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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.
Join the Local Administrative Staff Development’s monthly conference call Thursday, June 10, 2015 at 9 pm CST.
The news is in from COGIC World Missions reporting the work completed thus far in Nepal. It reads much like it could be a chapter from the Book of Acts – ripe with excitement and filled with the hope that comes when the Holy Spirit is so evidently at work. The country of Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake which devastated the country. Just this week, another major earthquake shook the already devastated country and the death toll is expected to exceed 10,000. If ever there was a country in need of hope – It is Nepal.
The Church of God in Christ through COGIC Charities was able to send a group from COGIC World Missions to Nepal to provide food, supplies, shelter and much-needed medical care. The COGIC World Missions group ventured deep into Nepal to reach areas and families that had not yet received aid. They were able to serve thousands of families and delivered 3 tons of rice, 250 gallons of cooking oil and spices. They even had some sweet treats for the children of the area. So far, 25 shelters have been constructed by the Church of God in Christ and plans are being made to construct 70 more shelters.
In Nepal, only 1.4% of the population is reported to be Christian and there are only 4,000 villages with Christian Churches out of 74,000 villages. As Bishop Mathews stated, “This earthquake was horrific, I saw horrors that shook me to the core. However, the greatest tragedy in Nepal is the spiritual state of the nation.” Bishop Mathews met with a pastor who had planted 18 churches who was looking for a spiritual home and guidance. Bishop Mathews met with many of the pastors of these churches and they unanimously agreed to join the Church Of God In Christ. These young pastors in Nepal want to cover the country with fire baptized COGIC Pentecostal Churches and the COGIC World Missions department has promised to help this effort.
In Psalms 34:18 we learn that God is near to the brokenhearted and that He binds up their wounds (Psalms 147:3). So, that is where we should desire to be, near to those who are brokenhearted and ready to bind up their wounds, both naturally and spiritually. Not only is Nepal seemingly devoid of hope, a vast majority of the population do not know the Only True Hope, The Hope of Glory, Jesus Christ! Not only can we bring hope by meeting the physical needs of those in Nepal, but we are also able to minister to them on a much deeper level by meeting their spiritual needs. This changes the trajectory of their life and their eternal destiny.
As the Church of God in Christ continues to help restore hope in Nepal, please pray how God might desire to use you in His plans for the restoration of this country. Maybe God will call you to fast and pray for this effort? Maybe God will give you a burden to cover the COGIC missionaries who are on the ground in Nepal? Or maybe God is calling you to sow a seed into this effort? However He leads you to connect, we pray that you answer the call to Provide Hope in the Midst of Devastation.
Baltimore, MO – Ministering to Communities in Need
By Pastor Carl Pierce, Carter Memorial COGIC
At the inception of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr's. term of office as Presiding Bishop of the Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) Bishop Blake laid before the church what he tagged “the big rocks,” birthed out of his deep concern for the betterment of mankind worldwide. Poor academic achievement, financial disenfranchisement, high unemployment, soaring crime levels, the desperate state of the black man, and the breakdown of the family, were all a part of the vision he presented to the church. And when the unrest began in Baltimore, the Church Of God In Christ stood ready. The churches had a broad understanding of the challenges facing the city.
Working in solidarity with clergy and faith leaders of various denominations, COGIC pastors and elders have been actively involved following the death of Freddie Grey in Baltimore. Elder Ron Owens, a local businessman, who is well-known throughout the city of Baltimore, and Pastor Carl A. Pierce, Sr., Senior Pastor of Carter Memorial COGIC of Baltimore (both of whom were program participants at the Freddie Gray Memorial Service) have been on the front lines from the beginning. They continue to serve with a select group of faith leaders, elected officials and community leaders to address the problems that plague the city of Baltimore and its residents.
Carter Memorial Church, in the heart of West Baltimore, has been named one of four sites as a rapid response center for One Baltimore, a Camden partnership initiative. The ministry is also a resource center for A Better Baltimore. Partnering with local nonprofits, civic organizations and educational institutions, the ministry is moving forward to impact the lives of Baltimore’s residents.
We continue to pray for justice and peace. We pray for our governmental officials and for the residents of our inner city. We also pray for our police officers, including the officers involved in Gray’s arrest. And we continue to pray for better police-community relations in cities and towns throughout our country.