The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a Christian denomination established in the United States in 1897 by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. It is one of the oldest and largest Pentecostal denominations in the world, with approximately six million members in the United States and more than twelve million members worldwide.
The origins of the COGIC can be traced to the waves of spiritual revivals that swept over the United States during the late nineteenth century. Primarily led by African-American preachers, these revivals rekindled the fiery fire of Pentecostalism that had grown out of the Spiritualist Movement in the United States at the turn of the century.
The first of these powerful revivals was led by Charles Harrison Mason in Morrison Chapel, Arkansas, in 1906. Plagued by a seemingly endless cycle of poverty and racial oppression, Mason and his wife, Lucy Moss Mason, answered a call to preach the gospel, and within three years his "Church of God in Christ" had become the largest African-American denomination in the south.
From the start, Mason declared that COGIC's mission was to create a "church without walls," and he defined its doctrines as doctrines of "holiness, conversion, prayer, Bible study, and covenant with God."
He stressed that everyone could be saved through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and encouraged his members to live a life dedicated to righteousness and service. Mason and his wife quickly grew their organization and promoted their church across the country, opening up churches in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma.
In 1907, the General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ was organized, which defined the tenets and governing principles of the denomination. This gathering also elected Mason its first General Overseer, a position he held until his death in 1961.
By 1910, the COGIC’s membership had grown to almost 50,000, and Mason purchased a building in Anderson, South Carolina, that became the home for the church’s headquarters, a place of worship, and a training center for its ministers. COGIC establishes an official newspaper, The Voice, which helps spread its message and connect members throughout the United States. COGIC has become one of America's largest African-American denominations and introduced a distinctive "pentecostal anointing" to the Black Church.
Unlike the traditional congregations and denominations of the white church, the COGIC embraced a more emotional and vivid form of worship. Singing, dancing, shouted praises, a robust offering, and speaking in tongues (glossolalia) became common sights in its churches.
This emotional style of worship inspired an even bigger response as the church spread. Today, the COGIC continues to spread its message of faith and holiness to churches around the world. The COGIC is a growing denomination, with more than 6 million members in the United States and more than 12 million members worldwide.
This significant presence allows the COGIC to make a powerful impact, both spiritually and socially, in the lives of its members and communities around the world. As a symbol of the power of the gospel to transform lives, the Church of God in Christ has flourished for over one hundred years. In addition to its spiritual message, the COGIC is well known for its social activism.
Through organizations like its Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society, the COGIC has worked to build literacy, health care, and economic opportunities for those impoverished by racism. Similarly, the church has served as an advocate for civil, human, and religious rights. This engagement with contemporary social issues has helped the COGIC shape the religious landscape of the Black Church.
Perhaps the most significant legacy of COGIC is the global impact of its ministers, who have played a major role in introducing Pentecostalism in Africa and the Caribbean. Countless COGIC missionaries have served and continue to serve throughout the world, preaching the gospel and mobilizing hundreds of ministry centers. In the end, the Church of God in Christ has left a mark on the religious landscape of the United States.
Mason's vision of a church that promotes the joy of salvation and a life dedicated to righteousness has reached millions of individuals throughout the world. COGIC continues today to remain committed to advancing the Kingdom of God and bringing the gospel to all people in all places.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
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