COGIC also teaches that all the spiritual gifts are for believers today. COGIC teaches that the church is the community of Christian believers who have accepted Jesus Christ and submit to his Lordship and authority in their lives. It can be spoken of as the individual and the collective, physical and spiritual. COGIC teaches that according to the Word of God , there will be final events and conditions that address the end of this present age of the world. These events include physical death, the intermediate state , bodily resurrection , the Second Coming of Christ , the Great Tribulation , the Battle of Armageddon , the Millennial Reign , the Final Judgment , the future of the wicked in hell, and life for the redeemed in heaven.
COGIC believes in divine healing , however, it does not advocate the exclusion of medical supervision. It believes that the gifts of the Spirit are given to believers and are active in the church today. The ordinances of the church are water baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper and foot washing.
As a classical Pentecostal holiness church, COGIC continues to embrace its holiness heritage, teaching modesty in dress, appearance, moderate participation in secular entertainment and prohibitions against profanity, alcohol, substance abuse and immoral behavior. The church has a tradition of prayer, fasting, praise, and consecration that was once unique to Holiness or Pentecostal groups. Many mainline denominations and countless nondenominational churches that once rejected these beliefs and practices have adopted these distinctions in their worship liturgy and lifestyle practices.
COGIC clergy are allowed to be married. Remarriage is highly discouraged, except in the case of the death of a spouse. Divorce is considered inconsistent with biblical teachings and highly discouraged as well. COGIC considers any physical, sexual relationship outside of the sanctity of marriage to be outside of the sovereign will of God. COGIC clergy do not officially sanction or recognize same-sex relationships to be joined together in marriage.
The denomination teaches that God gives life to human beings, biologically and spiritually, through the moment of conception in the womb of the mother, using Jeremiah , Genesis —27, and Psalms —16 as their scriptural basis for this belief. COGIC teaches that because God uses conception through and after sexual reproduction and intercourse to create human life, that willfully aborting a human fetus is contrary to God's Word and Christian ethics, and it is considered to be a sin against God and the Bible within the denomination.
However, the Church believes that in some extreme or rare cases, medical and operational abortion may be the safest way to help the mother if the pregnancy is jeopardizing the mother's life and health. COGIC believes, though, that even then in the case of saving the life of the mother, that abortion should still only be considered as a last resort, if all other options to help the mother and the unborn fetus have been thoroughly exhausted. COGIC believes " In July during their annual Auxiliaries In Ministries convention, COGIC announced their Urban Initiative Outreach ministries and Missions and Charity departments would be partnering up with The Human Coalition , a pro-life anti-abortion advocacy group, from — for a three-year initiative to encourage COGIC pastors and ministers to encourage pro-life anti-abortion advocacy in their local churches.
The three-year initiative would also help encourage COGIC clergy to use their missions and charity ministries in local churches to help offer aid and assistance to African-Americans and people of other ethnic minorities, and people of low incomes in local communities who are considering and contemplating abortion and offer aid and assistance to people dealing with economic and medical issues from pregnancy.
The three-year-initiative with The Human Coalition is also supposed to encourage local COGIC clergy leaders across the United States, both male and female, to partner up with other anti-abortion advocacy groups and Christian ministries to lobby for more anti-abortion restrictions throughout local states. Pentecostals have been criticized because of their noticeable absence from the official record of activism that has been largely overshadowed by black ministers of other denominations such as Baptists and Methodists; however, there is irrefutable evidence to verify and document the role and response of COGIC ministers and other Pentecostals to the cause and struggle for Civil Rights.
As previously stated, COGIC although predominately black, had a significant white membership during its first decade of existence, with a number of white ministers holding leadership positions in the church.
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However, after the meeting in Hot Springs and the founding of the Assemblies of God, the white constituency of COGIC continued to decline, until it was almost nonexistent by the s. Bishop Mason taught COGIC members against going to war, but more so he was against African-American men being called to fight a war overseas for freedom and then coming home and being treated as second-class citizens and being lynched in their uniforms.
During the forties and fifties, Bishop Mason often invited the white elected officials of the city of Memphis to the International Holy Convocation on Civic Night. Overseer E. However his out-spoken criticism of racial prejudice of whites led most if not all of them to leave his church for other ministries where the message of against racism was not so obvious and offensive to them.
Delk who remained in the church after many whites had left, was very active in politics in Missouri and worked to promote civil rights by writing legislatures and petitioning the federal government on the behalf of COGIC.
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He is credited with helping to secure the steel needed to construct Mason Temple which was virtually impossible during WW II. During the fifties and sixties, during the height of the civil rights movement, COGIC ministers and congregations played host to many significant events. Mamie Till -Mobley was a member of St.
In Chicago, Ford organized voter registration initiatives. He protested during the s and s against lodging segregation in Memphis, while participating in COGIC Holy Convocations there during the Civil Rights era before federal laws prohibiting such segregation. Ten years later on February 25, , when Malcolm X was assassinated and needed to a place for his funeral; No major black church or facility would open their doors for the service. Childs of the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ later renamed Child's Memorial in his honor was the clergyman who finally opened his doors.
