THE HISTORY OF MICHIGAN SOUTHWEST THIRD ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, INC.
The Church of God In Christ has its beginnings in Michigan in 1914. Bishop C. J. Johnson was appointed State Overseer of the newly formed Michigan Jurisdiction. Michigan remained one state until 1946 when Bishop John Seth Bailey was appointed the Jurisdictional Prelate of a newly formed Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Southwest Michigan.
Bishop Bailey presided over Southwest Michigan from 1946 until his death in 1984. Bishop James Oglethorpe Patterson, Sr. served as Interim Prelate until the end of The Holy Convocation in 1985. At that time the General Board and Bishop Patterson decided that he would multiply Southwest Michigan into four jurisdictions.
Bishop Willie Harris was appointed Prelate of Southwest Michigan First; Bishop Earl Jerome Wright was appointed Prelate of Southwest Michigan Second; Bishop Roger L. Jones was appointed Prelate of Southwest Michigan Third (SW3); and Bishop Nathaniel Wyoming Wells, Jr. was appointed Prelate of Southwest Michigan Fourth (name was changed to Western Michigan Jurisdiction).
Bishop Roger L. Jones served SW3 from 1985 until 1996. Mother Birdie S. Flakes served as the Jurisdictional Supervisor of Women during this period. Jurisdictional Headquarters was in Flint, Michigan at Greater Holy Temple Church of God In Christ where Bishop Jones served as pastor. Bishop Jones, known for his preaching and national service, led SW3 from its beginnings.
On May 9, 1996, the Superintendent Marvin Cecil Pryor of Saginaw was appointed Prelate by then Presiding Bishop Chandler David Owens and members of the General Board. Bishop Pryor selected Mother Earlie M. Strozier (now, Mother Earlie M. Peppers) as Jurisdictional Supervisor of Women. Bishop Pryor was serving as the Superintendent of the Charles Harrison Mason District within SW3 and pastor of the Victorious Believers Ministries Church of God In Christ.
Bishop Pryor was known as "The Chief Praiser" and stressed education as fundamental to a Christian’s spiritual walk. He would quite often be heard saying, “Salvation plus Education equals Success.” A retired public school teacher and principal at Flint Northern High School for sixteen years, he instituted both Christian Education Day Sessions and an Annual Leadership Summit for leaders and laity. Bishop Pryor placed a heavy emphasis upon programming for youth and held an annual recognition banquet to award members of SW3 for their loyalty and support of jurisdictional programs.
With a heart devoted to missions, Bishop Pryor traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa in mid-February 2010 with Compassion International. He returned to the United States on Monday, February 22, 2010. After enjoying family for a few hours, God called him from labor to reward. His life was celebrated in three services February 28, 2010 - March 2, 2010. His final resting place is in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Saginaw, Michigan.
Bishop Pryor and his lovely wife, the Evangelist Ruth C. Pryor, worked together to bring SW3 into the 21st Century with A Pursuit of Excellence in Holiness. The Pryors have four children: Brother Derrick Pryor, Elder Mel Pryor, Missionary Vonda Jones, and Pastor Chris (Kenyatta) Pryor. They have four grandchildren. Elder Chris has succeeded his father as the pastor of Victorious Believers Ministries.
His Grace, the Most Reverend Charles Edward Blake, Sr. served as the Interim Jurisdictional Prelate from February 22 until May 15 at which time the Administrative Assistant Samuel Duncan, Jr. was appointed as the Bishop-Designate of SW3 in a special service presided over by the First Assistant Presiding Bishop of the Church of God In Christ, the Right Reverend Phillip Aquilla Brooks of Detroit, Michigan. This service was held at the conclusion of the Annual Bishop Marvin C. Pryor Leadership Academy.
Bishop Duncan had served as a Superintendent of the Charles Harrison Mason District since 1996 and as the First Administrative Assistant from 2007 until his appointment as Bishop. Bishop Duncan has also served as pastor of the Lansing Church of God In Christ in Lansing, Michigan since 1992.
Bishop Duncan is the loving husband of the lovely, gifted and anointed Evangelist Dorothy L. Duncan and proud father of two: Elder Samuel IV (Benita) Duncan and Sister Shayla (Sheldon) Thomas. He has four grandchildren.
After a distinguished career with the State of Michigan as an accountant, Bishop Duncan was able to take early retirement to devote full time to ministry. He has prophesied that the half has not been told about the future success of SW3.
We continue to say, "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!"