Who is Bishop J. Delano Ellis? J. Delano Ellis (Jesse Delano Ellis II, December 11, 1944 – September 19, 2020) was the head of African American Pentecostalism in the United States as the president and Archbishop Metropolitan of the Joint College of Bishops. He was also the founder and presiding prelate of United Covenant Churches of Christ and Pentecostal Churches of Christ. On September 19, 2020, his wife, Dr. Sabrina Ellis made a public statement that Ellis was declared deceased. Almost immediately after that, a street is being named in his honor.
Ellis is widely known as a precursor to unity among African-American Pentecostals. He worked to introduce order and identity among pentecostal churches. As a promoter of ecumenism, Ellis had brought the Pentecostal movement, as it manifests itself among African-Americans, into a conversation with the broader Christian community around the world. Through Ellis, many Pentecostal congregations of the Trinitarians and unity claim to derive “Western and Eastern streams of apostolic succession,” as described in his book “The Diocese – A Handbook for the Creation of episcopate in the African-American Pentecostal Church”. The Apostolic Pastoral Congress, a British organization, claims to have a successor line from Ellis through Archbishop Doye Agama.
J. Delano Ellis is the son of Lucy and Jesse Delano Ellis Sr. At the age of 13 or 14, Lucy became pregnant with Jesse Delano Ellis II. His mother, Lucy Ellis, was a Christian and his father rejected Christianity for Moorish science and then the nation of Islam. In Ellis’ childhood, his mother was taken to a psychiatric facility; He then lived with his grandmother and great-aunt. During his teenage years, Ellis tried to build a relationship with his father by visiting a nation of Islam mosque. His father told them that Jesus was the “God of the white man and Christianity was a trick to enslave black people.” Ellis attended the Christian Tabernacle Church of God in Christ (a Pentecostal Church) under the pastorate of Bishop R.T. Jones, Sr. One night in the church, Ellis professed Christianity and his father physically abused him for rejecting Islam.
Ellis joined the United States Air Force in his early adulthood and attended the Church of the Nazarene. Due to racial segregation, he then joined the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and developed an appreciation for the liturgy and ecclesiology of the High Church. He soon returned to the Church of God in Christ.
J. Delano Ellis was ordained a priest in 1963 by Bishop Ozro Thurston Jones Sr. in the Church of God in Christ, and in 1970 was made an episcopate by Bishop Brumfield Johnson of the United Holy Church of America. In the Church of God in Christ, Ellis organized the Adjutant’s Corp. He was the third chief adjutant of the National Adjudance of the Church of God in Christ. In 1989, Ellis was asked to lead a Pentecostal church outside the Church of God in Christ. He noted that oneness pentecostalism and trinitarianism were not completely different ideas, but rejected distinctions between the people of the Trinity. He came to the conviction that there is no biblical support for the doctrine of Trinitarian Christianity. Ellis soon founded the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ (now the United Covenant Churches of Christ).
During his tenure as presiding prelate of the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ, he co-founded the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. The Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops (JCAAPB), more commonly the Joint College of Bishops (JCOB), is an ecumenical synod founded in November by J. Delano Ellis, Wilbert Sterling McKinley, Roy Edward Brown, and Paul S. Morton.
The Common College of Bishops originally functioned as the Pentecostal organ of the High Church and later expanded to other Protestant traditions and the convergence movement. Members of the Joint College of Bishops, unique among paleo orthodoxy adherers, are known to redefine the history and original meaning of West Christian robes as opposed to historical documents (e.g. Roman Catholic and Anglican robes, to which new definitions have been granted). The Joint College of Bishops also teaches a five-time service. J. Delano Ellis and the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops denounced Carlton Pearson as a heretic to teach Christian universalism. Under Ellis’ administration, the Joint College of Bishops also has the gay bishop O.C. Allen from the Vision Church of Atlanta in 2012.
As late as the 21st century, Ellis was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 52 of Prince Hall Freemasons. He was a grand prior and a 33rd-grade bricklayer. After 30 years of leadership at the Pentecostal Church of Christ in Cleveland, J. Delano Ellis abdicated his pastorinay in 2019. His wife, Dr. Sabrina Ellis, was appointed as the new Senior Pastor. On September 19, 2020, Ellis was declared deceased in a public statement by his wife. His death almost immediately follows a street named in his honor.
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