); Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary (the Presbyterian Church, USA); Turner Theological Seminary (the African Methodist Episcopal Church); and the Richardson Ecumenical Fellowship, a group of students who are not from the six constituent denominations named above. There also is a Lutheran Center on the campus of the Interdenominational Theological Center. Other Seminaries and graduate schools are in Atlanta, and students at the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary may cross-register for classes at these institutions, namely at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Columbia Theological Seminary, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse School of Medicine.
Initial plans for the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary began in 1965 when Senior Bishop Ozro Thurston Jones, Sr., convened a planning committee to explore the possibility of the Church of God in Christ organizing a seminary and it becoming an affiliate of the Interdenominational Theological Center. He also invited Dr. Harry V. Richardson, President of ITC, to Memphis, Tennessee, to meet with that special committee assembled to discuss the idea. In the fall of 1968, the General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ approved a new Constitution, which authorized a new administrative infrastructure. This administration, headed by Presiding Bishop James Oglethorpe Patterson, Sr., and a Presidium called the General Board, made the idea of the Church of God in Christ having its own Seminary one of its priorities. Bishop Patterson convened another planning committee led by Bishop D. A. Burton, General Secretary of the Church, and Bishop Roy L. H. Winbush, President of the Publishing House. This committee finalized plans for organizing the Seminary and its entrance into the Interdenominational Theological Center.
In April 1970, the General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ authorized the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary becoming a Constituent Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center. Our current Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake, Sr., was elected the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary, while Dr. Leonard Lovett was chosen as the first President-Dean. The Seminary officially opened in the fall of 1970. Bishop Dr. Oliver J. Haney, Jr., served as President-Dean of the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary from 1974 until his retirement in June 2004. Elder Arthur F. Mosley served as the interim President-Dean from 2002-2005. Dr. Harold Bennett is the current President-Dean, and he was selected to lead the Seminary in 2005.