COGIC UK 60th Anniversary
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Britain’s oldest Black Church celebrates 60th Anniversary
Britain’s oldest black Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) will celebrate its 60th anniversary Jubilee in August 2012 at their recently refurbished 2,000 seater headquarters in Luton, Bedfordshire.
The celebrations will run from 24th to 27th August 2012 and feature live worship services, a music concert, a video presentation and contributions from special guests.
Bishop Alvin Blake, head of COGIC stated: “COGIC has a great cultural and spiritual heritage in Britain. For almost 60 years we’ve been proclaiming a gospel of hope, and seen many people’s lives positively changed as a result. During this year of celebration we will be reflecting on our history and achievements as well as looking to the future.”
COGIC UK was started in 1948 by members of the Windrush Generation, Bishop Oswald and Mary McLachlan, who were a part of the first wave of Jamaican migrants to come to the UK in the late 1940s.
They initially started church services in their home in Stoke Newington, north London.
COGIC UK became an official church denomination in 1952 when the founder of its American counterpart, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, formally inaugurated the organisation during a visit to London to attend the World Pentecostal Conference.
The US branch of COGIC is America’s largest black denomination, and has over six million members, plus an additional one million members around the world.
COGIC UK became a prominent force in black Christian circles under the leadership of Bishop Robert Clifford Bell, who led the church between 1963 and 1998.
The denomination now has 21 branches throughout Britain. Aside from being a beacon of hope in their local communities, COGIC has impacted the wider black Pentecostal church movement in the UK through the lives of individual members who are renowned both within and outside the denomination.
COGIC’s National Choir also played a part in introducing UK audiences to the black church and the power of gospel music. It was the first black gospel choir to be featured on BBC TV’s Songs of Praise and was heavily featured in the historic Songs of Praise broadcast from Southwark Cathedral in 1984.
Anniversary celebrations and events will be held throughout 2012. COGIC will officially participate in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee BIG Lunch on 3rd June 2012. The church will also be utilising social media to augment their celebrations.
A COGIC Diamond Jubilee Heritage Page has been set up to encourage past and present members to share memories of their experience being part of COGIC, as well as reach out to former members of COGIC’s Mass Choir.
Rev Clevere Fenty, the Chair of COGIC’s Jubilee Organising Committee said: “I have great memories of the church – of its lively services, the great singing and music and more importantly, the various people whose lives the church has transformed through its gospel message. All these things and more will be looked on during our celebrations, but more importantly we will be celebrating our youth, looking to the future and looking at new ways to reach our broken communities.”
Rev Fenty has been a member of the Church since 1966.
Leader reflects on COGIC’s legacy
August 17, 2012
With the 60th anniversary celebrations of Britain’s oldest Black Pentecostal denomination – the Calvary Church of God in Christ (COGIC UK) – drawing near, its current head, Bishop Alvin Blake, believes that the church founders, Bishop and Mother McLachlan, would have been very proud of the Organisation’s achievements.
He shared, “The church has seen growth over the years, as it continues to build upon everyone uniting and coming together to pray, and entreating people to live a holy and consecrated life. This has been the basis upon which the church was built.”
He also shared that the McLachlans would have welcomed COGIC UK’s foray into education. “COGIC now owns a number of church buildings. We’ve also introduced educational training to develop ministers and widen the skills of church officers, and have established our own Bible College for Christians everywhere.”
Bishop Blake also believes COGIC UK has contributed greatly to British society, by being the first Black Pentecostal denomination established by the Caribbeans, who immigrated to the UK in the 1950s and 60s.
The 60th anniversary celebrations will run throughout the year, and include a church convocation from 24th to 27th August at COGIC headquarters in Luton, with special guests Rev Joel Edwards; Bishop Brandon Porter from the USA; a grand reception, and a major music celebration.
People are very aware that COGIC inspired several Black Christian leaders in the 1950s and 60s to establish their own churches, including the late Bishops Powell and Bernard, founders of the New Testament Assembly, and Bishop Francis Snr, founder of the Church of the First Born and father of mega church leader, Bishop John Francis.
When asked what he hopes COGIC UK will achieve during the next 60 years, this was Bishop Blake’s response: “A transformation of society through the power of the Holy Spirit, as demonstrated in the teachings and actions of Jesus, and the healing and restoration of the social order. This will mean the church coming out of its comfort zone to work with other agencies – including government and local authority, challenging political systems to fight for justice and equality for one and all.”
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