Church of God in Christ essay

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Church of God in Christ: Founder -- Charles Harrison Mason (1907)

The objective of this research study is to examine the Church of God in Christ, a denomination founded by Charles Harrison Mason in 1907. The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) has more than six million members throughout the world and is one of the largest of all Pentecostal churches in the world. The Statement of Thesis in this work states that the founding of the Church of God in Christ resulted in African-American women in the South just following the Civil War to find a voice and to gain authority in the Church as well as bolstering their social status in the community.

The Church of God in Christ: Founder -- Charles Harrison Mason (1907)

Research Study

Table of Contents

Item Page #

Chapter 1 -- Introduction

Chapter 2 -- Literature Review

Chapter 3 -- Methodology

Chapter 4 -- Findings and Conclusion

Bibliography

The Church of God in Christ: Founder -- Charles Harrison Mason (1907)

Research Study

March 23, 2011

The Church of God in Christ: Founder -- Charles Harrison Mason (1907)

Research Study

Chapter One - Introduction

Objective

The objective of this research study is to examine the Church of God in Christ, a denomination founded by Charles Harrison Mason in 1907. The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) has more than six million members throughout the world and is one of the largest of all Pentecostal churches in the world.

Introduction

Charles Harrison Mason became an ordained Baptist minister in Arkansas and traveled to Los Angeles in 1906, and then participated in the Azusa Street Revival that evangelist Revered William Seymour led. Mason received inspiration from Seymour and the result is that upon his return to Arkansas, Mason challenged many doctrines of the Baptist faith. The parents of mason, Jerry an Eliza Mason were former slaves who worked as tenant farmers on the John Watson Plantation. (BlackPast, 2011) Prior to Mason's attendance as the Pentecostal Revival on Azusa Street, Mason is reported to have met another minister by the name of Charles Price Jones while he was in Jackson, Mississippi. Jones was a pastor who preached holiness and he became a mentor to Mason. Jones and Mason traveled together for some time and ran religious revivals together. In 1907 when Mason, after having rejected the doctrines of the Baptist Church and was banished from that church, Jones joined with Mason as he preached on the streets of Lexington, Mississippi and other towns in the area and they held revival services in an abandoned cotton-gin where many were reported to have been "healed, saved, and sanctified." (BlackPast, 2011)

Statement of Thesis: The founding of the Church of God in Christ resulted in African-American women in the South just following the Civil War to find a voice and to gain authority in the Church as well as bolstering their social status in the community.

The Church of God in Christ: Founder -- Charles Harrison Mason (1907)

Research Study

Chapter Two -- Literature Review

I. The Beginnings of the Church of God in Christ

The Church of God in Christ is reported to be a "…offshoot of the black Baptist movements of the late 19th century. As black Baptists were introduced to holiness and healing ministries, those who embraced these new teachings were ejected from the newly forming black Baptist conventions." (p.6) Baptists during the late 1890s did not believe that the gifts spoken of in I Corinthians 13 were for present times but only relevant at the time that the church formed and the embrasure of Mason of the holiness teachings were gained from personal experience when he was healed of an illness that threatened his life. When Mason preached the doctrines of holiness and healing, new at that time to the Baptist belief they were "expelled from the Baptist fellowship and began their new church." (Butler, 2001, p.6)

The white clergy left in 1914 for form the Assemblies of God and in 1912 Mason formed the Women's Department and appointed Elizabeth Wood (nee Robinson) as the general overseer of women. (Butler, 2001, p.6) The Church of God in Christ is reported to have experienced the largest growth during "the migratory periods from 1915 onwards" and during this time, the Church of God in Christ set up storefronts in areas including New York, Chicago, and Detroit. During this time educational facilities, mission groups, and auxiliaries were built on behalf of the church. It is reported that by 1945 the Church of God in Christ "had the largest church building built by African-Americans in the country." (Butler, 2001, p.7)

The Church of God in Christ is reported to "like most Pentecostal groups of this time period" to look primarily to the scripture to provide direction for their movement. (Butler, 2001) Mason preached his first sermon in 1893 in Preston, Arkansas. The sermon's focus was on holiness. This was a sermon that brought many to the altar to confess their sins and the conversion number was great that day as many professed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mason instructed his congregations on sin and it being the root of all disease and sickness. (Owens, 2002, paraphrased) Mason traveled to the Azusa Street revival and then traveled to the state of Virginia and specifically to the Tidewater area. Mason's oral recantations relate that the Tidewater area was one in which he was an active advocate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that after preaching baptism in the Holy Ghost at Friendship Cathedral that a revival resulted and a great number of individuals were saved and received the Pentecostal baptism. News of this rapidly spread to the "tobacco fields to peanut fields in the rural areas of southeast Virginia." (Owens, 2002)

II. Mason Shunned by the Church

Mason attended the Old Grant Street Church in the Tidewater area and preached a sermon focused on the Holy Ghost baptism while relating his spiritual experiences at Azusa Street only to be asked to take his companions and leave the church. Mason had intended to travel on to Memphis, Tennessee when he relates that the Holy Ghost instructed him to remain and preach the Pentecostal message. However, with no church open to Mason a street ministry resulted in Norfolk in April 1907 where Mason preached "on the street outside the Ferry Terminal on Commercial Place." (Owens, 2002) Mason was "scorned and ridiculed…when he started preaching on the street." (Owens, 2002) Mason was even subject to threats by the police that he would be arrested although he never was arrested. Mason's street preaching gathered many converts of both the African-American and Caucasian race therefore the meetings were then held by Mason in private homes. It was not long until larger facilities were needed and Mason rented a storefront in Norfolk on Monticello Avenue, then yet another larger one on St. Paul Street, and then again a larger storefront on Cumberland Street. Prior to Mason traveling to Memphis the set about organizing those who had been saved in the revival and formed a church in which Mason was the pastor. It was not long until the church bought a piece of land on Goff Street and constructed the first Church, the C.H. mason Memorial Church of God in Christ. This church is known to the Church of God in Christ as the 'Mother Church' since it has been "the seedbed for so many preachers, pastors, bishops, and churches." (Owens, 2002)

III. Mason Travels to Memphis to Carry the Message of the Azusa Street Revival

Mason was now ready to travel to Memphis and in late July arrived in time to visit his own church and "to prepare to make his way to the Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ for 1907." (Owens, 2002) It is reported that it was a shock to Mason that he was not the first individual that preached the Azusa Street message to his own Church in Memphis. Prior to his message was that of Glen Cook (1967-1948) described as "a veteran of the great revival who had served as Elder Seymour's business manager." (Owens, 2002) Mason is stated in the work of Owens to have "presented his case for the Baptism with the Holy Ghost…at the 1907 Convocation as taught at Azusa Street by Elder W.J. Seymour." (Owens, 2002) Mason made an attempt to lead the entire Church of God in Christ into the "new Pentecostal mold. But Jones, who controlled the convocation, demanded that Mason soften his position to say that speaking in tongues were merely 'one' of the initial evidences of the baptism with the Holy Ghost.' (Owens, ) As history relates, Mason refused to do this and the "General Overseer and the Convocation 'withdrew from C.H. mason and all who promulgated the doctrine of speaking with tongues the right hand of fellowship." (Cobbins, 1969, p.432 cited in: Owens, 2002) Half of the delegates of the Convocation left with Mason when he left and Mason…[continue]

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