The Founder & Church History
“THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
 
THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST is a Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in which the word of God is preached, ordinances are administered and the doctrine of sanctification or holiness is emphasized, as being essential to the salvation of mankind.

Our Church is commonly known as being Holiness or Pentecostal in nature because of the importance ascribed to the events which occurred on the Day of Pentecost, the 50th day after the Passover, or Easter as being necessary for all believers in Christ Jesus to experience.

On the Day of Pentecost, the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, Supernatural Manifestations descended in marvelous copiousness and power. The gift of the spirit in the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to clothe those who would wait in Jerusalem with power from on high, was accompanied by three supernatural extraordinary manifestations.

The sudden appearance of the Holy Ghost appealed first to the ear. The disciples heard a “sound” from heaven which rushed with a mighty force into the house and filled it–even as a storm rushes–but there was no wind. It was the sound that filled the house and not a wind, an invisible cause producing audible effects.

Next, the eye was arrested by the appearance of tongues of fire which rested on each of the gathered COMPANY. Finally, there was the impartation of a new strange power to speak in languages they had never learned “as the Spirit gave them Utterance.”

Our Church is also considered to be a member of the great Protestant body though it did not directly evolve from the European or English Reformation but had its origin within the General Association to the Baptist Church.
 
Elder Charles Harrison Mason, who later became the founder and organizer of the Church of God in Christ, was born September 8, 1864, on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. His father and mother, Jerry and Eliza Mason, were members of a Missionary Baptist Church, having been converted during the dark crises of American Slavery.
 
 
Young C.H. Mason
Elder Mason was converted in November, 1878, and baptized by his brother, I.S. Nelson, a Baptist Preacher, who was pastoring the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church near Plumerville, Arkansas. In 1893, he began his Christian Ministry with the accepting of ministerial licenses from the Mt. Gale Missionary Baptist Church, in Preston, Arkansas.

He then experienced sanctification through the word of God and preached his first sermon in “Holiness” from II Timothy 2:1-3: “Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” On November 1, 1893, Elder Mason matriculated into the Arkansas Baptist College, but withdrew after three months because of his dissatisfaction with the methods of teaching and the presentation of the Bible message. He then returned to the streets and to every pulpit that was opened to him declaring Christ by the word, example, and precept.

In 1895, Bishop Mason met Elder C.P. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi; Elder J.E. Jeter, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Elder W.S. Pleasant of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, who subsequently became Bishop Mason’s closest companions in the ministry.

Jointly, these militant gospel preachers conducted a revival in 1896, in Jackson, Mississippi, which had far-reaching affects on the city.
The theophanic manifestations of the revival, which included the large numbers that were converted, sanctified, and healed by the power of faith and the dogmatic teachings of Bishop Mason on the doctrine of sanctification caused church doors within the Baptist association to become closed to him and to all those that believed and supported his teachings.
 
So in 1897, when these pioneering, persistent preachers returned to Jackson, Mississippi, Bishop Mason was forced to deliver his first message from the south entrance of the courthouse. A Mr. John Lee, who desired to see Bishop Mason’s ministry continue, provided the living room of his home the next night. Because of the overwhelming number that attended, a Mr. Watson, the owner of an abandoned warehouse in Lexington, Mississippi, gave his consent to transfer the revival meeting to the gin house on the bank of a little creek.

This gin house subsequently became the meeting house for the Church of God in Christ. This miracle deliverance revival was such a success it stirred up the “Devil”, causing someone to shoot five pistol shots and two double barreled shotgun blasts into the midst of the saints while they were shouting and praying. Some persons were wounded but miraculously, none of the shots were fatal.

At the close of the meeting, it was necessary to organize the people for the purpose of establishing a church with a stronger appeal and greater encouragement for all Christians and believers, a church which would emphasize the doctrine of entire sanctification through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

A meeting was mutually called by Elder Mason, Elder Jones, and Elder Pleasant, and sixty stood as charter members. Land was soon bought on Gazoo Street, from Mrs. John Ashcraft, just beyond the corporate line, upon which was built a little edifice 60×40. These charter members formed a Pentecostal body known as the “Church of God.”

