Historical Marker to Honor Pentecostal Heritage Connection Founder

A dedication ceremony is planned for Saturday in downtown Little Rock.

Bishop Charles Harrison Mason
Photo courtesy of the Church of God in Christ.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is installing a historical marker honoring Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 13 at the corner of 8th and Gaines Street in downtown Little Rock.   

The marker was funded in part by the Pentecostal Heritage Connection who sought to honor their founder, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. Mason attended Arkansas Baptist College Minister’s Institute and began his career as a Baptist minister in Arkansas. In 1897, Mason was struck with inspiration near the corner of 8th and Gaines Street to create the Church of God in Christ Pentecostal Church, according to a press release. The church went on to great success in Memphis, Tenn. It was the largest African American Pentecostal denomination of the twentieth century, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Historical Marker Program, established in 2017 by the Division of Arkansas Heritage, supports the division’s mission to preserve and promote the state’s valuable cultural and historic resources. The markers commemorate the past by acknowledging the historically significant people, places and events that have shaped the state and confirm the importance of educating the public about these Arkansas treasures. 

The two-sided marker reads:  

Charles Harrison Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), was born in the mid-1860s on a farm in Shelby County, Tennessee. His parents, Jeremiah and Eliza Mason, later moved the family to Plumerville, Arkansas, where Mason was baptized as a teenager in the Baptist Church. Mason first preached in Preston, Arkansas, and graduated from Arkansas Baptist College Minister’s Institute. Doctrinal differences led to Mason’s dismissal from Baptist ministry, but he continued to preach throughout Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. In 1897, near this location, Mason received a revelation: he was to name his new denomination the Church of God in Christ. 

In 1907, Mason officially organized COGIC as a Pentecostal denomination. In 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee, the Mason Temple was completed; it serves as the church’s headquarters. Throughout his career, Charles Harrison Mason was known for his support of racial unity, pacifism, education, civil rights and women in the ministry. He died on November 17, 1961, in Detroit, Michigan and is interred in the Mason Temple. As of 2021, the Church of God in Christ is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States, with an estimated worldwide membership of 6 million people. 

For more information on the Mason marker dedication, you can contact Mary Patterson, executive director of the Pentecostal Heritage Connection, at heritageconnection@yahoo.com or 901-398-7716.