Congratulations to Pastor Roderick Hennings!

On July 19, 2015, Roderick L. Hennings, Senior Pastor of Zion Dominion Global Ministries was awarded a Doctorate of Theology Degree, by Dr. Don G. Jones, Founder and President of Midwest College of Theology. This degree is not only significant in the fact that Dr. Roderick L. Hennings studied and earned his doctorate degree, but also historically significant in the fact that Dr. Don G. Jones’ grandfather, Rev. E.E. Jones was one of the founding fathers of the Assemblies of God denomination, which was born out of the Church of God in Christ in 1911, the same denomination that Dr. Roderick Hennings serves as the International Director of Church Growth and Development, and also as a White House Liaison.

Dr. Hennings has a burden to see Pentecostal preachers equipped to do ministry on a cosmopolitan and relevant level. With this in mind, Dr. Hennings has partnered with the Midwest College of Theology and has established the R.L. Hennings Midwest College of Theology. The inaugural class will have over 70 students attending, on the campus of Zion Dominion Global Ministries. This bible accredited college will focus on a Systematic Theology developed for individuals thirsting for the knowledge of a deeper perspective creating a platform that uplifts the intelligentsia of men & women all over the world through academic discipline.

The R.L. Hennings Midwest College of Theology will be evolutionary, not only in the offering of Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates Degrees in Theology. In conjunction, Dr. Hennings is developing a Pastoral Track. The Pastoral Track is another curriculum that deals with Church Growth and Development and Second Man Ministry. The Second Man ministry equips Pastors to develop an effective and efficient succession plan.

The R.L. Hennings Midwest College of Theology is an exciting addition to the Body of Christ and The Church of God in Christ, Inc. it is an accredited, accelerated, and affordable college.

Dr. Roderick L. Hennings serves as the Senior Pastor of the 5,000 member Zion Dominion Global Ministries, the largest membership base in the Western New York area for the COGIC, two locations in the New York area; Amherst, NY & Rush NY. Roderick Hennings is the husband of one wife, Lady Pamela D. Hennings and the father of his only two daughters: Ariane and Chloé Hennings. Zion Dominion Global Ministries is a Ministry.

Changing Lives in an Unchanging World. For more information on the R.L. Hennings Midwest College of Theology please call: 716.250.7040

Bishop T.D. Jakes Statement

Please take a moment to read Bishop T.D. Jakes statement regarding his stance on homosexuality: Click here to read statement.

Prayers Needed for COGIC Family

COGIC Pastor loses daughters in a tragic accident. Please lift up Elder Ricardo Welch, the entire Welch family, and Prayer Tower COGIC in St. Petersburg.

Click here to read the full story.

Tribute Celebrating 75 Years!

A special tribute in honor of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.'s 75th birthday! 

AIM Tribute

COGIC Urban Initiatives & Jubilee Network Team Up in St. Louis

COGIC Urban Initiatives & Jubilee Network Team Up in St. Louis as Local police attend Cardinals game with St. Louis youth. Take a look at the video below:

KMOV.com

Memo On Same Sex Ruling

header-COGIC-GenCouncil-2

MEMORANDUM CONCERNING THE RECENT SUPREME COURT RULING ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES[1]

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:

A.  CONGREGATIONS

  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.

B. CLERGY

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 http://penews.org/Article/Supreme-Court-Decision–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.

 

COGIC Returns To St. Louis

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.

Save the Date: Leadership is in Albuquerque, NM!

Be sure to Save the Date, January 18 -21, when Leadership Conference will be in Albuquerque, NM!

God is Already There

Bishop Talbert Swan preaching “He is Already There!”… This snippet will Bless Your Soul!

Congratulations to COGIC’s Own Brother Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., Hyattsville, Maryland

We would like to take a moment to congratulate our own COGIC Brother Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., Hyattsville, Maryland for being honored by the White House as a Faith Leaders for Climate “Champions of Change”!  Please see the White House Office of Communications Press Release Below.

DOJ Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of Communications

 

White House Honors Faith Leaders for Climate “Champions of Change”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, July 20th, the White House will recognize twelve people of faith as “Champions of Change” for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change. These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change. The program will feature remarks by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit >www.whitehouse.gov/live<  on Monday, July 20th at 2:00 PM ET.  To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit >www.whitehouse.gov/champions<. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., Hyattsville, Maryland

Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a Church of God in Christ Elder and community activist. The Hip Hop Caucus is a national non-profit and has been building support for the climate movement among cultural influencers and celebrities. This work led to the launch of People’s Climate Music and the first ever climate album called HOME (Heal Our Mother Earth). After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Reverend Yearwood established the award winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors.  A national leader within the green movement, Lennox has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy for the past decade.

enter for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships

U.S. Department of Justice

A Center of the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships

www.ojp.gov/fbnp

 
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