From the ladies wearing wide brims on Sunday mornings to gospel artists who stir souls into a spiritual frenzy, the Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a venue of faith filled with people who praise the Lord with plenty of style and grace. And leading Refreshing Springs for more than two decades is Elder James E. Jordan whose legacy extends far beyond the Riverdale, Md. sanctuary.
“Because of our relationships and connections we are always involved in the community,” Jordan told the AFRO. On Sept. 10, Jordan welcomed several Floridians to his church because they needed shelter from Hurricane Irma.
Whether it is providing help and assistance to hurricane victims, sponsoring summer camps for children at the church, or transforming an office building in Riverdale to a service center for Latino families, Jordan’s ministry is far beyond worship and praising God.
“This is my heritage,” he said. “This has been my life. I am third generation Church of God in Christ. My grandparents were COGIC, my parents, now my children and my grandchildren, so we are five generations.”
With more than six million members around the world, the Church of God in Christ is one of the largest connected church organizations in the Black community. It was founded by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason in 1907.
The Rev. Charles Mason built the Church of God in Christ on the foundation of doctrine that came out of the New Testament on “the Day of Pentecost,” that is found in Acts 2:41. According to church history, Mason began his religious life in the 1890s as an ordained Baptist minister in Arkansas. In 1906 he traveled to Los Angeles, Calif. to participate in the Azusa Street Revival led by Black evangelist the Rev. William Seymour. Inspired by what he saw and heard in Los Angeles, Mason returned to Arkansas ready to challenge Baptist doctrines.
The early church began meeting in Mississippi, but relocated to Memphis, Tenn. in 1925. Mason Temple, the church headquarters, was completed in 1940. Once known as the largest Black owned structure in Memphis, Mason Temple was financed by church members who were sharecroppers, cotton pickers, and domestic servants. It was made famous by Martin Luther King’s “Mountain top,” speech in Memphis during the Civil Rights Movement.
Jordan, a D.C. native who grew up in Northeast D.C., said that when he became a minister he didn’t have a choice. “It wasn’t an aspiration of going into ministry, I felt a call when I was 20-years-old. I found myself gravitating to those spiritual things,” he said.
This week Jordan will celebrate his 22nd year at the church and in November he will be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of God In Christ. Jordan, now 74, is a stabilizing force in the lives of generations. He says it has been worth it because of “the people who I minister too and the children who I have seen grow up.”
Jordan currently serves as the superintendent of the Gilbert Earl Patterson Memorial District, in the Greater Maryland First Jurisdiction COGIC. Formerly, he served as the Superintendent of the A.D. Headen District in Washington D.C., and as a pastor of the Holy Grace COGIC in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Jordan is supported in the ministry by his wife, Wilhelmenia Irene Joy Jordan, affectionately known as the “Queen of the Spring.” The Jordan’s have forged a holy bond through prayer and parenthood, and celebrate 52 years of marriage. The mission of his ministry, he said, is to establish a desire in the hearts of men for the word of God as a foundation for personal salvation and discipleship.
Jordan is a retired first sergeant from the U.S. Army and is the recipient of two honorary doctorates. He is committed to equipping the saints for the work of the ministry by focusing on the whole man – spirit, soul, and body.
Jordan said his vision for his ministry is fulfilled through the development of satellite ministries serving congregations in Clinton, Md.; College Park, Md.; and Owings Mills, Md. Jordan’s ministries consist of food banks in the county, partnering with government and independent agencies, as well as clothing, charter school, and homeless ministries.
Refreshing Spring also serves the community through the Refreshing Spring Bible Institute and summer youth camp, and operates the Refreshing Spring Professional Building. Jordan has launched five churches throughout the metropolitan area.
“Stay focused on your call and what God has given you and not become discouraged,” he told the AFRO. “Be sure to get good tutelage from people who have good integrity.”