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On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Joyce Rodgers, a well-known evangelist at The Church Of God In Christ Inc, died at the age of 65. Allegedly after a season of suffering from pancreatic cancer, she has gained her wings and “flown home.” She fought a good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Now, according to Second Timothy 4:7-8, “there is in store for her the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award on that day.”
Rodgers died just days after she was appointed supervisor for the Department of Women’s Texas Northeast First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. The preacher was “installed, appointed, and capped” on Monday, May 17, 2021, by General Supervisor Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis. Before receiving this new role, Rodgers served as the chairperson and administrative facilitator for the International Department of Women.
Rodgers described herself as a wounded healer. She cited her strongest faith anchor and childhood influence as her grandmother–her mother’s mother, Bessie Currie–known affectionately by friends and family as Big Mama. Rodgers lived with her late grandmother, who she described as the “community’s spiritual voice” and “the epitome of a faith-walker,” for most of her childhood years. Offshoots from Big Mama’s influence include Rodger’s own mother, Rosie Allen, who is active in ministry in her East Texas church, and two brothers who grew up under Big Mama’s wing to become COGIC pastors. She said:
God has sent me out to tell the wounded people I encounter that He will heal, whatever their hurts–physical, emotional, spiritual. It’s never about the person now but understanding how they got where they are and that this is not the final product … that God not only sees us, but He is with us. Living with Big Mama, you did church and evangelism. My life was centered around the church, and I was always the youngest assigned to read Scripture at the revivals, even when I couldn’t read very well.
Today, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. In 1907, Charles Harrison Mason formed the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) after his Baptist church expelled him. Mason was a member of the Holiness movement of the late 19th century. In 1906, he attended the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. Upon his return to Tennessee, he began teaching the Pentecostal Holiness message. However, Charles Price Jones and J. A. Jeter of the Holiness movement disagreed with Mason’s teachings on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In 1915, Jones changed the name of his COGIC church to the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.
At a conference in Memphis, Tennessee, Mason reorganized the Church of God in Christ as a Holiness-Pentecostal body. The headquarters of COGIC is Mason Temple in Memphis. It is also the site of Martin Luther King’s final sermon, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” delivered the day before he was assassinated.
Armed with over 20 years of preaching the gospel, Evangelist Rodgers, acclaimed author, coach, and philanthropist has radically impacted the lives of millions of believers. Rodgers became known as a “cheerleader for the Lord,” and “a giant slayer” throughout her time in ministry. Before her recent promotion, Rodgers served as the chairperson and administrative facilitator for the International Department of Women. She fought a good fight, leaving a legacy that will continue to impact many.
From labor to reward, the final arrangements for Rodgers are as follows:
Tuesday, June 1, 2021: Public Viewing from noon to 6 p.m. at Rising Star Church of God In Christ located at 601 S Tyler St. in Gladewater, TX 75647.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021: Public Viewing from noon to 5:30 p.m. at Saintsville Church of God In Christ 2200 S Marsalis Ave in Dallas, TX 75216. A Jurisdictional Celebration at 7 p.m. will follow at the same facility.
Thursday, June 3, 2021: Public Viewing from 8 until 10 a.m. with the National Homegoing Celebration Service to begin immediately following. Both will take place at The Potter’s House located at 6777 W. Kiest Blvd Dallas, TX 75236.
As one of COGIC’s most compelling female speakers, Rodgers made femininity an important part of her brand. Embraced by a denomination that pushed the traditional boundaries that have previously defined first-string evangelists as male players she was purposely feminine in dress and manner. Rodgers kept her family out of the spotlight leaving fans and onlookers to focus only on her ministry.
Most important to her service was the connection between the young woman and her vital significance to the fabric of the Church. Born and raised in Gladewater, Texas, she was a third-generation daughter of the Church Of God In Christ. Reared in the COGIC reformation, this giant slayer will be remembered as an important fiber within the church at large. Gone, but not forgotten, Evangelist Joyce L. Rodgers fought a good fight.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
UNC Press: Women in the Church of God in Christ
The Unexpected: COGIC Joyce Rodgers Sick and very ill
USC: Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
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