Rainy remnants of Irma didn’t stop nearly 300 COGIC saints from pouring into Lexington

September 14, 2017 in News

Renowned Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. hails founder as a ‘Champion of Justice, of Righteousness’

By Gail M. Brown,

Contributing Writer,

COGIC members from around nation braved the rain to see the jail cell where their founder Bishop Charles Harrison Mason was incarcerated for preaching holiness on the steps of the Holmes County, Miss. Courthouse in 1918. Photo by Gail M. Brown

COGIC members from around the nation braved the rain to see the jail cell at the Holmes County, Miss. Courthouse where their founder, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, was incarcerated in 1918 for allegedly obstructing the draft during World War I. Photo by Gail M. Brown

LEXINGTON, Miss. – While remnants of Hurricane Irma showered down on Lexington, Miss., Tuesday, nearly 300 worshippers, adorning umbrellas, filed into St. Paul Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the “Mother Church” in Lexington.

The occasion: the last day of the COGIC’s “Founders Celebration” – the Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s pilgrimage from Memphis to Lexington, to commemorate the life and legacy of its historic founder, the late, great Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. Mason, despite facing racial prejudice, persecution and ridicule for preaching holiness, founded the COGIC in 1897 with 48 baptized members.

He began his church in an old gin house, now marked by a white cross on the grounds where it was located. COGIC officials report that the denomination has grown to more than eight million members, with churches in each state of the United States and in more than 85 foreign countries.”

Blake addressing the crowd reminded them that the church is to continue the legacy of Mason through “Celebrating Our Unchanging Faith,” which was the theme of the pilgrimage and commemoration. He also mentioned more mission work in terms of the school – Saints College – and other positive things that the COGIC, Inc. will be doing to help enhance the quality of life in Lexington.

Asked given the resurfacing of racial tensions today and reflecting on the racial discrimination and ridicule Bishop Mason encountered for preaching holiness, what does today’s commemoration mean in that regard, Bishop Blake gave The Mississippi Link the following statement:

“Bishop Mason was a champion of justice, a champion of righteousness, and he encouraged all of us to be our very best. And if everyone abided by the philosophy and teachings of Bishop Mason, our world would be a paradise. … We are trying to follow in his footsteps, duplicate his example. And I think his lifestyle of love, righteousness, building the family, loving one’s neighbor, treating everyone with justice and righteousness is the type of thing that he taught. That’s the type of thing that we all are striving to do. And if we continue that, our world would be better and different.”

In addition to including a tour retracing the steps of Mason in Lexington, it also included a very informative and thought-provoking luncheon/C.H. Mason Symposium on the Life and Cultural, Social and Spiritual Impact of Mason presented by Bishop David Hall, pastor of the Temple COGIC in Memphis, Tenn. Hall shared that he models his ministry after Mason’s and he is teaching his grandsons the God-given principles that Mason lived by. The luncheon/symposium was held in the Deborah Mason Patterson Building, a multi-purpose complex on Saints College Campus in Lexington.

St. Paul’s Pastor, Superintendent and Elder William Dean Jr., says he is so appreciative to have Blake, COGIC leaders and congregational members to journey to the “Mother Church.” “This is the first time in about 12 years that we have had a visit from Bishop Blake,” Dean said. “As pastor of the ‘Mother Church,’ I feel honored to be pastoring the greatest church in the world of the greatest denomination in the world.”

Dean extends utmost appreciation to the people of Lexington, the mayor, the chamber of commerce, the police department, the sheriff department, other officials, local organizations, caterers, his own church members, leaders and staff for helping to make the commemoration such a “superb day.”

He said he is excited about the various mission activities that will be coming forth that the national COGIC board is planning for Lexington.

“A lot of people did not know the rich history of the COGIC in Lexington,” he said. “Many of the Jurisdictional Bishops who talked with me following the event indicated that they will be sharing Lexington’s rich history with their youth and will be planning tours to our great city.”