Bishop Charles Harrison Mason
Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, who later became the founder and organizer of the Church of God in Christ, was born September 8, 1866, on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. His father and mother, Jerry and Eliza Mason, were members of a Missionary Baptist Church.
Bishop Mason was saved in November, 1878. In 1893, he began his Christian Ministry with the accepting of ministerial licenses from the Mt. Gale Missionary Baptist Church, in Preston, Ark. On November 1, 1893, Bishop Mason attended the Arkansas Baptist College, but withdrew after three months.
In 1895, Bishop Mason met Elder C. P. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi; Elder J. E. Jeter, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Elder W. S. Pleasant of Hazelhurst, Miss. Jointly, these gospel preachers conducted a revival in 1896, in Jackson, Miss. Many were saved. But the teachings of Bishop Mason on the doctrine of sanctification caused church doors within the Baptist association to become closed to him and like-minded believers. So in 1897, when these preachers returned to Jackson, Bishop Mason delivered his first message from the south entrance of the courthouse. Because of the large number that attended, this revival meeting was transferred to a gin house on the bank of a creek. The gin house became the meeting house for the Church of God in Christ.
Bishop Mason and his associates saw the need to organize a church that would emphasize the doctrine of sanctification through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostal body was first known as the “Church of God.” In 1897, the name “Church of God in Christ” was revealed to Bishop Mason in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bishop Mason was appointed as overseer of Tennessee.
Mason went on to share a vision in which, having asked for baptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4, he began to speak in another tongue. He began to proclaim this new Pentecostal experience. Unfortunately, it caused a division, and the General Assembly withdrew the “right hand” of fellowship from Bishop Mason. He then called a conference in Memphis of all ministers who believed as he did. These men organized the first Pentecostal General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ. Bishop Mason was chosen as General Overseer and Chief Apostle.
Under Bishop Mason’s leadership the church grew from ten congregations in 1907 to the second largest Pentecostal group in America; the fifth largest Black Pentecostal organization in the world; and the fifth largest denomination in the United States.
Bishop Mason died in 1961.