Subsequently, in 1897, while seeking a spiritual name which would distinguish the church from others of the similar title, the name “Church of God in Christ” was revealed to Bishop mason while walking along a certain street in Little Rock, Arkansas. The following scripture supported his revelation: I Thessalonians 2:14, “For ye brethren became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye have suffered like things of your own countrymen even as they have of the Jews.” All of the brethren unanimously agreed to the name of “Church of God in Christ.”
 
Later, the church was reorganized during which Elder C.P. Jones was chosen as General Overseer. Elder C.H. Mason was appointed as overseer of Tennessee, and Elder J.A. Jeter was overseer of Arkansas. The turning point in Elder Mason’s life came in March, 1907, when he journeyed to Los Angeles, California, to attend a great Pentecostal revival with Elder D.J. Young and Elder J.A. Jeter. Elder W.J. Seymour was preaching concerning Luke 24:49, “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” Elder Mason became convinced that it was essential for him to have the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.

The following are excerpts from Elder Mason’s personal testimony regarding his receiving the Holy Ghost.

“The first day in the meeting I sat to myself, away from those that went with me. I began to thank God in my heart for all things, for when I heard some speak in tongues, I knew it was right though I did not understand it. Nevertheless, it was sweet to me.

I also thank God for Elder Seymour who came and preached a wonderful sermon. His words were sweet and powerful and it seems that I hear them now while writing. When he closed his sermon, he said ‘All of those that want to be sanctified or baptized with the Holy Ghost, go to the upper room; and all those that want to be justified, come to the altar.’

I said that is the place for me, for it may be that I am not converted and if not, God knows it and can convert me…”

“Glory!”

“The second night of prayer I saw a vision. I saw myself standing alone and had a dry roll of paper in my mouth trying to swallow it. Looking up towards the heavens, there appeared a man at my side. I turned my eyes at once, then I awoke and the interpretation came.

God had me swallowing the whole book and if I did not turn my eyes to anyone but God and Him only, He would baptize me. I said yes to Him, and at once in the morning when I arose, I could hear a voice in me saying,” I see…”

“I got a place at the altar and began to thank God. After that, I said Lord if I could only baptize myself, I would do so; for I wanted the baptism so bad I did not know what to do. I said, Lord, You will have to do the work for me; so I turned it over into His hands.”

“Then, I began to ask for the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:41, which readeth thus: ‘Then they that gladly received His word were baptized,’ Then I saw that I had a right to be glad and not sad.”

“The enemy said to me, there may be something wrong with you. Then a voice spoke to me saying, if there is anything wrong with you, Christ will find it and take it away and marry you…Someone said, ‘Let us sing.’ I arose and the first song that came to me was ‘He brought me out of the Miry Clay.’

The Spirit came upon the saints and upon me…Then I gave up for the Lord to have His way within me. So there came a wave of Glory into me and all of my being was filled with the Glory of the Lord.

So when He had gotten me straight on my feet, there came a light which enveloped my entire being above the brightness of the sun. When I opened my mouth to say Glory, a flame touched my tongue which ran down me. My language changed and no word could I speak in my own tongue. Oh! I was filled with the Glory of the Lord. My soul was then satisfied.”

This new Pentecostal experience which Elder Mason found for himself, for he began to proclaim to others upon his return home to Memphis, Tennessee as a New Testament doctrine. A division, subsequently, became evident within the ranks of Elder Mason’s contemporaries when Elder J. A. Jeter, the General Overseer, Elder C. P. Jones, and others regarded the new Holy Ghost experience of speaking in tongues as a delusion. Being unable to resolve their difference in the New Testament doctrine.

The General Assembly terminated by withdrawing the “right hand” of fellowship from C. H. Mason. Elder Mason then called a conference in Memphis, Tennessee of all ministers who believed in receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to the scriptures in Acts 2:1-4. Those who responded to Elder Mason’s urgent call were E. R. Driver, Bowe, R.R. Booker, R. E. Hart, W. Welsh, A. A. Blackwell, E. M. Page, R.H. I. Clark, D. J. Young, James Brewer, Daniel Spearman and J. H. Boone.

These men of God organized the first Pentecostal General Assembly of the “Church of God in Christ.” Overseer C. H. Mason was then chosen unanimously as the General Overseer and Chief Apostle of our denomination. He was given complete authority to establish doctrine, organize auxiliaries and appoint overseers.

