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THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST



THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST is a Church of the Lord Jesus Christ inwhich the word of God is preached, ordinances are administered and the doctrineof sanctification or holiness is emphasized, as being essential to the salvationof mankind.

Our Church is commonly known as being Holiness orPentecostal in nature because of the importance ascribed to the events whichoccurred on the Day of Pentecost, the 50th day after the Passover, or Easter asbeing necessary for all believers in Christ Jesus to experience.

Onthe Day of Pentecost, the first day of the week, the Lord's Day, SupernaturalManifestations descended in marvelous copiousness and power. The gift ofthe spirit in the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to clothe those who wouldwait in Jerusalem with power from on high, was accompanied by three supernaturalextraordinary manifestations.

The sudden appearance of the HolyGhost appealed first to the ear. The disciples heard a "sound"from heaven which rushed with a mighty force into the house and filled it-evenas a storm rushes-but there was no wind. It was the sound that filled the houseand not a wind, an invisible cause producing audible effects.

Next, the eye wasarrested by the appearance of tongues of fire which rested on each of thegathered COMPANY. Finally, there was the impartation of a new strangepower to speak in languages they had never learned "as the Spirit gave them Utterance."

Our Church isalso considered to be a member of the great Protestant body though it did notdirectly evolve from the European or English Reformation but had its originwithin the General Association to the Baptist Church.

Elder Charles Harrison Mason, who later became the founder andorganizer of the Church of God in Christ, was born September 8,1866, on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. His father and mother, Jerryand Eliza Mason, were members of a Missionary Baptist Church, having beenconverted during the dark crises of American Slavery.


YoungC.H. Mason


Elder Mason was converted in November, 1878, and baptized by hisbrother, I. S. Nelson, a Baptist Preacher, who was pastoring the MountOlive Missionary Baptist Church near Plumerville, Arkansas. In 1893, he beganhis Christian Ministry with the accepting of ministerial licenses from the Mt.Gale Missionary Baptist Church, in Preston, Arkansas.

He thenexperienced sanctification through the word of God and preached his first sermonin "Holiness" from II Timothy 2:1-3: "Thou therefore endurehardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." On November 1, 1893,Elder Mason matriculated into the Arkansas Baptist College, but withdrew afterthree months because of his dissatisfaction with the methods of teaching and thepresentation of the Bible Message. He then returned to the streets and toevery pulpit that was opened to him declaring Christ by the word, example, andprecept.

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'sclosest companions in the ministry.

Jointly, these militant gospelpreachers conducted a revival in 1896, in Jackson, Mississippi, which hadfar-reaching affects on the city.

The theophanic manifestations ofthe revival, which included the large numbers that were converted, sanctified,and healed by the power of faith and the dogmatic teachings of Bishop mason onthe doctrine of sanctification caused church doors within the Baptistassociation to become closed to him and to all those that believed and supportedhis teachings.

So in 1897, whenthese pioneering, persistent preachers returned to Jackson, Mississippi, BishopMason was forced to deliver his first message from the south entrance of thecourthouse. A Mr. John Lee, who desired to see Bishop Mason's ministrycontinue, provided the living room of his home the next night. Because of theoverwhelming number that attended, a Mr. Watson, The owner of an abandonedwarehouse in Lexington, Mississippi, gave his consent to transfer the revivalmeeting to the gin house on the bank of a little creek.

This ginhouse 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 shotgunblasts into the midst of the saints while they were shouting and praying.

Somepersons were wounded but miraculously, none of the shots were fatal.

At the close of the meeting, it was necessary to organize the peoplefor the purpose of establishing a church with a stronger appeal and greaterencouragement for all Christians and believers, a church which would emphasizethe doctrine of entire sanctification through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

A meeting wasmutually called by Elder mason, Elder Jones, and Elder Pleasant, and sixty stoodas charter members. Land was soon bought on Gazoo Street, from Mrs. JohnAshcraft, just beyond the corporate line, upon which was built a little edifice60 x 40. These charter members formed a pentecostal body known as the "Churchof God."

Subsequently, in 1897, while seeking aspiritual name which would distinguish the church from others of the similartitle, the name "Church of God in Christ" was revealed toBishop mason while walking along a certain street in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thefollowing scripture supported his revelation: I Thessalonians 2:14, "Forye brethren became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in ChristJesus: for ye have suffered like things of your own countrymen even as they haveof 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 asoverseer of Tennessee, and Elder J. A. Jeter was overseer of Arkansas. Theturning point in Elder Mason's life came in March, 1907, when he journeyed toLos 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 Luke24:49, "And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry yein 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 theoutpouring of the Holy ghost.

