Ramsey, Bradley Dominick (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Florida has and always will be at the heart of the racial struggle in the classical Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God. From its beginning, it has been the trailblazer and beacon of black leadership within the Church of God. This has been the case ever since the appointment of Edmond Barr. Most major American black leaders in the Church of God has either come from Florida or have moved to Florida at some point in their ministerial career. Therefore, any measure to deal with racial separation must directly engage the black church in Florida, as the Florida church stands as the last iron curtain of segregation in the church.
The historical background of the issue of separation in the Church of God exposes the nature of the church. In every town in Florida where there is a white church, there is also a black church. What about the Christian identity in which all are united under the color of Christ’s blood which is neither white nor black? Yet, it is not that simple, as this study will show through the narrative of the Church of God in the state of Florida which yielded a Church of two distinct groups, one black and the other white. What is surprising is that the two groups still exist as separate operational congregations within the Church of God denomination while other states have long integrated since the civil rights era. As well as providing a detailed history of the establishing of the Church of God in Florida and then the occurrence of the two separate churches (FloridaTampa and Florida-Cocoa) this study will explore the social nuances of why such division arose and why it is still occurring in the 21st century. Finally, this study will offer a way forward for the issue in Florida and offer suggestions for a path toward unity and renewed fellowship.
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