Tag Archives: Church of God in Christ

The Evolution of Holiness in the Church of God in Christ: Summit to be Held at Mason Temple, September 8, 2016

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Bishop Charles H. Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse, Lexington, Mississippi. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

The Church of God in Christ originated in 1897 in Lexington, Mississippi, among African-American Baptists who had been influenced by the Holiness movement. Over the years, these origins in Lexington and in the Holiness movement have become obscured. Today, the Church of God in Christ is at a crossroads. Will the church founded by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason retain and build upon its heritage of holiness, or will it evolve and become something different?

These questions about the history and future of the Church of God in Christ will be considered at the Holiness Evolution Summit, a first-of-its-kind event to be held at Mason Temple in Memphis on September 8, 2016 (the 152nd anniversary of Mason’s birth).

Mother Mary P. Patterson, organizer of the Holiness Evolution Summit, has spent the past 10 years raising awareness of Lexington’s role in Church of God in Christ history. Through her company, the Pentecostal Heritage Connection, she has organized tour groups of Lexington, and she has built relationships with community leaders, church leaders, and academics. Her efforts culminated on October 16, 2015, with the unveiling of an official State Historical Marker on the grounds of the Holmes County Courthouse in Lexington, honoring the founding of the Church of God in Christ.

The fact that Mason had been imprisoned 97 years earlier in a jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse basement underscores the significant societal shifts that have occurred. Mason had been persecuted on account of his race and religion, but he is now honored. Indeed, African-Americans have made much progress in American society over the past 100 years. But much work remains to be done.

Now Patterson is bringing this conversation about Church of God in Christ history to Memphis. According to Patterson, the Holiness Evolution Summit aims to uncover forgotten aspects of Church of God in Christ origins, and to also provoke discussion about the implications of this heritage. For instance: What does holiness look like in the 21st century? Would Bishop Mason have anything to say about current challenges in society and church? And what does Lexington teach about religious liberty?

Participants include black and white scholars and church leaders from Church of God in Christ and Assemblies of God backgrounds. The four speakers at the 2015 dedication of the State Historical Marker will also be featured at the Holiness Evolution Summit:

The Holiness Evolution Summit will include formal presentations and ample time for audience participation with questions and answers. Bishop Craig S. Baymon (pastor of Holy Temple Cathedral of Deliverance COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will deliver the invocation. Mother Julia Scott Ward (the wife of Bishop Lee Ward, retired pastor of Greater Harvest COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will offer the scripture reading. Moderating the event will be Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

The public is invited to attend the Holiness Evolution Summit, which will occur on September 8, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the U.E. Miller Conference Room of Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, 930 Mason Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Seating is limited. Registration is $40 and includes lunch. Registration may be purchased online or at the door. For additional information, contact the Pentecostal Heritage Connection at (901) 398-7716.

 

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AG Educator Helps Dedicate Mississippi Historical Marker Where COGIC Bishop Mason Was Jailed in 1918

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Dr. Byron Klaus, retired president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (1999-2015), was a keynote speaker at the dedication of a State Historical Marker honoring the birthplace of the Church of God in Christ. The event, held in Lexington, Mississippi, on October 16, 2015, evidenced the deepening relationship between the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ.

While the Church of God in Christ is the largest predominantly black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, its roots are often overlooked. Few people noticed when Charles H. Mason founded a small Holiness church in 1897 in Lexington. Rejected by his fellow African-American Baptists on account of his Holiness teachings, he represented a marginalized religious group within a marginalized race. But his teachings caught fire among both African-Americans and whites, and his followers soon stretched far beyond the small Mississippi town. When Mason identified with the Pentecostal revival in 1907, he parted ways with ministry colleague Charles P. Jones and reorganized his followers as the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Immediately, the COGIC became one of the largest and most-respected fellowships in the fledgling Pentecostal movement.

Lexington’s role in COGIC history has been largely overshadowed by Memphis, home of COGIC international headquarters. Seeing this inequity, Mother Mary P. Patterson (widow of former Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.) launched a grassroots campaign to encourage COGIC members to rediscover their Lexington roots. Since 2006, Patterson has organized tours of the historic sites through her company, The Pentecostal Heritage Connection, and she built relationships with Lexington officials, church leaders, and historians.

Patterson’s efforts culminated on October 16, 2015, when a State Historical Marker honoring the COGIC’s birthplace was dedicated at the south entrance of the Holmes County Courthouse in Lexington. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History approved the marker, and the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops, chaired by Bishop John H. Sheard, sponsored and paid for the recognition. David Daniels, chairman of the COGIC Commission on Education, supported the project with historical documentation.

