Growth through the years
With an estimated 5 million members, the Church of God in Christ has grown and expanded its following throughout the world it is now considered to be the fourth largest Protestant body in the nation. It now has churches in 60 different nations of the world. COGIC headquarters are located at Mason Temple in Memphis Tennessee. Each year over 50,000 representatives of those churches gather at a National Holy Convocation at Mason Temple to fellowship and worship keeping the tradition started by Bishop Mason in1940. These conventions also allow church leaders to plan the futures of the church.
The World Headquarters “Mason Temple
The church has attracted various famous African Americans including the Winan’s Family of entertainers, the Clark Sisters Gospel Singers and Rev. T.D. Jakes a leading televangelist and spiritual leader. The funeral of Malcolm X in 1965 was held at Faith Temple COGIC in Harlem, New York. Three years later, Dr Martin Luther King’s "Mountain Top" Speech was given at Mason Temple the night prior to his assassination. Mason Temple was also used as a meeting location for Memphis Sanitation Workers strike in 1968 that brought Dr King to the city.
A number of other religious denominations have evolved out of the COGIC including the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the United Pentecostal Church International and the largest group, the mostly white Assemblies of God which separated from the COGIC in 1914. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is the most famous member of this denomination.
Bishop LH Ford who was the Presiding Bishop 1990-1995 is most notably credited with bringing President Bill Clinton, who was a personal friend and the first and only U.S. president to ever physically address COGIC during the Eighty-Sixth International Holy Convocation on November 13, 1993 at Mason Temple. Since that time, every U.S. president has sought the guidance and or support of COGIC Presiding Bishops.
Bishop Charles Edward Blake Sr. now serves as the Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of Church of God in Christ. On March 21, 2007, he assumed leadership of COGIC as a result of Presiding Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson's untimely death. During this time of sorrow, transition and celebration, Bishop Blake at the same time prepared the church for its 100th Holy Convocation, an important milestone for the church. An estimated 70,000 "saints" convened in Memphis to celebrate the centennial celebration in November 2007. In a November 2007 special election, he was elected to complete the unexpired term of his predecessor as Presiding Bishop. In November 2008, Bishop Blake was re-elected to serve a four-year term as Presiding Bishop making him the fifth Presiding Bishop of COGIC.
Bishop Blake is the pastor of the West Angeles COGIC, one of the largest churches in the Western United States, with a membership of over 24,000; he holds multiple academic and honorary degrees, from various educational institutions and is an ardent advocate of education and academic excellence. In Washington, DC – Tuesday, 2 June 2010, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and Senior Women’s leader Mother Willie Mae Rivers of the Church of God in Christ accepted the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) 2010 Marriage Protector Award. The award was given to acknowledge “the steadfast witness of the Church of God in Christ in defending marriage as the union of husband and wife.” NOM Chairman Maggie Gallagher presented the award at the 60th Annual Women’s International Convention/Crusade of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) at the Los Angeles Convention Centre
Mother Rivers became a member of the Calvary Church of God in Christ. She was appointed Church Mother at the age of twenty (20). She continues to serve in that capacity. Because of her dedication, Mother Rivers was chosen to serve as district Missionary and later Assistant Supervisor to the late Mother Alice Marie Saunders.
In 1968, she was appointed and is presently the Supervisor of the Department of Women for the South Carolina Jurisdiction. Her loyal dedication to God and her leaders is exemplified throughout the Church of God in Christ, Inc.
Mother Rivers was appointed and installed as the International General Supervisor in April 1997. In 2009 Mother Rivers Mother travelled to England to perform the ceremony of appointment and installation of Mother Louise Reynolds as the Women’s Jurisdictional Supervisor for England at the Luton Women’s Convention.
COGIC - UK (England)
The Calvary Church of God in Christ (COGIC) began in the late 40’s when the first wave of immigrants from the Caribbean arrived in search of a new life in England. Having failed to integrate in the established churches, they decided to start their own church. Soon all over the country, small groups of Christians were gathering to pray and worship together.
Such were the humble beginnings of COGIC, started in the home of the McLachlan family with a few friends in the late 40’s. They established themselves as a church when they rented a hall in Sussex Road, Brixton in the same period. The growth of this church was phenomenal.
In 1952 Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, founder of the COGIC church in the USA, visited the World Pentecostal Conference in London. It was here that an open channel was extended to our Church that led to our affiliation to the Church of God in Christ International in 1957.
Later that year, Revd. Oswald McLachlan was appointed the first Jurisdictional Bishop of the Calvary Church of God in Christ in the United Kingdom.
In 1963, Bishop McLachlan decided to return to the Caribbean and passed the leadership of the Church to Bishop Robert Clifford Bell, who was then appointed Jurisdictional Prelate. Bishop Bell served the Church from 1963 until his death in 1998. In 1998, The Revd. Alvin Blake succeeded Bishop Bell as Jurisdictional Prelate and continues to serve to the present time. Bishop Blake is the Pastor of the Luton COGIC assembly which is also the main Headquarters for England.
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