I must be honest with you today, I was overwhelmed with fear when God assigned me to reach out to Pastors to begin this new Jurisdiction. My mind was plagued with thoughts of failure. I was constantly thinking about all of the things that could and probably would go wrong. I feared potential opposition from people who probably would misunderstand my assignment from God. I feared being rejected by my Denominational Leaders and the public embarrassment I imagined was sure to follow as a result of that rejection. I prayed often. I even tried bargaining with God; seeking ways to do the assignment other than the way God had instructed. Also, I had no clue if pastors and churches would receive me and if they would see what I saw; an opportunity for us to unite and create something unique, beautiful, and lasting for generations to come.
As my wife and I met with Pastors and their spouses at restaurants, kitchen tables, living rooms, Starbucks, McDonald’s, church offices and sanctuaries, there were times when I felt like I had the task of selling air conditioners to Eskimos at the height of a winter snow storm. I was told by many to just wait your turn. I was told that the Bishop I was serving was old and would die soon; then I could take over his position. But I knew my destiny and assignment was not tied to the death of a man. It was tied to what God wanted me to do. I was told that I would not succeed; the risk I was taking was not worth it.
So with all of the noise internally and externally, I became afraid. But an amazing thing happened. As time went on, that fear began to subside. God removed my fears. I was no longer afraid to try, nor was I afraid of failing, being rejected or embarrassed. I stopped thinking about everything that could go wrong and started thinking about all the things that would go right! I thought about the blessings this new movement would have on Pastors and Churches. Although I was weary at times, I refused to quit. God began to touch the pastors’ and their spouses’ hearts. I soon found out that there were pastors all over California, as well as nationwide, and in Foreign Countries, that had a burning desire for something different and hungered to be a part of a mighty move of God.
During my evolution process, I was supported and encouraged every step of the way by an extraordinary woman of faith and woman of God, my loving wife, Renita Richardson. While God was guiding me through the challenging process in my life of embracing a new journey and His divine will for my life, she steadied me. My wife said to me, “I am with you. We are on this journey together and we will do this together. And with God’s help, guidance and strength we will succeed together!” With the support of my wife and many sitting here today, I gained the confidence to step out and continue to pursue that which has brought us to a place of incredible and extraordinary accomplishment and success.
On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Church of God in Christ April Call Business Meeting, Presiding Bishop Charles Blake and the COGIC General Board presented to over one thousand delegates their recommendation that the New Journey District of Churches become a Jurisdiction. The delegates received the recommendation, deliberated, and voted unanimously to approve Presiding Bishop Blake’s and the General Board’s recommendation that the New Journey District of Churches become an Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction.
I have been told by many that the swiftness of our approval process to become a new jurisdiction has arguably been the fastest ever! What usually takes three to five years, we were able to accomplish in just one year! The delegates also approved Presiding Bishop Blake’s and the General Board’s recommendation that I become the Bishop of the new Jurisdiction. They also approved the name that I requested, California New Journey Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction.
I am grateful for Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., the COGIC General Board, the COGIC General Assembly, and Bishop Malcolm Coby-Standards & Extensions Committee for the opportunity to serve. I am especially grateful for the support and confidence of two influential leaders and mentors in my life, General Board Members, 2nd Assistant Presiding Bishop Jerry W. Macklin and Bishop George D. McKinney. These two incredible leaders stood by me during a challenging process. I am also grateful to the training I received from my father and mother, Superintendent George and Elouise Richardson, and my grandfather, Superintendent Louis Elam that prepared me for this day.
So what’s next? The days, weeks, and months ahead, my wife and I will go on a listening tour. The purpose of this listening tour is to take the time to listen to you. First, we will meet with every pastor and spouse collectively. Next, we will meet with groups of Pastors and their spouses in the regions of our Jurisdiction. Lastly, we will meet with your local church leadership team, if requested.