The Church of God in Christ, Inc.is a Pentecostal body based in the United States.
The Church of God in Christ, also known as COGIC, was formed in 1897 by Charles Harrison Mason (1866-1961), who was expelled from his Baptist church in the late 19th century. Mason was ordained at Mt. Gale Missionary Baptist Church of Preston, Arkansas. He entered Arkansas Baptist College in 1893, but soon became dissatisfied and withdrew. He became connected with Charles P. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi, J. A. Jeter, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and W. S. Pleasant of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, as they participated in the Holiness movement of the late 19th century. As the result of a revival breaking out in Jackson, Mississippi, a new church, eventually called the Church of God, was formed. The first convocation called by these Holiness brethren was held in 1897 at the Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson. Around 1906, while seeking a name to distinguish this body from others of the same title, Mason believed the name Church of God in Christ was divinely revealed, biblically supported in I Thessalonians 2:14.
Mason's visit to the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1907 changed the direction of the new Holiness church. He, along with J. A. Jeter and D. J. Young, were appointed in 1906 to investigate reports from the Azusa revival. Upon his return to Tennessee, Mason began to teach the Pentecostal message he experienced at Azusa. Jones and Jeter did not share Mason's enthusiasm, rejecting such message, resulting in a mutual separation of these Holiness leaders. Mason respected C. P. Jones and these early Holiness leaders, but disagreed in this biblical teaching. Mason called a conference in Memphis, and reorganized the Church of God in Christ as a Holiness-Pentecostal body.
The Church of God in Christ teaches the authority of Scripture, the belief in a triune God, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, regeneration, justification and sanctification. The teaching of the church concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:4 is that the experience is given to Christian believers who ask for it. Divine healing is practiced, not to the exclusion of proper medical care. Holiness of life and practice are emphasized. The ordinaces of the church include water baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper and foot washing as an ordinance of humility.
It has not released membership data but some people claim it is the largest African-American Pentecostal body in the U.S. The organization is held to have its authority in Scripture. There are 12 Bishops, representing the General Board of the Church. Within the General Board is the Presiding Bishop and/or Chief Apostle of the Church. Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson serves as the Chief Shepherd of this denomination. The current Presiding Bishop is the founding pastor of the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ.
The headquarters of the Church of God in Christ is in Memphis Tennessee, known as the "Holy Mecca of the Saints of God." There are pastors, elders, ministers, missionaries, evangelists, and deacons. Officers are chosen at a General Assembly that meets semi-annually.
Related bodies include the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. (those who rejected the Pentecostal movement and followed the leadership of C. P. Jones, the Church of God in Christ, Congregational (a group of churches that withdrew in 1932 under the leadership of Bishop J. Bowe, who taught the church should have congregational rather than episcopal government), and the Church of God in Christ, International (a group led by Bishop Illie Jefferson that rejected a reorganization of the church and formed a new body in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969).