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The Rev. Dr. John Harold Gillison
October 26, 1938 — October 21, 2015

From the Reflections of the Rev. Dr. Frederick Calhoun James, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Church, at the Homegoing Celebration for Dr. Gillison, at “Mother” Emanuel A.M.E., Charleston, SC, on October 29, 2015

“Today we yield this Jesus-loving jewel to the heavenly collection of the Almighty God of Glory. John Harold Gillison is the gift that we yield to glory today.

O how we thank God for sharing his life with us!
We thank God for his life.
We thank God for his lift.
We thank God for his light.
We thank God for his laughter.
We thank God for his legacy.
We thank God for his love!

John H. Gillison. What a man of faith! What a man of hope! What a man of love!

It has been my blessing to be a close friend of many men and women of God. John Gillison has, indeed, been one of them!

Gillison followed me: as a SC Christian Action Council leader; as pastor of Chappelle Memorial A.M.E. Church of Columbia, SC; as pastor of Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church of Sumter, SC. As his Bishop, when I moved him from Mt. Pisgah I appointed him to this church, “Mother” Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, SC.

[Gillison pastored Emanuel from 1988–1996 when he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Edisto District which he served from 1996-2014.]

To have known John Gillison was to have known that he aspired to represent a composite portrait of several men of God. I think he succeeded.

Consider some categories:
– As of his calling — Gillison had the obedience of Moses.
– As a husband — Gillison had the devotion of Isaac.
– As a student — Gillion had the diligence of Timothy.
– As a teacher — Gillison had the inspiration of the Apostle Paul.
– As a preacher — Gillison has the spirit of of the disciple Peter.
– As a presiding elder — Gillison possess the divine wisdom of James, the       brother of Jesus, as a highway patrolman on patrol on the King’s highway.
– As a friend — Gillison had the love that Jesus had for John, the man after whom he was named.
– As for his vision of God — Gillison had the perception of the prophet Isaiah, who said, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up, about whom the Seraphim cried, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth is full of his glory.'”

* * * * * * *

in 1978, Rev. Dr. John Gillison, served as the first African American President of the South Carolina Christian Action Council. It is believed that Gillison was the first African American to serve as President of a non-segregated organization in the state of SC, which was the South Carolina Christian Action Council.

In 2011, the Council named its award for work toward racial justice and healing after Dr. Gillison. It is awarded at the Council’s annual meeting when the Council deems persons or organizations in the state worthy of this high recognition.

Recipients of the
South Carolina Christian Action Council
John Gillison Award
for Racial Justice and Healing

Jesse Washington, Commissioner,
SC Dept. of Human Affairs
and the Rev. Herman Yoos, Bishop
SC Synod, ELCA

The Christian Church (Disciples), South Carolina

Charles Rowland and the Rev. Leon Maxwell


  • January 21, 2016

    Noonday Prayer for Christian Unity on January 16, 2016. Hosted by the Columbia Friends, at the Meeting House, 120 Pisgah Church Road, Columbia, SC 29203. Door opens at 11:30 AM. Come early to greet friends and meet others. Following the