COGIC HISTORY
HOME | Their Labor of Love | AN ANGEL GOES HOME | Family Pictures | Cooper Family/Carl's Dream | Preacher, Humanitarian | DOWN MEMORY LANE | Commemoration 2000 | Live Recording Celebrating 50 Years | Cooper Ministries Part I | Cooper Ministries Part II | The Ideal Man | Poetry Dedications | Memorable Moments | COGIC HISTORY | Contact Me

<BGSOUND SRC="http://www.godsgospel.com/midis/Cogic_Theme.mid" LOOP=TRUE>

cogicm.gif

HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST

cogichdr_21.gif

Bishop Charles Harrison Mason

1866 - 1961

Most Influential Spiritual Leader

of the Twentieth Century

A revival broke out in Los Angeles, California on a "Street" called Azusa Street and conducted by the anointed evangelist W. J. Seymour. Bishop Mason, who at that time was a young minister, impressed by holiness and sanctification, was moved by the Holy Spirit to attend this revival. At this revival he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Elder Mason came back to Memphis, Tennessee sharing his experience and teaching this New Testament doctrine which would help others experience a deeper holy life. Also, he began to establish churches, the name of which was revealed to him several years before the Azusa Street Revival. The name that God revealed to him for this organization was the "Church of God in Christ", which because of his anointed ministry and vision, has become the 5th largest Black Pentecostal organization in the world and the 5th largest denomination in the United States. One of the churches that was established by Bishop Mason was in Norfolk, Virginia in 1906 where a great revival took place. Bishop Mason preached in the street at the Ferry Terminal on Commercial Place where over 6000 people received salvation. Out of this revival the Mother Church of God in Christ, 744 Goff Street, Norfolk, VA was born.

After the death of Bishop Mason in 1961, the Church was renamed the C. H. Mason Memorial Church of God in Christ by Bishop D. Lawrence Williams who, because of his love and respect for the founder, felt that a memorial of lasting memory to the life of Bishop Mason should be established.

cogichdr_14.gif

BISHOP G.E. PATTERSON
CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST HEADQUARTERS
INTERNATIONAL PRESIDING BISHOP
Memphis, Tennessee
 

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 8,1866, 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 60x40. 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, J.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 second largest Pentecostal group in America. The membership of the Church of God in Christ grew from three million in 1973 to an estimated eight 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.

WWW/COGIC.ORG/HISTORY.HTM

EARLIER BEGINNINGS OF THIS GREAT PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT
 

Pentecostal pioneers who had been Methodists included Charles Fox Parham, the formulator of the "initial evidence" theology; William J. Seymour, the pastor of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles who spread the movement to the nations of the world; J.H. King of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, who led his denomination into the Pentecostal movement in 1907-08; and Thomas Ball Barratt, the father of European Pentecostalism. All of these men retained most of the Wesleyan teaching on entire sanctification as a part of their theological systems. In essence, their position was that a sanctified "clean heart" was a necessary prerequisite to the baptism in the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.

Other early Pentecostal pioneers from non-Methodist backgrounds accepted the premise of second blessing holiness prior to becoming Pentecostals. For the most part, they were as much immersed in holiness experience and theology as their Methodist brothers. These included C. H. Mason (Baptist), of the Church of God in Christ, A.J. Tomlinson (Quaker), of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), B.H. Irwin (Baptist) of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, and N.J. Holmes (Presbyterian) of the Tabernacle Pentecostal Church. In the light of the foregoing information, it would not be an overstatement to say that Pentecostalism, at least in America, was born in a holiness cradle.

It was not until 1906, however, that Pentecostalism achieved worldwide attention through the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles led by the African-American preacher William Joseph Seymour. He learned about the tongues-attested baptism in a Bible school that Parham conducted in Houston, Texas in 1905. Invited to pastor a black holiness church in Los Angeles in 1906, Seymour opened the historic meeting in April, 1906 in a former African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church building at 312 Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles.

What happened at Azusa Street has fascinated church historians for decades and has yet to be fully understood and explained. For over three years, the Azusa Street "Apostolic Faith Mission" conducted three services a day, seven days a week, where thousands of seekers received the tongues baptism. Word of the revival was spread abroad through The Apostolic Faith, a paper that Seymour sent free of charge to some 50,000 subscribers. From Azusa Street Pentecostalism spread rapidly around the world and began its advance toward becoming a major force in Christendom.

The Azusa Street movement seems to have been a merger of white American holiness religion with worship styles derived from the African-American Christian tradition which had developed since the days of chattel slavery in the South. The expressive worship and praise at Azusa Street, which included shouting and dancing, had been common among Appalachian whites as well as Southern blacks. The admixture of tongues and other charisms with black music and worship styles created a new and indigenous form of Pentecostalism that was to prove extremely attractive to disinherited and deprived people, both in America and other nations of the world.

American Pentecostal pioneers who received tongues at Azusa Street went back to their homes to spread the movement among their own people, at times against great opposition. One of the first was Gaston Barnabas Cashwell of North Carolina, who spoke in tongues in 1906. His six-month preaching tour of the South in 1907 resulted in major inroads among southern holiness folk. Under his ministry, Cashwell saw several holiness denominations swept into the new movement, including the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, and the Pentecostal Free-Will Baptist Church.

 Also in 1906, Charles Harrison Mason journeyed to Azusa Street and returned to Memphis, Tennessee to spread the Pentecostal fire in the Church of God in Christ. Mason and the church he founded were made up of African-Americans only one generation removed from slavery. (The parents of both Seymour and Mason had been born as southern slaves). Although tongues caused a split in the church in 1907, the Church of God in Christ experienced such explosive growth that by 1993, it was by far the largest Pentecostal denomination in North America, claiming some 5,500,000 members in 15,300 local churches. Another Azusa pilgrim was William H. Durham of Chicago. After receiving his tongues experience at Azusa Street in 1907, he returned to Chicago, where he led thousands of mid-western Americans and Canadians into the Pentecostal movement. His "finished work" theology of gradual progressive sanctification, which he announced in 1910, led to the formation of the Assemblies of God in 1914. Since many white pastors had formerly been part of Mason's church, the beginnings of the Assemblies of God was also partially a racial separation. In time the Assemblies of God church was destined to become the largest Pentecostal denominational church in the world, claiming by 1993 over 2,000,000 members in the U.S. and some 25,000,000 adherents in 150 nations of the world.

In addition to the ministers who received their Pentecostal experience at Azusa Street, there were thousands of others who were indirectly influenced by the revival in Los Angeles. Among these was Thomas Ball Barratt of Norway, a Methodist pastor later to be known as the Pentecostal apostle to northern and western Europe.

In addition to the ministers who received their Pentecostal experience at Azusa Street, there were thousands of others who were indirectly influenced by the revival in Los Angeles. Among these was Thomas Ball Barratt of Norway, a Methodist pastor later to be known as the Pentecostal apostle to northern and western Europe.

From Chicago, through the influence of William Durham, the movement spread quickly to Italy and South America.

African Pentecostalism owed its origins to the work of John Graham Lake (1870-1935), who began his ministry as a Methodist preacher but who later prospered in the business world as an insurance executive.

In summary, all these movements, both Pentecostal and charismatic, have come to constitute a major force in Christendom throughout the world with explosive growth rates not seen before in modern times. By 1990, The Pentecostals and their charismatic brothers and sisters in the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches were turning their attention toward world evangelization. Only time will reveal the ultimate results of this movement which has greatly impacted the world during the Twentieth Century.

Copyright 1998-2011, Cooper Ministries Publishing (CMP). All rights reserved.

addesign1.gif