The dedication ceremony, organized by Patterson, featured three keynote speakers: Byron Klaus; Superintendent William Deans, pastor of St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington (the first COGIC congregation); and Dr. Percy Washington, pastor of Sweet Canaan Church of God in Christ, Lexington (the second COGIC congregation). Each speaker provided historical insight into Lexington’s significance in COGIC history.

Two buses of ministers and members from the COGIC’s Tennessee 5th Jurisdiction, located in Memphis, traveled to Lexington, where they supported their bishop, Jerry W. Taylor, who unveiled the marker on behalf of the Board of Bishops. Over 80 young people from Taylor’s jurisdiction attended. Local government officials were in full force, each offering their heartfelt prayers and committing the city to provide hospitality for pilgrims. Speakers frequently drew parallels between Scripture and COGIC history. “If Memphis is the Church of God in Christ’s Jerusalem,” stated Patterson, “then Lexington is its Nazareth.”

Byron Klaus noted that the marker’s location is “is a poignant reminder that following Jesus is not an easy path.” The Holmes County Courthouse, he explained, intersected with COGIC history several times. In 1897 Mason began preaching on the courthouse steps, and then moved services to private homes and an abandoned gin house. While in Lexington, he founded St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the world’s first COGIC congregation. Later, in 1918, Mason was incarcerated in the jail cell in the basement of the courthouse on trumped-up charges that he opposed American involvement in World War I. Other church leaders who opposed the Holiness message tried to sabotage Mason’s ministry by falsely accusing him of treason. The jail cell that once held Mason is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Lexington was also home to Saints Industrial and Literary School, established in 1918 by Sister Pinkie Duncan and Professor James Courts to train African-American children. Under Dr. Arenia Mallory, president of the school from 1926 to 1983, the school became known as Saint’s Academy and was a prominent K-12 school in the community. Dr. Mallory was a leading advocate for civil rights and the poor in Holmes County. The school closed in 2006.

Mason, a bridge builder, was ahead of his time. He worked with both blacks and whites, striving to overcome the color barriers of his day. Klaus recounted that Mason gave his blessing in 1914 to the formation of the Assemblies of God. “I am forever grateful for that blessing from a father in the faith,” Klaus told the crowd.

Patterson believes that God is bringing the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ into closer relationship. She demonstrated her commitment to this in 2011, when she deposited her husband’s personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national office, is the world’s largest Pentecostal archives. Patterson stated, “I am entrusting the Assemblies of God to help preserve and promote my husband’s materials. I want to send a signal that our two churches can and should cooperate in areas like education and historical archives.”

The heritage of the Church of God in Christ has much to teach the broader church. Its Lexington roots remind believers that great things often germinate from small beginnings, that the way of holiness is often marked by suffering, and that Pentecostalism emerged at the turn of the 20th century with an interracial impulse. These lessons come to life in Lexington, Mississippi.

Originally published 23 October 2015 on PE News

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

State Historical Marker dedicated on the south lawn of the Holmes County Courthouse, October 16, 2015.

State Historical Marker dedicated on the south lawn of the Holmes County Courthouse, October 16, 2015.

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Pictured (L-R): Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center; Mother Mary P. Patterson; Byron Klaus, former president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

About 125 people attended the dedication.

About 125 people attended the dedication.

Lexington

St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the oldest COGIC congregation in the world, was founded in Lexington in 1897.

St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the oldest COGIC congregation in the world, was founded in Lexington in 1897.

Bishop Mason began preaching in 1897 on these steps on the south end of the Holmes County Courthouse.

Bishop Mason began preaching in 1897 on these steps on the south end of the Holmes County Courthouse.

Dr. Byron Klaus, standing in the original pulpit in St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington, MS. Bishop Mason preached from this pulpit.

Dr. Byron Klaus, standing in the original pulpit in St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington, MS. Bishop Mason preached from this pulpit.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

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State Historical Marker to be Dedicated October 16, 2015, in Lexington, MS, Honoring COGIC Birthplace

Holmes_County_CourthouseThe Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops, chaired by Bishop John H. Sheard, has sponsored the placement of a state historical marker in Lexington, Mississippi, the city where Charles H. Mason founded the Church of God in Christ in 1897.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History approved the marker, which will be unveiled and dedicated on Friday, October 16, 2015, at 1 pm at the south end of the Holmes County Courthouse, 200 Court Square, Lexington, Mississippi. A dedication program includes several speakers of national importance, and state and local government officials will be present. The public is invited to the dedication.

The Church of God in Christ, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, is now headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. However, the church’s roots in Lexington, 150 miles south of Memphis, have often been overlooked. The Pentecostal Heritage Connection, led by Mary P. Patterson, assembled the dedication program. “If Memphis is the Church of God in Christ’s Jerusalem,” states Patterson, “then Lexington is its Nazareth.” Patterson, the widow of former Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr., is particularly interested in helping young people to learn more about their heritage. She has organized tours of Church of God in Christ historic sites in Lexington since 2006.

