Our History

The history of the Church of God in Christ in Haiti goes back to 1929. Indeed, if since 1926, at the initiative of Joseph Saint-Juste and his wife Louisianne, we witnessed the first steps of the Church of God in Christ, the first meeting of the first Pentecostal Church of the island was not held until January 13, 1929. It all began at No. 167 Fronts Forts Street, now 153 where the current headquarters of the Church of God in Christ is located.

After receiving water baptism by Leon Mathias Van Alken, a Belgian missionary of the Assembly of God from Vancouver, Canada, a group of young Haitian brothers, among them Joseph Saint Juste and his wife, who had just turned their backs on the Episcopal Church, embarked on a new religious experience. Shortly after, Van Alken returned to his homeland, thus enabling the Haitian brothers to take the lead of the newly born movement. However, it was not until 1928 that Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, the founder of the denomination in the United States, sent Missionary Joseph Paulceus Léys, a Haitian immigrant in the United States, to Port-au-Prince for the purpose of extending the work in the Caribbean.

When he arrived in Haiti, the emissary of Bishop Charles Mason was quick to contact the cell of brothers in action. As a result of constant efforts near the competent authorities, Joseph Paulceus Leys greatly helped Joseph Saint Juste to obtain the Church of God in Christ’s authorization to spread the word of God on Haitian soil. And one of the first members of the Church of God in Christ to receive water baptism of
missionary Paulcéus Leys was Jacques Vital Herne who had just left the Episcopal Church.

For four years, from 1929 to 1933, Joseph Paulcéus and Jacques Vital Herne, supported by Joseph Saint Juste, took charge of the newborn church in Haiti. In the meantime, they purchased a piece of land at Bel Air where they installed a tent donated by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. And it was there that the first followers of the Church of God in Christ, nicknamed by the residents of the time “the Trembleurs,” (Holy rollers) held their first gatherings. However, in 1933, the managerial trio split. Vital Jacques Herne went to lay the foundation of the Pentecostal Church of God and later the Church of God of Prophecy. As for Joseph Paulcéus Leys, he founded the Church of Bolosse better known today as Apostolic Faith. Finally, Joseph Saint Juste remained faithful to the Church of God in Christ.

The departure of Joseph Paulcéus and Jacques Vital Herne gave rise to a new steering committee of the Church chaired by Joseph Saint-Juste. This arrangement lasted four years, until the visit in Haiti in 1937 of Bishop A.B. McEwen who was in charge of the Church of God in Christ Missions Department in the United States. During his visit to the country, Bishop Mc Ewen ordained five pastors including Joseph Saint Juste. A constitution was also put in place at this time.

In July 1949, the founder Bishop Charles Harrison Mason visited the Church of God in Christ of Haiti. During his stay in Port au Prince, the COGIC’s number one leader was accompanied by his wife Elsie Mason, Bishop AB Mc Ewen and Missionary Dorothy Webster Exumé, who was sent to Haiti two years earlier.

L to R: Bishop E.C. McEwen, Bishop Charles Mason, Mother Elsie Mason, Missionary Dorothy Webster (Exumé)

L to R: Bishop Mason, Mother Elsie Mason, Missionary Dorothy Webster (Exumé), Bishop S. E. Iglehardt

Bishop Mason seized the opportunity to purchase the house in Port-au-Prince at Rue Fronts-Forts, rented in 1926 for the Saint-Juste family by Van Alken. The headquarters of the Church of God in Christ of Haiti is currently erected on this ground.

After the death of Bishop Joseph Saint-Juste in 1957, his son Louis Sauveur Saint-Juste, ordained pastor in 1942, took the helm of the Church. Unfortunately, a traffic accident had slowed him down from his zeal to spread the gospel to other parts of the country. He did, however, direct the mission from a wheelchair from 1959 to 1968. He died on October 30, 1968.

To fill the void created by the premature demise of Bishop Louis Sauveur Saint-Juste, COGIC WORLD MISSIONS designated Bishop Esaü Courtney of New Jersey to replace him. Upon arriving in Port-au-Prince in October 1970, Bishop Courtney took charge of the work, but only stayed for three years after which he resigned.

For eleven months the ministry of the Church of God in Christ was directed by an Executive Committee. In January 1974, a replacement was found for Bishop Esaü Courtney in the person of Superintendent Lopez N. Dautruche.