Significant controversy has been swirling around Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Bishop Dr. Glenn Plummer and his wife Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer’s recent move to Israel.
In April 2019, Plummer was appointed as COGIC’s first Bishop of Israel. COGIC is the largest black church in the world and this is the first time in the church’s 113 year history that they have had representation in Israel.
Prior to moving to the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion last month, Bishop Plummer visited the Holy Land 20 times, leading trips that brought hundreds of Christians to see and experience the country for themselves.
Recent Controversy About The Plummers’ Agenda
On October 2, internationally known Jewish counter-missionary Rabbi Tovia Singer published an 8-minute video on YouTube with the provocative title Shocker! Missionaries Immigrate to Israel During Lockdown to Baptize Israelis in the Name of Jesus! On October 7, Singer published another video, explicitly accusing the Plummers of admitting that they target Ethiopian Jews for conversion to Christianity because they are also black.
On October 4, the counter-missionary organization Beyneynu Israel also began publishing YouTube videos that carry titles such as, “The Plummers are coming to Israel to convert, baptize, and disciple – IN JESUS NAME!” and “The Plummers are in Israel to spread the gospel, save souls, and baptize!”
On October 5, Judean Rose blogger Varda Meyers Epstein published a post called How Come Christian Missionaries are allowed to Enter Israel during the Lockdown, But Most Jews May not?
Epstein’s lead sentence accused Christians who are able to enter Israel during a time when most Jews cannot, of being missionaries. “Christian missionaries, whose explicit goal is to convert Jews in Israel to Christianity, are entering Israel when most Jews cannot, through a loophole in Israeli government-mandated regulations for the country’s latest coronavirus lockdown.
“It sure does look as though the one sure way to get into Israel right now is to be Christian and committed to converting the Jews,” she wrote.
Conflating the move of the Plummers with the Christian volunteers of HaYovel, Epstein also wrote, “My concern is that they are here to ‘win souls’ and ‘make disciples.’ I find this sort of proselytization highly offensive. The Jewish people did not survive the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Muslim Conquest, pogroms, terror, and the Holocaust in order to have missionaries infiltrate the Jewish State of Israel to rob our children of their souls, in order that the settlers of Samaria benefit from free labor to harvest their grapes.”
These critical voices also share a concern that the Plummers were granted entry to Israel, particularly at a time when even most Jews are unable to enter, with an agenda to proselytize the Jews.
Is that the truth?
The Plummers Respond To Charges
On October 7, Rabbi Yehudah Glick of the Shalom Israel Foundation hosted a 90-minute conference with the Plummers and more than a dozen Jewish and Christian leaders who are active in Jewish-Christian relations in Israel.
During the discussion, Glick asked Bishop Plummer to address himself to the accusation that they entered Israel with the intention of missionizing among the Jewish people.
Plummer’s response was swift and adamant. “Contrary to what some people think, that we have some hidden proselytizing agenda, to convert Israel to Christianity, first of all, in 40 years, I’ve never done that with one Jew. Certainly I’ve had the opportunity. I’m on television every day. If I wanted to do it, I could have done it. I’ve never done it. I’m not doing it and I don’t plan to do it. That’s not our agenda.
“I’m fully aware of the sensitivities of the Jewish people as it relates to proselytizing. Practically speaking, I am very aware of the whole messianic movement throughout the world. I’ve never been involved with them. I do understand that they are anathema here. I understand that they are not accomplishing whatever it is that they think they are trying to accomplish anyway.”
Plummer added that Detroit, the city where he lived for 45 years before coming to Israel, has the largest Muslim population outside of the Middle East. “Detroit has 300,000 Arab Muslims. I don’t try and convert those people either. It’s not what I do. It’s not who I am.”
So Why Did The Plummers Move To Israel?
“Our agenda is to build a bridge to black America, and particularly millennials, to come here and engage Israel on an educational level, to engage Israel on a business level, to engage Israel on a technological level so that, in America, they can be voices,” Plummer declared.
He spoke about how COGIC has already brought hundreds of black millenials to Israel who have returned to the US “and become advocates naturally because they come here, they see, they hear the story and they’ve gone back to tell the truth,” he stated.
“We see that opening a bridge for many African Americans to come here, that that message will resonate throughout our country. We want to reach our people, and [being based in Israel] gives us a platform.”
Plummer, who is 65 years old, first came to Israel in 1996. “Prior to coming to Israel, I had a love and passion for Israel because of what I read in the Bible,” he shared.
He credits Pat Robertson and other evangelical pastors for “teaching the church in America our love for Israel and who Israel is. Because of what I was hearing and being taught, I had a desire to come myself and see it for myself. Israel really sells itself. From my first time coming, I began to call myself a Christian Zionist.”
Glick asked Plummer to elaborate on what it means to him to be a Christian Zionist.
“A Christian Zionist is a Christian who believes that the country of Israel is the Homeland of the Jewish people and that the Jewish people have the right, and the responsibility, to not only just live here but, from this place, give definition to the world for what this country is, for what Hashem’s (God’s) intention has always been, who He is, to introduce Him to the world.
“He defined Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so I feel that Zionism is not just a political definition. I think it is spiritual, it is natural and it is political. It is the right and responsibility of the Jewish people to care for the Land, to represent the Land and to protect the Land.”
Ruth Pauline Plummer shared about her own relationship with Israel. “Loving Israel was taught to us as equivalent to understanding what your faith represents. I’ve always had a love for Israel as I studied the Word. It was always amazing how Hashem, the relationship between Him and a people, was conveyed. If you love God, you’ve got to love His people. The Bible tells us to bless Israel. I’ve always had a love for the people of the Land. It’s just such a beautiful love story between God and creation, His people.”
“Coming here awakened something in me so beautifully. It was such an awesome experience for me. I instantly fell in love with Israel,” she shared.