FROM A GIN HOUSE The Early Years of COGIC

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Charles Harrison Mason 1866–1961
Founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination of the twentieth century.

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6b) must have been the headline in Jackson, Mississippi in June 1896.  The common interest and associative traits of Charles Harrison Mason, J.A. Jeter and W. S. Pleasant, led these men to diverge into Jackson to conduct a holiness revival at Mt. Helm Baptist Church where Charles Price Jones was the host.  The doctrine of Sanctification was the main theme.  They preached with fervency and dedication.  Baptist Churches responded by disallowing them to preach from their pulpits and expelled Pastor Jones and the others from the Jackson Baptist Association.  Nevertheless, a firm resolve held them to preach holiness which became the impetus that led to the birth of the Church of God in Christ.    The 1896 Jackson Revival was a part of an awakening in the atmosphere that led people to want to hear more of the Gospel of Grace through Sanctification.  The following year in Jackson with as many naysayers as supporters, Mason preached at the south-side entrance of the Jackson Courthouse.  The next day, a local resident John Lee, provided the living room of his home as a meeting place.  Soon, so many were flocking to hear holiness preached at the Lee House, the owner of an abandoned cotton gin, sixty three miles north of Jackson in Lexington, MS,  who gave Mason consent to hold meetings there.  This became the St. Paul Church in Lexington, MS, established by C.H. Mason, the first and oldest COGIC congregation in the world.

C.P. Jones changed the name of his church to the Church of Christ.  Many other holiness groups were forming and using similar names; Mason sought a name that would be ‘set apart’ from others.  In 1897, while in Little Rock, AR, Mason believed that God had given him the name the Church of God in Christ (COGIC).  Mason believed it was divinely revealed and biblically inspired taken from I Thessalonians 2:14, He believed God promised him, “If you take the name that I give you, they would never build a building that would hold all those who would come.” The movement adopted the name, and COGIC began to grow throughout the south and Mason and the other leaders were given oversight of specific regions.

This group became intensely narrower when C.H. Mason, D.J. Young and J.A. Jeter returned from the famed Azusa Revival in 1906.  There Mason received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Later Jeter and Jones disagreed with Mason’s report, saying ‘speaking in other tongues, as the Spirit gave utterance’ was the indication that one had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  They removed Mason from their fellowship the same year.  Mason contended to keep the name COGIC, he would not relent, knowing that the abundant perpetuity of COGIC somehow rested upon him retaining the name Church of God in Christ.  After years over the use of the name by Jones and Mason; Mason was awarded the original charter, making COGIC the first legally chartered Pentecostal body incorporated in the United States.

         

 SOURCES:

THE FOUNDER AND CHURCH HISTORY, COGIC.ORG

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARKANSAS HISTORY & CULTURE/CHARLES HARRISON MASON

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