In a stunning reversal, John Drew Sheard, Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), announced that he was "pulling the plug" on the partnership between COGIC and The Church of Latter Day Saints.
In less than 24-hours, Bishop Sheard had released an official video message on the COGIC website announcing the dissolution of the partnership and apologizing to his members.
When he first announced that The Church of God in Christ had decided to collaborate with The Church of Latter Day Saints, many questioned the rationale.
The Church of Latter Day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church) has beliefs that seem to be antithetical to the protestants beliefs of COGIC.
To begin, The Church of Latter Days Saints relies on multiple sacred texts, including the bible and The Book of Mormon, which the Mormons believe which contains writings of ancient prophets who lived in America. Moreover, the Mormons do not believe in the holy trinity. They believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate entities. Finally, The Church of Latter Day Saints has had a sketchy past relationship with Black people. The founder of The Church of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, believed and taught that black African skin was a sign of a curse from God. However, in 2013, the Mormon Church did publically disavow itself from this philosophy on Black people.
In recent years, The Church of Latter Day Saints has attempted to change its image and appeal to more diverse group of people, including Black people. Only about 1% of its members are Black. This attempt to publically embrace diversity could explain why The Church of Latter Day Saints wanted to partner with COGIC.
However, the reasons why COGIC would want to collaborate with the Mormon Church remains less clear.
One explanation could be the opportunity to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In his initial video, Bishop Sheard did reveal that he and his family had visited with the Mormon Tabernacle choir, which is famous for his annual Christmas performances.
In his latest video, Bishop Sheard shared that one of the primary reasons was because The Church of Latter Day Saints have a 600,000 square foot warehouse of food and groceries. Partnering with the Mormons would have allowed COGIC to provide the manpower to distribute the food to the underprivileged.
The Church of God in Christ is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. They have proven their capability to do widespread outreach.
They have done significant outreach and housing in Memphis, where COGIC is headquartered, via its community development corporation.
Its annual Holy Convocation draws thousands from across the globe to whatever city it's hosted.
Nevertheless, Bishop Sheard reacted swiftly when he noticed discontent among COGIC leadership and members and acted decisively in the process.
For a video discussing the COGIC/Latter Day Saints partnership and eventual dissolution, watch the following video.