The following are excerpts fromElder Mason's personal testimony regarding his receiving the Holy Ghost.

"Thefirst day in the meeting I sat to myself, away from those that went with me. Ibegan to thank God in my heart for all things, for when I heard some speak intongues, I knew it was right though I did not understand it. Nevertheless, itwas sweet to me.

I also thank God for Elder Seymour who came andpreached a wonderful sermon. His words were sweet and powerful and it seemsthat I hear them now while writing. When he closed his sermon, he said 'Allof those that want to be sanctified or baptized with the Holy Ghost, go to theupper 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 convertedand if not, God knows it and can convert me..." "Glory!

Thesecond night of prayer I saw a vision. I saw myself standing alone and had adry roll of paper in my mouth trying to swallow it. Looking up towards theheavens, there appeared a man at my side. I turned my eyes at once, then Iawoke and the interpretation came.

God had me swallowing the whole book and if I did not turn my eyesto anyone but God and Him only, He would baptize me. I said yes to Him, andat once in the morning when I arose, I could hear a voice in me saying, "Isee..."

"I got aplace at the altar and began to thank God. After that, I said Lord if I couldonly baptize myself, I would do so; for I wanted the baptism so bad I did notknow what to do. I said, Lord, You will have to do the work for me; so I turnedit over into His hands."

"Then, I began to ask for thebaptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4, which readeth thus: 'Thenthey that gladly received His word were baptized,' Then I saw that I had aright to be glad and not sad."

"The enemy saidto 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 andmarry you...Someone said, 'Let us sing.' I arose and the first song that cameto me was 'He brought me out of the Miry Clay.'

The Spiritcame upon the saints and upon me...Then I gave up for the Lord to have His waywithin me. So there came a wave of Glory into me and all of my being was filledwith the Glory of the Lord.

So when He hadgotten me straight on my feet, there came a light which enveloped my entirebeing 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 forhimself, for he began to proclaim to others upon his return home to Memphis,Tennessee as a New Testament doctrine. A division, subsequently, became evidentwithin the ranks of Elder Mason's contemporaries when Elder J. A. Jeter, theGeneral Overseer, Elder C. P. Jones, and others regarded the new Holy Ghostexperience of speaking in tongues as a delusion. Being unable to resolve theirdifference in the New Testament doctrine.

The General Assemblyterminated by withdrawing the "right hand" of fellowship from C. H.Mason. Elder Mason then called a conference in Memphis, Tennessee of allministers who believed in receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost according tothe scriptures in Acts 2:1-4. Those who responded to Elder Mason's urgentcall 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, DanielSpearman and J. H. Boone.

These men of Godorganized the first pentecostal General Assembly of the "Church of God inChrist." Overseer C. H. Mason was then chosen unanimously as theGeneral Overseer and Chief Apostle of our denomination. He was givencomplete authority to establish doctrine, organize auxiliaries and appointoverseers.

Dr. Hart was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J.A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J. Bowe the Overseer ofArkansas; later J. A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Mississippi. As thechurch grew, Elder E. M. Page was appointed Overseer of Texas; Elder R. R.Booker, Overseer of Missouri; Elder E. R. Driver, Overseer of California andElder W. B. Holt as the National Field Secretary.

As theChief Apostle, he immediately dedicated twenty days, November 25th throughDecember 14th annually as a meeting time for all of his followers to fellowshipwith each other and to transact all ecclesiastical and secular affairs pertinentto the growth of the National Organization.

This segment of theyear was chosen because the majority of the communicants of the church lived infarming districts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. By this time of theyear, they had sufficient provisions and financial resources from the harvestingof their crops, to enable them to attend and support a national meeting.

The firstNational 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 twelveyears later in 1936. In the interim until 1945, our National Convocation washeld within the Church pastored by Bishop Mason at 672 South Lauderdale. In1945, Bishop was able to visualize the culmination of his dream. He dedicatedthe Mason Temple at Memphis, Tennessee which was built for less than $400,000during World War II. This auditorium became the largest convention hall ownedby any colored religious group in America.

Under BishopMason's spiritual and apostolic direction our church has grown from tencongregations in 1907, to the second largest pentecostal group in America.

Themembership of the Church of God in Christ grew from three million in 1973 to anestimated eight million in 1997.

Churches under theparent body in Memphis, Tennessee, are now established throughout the UnitedStates, in every continent, and in many of the islands of the sea.



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