The Church of God in Christ, Inc. is a Pentecostal denomination founded in Jackson, Mississippi in 1897 by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason (1866-1961), who severed ties with the Baptist denomination he had previously belonged to. From its beginnings, the denomination was connected with the Holiness movement, a new Protestant movement. Mason's group was originally called simply the "Church of God," but he adopted the name "Church of God in Christ" around 1906 in order to distinguish it from other similarly-named groups. After Mason visited the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1907, where the Pentecostal movement was getting started, he changed the direction of his denomination, transforming it into a Pentecostal denomination. Charles P. Jones and J. A. Jeter, two fellow leaders of the denomination who had been with Mason from the earliest days of the group, rejected the adoption of Pentecostalism, which was at that time extremely controversial and rejected by most Christians. Mason led a re-organized group of followers which separated from Jones and Jeter, whose followers also continued to be known as the Church of God of Christ until 1915. The group which followed Jones and Jeter is known today as the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.
The denomination known today as the Church of God in Christ is the group which followed Mason into Pentecostalism. It is the largest predominantly black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, and may be the largest predominantly black religious body of any kind in the U.S. The denomination has an estimated 8 million members worldwide. It is still headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, its headquarters since soon after it was first organized.
Bishop Charles Harrison Mason - founder of the Church of God in Christ
Web page created 1 October 2005. Last modified 1 October 2005.
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