Dr. Hart was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J.A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J. Bowe the Overseer of Arkansas; later J. A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Mississippi. As the church grew, Elder E. M. Page was appointed Overseer of Texas; Elder R.R. Booker, Overseer of Missouri; Elder E. R. Driver, Overseer of California and Elder W. B. Holt as the National Field Secretary.

As the Chief Apostle, he immediately dedicated twenty days, November 25th through December 14th annually as a meeting time for all of his followers to fellowship with each other and to transact all ecclesiastical and secular affairs pertinent to the growth of the National Organization.
This segment of the year was chosen because the majority of the communicants of the church lived in farming districts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. By this time of the year, they had sufficient provisions and financial resources from the harvesting of their crops, to enable them to attend and support a national meeting.

The first National meetings were held at 392 South Wellington Street, Memphis, Tennessee. The first National Tabernacle was built and completed at 958 South Fifth Street, in 1925.

This Tabernacle, however, was destroyed by fire twelve years later in 1936. In the interim until 1945, our National Convocation was held within the Church pastored by Bishop Mason at 672 South Lauderdale. In1945, Bishop Mason was able to visualize the culmination of his dream. He dedicated the Mason Temple at Memphis, Tennessee which was built for less than $400,000 during World War II. This auditorium became the largest convention hall owned by any colored religious group in America.
 
Under Bishop Mason’s spiritual and apostolic direction our church has grown from ten congregations in 1907, to the largest Pentecostal group in America. The membership of the Church of God in Christ grew from three million in 1973 to an estimated 5.2 million in 1997.
 
Churches under the parent body in Memphis, Tennessee, are now established throughout the United States, on every continent, and in many of the islands of the sea.
 
Our Foundation
The Church of God in Christ, Incorporated is a Christian organization in the Holiness-Pentecostal tradition. It is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. The membership is predominantly African-American with more than six million members. The Church has congregations in nearly 60 countries around the world.
 
Mission
To seek and save that which is lost.
 
About Us
The Church of God in Christ, Inc. is a denomination rich in history and passionate in our beliefs. Please click the images below to discover more information about how the Church of God in Christ, Inc. was founded and how we continually seek to fulfill God’s purposes on this earth. 


                                            
 
The COGIC Seal





 
                    
We believe the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible written Word of God.

We believe that there is only One God, eternally existent in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and, God the Holy Spirit.

We believe in the blessed Hope, which is the rapture of the Church of God, which is in Christ, at His return.

We believe that the only means of being cleansed from sin is through repentance and faith in the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

We believe that regeneration by the Holy Ghost is absolutely essential for personal salvation.

We believe that the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross provides healing for the human body in answer to believing prayer.

We believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:4, is given to believers who ask for Him.

We believe in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a holy and separated life in the present world.
 
 

 
What We Believe
THE BIBLE
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God and contains one harmonious and sufficiently complete system of doctrine. We believe in the full inspiration of the Word of God. We hold the Word of God to be the only authority in all matters and assert that no doctrine can be true or essential, if it does not find a place in this Word.
 
THE FATHER
We believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Author and Creator of all things. The Old Testament reveals God in diverse manners, by manifesting his nature, character, and dominions. The Gospels in the New Testament give us knowledge of God the “Father” or “My Father”, showing the relationship of God to Jesus as Father, or representing Him as the Father in the Godhead, and Jesus himself that Son (St. John 15:8, 14:20). Jesus also gives God the distinction of “Fatherhood” to all believers when he explains God in the light of “Your Father in Heaven” (St. Matthew 6:8).
 
THE SON
We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second person in the Godhead of the Trinity or Triune Godhead. We believe that Jesus was and is eternal in his person and nature as the Son of God who was with God in the beginning of creation (St. John 1:1). We believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin called Mary according to the scripture (St. Matthew 1:18), thus giving rise to our fundamental belief in the Virgin Birth and to all of the miraculous events surrounding the phenomenon (St. Matthew 1:18-25). We believe that Jesus Christ became the “suffering servant” to man; this suffering servant came seeking to redeem man from sin and to reconcile him back to God, his Father (Romans 5:10). We believe that Jesus Christ is standing now as mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5)
 
THE HOLY GHOST
We believe the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, proceeds from the Father and the Son, is of the same substance, equal to power and glory, and is together with the Father and the Son, to be believed in, obeyed, and worshipped. The Holy Ghost is a gift bestowed upon the believer for the purpose of equipping and empowering the believer, making him a more effective witness for service in the world. He teaches and guides one into all truth (John 16:13; Acts 1:8, 8:39).
 
