As told to Natasha Simone Ferguson
A purple and white banner declaring, Decade of Destiny 2003-2013, is proudly displayed on the wall behind the pulpit as the congregation — a blend of both young and old — praises and worships God collectively. With authority and conviction, this spirit-filled church’s anointed leader Bishop Craig Johnson preaches his message on this first Sunday of June entitled, “A Blessed Life” as his congregation listens intently to his spirited sermon.
Bishop Johnson is senior pastor of Cathedral of Praise International Ministries (COPIM) a ministry that started in Rubidoux over 18 years ago and relocated to a larger facility in Rialto in 2003. Now they are preparing to expand again and move the facility to North San Bernardino.
I was attending a Thanksgiving conference in Ventura, CA in 1976 when I first felt the calling to ministry. While sitting in a church service, I felt God was telling me, “You ought to be preaching.” For many years I had the actual notes where I wrote that down. Upon my return, I was met at the front door by my mother, who asked what occurred on that specific day – at that specific time. When I shared that I felt a calling to preach, my mother blew a sigh of relief and stated, “Oh, God told me when I was pregnant with you that you would be a preacher.” After discussions with my Pastor at the time, I preached my first message and was licensed in ministry on January 8, 1977.
The vision for COPIM came while praying in church at the age of seventeen. In the vision, I saw myself in miniature form standing before thousands of people of diverse races. The Spirit was very active in the service and everyone was worshipping in their own way. At COPIM, I attempt to make our services open and comfortable for any race of people. Our focus is to attract true worshippers.
The Full Gospel Baptist Church is a fellowship of churches and COPIM continues to be a Nondenominational Church, but have been a part of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship since 1998. Bishop Paul S. Morton serves as my Apostolic covering and a mentor in ministry.
Enlarging Church Borders
COPIM started in Bloomington eighteen years ago and moved to West Riverside shortly thereafter. We outgrew our Jurupa Campus in 1998, and finally settled in Rialto in 2003. After attempting for ten years to purchase the mall where we are presently located, God opened up an AWESOME opportunity in North San Bernardino. We are in the final stages of purchasing a building consistent with our original plans for Rialto. We will maintain our present sanctuary seating capacity while gaining 14 classrooms, a bookstore, café, commercial kitchen, and fellowship areas. Our plans are to upgrade and beautify the facility over the summer with our Opening and Dedication Service scheduled for the first weekend in October. It is our plan to immediately begin a 5 Year Strategic Plan of purchasing properties and lots surrounding our new campus. We have plans for a Transitional Living Center (to assist the homeless and former foster youth), a Community Development Center (to address community needs and issues), a Senior Citizens Complex, and to build a 5,000 seat sanctuary. It is our belief that this will be the final move for COPIM.
People think I’m joking when I tell them that my hobbies are “peace & quiet”. Compared to others, I probably live a boring life. I love to read and to dine at fine restaurants. I also play Madden Football on Play station at least once a week. It sounds funny, but it keeps me sane.
Today’s Church & Modern Technologies
I recently stated during a message that, “we cannot do ministry in 2013 the way they did it in 1973.” That said, modern technology has a place in modern ministry. However, UStream is NOT intended to replace gathering for worship. Virtual Worship is offered for those who are unable to attend due to employment, ailment, travels, or remote locations. I encourage the members of COPIM to make church attendance a priority.
We are currently on KPRO – 1570 AM every Sunday night at 8 p.m. and every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Our UStream services are live every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Previous services can be watched on demand. (Visit www.copim.org)