Lexington has played a prominent role in Church of God in Christ history. Bishop Charles H. Mason (1864-1961) began his ministry in 1893 in Preston, Arkansas. Shunned by the African-American Baptist community in Jackson during the 1890s due to his teachings on holiness, Mason brought his revival to Lexington in 1897. He began preaching on the steps of the Holmes County Courthouse and later moved to private homes and an abandoned gin house. During his time in Lexington, Mason established St. Paul Church of God in Christ, which became known as the “mother church” of the Church of God in Christ denomination.

Mason faced opposition in Lexington, coming from those who disapproved of his holiness preaching and his pacifism and interracialism. He was incarcerated in the Holmes County Courthouse in 1918 for allegedly preaching against World War I, despite having sold bonds to help the war effort. The jail cell which housed Mason has been preserved and is open to the public. Hundreds of people each year visit the jail cell, which is decorated with colorful murals depicting Mason’s incarceration.

Lexington was also home to Saints Industrial and Literary School, established to train African American children by Sister Pinkie Duncan and Professor James Courts in 1918. Under Dr. Arenia Mallory, president of the school from 1926 to 1983, the school became known as Saint’s Academy and was a prominent K-12 school in the community. Dr. Mallory was a leading advocate for civil rights and the poor in Holmes County. The school closed in 2006.

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Important COGIC Collection: Nearly 500 Early Photographs Now Online at iFPHC.org

FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers with Rev. Elijah L. Hill, displaying the collection.

FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers with Rev. Elijah L. Hill, displaying the collection.

An important collection of almost 500 historic photographs relating to the Church of God in Christ is now accessible for free on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website. The photographs (circa 1899-1960s), from the Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection, portray men and women who pioneered the African-American Pentecostal denomination.

The photographs were collected by Mother Lizzie Robinson (1860-1945) and her daughter, Ida F. Baker. Robinson organized the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Women’s Department in 1911 and was the most prominent female COGIC leader until her death. As head of women’s auxiliaries, she founded the Prayer and Bible Band and the Sewing Circle. She also helped to lay the foundation for the creation of the Missions Department (originally known as the Home and Foreign Missions Band).

Mother Lizzie Robinson

Mother Lizzie Robinson

Elijah L. Hill, the COGIC minister and historian who deposited Robinson’s personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC), described the photographs as “a rare glimpse into the faces of those who suffered and yet overcame the world.” In his biography of Robinson, Women Come Alive, Hill detailed how Robinson encouraged COGIC women to become self-determining, before the broader society recognized women’s suffrage and civil rights for African-Americans.

FPHC director Darrin Rodgers praised Hill for building bridges. According to Rodgers, “Elder Hill rescued these photographs from destruction decades ago. He has joined hands with the Heritage Center, and together we are working to preserve and promote these treasures that bring to life the heritage of African-American Pentecostals.”

The Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection consists of, in addition to the photographs, approximately 100 publications and Hill’s research files on Robinson. The collection was dedicated in a special service on October 4, 2013, in the William J. Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

The online collection will be unveiled at the biennial General Council of the Assemblies of God, slated for August 2-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida. Elijah L. Hill will join Darrin Rodgers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center booth at General Council, where they will interact with expected crowds in excess of 20,000 people.

Click here to view thumbnail images of the photographs. Click on the title next to each thumbnail image to see larger images.

Click here to watch the dedication service of the Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection.

Click here to watch a panel discussion featuring Elijah Hill, COGIC historian Glenda Goodson, Darrin Rodgers, and Assemblies of God missions historian Barbara Cavaness Parks. Panelists dialogued about Robinson and the legacy of women in the COGIC and the Assemblies of God.

Rev. Elijah L. Hill is assembling biographies of Church of God in Christ leaders pictured in the photographs. To submit biographies, go to Hill’s website: www.cogicmuseum.org.

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, located in the Assemblies of God National Office in Springfield, Missouri, is the largest Pentecostal archive and research center in the world. The FPHC collects historically significant materials from across the denominational, ethnic, linguistic, and national divides within the broader Pentecostal and charismatic movements. For additional information, explore the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website.

_____________________

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

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Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Symposium Slated for Springfield, MO, September 17-18, 2012

A symposium honoring the late Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr., is scheduled to be held in Springfield, Missouri, September 17-18, 2012. James O. Patterson, Sr. (1912-1989) served as Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, from 1968 to 1989.

The Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Symposium will celebrate the centenary of Patterson’s birth and also will dedicate the Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Collection. Patterson’s widow, Mother Mary P. Patterson, deposited Bishop Patterson’s personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in Springfield, Missouri, in the national offices of the Assemblies of God, is the largest Pentecostal archive and research center in the world.

