The other day I heard someone say, the Church of God in Christ is a “hierarchical church”. The word “hierarchical” is used in more than one way.
One meaning is as the person said, the power is vertical, meaning the Presiding Bishop is over the Jurisdictional Bishop, who is over the Superintendent and the Pastor.
The other and most devastating usage is that used by the civil court. The civil court does not care about the leadership structure. They deal with property ownership. To the civil court, in a hierarchical church, the National or parent organization OWNS the property and the local people purchase it and maintain it as a gift to the National Church. The US Supreme Court used the labels Congregational and Hierarchical for the first time in the infamous case WATSON Vs JONES, and since it benefits the National Church, they all said Amen.
A Hybrid would use parts of both systems. For property ownership, it could use aspects of the Congregational system. Combining the two systems would give you the HYBRID
The General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ can define itself. You can say what type of Government or as a lawyer would say “polity” your church has.
Concerning property ownership, The Church of God in Christ lets it’s members believe the local church owns the property: (Congregational). Concerning the leadership structure, I think Bishop Blake in his wisdom said it best
“Thus, the structure is not a pure hierarchy; it is a “hybrid structure” in which power flows both upwards and downwards. Power flows upwards (not downwards like a hierarchy) from the delegates of the General Assembly to the General Board and Presiding Bishop. And then it flows downwards (as in a hierarchy) to the bishops and to those under their charge. It is episcopal in that it affirms the authority of the bishops who are those above. At the same time, it is governed by a constitution, and thus the constitutional rights of the pastors and congregations, who are those who are below, must not be abused or alienated from them.” (page 4, paragraph 2, of the book “WHY I STOOD FOR THE DEFENSE IN ORLANDO” ) Click this link to read the complete book by Bishop Charles E. Blake.
To see how the court views this word click this link THE HIERARCHICAL CHURCH.
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In case you think this can’t be true, here is a copy of the opinion of the Kansas Appeals court. KANSAS COURT CASE involving a church in Liberal, Kansas