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Springfield-Based Assemblies of God Among Churches Joining COGIC's “Black Lives Matter Sunday"

Scott Harvey

In the wake of recent controversies surrounding grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York, religious leaders are seeking peaceful ways to unify congregations and communities.  KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more on what local officials have planned this weekend.

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is sponsoring a day of prayer throughout its 12,000 congregations, in an event titled “Black Lives Matter Sunday.”

Reverend T.J. Appleby is pastor of the Sanctuary of Praise Church of God in Christ in Springfield. 

“For whatever reason that it’s based on, whether it’s justified or not, the bottom line is that the perception of division is actually there.  And perception becomes reality pretty quick,” Appleby says.

The Assemblies of God (AG), headquartered in Springfield, is encouraging its roughly 13,000 churches to participate. General Superintendent Dr. George Wood put out the call in an online message, noting the “value of black lives generally and of their lives specifically.” Additionally, he said that American is racially divided and “needs the church to heal its divisions.”

Wood was approached by friend and counterpart Bishop Charles Blake Sr. of the COGIC to stand in fellowship supporting African-American communities. In a statement emailed to KSMU, Wood acknowledged that the Assemblies of God and COGIC have a long and complicated history together.  

“In the early years, white AG leaders allowed Jim Crow laws to affect church polity and we were divided from my brothers and sisters in the Church of God in Christ. Over the last 20 years, however, there has been a wonderful movement of racial reconciliation between our fellowships in particular and among white and Black Pentecostals, in general. I hope that this event will further our journey together toward reconciliation and will lead to greater cooperation on other issues,” explains Wood

Wood adds that Christians working side by side in addressing the problem and working to heal wounds begins with stating support and calling for prayer.

Whether we agree or disagree with either side of the recent controversies, says Appleby, the important step is to bridge the gap and heal.  He says he wants to see peace in the community and unity in churches.

“We won’t be preaching divide.  Our endeavor is that we’re going to be preaching unity. We want there to be unity in our churches, in our neighborhoods.  We want these walls of division to be broken down.  There’s no reason for them to exist—there’s no benefit to them existing,” says Appleby.

Both Appleby and Wood say we are all children of God and believe that by churches taking action together they can make a positive difference.  Appleby hopes many other denominations might also take part as he says it impacts everyone regardless of religious affiliation.

The Church of God in Christ is the largest African American church in the United States, with roughly 6.5 million members worldwide. Assemblies of God has a membership of roughly 3.1 million nationwide.