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According to Alex Haley, "He and his wife then received bomb threats at home and at church. He led a group of students to participate in the March on Selma. He was one of the nine members of the strategy committee the organized the sanitation strike in Memphis. He was assassinated the next day, April 4, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Throughout the seventies and eighties, as COGIC continued to grow to millions of members nationwide, COGIC ministers all over the country continued to advance civil rights in their communities.
As the International Holy Convocation grew to thousands, COGIC leaders had to negotiate with city officials to provide hotel accommodations for the saints. His pastor and mentor was Bishop F. Washington of Brooklyn, NY. In and respectively, Rev. During the current administration of Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, COGIC unveiled its Urban Initiatives Program to provide 60, programs nationwide through its more than 12, congregations to continue to promote the work of civil rights, and to reduce poverty, crime and violence, etc.
According to its Constitution, the church has two structures to govern the church: civil and ecclesiastical. All officers are elected by the General Assembly.
The General Secretary, General Treasurer, and Financial Secretary terms run concurrent with the current presidential administration that is elected every four years. The General Assembly elects a person General Board Presidium every four years from the college of bishops, who serve functionally as apostles of the church. The General Assembly meets biannually each year in April and November while the Presidium acts as the executive branch of the church, overseeing the day-to-day operation when the General Assembly is not in session.
As a result, the General Board exercises great authority over the church. The Presidium includes a separately elected International Presiding Bishop by the General Assembly who serves a term of four years, who, then appoints two assistant presiding bishops. Blake, Sr. National officers of the church are chosen at the General Assembly every four years unless special elections are warranted.
The Judicial Board serves as the judicial branch and is the supreme body that interprets polity and practice. It has nine members, elected by the General Assembly, including three bishops, three elders, and three lay members. In addition to the General Board, there is a Board of Bishops that is composed of all jurisdictional and auxiliary bishops, a National Trustee Board that is composed of 15 members who are elected for a term of four years, the General Council of Pastors and Elders which is open to any officially recognized pastor and current credentialed ordained elder in the church.
The Church of God in Christ ecclesiastical structure is an episcopal-presbyterian form of government. Churches are organized in dioceses called jurisdictions , each under the authority of a bishop. The Presiding Bishop is part of a General Board, consisting of eleven other bishops elected by a General Assembly consisting of Pastors, Elders, Chaplains, Bishops, Missionaries, Supervisors, and designated lay delegates. The General Assembly is the supreme authority over the church to decide matters of faith and practice.
Jurisdictions range in size between 30 and churches. Each state in the US consist of at least one jurisdiction and several states have more than one jurisdiction. These jurisdictions are then separated into districts, which consist of 5 to 7 churches and are governed by superintendents ordained elder or pastor. There are more than ecclesiastical jurisdictions around the world with in the United States. Jurisdictions are set up similar to the National Church in terms of composition, polity, and procedure. World headquarters are in Memphis, Tennessee at Mason Temple.
During the formative stages of COGIC, Bishop Mason organized departments to further support the work of the church as it continued to grow and expand. Women in COGIC have been influential in the leadership and organization of the church since its inception. Bishop Mason was opposed to the ordination of women to formal ministry, but in created an autonomous department to promote the ministry of women in the church.
The church believes that women are gifted and called to ministry; it does not, however, officially ordain women to the office of elder, or bishop. COGIC licensed female evangelists may also serve as chaplains in military, federal, state, and local institutions requiring chaplains. This endorsement allows female chaplains who are serving in the military, working in an institution or jails to perform religious services including funerals and weddings.
Each jurisdictional bishop appoints a jurisdictional supervisor to lead the work of the women on a jurisdictional level. The jurisdictional supervisor is assisted by district missionaries who oversee the women's ministry of the district. Deaconess Missionaries serve and assist in the ceremonial and temporal affairs of the local church.
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Evangelist Missionaries are licensed to proclaim the gospel, conduct gospel meetings, and may be given the oversight of local congregations serving as the church administrator. On the local church level in addition to the office of missionary, COGIC developed and has maintained the position of the "church mother. The designated church mother along with other "older and seasoned" women of the church provided the practical teaching of holiness in daily life and practice. Today however, many church mothers have been reserved to titular positions as many pastor's wives have assumed the role of leader of women's ministries in local congregations.
Despite what seems to be obvious limitations to minister because of ordination, women have been given great latitude and numerous opportunities to serve in ministry in COGIC. As a result, many local congregations, foreign missions, and schools were established and through the leadership and efforts of women in COGIC. Lizzie Woods Robinson — was the first "General Mother" of the church. Finding two groups of women in the church, one group praying known as the Prayer Band, the other group studying and teaching the Word known as the Bible Band, she combined the two under the name of the Prayer and Bible Band.
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She organized the sewing circle and after meeting Elder Searcy, she encouraged the women to support mission work through the Home and Foreign Mission bands. As the church continued to grow, she created women auxiliaries including the Purity Class and the Sunshine Band. She began women's work on the state level and appointed the first state mothers. Robinson was a staunch advocate for holiness and taught strict guidelines for the women with regard to dress and worldliness.
She was greatly interested in the building of Mason Temple and she kept her national building fund drives functioning until she knew the building was ready for dedication. Her successor, Lillian Brooks Coffey — was the organizer of the Women's International Convention to support the work of foreign missionaries.