Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Remembering Bishop G.E. Patterson
I'm far from being a member of the "Grand Ole" Church of God In Christ denomination. I have family that are COGIC (considered to be the second largest Pentecostal Christian church in the U.S. and the fourth largest Protestant religious denomination in the world) but I never found myself linked to the church. Being around them offered my amount of experience of the sanctified lifestyles and characteristics of the saints of this profound and well-respected denomination. But it wasn't until I encountered for the first time on a TBN telecast the likable, charismatic and down-home personality found in Gilbert Earl Patterson, the longtime leader of the Temple of Deliverance Church in Memphis, Tennessee. His approach to ministry was comforting and his viewpoints border lined strong fundamental guidelines and a passion for liberation and social change. Whether you were Democrat or Republican, it was hard to not like the Bishop. Whenever he tried to sale a point to his listeners, he gave it with a loving smile, that irresistible Southern charm and never feared to find the appropriate scripture and response to coincide with it. He was truly a man of truth to his very end. Even in the midst of confrontation and controversy, Bishop G.E. Patterson was the embodied example in modern society of how to conduct a life of balance and purity. His "over-the-top" views may have bothered a number of deep conservatives such as his position on women preachers, politics and advancements in technology in the church. "I used to be like many of the brothers: down on the women," he told delegates during a message in 2001. "But the Lord showed me that COGIC was started in a prayer meeting that was held in a woman's house." Women are "the envy of the religious world," he added. He also shared that we should overcome our differences with race and culture to spread our faith. "I don't know why we ever got stuck on that thing that we're only supposed to witness to black folks," Patterson said. "Once you've received the word, spread it. God's not going to do something to bless your work until you do something to bless his work."
After I viewed his weekly telecast and continued to listen to his life-changing messages of faith, hope and love, I almost felt as if I was a member of his church.
That voice was silenced on Earth on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:03 p.m. due to a serious battle with prostate cancer and heart failure at the Methodist University Hospital in Memphis. He was 67 years old. He was the founder and pastor of one of the country's largest mega-churches (totaling 12,000) and was also a gospel recording artist on his Podium Records label - even receiving a GRAMMY nomination for the "Just Right For A Miracle" album in 1999. At this year's Stellar Gospel Music Awards, he won Traditional Male Vocalist for his "Singing The Old Time Way Volume Two" album. He was considered to be one of the greatest clergyman of all time and anchored the Church Of God In Christ as Presiding Bishop since 2000.
"America lost an angel today," former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis said in a statement on Tuesday. "He was favored by the Almighty, and he used his favor to instruct us all on how to be better servants."
We mourn and extend our prayers to the Church of God In Christ and Patterson's family during this time of bereavement. He will truly be missed and will forever be remembered.
FUNERAL & FINAL ARRANGEMENTS
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007 • 7 PM
(Local) TEMPLE OF DELIVERANCE MEMORIAL SERVICE
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2007 • 7 PM
TENNESSEE 4th JURISDICTION MEMORIAL SERVICE
SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 • 10 AM
CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST NATIONAL HOMEGOING SERVICE
All Services will be held at:
Temple of Deliverance Church of God In Christ
369 G.E. Patterson Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126
* All Cards and Condolences for Mother Lousie Patterson and Family may be sent to Temple of Deliverance at the above address.
J. Matthew Cobb