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Published: Saturday, 1/23/2010

Cornerstone's pastor elevated to higher rank

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
The Rev. Michael Pitts at Cornerstone Church was consecrated a bishop in the International Communion of Charismatic Churches in October. The Rev. Michael Pitts at Cornerstone Church was consecrated a bishop in the International Communion of Charismatic Churches in October.
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The Rev. Michael Pitts, founding pastor of one of the Toledo area's largest churches, now wears a bishop's purple vestments, white clerical collar, and a large pectoral cross when he steps into the pulpit.

The 45-year-old Pentecostal minister of Cornerstone Church was consecrated a bishop in the International Communion of Charismatic Churches last October, joining about 300 bishops in an organization that claims 5 million members worldwide.

Bishop Pitts said he considers his elevation to bishop to be "one of the biggest honors of my life."

The title will help open doors for him to preach and to oversee ministries and projects in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere, said the bishop, who frequently preaches overseas.

"It gives me the proper rank to do some of the things I need to do, especially throughout other places in the world," he said.

Archbishop David Huskins, head of the Cedartown, Ga.-based ICCC, presided at the consecration ceremony that was held in the Maumee megachurch. The service culminated a weeklong conference at Cornerstone that featured such prominent guests as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Eddie Long, Paula White, Tudor Bismark, and Israel Houghton.

Bishop Pitts added that he considers Bishop Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member Potter's House Church in Dallas, his mentor.

"I have his number on my cell phone, I stay in contact with him," Bishop Pitts said.

Holding the rank of bishop in the ICCC has already proved helpful, he said. On a recent trip to Ghana, he was able to arrange a meeting with the president of the West African nation and received government approval for Cornerstone to dig a well, build a school, and develop other humanitarian projects for 10 villages.

Seated in his Maumee office, which is decorated with bold modern paintings, several framed gold records by Stevie Wonder, and a frame containing hyperinflated 50-trillion-dollar Zimbabwean bills, Bishop Pitts explained that the ICCC was founded in 1982 as the World Communion of Pentecostal Churches to promote dialogue between Pentecostal Protestant churches and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Since he was already overseeing nearly 40 churches in the United States and Mexico in the Cornerstone Network of Harvester Churches, it seemed a natural step to join the global conference.

"I had already been doing the work of a bishop and the ICCC leaders said they would like me to represent what they're doing," Bishop Pitts said.

The promotion did not alter his daily routine very much.

"Though I do preach most of the services here, most of my time and my energies are also now overseeing other churches as well," Bishop Pitts added.

He said he sets the tone for Cornerstone through his leadership and his preaching, leaving the day-to-day operation of the church in the hands of his younger brother, the Rev. Robert Pitts, and a staff of 28 full-time employees including five pastors.

The bishop said he rarely goes to staff meetings and believes in delegating authority to the church's team of "self-starters."

"I think you can get your head too clogged up with a bunch of trivial matters," he said.

Bishop Pitts, who last week sent his eighth book, Boundary Shifters, to his publisher, said that when he left his hometown of Lima to start a church in Toledo in 1986, he never even thought of becoming a bishop.

His brother laughed and said there was just one priority in those days: "Survival!"

"We had 38 people the first week. The second week there were 20-some, and the third week we had 18," Robert Pitts said. "And out of those 18, about half were family members. I told Michael that if we keep going at this rate we'll be shutting it down in a few weeks."

But Michael Pitts' charismatic preaching and broad biblical knowledge began drawing ever-larger crowds. Cornerstone had to move to bigger facilities twice in its first four years and in March, 1996, moved into its present site, a sprawling former retail plaza at the corner of Reynolds Road and Dussell Drive in Maumee.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154



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