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Plurality of leadership makes us different- Church of God of Prophecy  

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Church of God of Prophecy was a global church founded in America in 1903. The now over 100-year-old global church ran seamlessly by the leading of the Holy Spirit until 1925 when its founder, A. J. Tomlinson introduced a novel idea of plurality of leadership into the administration of the international church.

Unfortunately, that idea of plurality of leadership slowed down the pace of the fast growing church across the globe; and so, the founder, Tomlinson, moved to reverse the church to her former leadership by the Holy Spirit. But his lieutenants who had also become leaders in the church under the plurality setting resisted the reversal. They went to court to restrain the founder from reversing to the old order. And this led to a split in the church and emergence of two factions of Church of God (the original name of the church) in 1925.

Bishop Enis James Kolawole, National Bishop of Church of God of Prophecy overseeing the churches in Nigeria, Ghana and some other countries across the world, shares in the below interview with Christian Benefits’ Wole Olarinde the historical background of the over 100-year-old Church of God of Prophecy, the details of the leadership crisis in the church in 1925, the doctrines of the church, the church’s  position on the Church in partisan politics, the misconception about the “Prophecy” in the name of the church, the resemblance between Church of God of Prophecy and the Deeper Life Bible Church and lots more. Excerpts.

 Please, can we get to know you sir?

My name is Enis James Kolawole. I serve as the National Bishop for Church of God of Prophecy in Nigeria, Ghana and some other countries across the world.

Can we have a look at your background and upbringing?

I’m a Yoruba man from Kabba in Kogi state. I have a Catholic background. I attended a Catholic primary and secondary school. I served as a mass server in the Roman Catholic. After a while an aunt took me to Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C) and I was enrolled in a Christ Apostolic Church School. During one of the children harvests in C.A.C I did Bible recitations and people gave me money for my performance. That was the first money that I ever made from Bible recitations. I used the money to buy some clothes I wore to church. After awhile I returned to the Roman Catholic and attended their boarding school before I came to Lagos.

How did you join Church of God of Prophecy from the Roman Catholic?

First, when I came to Lagos in the late 70s I lived with a man who attended the Cherubim and Seraphim (C&S).So, I attended the Cherubim and Seraphim with him for about a year. I joined the choir and participated in the youth programmes. I left the C&S in 1981for the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC). I worshipped in the Celestial Church for about 10 years and served in various capacities. For instance, I served as the first secretary of a local parish at Abaranje, Ikotun. When I relocated to Pipeline, Idimu, I joined another parish there. Later, I joined another CCC parish at Igando where I served as the chairman of the Parochial Committee, and also in the choir. That was the last CCC I attended before I stopped going to church all together until I  attended though casually the Living Faith Church (a.k.a Winners) at Raji Oba. From there, I eventually joined Church of God of Prophecy in 1986..

Have you been saved and got born again while attending these churches?

There was nothing close to that. I was just doing church. I was just doing things to the glory of God but didn’t know the reasons for doing all of that. All this while, I was drinking and smoking but still attending church and sang in the choir. The genuine salvation wasn’t really there until I joined Church of God of Prophecy.

Tell us how you joined Church of God of Prophecy from the Celestial church

I had been in and out of Church of God of Prophecy since 1986; pretending I was saved but I wasn’t until 1991 when a missionary was sent from the U.K to serve as the National Bishop of the church in Nigeria. I worked very closely with that missionary.

What attracted you to Church of God of Prophecy from the Celestial Church?

God orchestrated my joining Church of God of Prophecy since when my brother-in-law was the national overseer of the church in Nigeria in 1982. I assisted him. I traveled with him for evangelism; moving instruments here and there. I assisted him to organize youth programmes. I will say all my life I have been in Church.

Please, share with us your experiences in these various churches you attended

I will describe my services in those churches I attended before joining Church of God of Prophecy as a wilderness experience. I never knew God was preparing me for a time as this. When I was in the Celestial Church I served as chairman of the Parochial Committee of a local church. I had power over the shepherd to discuss the budget, salaries and daily activities of the church when it comes to finance and decisions. I represented the church at the CCC headquarters, Ketu at the time Baba S.B.J Oshoffa was alive. I was responsible for taking the monthly reports to Ketu.Now, again share with us the historical background of Church of God of Prophecy?

Church of God of Prophecy is a global church founded America. in 1903. From 1903-1906, it was Church of God at County. The church is over 100 years old. There was a split in the church in 1925 and the two factions from the split retained the name Church of God. This led to an issue over the ownership of the church’s properties, business interests and bank accounts between the factions. It became a court case and the court ruled that the faction that was originally prophesied should add Prophecy to her name. That was how Church of God of Prophecy came about.

Specifically, what was the main cause of the split in the original Church of God?

It was leadership. The church founder, A. J. Tomlinson from the beginning of the chutch led the church as the Holy Spirit directed him. But around 1925 he came up with an idea at the general assembly that the church should be led by twelve persons trying to follow the pattern of Jesus Christ. Initially, the general overseer had the final say in the church leadership. But he felt that one person cannot be taking decisions for the global church. So, he introduced discipleship and patterned it after Christ. But this became an issue at the next general assembly because he felt that he could no long move (lead the church) the way he used to. Committee will do a better job but will slow you down. As a visionary leader, as the spirit leads you you wake up and act. You run with it and put in all efforts to make the vision succeed. But when you have a committee you have to wait for all the committee members to make their own contributions. A lot will have to take place before decisions are taken. As a visionary leader; a goal-getter, you don’t like to be slowed down. So, he decided to reverse the church leadership to the old order; leading the church by the Holy Spirit. This became an issue. The other leaders protested that he said God led him to do it this way, why was he going back again? The protesting leaders joined hands and went to court and this caused a split in the church. And at the end, the court ruled that the faction that was birthed through prophecy should add prophecy to their name while the other faction that went to court to restain the reversal should retain the original name of the church, Church of God. So, A. J. Tomlinson. retained the church he was leading but added of Prophecy to it as the court’ruled, while the other group went with the original name of the Church, Church of Church . Despite this, plurality of leadership, which we still practice today, makes us different from other Pentecostal churches. A. J. Tomlinson introduced and sustained it till he passed on. He invited people to work with him; to go and discuss issues and come back to him and he took the final decisions. That was how he operated till he died. (Continues)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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