Two weeks after being consecrated as "presiding bishop and chief apostle" of the new Church of God in Christ (New Day) denomination, Bishop David Grayson temporarily lost the right to use the COGIC name in Chancery Court proceedings.
Chancellor Arnold Goldin issued a temporary injunction February 9th in front of a capacity crowd, barring the new group from using the name, citing confusion with their name and the COGIC mother church headquartered here in Memphis.
No court date has yet been set in the case.
Litigation began an hour after its original 1:30 p.m. start time when a discrepancy arose regarding each side's 19 allowable representatives in the courtroom, while throngs of supporters filed the hallways.
New Day, represented by Kathleen Caldwell, argued its right to the name based on its use by several other churches not affiliated with the one led by presiding bishop G.E. Patterson. "We contend that COGIC is generic and not covered by trademark laws," said Caldwell. "We can prove that in other states and in Memphis there are churches and organizations that use the name and have no affiliation with the mother church." Caldwell even included COGIC Pastors, Inc., started by Bishop Patterson in 1970, as an example. (State records show that organization is currently inactive.)
COGIC's attorney, Allan Wade, who has represented the church for almost 25 years, contended that the name was connected to the church, whose history in Memphis has spanned almost 100 years, and would constitute unfair competition.
"This case is not about preventing Bishop Grayson from starting his own church ... preaching whatever doctrines he wishes ... and having whatever members he chooses. It's about the use of the name," said Wade.
After the proceedings, both bishops declined comment on the case. When questioned by the Flyer, Patterson said, "I don't talk to the media anymore after they relentlessly got together and supported [Grayson]." When leaving the courtroom, Patterson declined to shake the hand of New Day spokesman Pat Rogers, saying, "I don't shake hands with my known enemies."
COGIC had filed a restraining order against New Day on January 23rd. When court documents were delivered to Grayson, he issued a statement saying that he would go ahead with his ordination ceremony. He has been joined in the denomination by about 40 churches in Memphis, Alabama, Mississippi, and New York.
When questioned about other organizations using the COGIC name, Wade vowed to look into the matter and, if warranted, prosecute them as well. Although the case is not over, Rogers said New Day's plans for its own convention in July are still on schedule.