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Memorial |Covid-19 has killed multiple bishops and pastors within the largest black Pentecostal...

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

Covid-19 has killed multiple bishops and pastors within the largest black Pentecostal denomination. Read more below


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According to the Washington Post and news reports across the country cite local health officials saying specific outbreaks that led to the deaths appeared to stem from conferences and funerals held within the denomination, which is also known by its acronym, COGIC. The denomination, which was founded in the late 1800s and has more than 6 million members, holds large meetings with representatives from its 200 jurisdictions — or regions — each year around February or March. The gatherings of clergy, lay leaders, and church staff are called Worker’s Meetings.


Among the meetings connected with covid-19 breakouts were the Historical Louisiana First Jurisdiction meeting in Shreveport, La., and the Kansas East Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Ministers and Workers Conference in Kansas City, Kan., both held in mid-March.


“This is a moment of real crisis for them,” said Anthea Butler, a University of Pennsylvania religious studies scholar who wrote a book on the Church of God in Christ. “It will upend the axis of leadership in a way they may need to think about, including how do we put in younger people.”


COGIC churches are smaller in size than the average U.S. church, experts say. Like other majority-black institutions, they appear particularly susceptible to the impact of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately affected African Americans.

“This will change the ecosystem of black church life,” Butler said. “It’s showing the inequities of health disparities and economic disparities in the black community.”

Through media accounts and hearing from members, she said she has counted 25 to 30 COGIC leaders who contracted the coronavirus and died.

Pentecostalism is a conservative strain of Christianity focused on direct signs of the Holy Spirit, such as healing and speaking in tongues. Members of the Church of God in Christ emphasize purity and holiness, which often translates into a focus on modesty and clean living. According to Pew Research, 9 percent of Americans who adhere to historically black Protestantism identify with the denomination. read full article

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