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
We believe that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is an experience subsequent to conversion and sanctification and that tongue-speaking is the consequence of the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the manifestations of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 10:46, 19:1-6). We believe that we are not baptized with the Holy Ghost in order to be saved (Acts 19:1-6; John 3:5). When one receives a baptismal Holy Ghost experience, we believe one will speak with a tongue unknown to oneself according to the sovereign will of Christ. To be filled with the Spirit means to be Spirit controlled as expressed by Paul in Ephesians 5:18-19. Since the charismatic demonstrations were necessary to help the early church to be successful in implementing the command of Christ, we therefore, believe that a Holy Ghost experience is mandatory for all men today.

MAN
We believe that man was created holy by God, composed of body and soul. We believe that man, by nature, is sinful and unholy. Being born in sin, he needs to be born again, sanctified and cleansed from all sins by the blood of Jesus. We believe that man is saved by confessing and forsaking his sins, and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and that having become a child of God, by being born again and adopted into the family of God, he may, and should, claim the inheritance of the sons of God, namely the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
 
SIN
Sin, the Bible teaches, began in the angelic world (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-20), and is transmitted into the blood of the human race through disobedience and deception motivated by unbelief (I Timothy 2:14). Adam’s sin, committed by eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, carried with it permanent pollution or depraved human nature to all his descendants. This is called “original sin.” Sin can now be defined as a volitional transgression against God and a lack of conformity to the will of God. We, therefore, conclude that man by nature, is sinful and that he has fallen from a glorious and righteous state from which he was created, and has become unrighteous and unholy. Man, therefore, must be restored to his state of holiness from which he has fallen by being born again (St. John 3:7).

SALVATION
Salvation deals with the application of the work of redemption to the sinner with his restoration to divine favor and communion with God. This redemptive operation of the Holy Ghost upon sinners is brought about by repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ which brings conversion, faith, justification regeneration, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Repentance is the work of God, which results in a change of mind in respect to man’s relationship to God. (St. Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17; Acts 20:21). Faith is a certain conviction wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as to the truth of the Gospel and a heart trust in the promises of God in Christ (Romans 1:17, 3:28; St. Matthew 9:22; Acts 26:18). Conversion is that act of God whereby He causes the regenerated sinner, in his conscious life, to turn to Him in repentance and faith (II Kings 5:15; II Chronicles 33:12-13; St. Luke 19:8, 9; Acts 8:30). Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of soul is made holy and the first holy exercise of this new disposition is secured. Sanctification is that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Ghost, by which He delivers the justified sinner from the pollution of sin, renews his whole nature in the image of God and enables him to perform good works (Romans 6:4;5:6; Colossians 2:12; 3:1).

ANGELS
The Bible uses the term “angel” (a heavenly body) clearly and primarily to denote messengers or ambassadors of God with such scripture references as Revelations 4:5, which indicates their duty in heaven to praise God (Psalm 103:20), to do God’s will (St. Matthew 18:10) and to behold his face. But since heaven must come down to earth, they also have a mission to earth. The Bible indicates that they accompanied God in the Creation, and also that they will accompany Christ in His return in Glory.

DEMONS
Demons denote unclean or evil spirits; they are sometimes called devils or demonic beings. They are evil spirits, belonging to the unseen or spiritual realm, embodied in human beings. The Old Testament refers to the prince of demons, sometimes called Satan (Adversary) or Devil, as having power and wisdom, taking the habitation of other forms such as the serpent (Genesis 3:1). The New Testament speaks of the Devil as Tempter (St. Matthew 4:3) and it goes on to tell the works of Satan, The Devil, and Demons as combating righteousness and good in any form, proving to be an adversary to the saints. Their chief power is exercised to destroy the mission of Jesus Christ. It can well be said that the Christian Church believes in Demons, Satan, and Devils. We believe in their power and purpose. We believe they can be subdued and conquered as in the commandment to the believer by Jesus. “In my name they shall cast out Satan and the work of the Devil and to resist him and then he will flee (WITHDRAW) from you.” (St. Mark 16:17).

