In autumn of 1907 in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, the late Bishop Charles H. Mason called a select meeting of all ministers that believed in the religious experience of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost, with signs following. These ministers, or brethren as they were called at that time, formed the First General Assembly of The Church of God in Christ; a name given to Elder Charles H. Mason through a divine revelation from God. Elder Mason was then chosen as Chief Apostle and he continued in this capacity until his death at the age of 100.
Two years later, in 1909, as revealed by information gathered from documents and other eyewitnesses, Mrs. Lucy Barnes invited a group of women to participate in a special prayer meeting at the Baptist Tabernacle Church. Those invited included women in the community along with Mrs. Jessie Crowder, Mrs. Stanton, and Mrs. Laura Thomas. These devoted women continued their services and found a permanent meeting place at the home of Sister Greer. They remained in Sister Greer’s home, which was located on Welch Street, until 1915, when they built a church at 910 Sims Street in the Pittsburgh Community of Atlanta Georgia. Chief Apostle Elder C.H. Mason, now Bishop, discovered these devoted Saints on a trip to Atlanta and incorporated them into the Church Of God In Christ. They were now Pittsburgh Temple Church of God In Christ.
In 1950, James J. Hinsley first came to Atlanta in his early teens from the city of Macon, Georgia, where he was born and reared. In Atlanta, he met a young lady named Lydia Powell who had moved to Atlanta after the passing of her parents. Although born and raised in Griffin, Georgia, Lydia, being the eldest of six brothers and sisters, and knowing her family had a better chance in Atlanta, relocated her siblings to Atlanta, where she worked unerringly to support them. Later, Lydia Powell became the wife of young Elder James J. Hinsley.
As a young minister, Elder Hinsley eventually moved his wife and three children to Cleveland, Ohio, only to have his ministry carry him to Jacksonville, Florida, where he was then appointed Bishop over a jurisdiction.
After serving eight years in Florida, Bishop Hinsley returned to Atlanta, Georgia, to pastor Sims Street Church and was eventually appointed Bishop over the Central Georgia Jurisdiction by Bishop C.H. Mason. Through his preaching and evangelical work, Bishop Hinsley was able to expand the Central Georgia Jurisdiction to include several other churches. Good works abounded and under the supervision of Bishop Hinsley, a $90,000 edifice was built in 1953 at 440 Gardner Street, Atlanta, Georgia. The Pittsburgh Temple Church of God in Christ was moved into this building and Senior Bishop C.H. Mason changed the name to Hinsley Temple Church of God In Christ in honor of its builder.
The Central Georgia Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ continued to progress and churches were added under the leadership of Bishop James J. Hinsley until his passing in 1963. At that time, the office of Bishop was bestowed on Elder John Dale Husband, who continued a progressive program of spiritual growth and development. Under the leadership of the late Bishop John D. Husband, many, many great leaders materialized. The late leaders, Supt. Simon Shuman, Supt. Odell Barnwell, Supt. H.T. Benton, and Bishop John Cooper were great men of God that emerged from under the auspices of Bishop Husband’s dynamic leadership. And Central Georgia grew...
Lest we forget, many of our great pioneers of Central Georgia have gone to their just reward, but they have not been forgotten. To them we owe a huge debt of gratitude. They left a legacy of which more is yet to come. They were committed to God’s work. These great pioneers were inspired, and divinely empowered by the Holy Ghost as they persevered in the vineyard to bring forth God’s divine plan for the Central Georgia Jurisdiction. And, from the hearts of these great pioneers, you could hear an audible sound of “Yes Lord” and they would continue to say “Yes Lord,” fulfilling their part of God’s destiny for the Saints, understanding that it was “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, said the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6)”
From those who have gone into eternity, we were left a rich legacy and heritage. It is incumbent upon us as Saints of the Most High to continue the journey by preparing a more mellifluous legacy and heritage for the next generation. It is an unending journey...
In 1992, while serving as a General Board Member, Bishop Chandler Davis Owens was assigned by Presiding Bishop Louis Henry Ford to the local area to oversee insular matters, as well as, those pertaining to the Central Georgia Jurisdiction. Later, he was appointed Jurisdictional Prelate over Central Georgia. Bishop Owens continued to build on that same foundation of those who labored diligently before his appointment.
Through the mighty hand of God, Bishop Owens, led by the Holy Spirit, was able to move the jurisdiction forward. He was instrumental in maintaining consistency through ingenuity, financial stability, and spiritual continuity in the local church. These actions included the use of his personal funds. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, Bishop Owens' jurisdiction was elevated to a new level of spiritual magnitude. Our great Bishop was poised and stood ready to take us into this next century to do even greater works. In this new millennium of the 21st Century, it remains an unending journey....
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).
On March 6, 2011 the Lord called Bishop Chandler David Owens home to his eternal reward. The Presiding Bishop Charles Blake appointed General Board Member Bishop Sedgwick Daniels as interim bishop of the Central Georgia Jurisdiction until new leadership could be appointed. After a thirty day mourning period, on May 4, 2011, the Presiding Bishop Charles Blake and members of the General Board came to poll the pastors of Central Georgia. On May 6, 2011, during the conclusion of our Jurisdictional Women’s Convention, announcement of the polling recommendation of the pastors was made acknowledging and presenting Superintendent Norman Harper as Bishop Designate of the Central Georgia Jurisdiction. This historical event marked him as 4th in succession. At the commencement of the International Women’s Convention in Dallas, TX, the Presiding Bishop, and General Board unanimously made a decision to reconstruct the jurisdiction into South Central Georgia and North Central Georgia Jurisdiction. On May 30, 2011, the Presiding Bishop and the General Board designated Superintendent J. E. Hogan as Bishop of North Central Georgia Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Superintendent Norman Harper as Bishop of South Central Georgia Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. Both men were consecrated during the 104th Holy Convocation in St. Louis Missouri, Monday November 7, 2011.
And as the journey continues...the South Central Georgia Jurisdiction will continue to diligently pursue the work of the Lord to prepare for a far greater heritage and legacy in the coming generation.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)