Bishop Gilbert Patterson was elected to the General Board i 1992
and again in 1996. After graciously conceding the last election that
he lost by only 1 vote to Bishop Chandler Owens (1,429 - 1,428), Patterson's
supporters, including a number of bishops, immediately called for a recount,
but Gilbert Patterson waived it off.
Gilbert Patterson told the denomination's 89th General Assembly
in Memphis, "Thank you for your support, but I never want to see
the Church of God in Christ split over whether or not I should have been elected
as Presiding Bishop." Patterson's broader view made him more popular than ever.
Four years later he was elected Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ
by a wide margin;
Bishop Gilbert Patterson was elected on November 14, 2000 by more than 900 votes.
Bishop Patterson, one of the denomination's most popular preachers,
had become its leading advocate for ecumenical, interfaith, interacial and
even secular boundaries.
According to Dr. Robert Franklin, a
Professor at Emory University's Candler
School of Theology, and a member of the Church of God in Christ,
"Bishop Gilbert Patterson is a stabilizing figure, a bridge figure between
younger an older members of the denomination."
"He helped bring the Church forward out of its insularity and into interaction
with the force of his own piety and his dynamic personality and preaching."
Bishop Patterson often said that he was a spokesman for the Holy Ghost.
He was called to transmit the truth, the raw gospel, the inspired, the infallible
and undefiled word of God. He preached without notes (usually 35 - 45 minutes);
His deep, resonant voice would usually start slowly and lowly. It would the pick
up steam, moving from a whisper to a shout, from talking to singing, from
solemn to sanctified.
In 2002, Bishop Patterson charted COGIC Charities, Inc. Through this non-profit
organization, the Church of God in Christ, Inc., has assisted victims of natural disasters
both foreign and domestiic, as well as other charitable efforts to uplift humanity.
He was one of the most sought after speakers in the country.
His character, his leadership and his powerful preaching extended his influence
beyond the Church that he so dearly loved.
Below Bishop C. C. Owens, Sis. Christine J. Owens-Jones, Bishop Gilbert Patterson