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  • Born

    19 March 1953

  • Born In

    San Diego, San Diego County, California, United States

  • Died

    19 November 2023 (aged 70)

Bishop Pearson attended Oral Roberts University, and was mentored by Oral Roberts. He was licensed and ordained in the Church of God in Christ. Pearson formed his own church, Higher Dimensions, which became one of the largest in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the 1990s it grew to an attendance of over 5,000 and in 1997 Pearson was ordained a bishop. In 2000 he campaigned for George W. Bush and following the presidential inauguration was invited to the White House.

Then after viewing a television program which depicted the wretched conditions of people dying in Rwanda, and considering the teaching of his church that non-Christians were destined for hell, Pearson felt he had received an epiphany from God, and stated that he doubted the concept of hell as it has been traditionally taught. In February 2002 he lost a primary bid for the mayorship of Tulsa. By then Pearson had begun to call his doctrine—a variation on universal reconciliation—the Gospel of Inclusion, and many in his congregation began to leave.

Pearson has said, "A person who spends every day getting drunk, will ruin their health, marriage, family and career; they will make their lives a living Hell. But that still falls far short of the chronic alcoholic being condemned by a just God to literally burn in Hell forever and ever.
For others it may very well be that the punishment merited by their sins is greater than what they receive in this life. For those people perhaps there will be some kind of punishment after death, but we believe that it will be remedial and corrective rather than just punishment for punishment's sake. Exactly what that will be and how long it will last we don't know. Will Hell for some people last 10 minutes or 10 million years… we don't know. But this we do know; Hell will not last for eternity; it will not be endless… Don't sin. Be reunited with God now, rather than after you have put yourself (and those you love) through Hell."

In March 2004, after hearing Bishop Pearson's argument for inclusion, the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops reached the conclusion that such teaching was heresy. Officially recognized as a heretic, the once very popular Bishop Carlton Pearson rapidly began to lose his influence. Higher Dimensions membership fell to under 1,000 and lost its building to foreclosure in January 2006, at which time the church began meeting in nearby Trinity Episcopal Church as New Dimensions Church.

In November 2006, Pearson was accepted as a United Church of Christ minister. In June 2008, New Dimensions Church moved to All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa. On September 7, 2008, New Dimensions Church held its final worship service and merged with All Souls Unitarian Church.

Bishop Pearson's story was the subject of an episode entitled "Heretics" on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, which aired on December 16, 2005. This was followed by a profile on Dateline NBC on August 13, 2006.

Pearson was the subject of a CNN story on June 24th, 2007 which covered his change to a more inclusive gospel (including acceptance of LGBT people into his church) and the resulting negative backlash from the evangelical community.

However, aside from all the heretic mess, Bishop Pearson is also a gospel vocalist who has won two Stellar Awards and was nominated for a Dove Award. He, and the choir of Higher Dimensions Evangelical Center, recorded two albums under the production of Christian singer Carmen, called High Praises Vol 1, and Vol 2. They were so wildly successful that Warner Bros.' Christian music arm, Warner Alliance, signed Pearson and the choir to a contract that eventually encompassed over 5 live albums, the first three of which were very popular and got a lot of attention on radio and TBN and other Christian networks. When Pearson strayed from the teachings of God, Carmen disassociated himself from Pearson, whom he had known since the first days of Higher Dimensions in the late 70's.

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