COGIC origin misunderstood by some now further clarified
By Gail M. Brown
Tuesday March 14, 2017, was a great day for the leaders, congregation and friends of the St. Paul Church of God In Christ of Lexington, Miss. Many traveled for at least an hour to the Mississippi State Capitol to be a part of a special recognition.
Led by Bishop Timothy Titus Scott and Superintendent William Dean Jr., pastor, the group was afforded the privilege, via Senator David Jordan of Greenwood, to enter onto the Senate floor for the reading of Senate Concurrent Resolution 591. Sponsored by Jordan, the resolution recognized “the dedication of the St. Paul Church of God In Christ historical marker and museum in Lexington Mississippi, and the spiritual legacy of this structure.”
During the reading, Jordan verbally painted a picture of Lexington as a small hamlet when Bishop Charles H. Mason came and established the church in 1897. “There was no public transportation, no train station, no bus station, not even a taxi stand,” he said. Jordan said the church began in Lexington with 48 members but now has more than eight million members with churches in every state of the U.S. and in more than 85 foreign countries.
“I don’t know of anyone else who has done what Bishop Mason did,” Jordan said in a prior press release.
When asked how Tuesday’s Senate resolution and the dedication service of the historical marker and museum on January 29, 2017, speak to any misunderstanding some people may have had about the birthplace of the COGIC, Superintendent William Dean Jr., pastor, responded: “Many people think the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) started in Memphis because that is our headquarters. Many think it started in Jackson, Miss., because Reverend Charles Harrison Mason (who later became Bishop and founder of the Church of God in Christ) used to pastor Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson. So, this [Senate Resolution] lets people know that Lexington, Miss. is the birthplace of the COGIC. The COGIC was born out of the fact that other denominations did not understand and accept Mason’s message of sanctification, and they did not allow him to preach in any church. The historical marker and the Senate’s resolution reflect documentation, based on research of historical facts, and validates where and when the COGIC had its beginnings. These events provide greater exposure of the history of this church to the world.”
Going forward, Dean wants to see this clarification of knowledge published in both secular and religious history books for generations to come. “Let it be like the stones were, when the children of Israel came across the Jordan River; let them know what these markers mean,” said Dean, who made history himself as the state’s first black elected school district superintendent.
“I would hope that as the history of the COGIC is told, and if it is included in the Civil Rights museum, that there would be a place in the museum directing people to visit the birthplace of the COGIC, that they might know more about it in its infancy,” he added.
From a COGIC bishop’s perspective Scott believes the honor bestowed upon St. Paul by the Mississippi Legislature “means the government recognizes our outstanding contribution to society. They respect us from the beginning of our church’s conception in Lexington, Miss., and they recognize our stand for holiness.”
He added, “It encourages the Church of God in Christ to continue our mission throughout the United States and in foreign countries around the world (i.e., to continue to promote Christ, to win those who are lost, and to help those in need).”
Church member Missionary Louise Shavers was so humbled by the recognition. “As a member of the St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington, Miss., I would like to thank Senator Jordan for all that he did to spearhead the Senate’s recognition,” Shavers said. “Many trials and tribulations were endured in the early years of our church, but now 120 years later, God has smiled on “The Mother Church” with special recognition at the State Capitol, with plaques, resolutions, markers and visitors. We are very happy to see these things happen during our lifetime.”
During their visit at the Capitol, the group was also greeted by and listened to remarks from Rep. Bryant Clark (D) of Lexington. Clark also invited them to the House Gallery to be acknowledged by the House of Representatives.
They were also greeted by Sen. Barbara Blackmon, who represents a portion of Holmes County, and by Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson and Rep. Orlando Paden of Clarksdale. Mother Mary P. Patterson, the widow of the former Presiding Bishop J.O. Patterson, Sr. and executive director of The Pentecostal Heritage Connection, is credited with leading efforts to support and promote Lexington/Holmes County as the birthplace of the denomination.
For more information about St. Paul Church of God In Christ, call Superintendent Dean at 662-834-1588 or (601) 942-4452. Or, view St. Paul’s website at http://www.stpaulthemotherchurch.org/ or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cogicmotherchurch/ For information about the COGIC, Inc., log on to http://www.cogic.org/