Mason Durell Betha, popularly known as rapper Mase who rose to fame in the 1990s before finding faith and developing a rocky record as a church leader, has been named as the new senior pastor of The Gathering Oasis Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cornelius Lindsey, who founded The Gathering Oasis Church, made the announcement in a statement on Facebook Sunday.
“Pastor Mase, first off....WELCOME BACK!” Lindsey began, referencing Mase’s 2004 Welcome Back album, which was released five years after the rapper famously announced at the height of his career that he was retiring from the music industry to follow God in 1999.
Mase went on to start El Elyon International Church with gatherings in Atlanta and Phoenix. He then attempted a second comeback to the hip-hop world in 2009. He cut ties with the church in 2014 after his divorce filing from his wife Twyla Betha was made public, angering parishioners.
Pastor Lindsey, who recently resigned as leader of the church following allegations of spiritual, financial and psychological abuse, expressed optimism about Mase’s return to the pulpit with “a fresh vision and renewed hope” for his congregants.
“I’ve been encouraged by our conversations and your heart for the people. You come with a fresh vision and renewed hope. I’m thankful for our initial conversation that started out talking about life and slowly unraveled into a serious conversation on transitioning that’s brought us to this point today,” Lindsey wrote.
He explained that when he launched the church in 2013, it was around the same time that Mase began his transition away from church leadership. Now that he is ready to move on from his ministry at a time when Mase is ready to return, Lindsey suggested God may have a hand in the timing.
“When I started contemplating moving on from pastoring three years ago, you were considering coming back. God was directing our path individually—separately—until it was time, and the timing was perfect. If all God wanted me to do was remain content in my assignment until you were ready then I’m fine with that. It was all worth it to get to this point,” he said. “Nothing was wasted, which is God’s style. I’m praying for your continued success! May God bless you on this journey. I love you forever, The Gathering Oasis Church.”
In a discussion with Lindsey published on YouTube Sunday, Mase said his vision for the church is to see the current generation turn back to God.
“I really see this generation being turned back into God’s hands. I think there’s been a major challenge with the city like being able to direct people back to God and I really welcome the challenge to do so,” he said.
The rapper explained that Lindsey had been asking him about taking over the church for a while but he kept telling him he needed to “pray about it.”
At one point during the discussion, Mase asked Lindsey what made him decide he should be the one to take over from him, Lindsey said he just felt like God sent him. The rapper also noted that the year Lindsey started the church is the year when he started having marriage troubles.
Prominent televangelist and founder of World Changers Church International Creflo Dollar had high praise for The Gathering Oasis Church and their founders as well as the selection of Mase to replace them.
“We are transitioning over to Pastor Mase and Twyla Betha. You know what an act of love to decide that we can’t leave you comfortless. It reminds me of what Jesus did when he left the earth. He said ‘I won’t leave you comfortless but I’ll give you another comforter which is the Holy Ghost who will lead and guide you and teach you in all things. And that’s what I see in this transition tonight. Another comforter,” Dollar said, noting that the two are “anointed to get the job done.”
In a public announcement Monday, Mase said everyone was welcome to attend his church.
“THANK YOU. Also tag someone who is expecting something great from God and let them know that God has already started answering prayers in 2021. Tag someone looking a new church family and remember ‘ALL PEOPLE ARE WELCOMED,’” he noted on Instagram.