Four Church of God in Christ dignitaries will be participating in the Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Symposium:

Mother Mary P. Patterson
Bishop Lemuel Thuston (Kansas East Jurisdiction, COGIC)
Dr. David Daniels (the foremost COGIC historian)
Sara Jordan Powell (Gospel music artist and founder of the COGIC Fine Arts Department)

SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE

Monday, Sept 17, 2012
10:30-11:30 am
Honoring the Centenary of the Birth of Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.
Speaker: Bishop Lemuel Thuston
Location: Central Bible College chapel, 3000 N. Grant Ave., Springfield, MO 65803

3:30-5:00 pm
Reception for Mother Mary P. Patterson, David Daniels, and Sara Jordan Powell
Location: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary Great Hall, 1435 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO 65802

Tuesday, Sept 18, 2012
8:00-9:00 am
Dedication of the Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Collection
Speaker: Dr. David Daniels
Location: Assemblies of God National Office chapel, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802

Mother Mary P. Patterson organized an earlier event, held on July 19 at the Tower Center in Memphis, commemorating the centenary of Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.’s birth. The event made the front page of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.

The Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Collection is an important part of the expanding collection of African-American Pentecostal treasures at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. These historical materials provide the basis for ongoing research and reflec­tion about our shared Pentecostal heri­tage and are attracting increasing num­bers of students and researchers to Springfield.

The Patterson collection takes its place alongside other significant collections, including the original Azusa Street newspapers and Smith Wigglesworth’s original sermon notes. In the last year, ten major research collections were deposited at the FPHC, including collections assembled by these scholars, church leaders, and institutions: Pentecostal historians Grant Wacker, William W. Menzies, and Steve Durasoff; Hispanic-American Pentecostal pioneer H. C. Ball; German-American Pentecostal pioneer George H. Rueb; Bethany University; and African-American Oneness collector Robert James McGoings, Jr.

The dedication of the Patterson Collection is not just about archiving history. Mother Mary P. Patterson believes it has much broader implications. The 2011 edition of AG Heritage magazine (p. 73) reported the following:

Mother Patterson believes that establishing the Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Collection at the FPHC is part of a larger divine plan. “My husband worked to build bridges between the Church of God in Christ and other churches. I believe this could be a catalyst for significant bridge-building between our Pentecostal churches. God is bringing things together in a miraculous way.”

Patterson is excited about the broader implications of this archival relationship. She states, “I am entrust­ing the Assemblies of God to help preserve and promote my husband’s materials. I want to send a signal that our two churches can and should cooperate in areas like education and historical archives.”

Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. often quoted Mark 12:37: “And the common people heard Him gladly.” According to Mother Patterson, the symposium in Springfield will pro­vide “an opportunity for the ‘common people’ — not just leaders — from the churches to rub shoulders and to get to know each other.”

The Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Symposium is free and is open to the public. An oral history video interview is also scheduled to be recorded with symposium participants. Gospel music artist Sara Jordan Powell will provide sacred music for the two chapel services. For additional information about the symposium, contact the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center by email (archives@ag.org) or toll free by telephone (877-840-5200).

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Review: Northern Harvest

rPentecostalism in North Dakota

Northern Harvest: Pentecostalism in North Dakota, by Darrin J. Rodgers. Bismarck, North Dakota: North Dakota District Council of the Assemblies of God, 2003.

Northern Harvest documents the rise of Pentecostalism in North Dakota from a few scattered congregations at the turn of the twentieth-century to its present status as the state’s fourth largest religious group. While many historians contend that revivals in Topeka, Kansas (1901) and Los Angeles, California (1906-09) became the focal point of the emerging worldwide Pentecostal movement, Rodgers unearthed evidence that earlier revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas provided it with precedents and leaders. North Dakotans, Pentecostals, and historians will be intrigued that a network of Scandinavian immigrant churches on the northern Great Plains practiced tongues-speech and healing before the better-known Topeka and Azusa Street revivals. This is the first significant study of Pentecostal origins in Scandinavian pietism in Minnesota and the Dakotas, exploring the movement’s roots outside the American Wesleyan and Holiness traditions. Continue reading

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Review: The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy


Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy

The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy, edited by Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2006.

The Azusa Street Centennial (Los Angeles, 2006) brought together approximately 45,000 Pentecostal pilgrims who traveled from all corners of the globe to celebrate, worship and reflect on the paths that led them to where they are in their spiritual journeys. Right in the heart of the celebration, historians gathered in an academic track where they presented a series of papers highlighting the most up-to-date scholarship on the history and legacy of the Azusa Street revival. Two leading Pentecostal historians, Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., assembled the majority of these papers, now available in The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy. Continue reading

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