THE CHURCH
The Church forms a spiritual unity of which Christ is the divine head. It is animated by one Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. It professes one faith, shares one hope, and serves one King,. It is the citadel of the truth and God’s agency for communicating to believers all spiritual blessings. The Church then is the object of our faith rather than of knowledge. The name of our Church, “CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST” is supported by I Thessalonians 2:14 and other passages in the Pauline Epistles. The word “CHURCH” or “EKKLESIA” was first applied to the Christian society by Jesus Christ in St. Matthew 16:18, the occasion being that of his benediction of Peter at Caesarea Phillippi.

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
We believe in the second coming of Christ; that He shall come from heaven to earth, personally, bodily, visibly (Acts 1:11; Titus 2:11-13; St. Matthew 16:27; 24:30; 25:30; Luke 21:27; John 1:14, 17; Titus 2:11) and that the Church, the bride, will be caught up to meet Him in the air (I Thessalonians, 4:16-17). We admonish all who have this hope to purify themselves as He is pure.

DIVINE HEALING
The Church of God in Christ believes in and practices Divine Healing. It is a commandment of Jesus to the Apostles (St. Mark 16:18). Jesus affirms his teachings on healing by explaining to His disciples, who were to be Apostles, that healing the afflicted is by faith (St. Luke 9:40-41). Therefore, we believe that healing by faith in God has scriptural support and ordained authority. St. James’ writings in his epistle encourage Elders to pray for the sick, lay hands upon them and to anoint them with oil, and that prayers with faith shall heal the sick and the Lord shall raise them up. Healing is still practiced widely and frequently in the Church of God in Christ, and testimonies of healing in our Church testify to this fact.

MIRACLES
The Church of God in Christ believes that miracles occur to convince men that the Bible is God’s Word. A miracle can be defined as an extraordinary visible act of Divine power, wrought by the efficient agency of the will of God, which has as its final cause the vindication of the righteousness of God’s word. We believe that the works of God, which were performed during the beginnings of Christianity, do and will occur even today where God is preached, Faith in Christ is exercised, The Holy Ghost is active, and the Gospel is promulgated in the truth (Acts 5:15; 6:8; 9:40; Luke 4:36, 7:14-15; 5:5-6; St. Mark 14:15).

THE ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH
It is generally admitted that for an ordinance to be valid, it must have been instituted by Christ. When we speak of ordinances of the church, we are speaking of those instituted by Christ, in which by sensible signs the grace of God in Christ, and the benefits of the covenant of grace are represented, sealed, and applied to believers, and these in turn give expression to their faith and allegiance to God. The Church Of God In Christ recognizes three ordinances as having been instituted by Christ himself and therefore, binding upon the church practice.
 
A. THE LORD’S SUPPER (HOLY COMMUNION)
The Lord’s Supper symbolizes the Lord’s death and suffering for the benefit and in the place of His people. It also symbolizes the believer’s participation in the crucified Christ. It represents not only the death of Christ as the object of faith which unites the believers to Christ, but also the effect of this act as the giving of life, strength, and joy to the soul. The communicant by faith enters into a special spiritual union of his soul with the glorified Christ.

B. FEET WASHING
Feet Washing is practiced and recognized as an ordinance in our Church because Christ, by His example, showed that humility characterized greatness in the Kingdom of God, and that service, rendered to others gave evidence that humility, motivated by love, exists. These services are held subsequent to the Lord’s Supper; however, its regularity is left to the discretion of the Pastor in charge.

C. WATER BAPTISM
We believe that Water Baptism is necessary as instructed by Christ in St. John 3:5, “UNLESS MAN BE BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT.”

However, we do not believe that water baptism alone is a means of salvation, but is an outward demonstration that one has already had a conversion experience and has accepted Christ as his personal Savior. As Pentecostals, we practice immersion in preference to “SPRINKLING”, because immersion corresponds more closely to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Colossians 2:12). It also symbolizes regeneration and purification more than any other mode. Therefore, we practice immersion as our mode of Baptism. We believe that we should use the Baptismal Formula given us by Christ for all “…IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.” (St. Matthew 28:19)







                          1938 Old Holy Convocation