Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Rouse

Second Advisor

Dr. Glenn Eskew

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard Robert Baker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Harold Bennett



The purpose of this research is to create a comprehensive historical work on the Church of God in Christ, while highlighting the formation, development, and transition of the only Black mainstream church body in America that was, solely founded, organized, and fully controlled by African-Americans. I annotated the early influences upon the formation of the Church of God in Christ from the 1860s to 1907: 1) The Black Baptist Church; 2) The Holiness Movement; and,

3) The Pentecostal Movement. The influences upon the COGIC denomination were separated into three eras that were dominated by the persona of Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. The Pre-Mason Era (1880-1906); the Mason Era (1907-1961); and the Post-Mason Era (1961-Present).

At the death of Mason in 1961, the COGIC denomination experienced a vacuum in its leadership corps. The Post-Mason Era began with the succession of Bishop Ozro T. Jones, Sr., but his authority was challenged by Bishop James O. Patterson, Sr. The battle over the proper authority in COGIC culminated into one of the most impactful court cases in COGIC’s history. James O. Patterson, Sr. was elected the first presiding bishop, and was claimed to have modernized COGIC during his tenure from 1968-1989. After the J.O. Patterson Era, the administration of COGIC’s polity was executed under the leadership of the successive presiding bishops: Louis H. Ford (1989-1995); Chandler D. Owens (1995-2000); Gilbert E. Patterson (2000-2017); and Charles E. Blake (2007-Present).

This research seeks to give the COGIC audience a realistic perspective on their history and on the impact of the Church on the world of Christendom. I recapped the contributions of COGIC and its influence on the contemporary mega-church movement and gospel music. Additionally, the COGIC Church impacted the American religious landscape by being a multiracial denomination that had a great populist appeal among the rural and urban poor who assisted the phenomenal growth in membership, making it the second largest African-American Christian organization in the world.