JERUSALEM, Israel – The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is the largest African American denomination in the United States with more than 6 million members. Recently, they sent Bishop Glenn Plummer and his wife, Dr. Pauline Plummer, to represent the denomination in Israel as the “Bishop of Israel.”
We came to build a bridge not just for COGIC, but also for Black America,” Bishop Plummer told CBN News. “I have found, we have found, that it’s vitally important that African Americans have a relationship with Israel. So, building a bridge is our primary purpose.”
“It’s important, it’s vital that they understand Israel; the culture, the country, the people, the land of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Israel,” Dr. Plummer added.
Thousands sent the Plummers off to Israel with heartfelt prayer at the annual COGIC convention at the St. Louis convention center in late 2019. Then the couple, who have dedicated their lives to advocating for Israel, set their sights on the Holy Land.
They arrived with great expectations but met unexpected opposition.
Bishop Plummer once led the National Religious Broadcasters organization and the Israel Allies Caucus recently recognized Plummer as one of Israel’s top 50 Christian allies. But soon after the Plummers arrived in Israel, they became the brunt of several accusations, misleading headlines and doctored videos.
“They twisted it to say, ‘They’re coming here to convert Jews. They’re coming here to baptize Jews. They’re coming here to proselytize Jews,’” Bishop Plummer explained. “There’s a word they use called ‘missionize.’ I hadn’t quite heard that word before but there’s been these accusations.”
In Israel, evangelism is taboo and missionary activity is a very sensitive subject for Jews. The accusations led to threats against their lives.
“We’ve received written death threats saying, ‘We will kill you.' We’ve received threats saying, 'If we find you and catch you out in public, we’ll do this, that and the other.' So, this is not some fantasy that we’re on here,” said Bishop Plummer.
Dr. Plummer said the allegations and threats felt like a betrayal.
“It was hurtful," she said. "It’s like you’re being a friend to someone and then you’re betrayed by your friend, and you can imagine what that hurt feels like.”
The Plummers said several well-known Israeli rabbis are calling on government officials in an effort to force the couple out of the country.
“They’re wanting us to leave the country. They’ve created videos and distributed them to the department heads to the ministries in Israel,” said Bishop Plummer.
The Plummers deny the accusations and insist they only came to bless Israel and build a robust friendship between the Jewish State and the African American community. But the threats only got worse.
“They’ve been subject to a great deal of hostility. Some of it with, I believe, with misunderstanding, and some of it with some ill-intention,” Jonathan Feldstein, Founder of the Genesis 123 Foundation told CBN News. Feldstein, an orthodox Jew, has spent years of his life building bridges between Jews and Christians.
Earlier this month, Feldstein invited Bishop Plummer to speak to audiences worldwide during a webinar event.
“It was an amazing hour and a half conversation that was wide-ranging and I really wanted to take it in a direction that would be redeeming. He’s been subject to so much criticism and really hasn’t had a great opportunity to present why he’s here… I wanted to hear it from him,” Feldstein explained.
Despite the accusations, death threats, and opposition, the Plummers plan to stay to fulfill their calling and believe love will prevail.
“We’re here. There’s nothing anyone can do to us to stop us from loving Israel and loving the people of Israel. We love this place,” said Bishop Plummer.
“I’m just responding in love and I’m praying for those who feel they need to persecute us,” Dr. Plummer added. “I’m going to ring that loud.”
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CBN News reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office, the President’s Office, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on the situation. CBN received this statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “There were death threats and hate speech. We highly recommend filing an official complaint to the Israeli police so it can be investigated and the necessary security measures will be taken. In any case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns any kind of hate speech and death threats and if these messages were sent to the bishop and his wife we regret it very much.”
The Plummers have spoken with a representative of the Israeli police about the threats against them. Given the nature of the threats and intimidation, Bishop Plummer expects the government to speak up.
“I think the government of Israel has to make a statement. Silence is not acceptable. Christians should have the freedom to express their worship,” said Bishop Plummer. “Because we’re Black Americans and we represent a significant organization, I have decided to, as the Bishop of Israel, that I’m going to address it. I’m going to address it at the highest level I can because Christians need to be free to express themselves without harassment, without bigotry, without prejudice.”
And they want the freedom to make their contribution to the State of Israel.
“We happen to represent a significant number of people in the United States that we feel are at a place in history that need to engage Israel at a very high and deep level.”
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