For my final project in Diverse Classrooms in a Visual Culture I plan to create a short documentary on the church that I grew up in. Mt. Sinai Cathedral is a Pentacostal church and a part of the larger church, The Church of God in Christ. Often shortened to the acronym C.O.G.I.C. and pronounced “Ko-Jik”, the Church of God in Christ was founded over a hundred years ago by Charles H. Mason and is one of the largest historically black churches in the country. It is the fifth largest Christian denomination in the country and has approximately five million members and twelve thousand congregations.
While my documentary will focus on a particular church, I will place it into the historical context of the larger church of which it is a part of, as well as within the history of “The Black Church” as an idea in the United States. I hope that by talking about discussing the development of Christianity from slavery onward, that the viewer will better be able to understand the current culture that exists in the church.
Overall the video will focus on cultural transmission. How traditions have not only survived since the creation of the church in 1907, but that many aspects of the culture can also be traced back to the slave trade and the cultures of west africa, in particular Nigeria. To demonstrate the impact of visual and oral traditions in the Church of God in Christ I will be interviewing the youth at my local church. I will ask them questions about their relationship to the church and how the church impacts the way they see the world. I will also ask general questions about their experiences in church and the activities in which they participate.
Below I have included a video that shows one way the youth participate in COGIC culture that has clear connection to the Nigerian concept of “ASHE”. Praise dancing or dancing in the spirit is one of the many performative aspects of COGIC culture that mimic west african religious traditions.