MEMPHIS, Tennessee —
The Church of God in Christ, one of the nation’s largest African American Pentecostal Denominations, has taken a painful leadership hit. Up to 30 key leaders including pastors, bishops and COGIC members nationwide have died from the coronavirus. The denomination was founded in Memphis in 1897 and is still headquartered in South Memphis.
Greater Community Temple COGIC Bishop Brandon B. Porter says what’s going on in the Church of God and Christ is tragic for its members. Two out of the 12 general board members have passed away in Michigan.
“It’s quite devastating and horrific for us because the Church of God in Christ is a large family of faith based believers,” Bishop Porter said.
The Church of God in Christ’s 6 million members nationwide are mourning the loss of several of its bishops and leaders due to complications of COVID-19.
“These are persons that have given their time and talents to the church in such extensive ways, particularly Bishop Scott in Mississippi who was such a kind individual I actually spoke with him when he first went into the hospital, he answered his cell phone and I could tell he was having respiratory issues,” Bishop Porter said.
Among those who died after reportedly contracting the virus were board members Bishop Philip A. Brooks from Detroit and Bishop Nathaniel Wyoming Wells also from Michigan.
“We had just had a meeting in January with all of us together for our general board coming together and planning, we call it the general board retreat in Atlanta, Georgia. That was in January, and in March these gentlemen are gone.”
Bishop Porter says in March there are a lot of conferences by the more than 300 jurisdictions within COGIC in preparation for their annual April business meeting. Members were also encouraged to attend funerals held within the denomination prior to coronavirus. Bishop Porter believes the deaths may have stemmed from those events.
“I think they still had their conferences and conventions because there were mixed signals from the United States, White House and others because we didn’t really know,” Bishop Porter explained.
COGIC’s Holy Convocation is set to happen in November of this year in St. Louis. No word yet if that’s been canceled.