A bishop (from the New Testament Greek ἐπίσκοπος, epískopos, "overseer", "guardian") is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of high authority and oversight. As for bishops of the Church of God in Christ, according to the 1985 Church of God in Christ Manual, a bishop is an ordained and consecrated clergyman who presides over a certain diocese (or as it is called in the Church of God in Christ, a jurisdiction) of several churches and is in charge of officiating over worship services in his own or other churches that he supervises. A bishop also oversees and supervises every spiritual matter of religious worship and service that goes on in their jurisdiction. The Presiding Bishop is one of the main and highly authoritative figures of the Church of God in Christ, because whoever holds the office and position is in charge of supervising all religious matters and affairs that take place in the COGIC. According to the Church of God in Christ manual, a bishop is supposed to carry out his duties justly, fairly, and most importantly according to the Word of God. If he does not, he can be removed from his position as a bishop and be suspended from the church clergy.
When the COGIC was first founded in 1907 by Bishop Mason, when he organized the church into a more episcopal denomination, he and his assistants who would later be known as the "General Board", created the title of Bishop as a title for high-ranking clergymen in the church who would preside over jurisdictions. Although the congregations of the COGIC denomination were not as widely spread out across the nation as they are now, the number of people joining the denomination was increasing exponentially. So Bishop Mason created the title of bishop as a title and an office for clergymen who would serve as "governors" for the jurisdictions of the COGIC. When the COGIC first started out, there were less than 20 bishops in the Church of God in Christ, but now there are over 600 bishops in the COGIC who preside over the many jurisdictions of the church that are spread out all across the world.
COGIC Bishops in Modern TimesEdit
Every four years, a general election is held in which the bishops of the Church of God in Christ meet in the General Assembly (the combined legislative and judicial bodies (and partially executive) of the COGIC that has the duty of upholding the bylaws and doctrines of the church) and vote for twelve bishops who will become members of the General Board. They also vote for one of those twelve men to be elected to the office and position of the Presiding Bishop. According to the COGIC Manual, only bishops, pastors, ordained elders, state Women's Department supervisors, two (2) district missionaries and one (1) lay delegate can vote in the COGIC General Elections. See page 9 of the COGIC Manual
COGIC Bishops when they are ordained to the office of bishop are obliged to choose one woman (who is a missionary) to be the supervisor of the Women's Department of their jurisdiction. Once that woman is appointed, they are given the option to serve for life or to retire.
Succession amongst bishops in the COGIC, is based on the Constitution of the Church. It is noted that the Presiding Bishop, along with the General Board, appoints the Jurisdictional Bishop. The Constitution does note that Pastors of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction for which a Bishop will be appointed, can recommend to the General Board the name or names of elders to be considered for the position of Jurisdictional Bishop. This recommendation from the pastors in modern times, often takes the form of a "poll" of pastors of the respective jurisdiction by the General Board. All General Board decisions regarding Bishops and Jurisdictions must be ratified by the General Assembly. When a successor to the office of Bishop is approved, he is subsequently formally consecrated to the Office of Bishop in the next International Holy Convocation.
Vestments worn by COGIC BishopsEdit
When bishops are ordained, as they attend church services (especially special ceremonies at different COGIC churches) they are given the option of wearing a clergy suit or "Class A" garments. The clergy suit is composed of a black suit (black suit blazer and pants), a clergy collar, and a scarlet or purple clergy shirt. If a bishop is on the General Board or is the Presiding Bishop, he must wear the scarlet clergy shirt if he wears the clergy suit.
Bishops can also wear their "Class A" vestments. The Class A vestments are composed of a purple or scarlet cassock (the color depends on the rank of the bishop in the church), a white surplice , a purple or scarlet chimere , a purple or scarlet tippet, a gold pectoral cross , and a clergy collar worn around the neck. There are some services where bishops are obliged to wear their "Class A" vestments.
Notable COGIC BishopsEdit
- Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.-First Elected Presiding Bishop of the COGIC.
- Bishop J. D. Husband-First Bishop to be excommunicated and expelled from COGIC clergy.
- Bishop C. H. Mason- Founder, First consecrated and ordained Bishop of the COGIC denomination.
- Bishop C. E. Blake - Current Presiding Bishop of the COGIC denomination