Saint Mary Magdalena Lewis-Tate is recognized as the founder of the First Holiness Movement in the United States. She was born January 3, 1871. During her youth, because of her character and demeanor, she was called “Miss Do Right.” Mother Mary followers were known as “The Do Righters.”
Mary Magdalena Lewis-Tate became known by many of her faithful followers as Mother Tate. This unique black woman, along with her two sons, Water Curtis Lewis and Felix Early Lewis, in 1903 founded and established the House of God Which Is the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy (1Timothy 3:15-16). (Cited hereafter as The House of God.)
After she was ordained by God, Mother Tate boldly preached the Gospel in cleanliness of the Word of God and of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Many persons were amazed and wondered at the demonstration of the Gospel which was preached by this blessed servant of God. She preached her first sermon at Brooklyn, Illinois. In 1907, Mother Mary Magdalena climaxed her career as a world’s Evangelist of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Alabama, over 900 persons were converted to Christianity through her preaching. She boldly went into the water and baptized many of the converts through the physical strength given her of the Lord’s power.
During the year of 1908, Mother Tate was placed on a bed of incurable affliction and unable to walk. In her ordeal, God revealed the depth and heights of His glory and she received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost as leaped, shouted and spoke in unknown and other tongues as on the Day of Pentecost. She began teaching the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
She was approved and accepted as the Chief Apostle Elder, President, and first Chief Overseer of the formally organized Church in Greenville, Alabama. Additionally, she was ordained to the bishopric by the Board of Trustees and Bishops of The House of God. Mother Tate organized and presided over the First General Assembly of the House of God June 25-July 5, 1908, in Greenville, Alabama. A number of ministers were ordained, and several pastors were appointed at this meeting.
In 1910, Waycross, Georgia was the site of the first House of God Church in the state of Georgia. During the following year, the first Georgia State Assembly of The House of God was held in Waycross where the first presiding elders were appointed and pastors received financial support from the general church. One of the most significant developments in The House of God was the creation of the first Decree (Covenant) Book during the 1914 General Assembly at Quitman, Georgia. Also at this meeting, four state bishops were appointed to serve.
In 1914, Mother Tate organized the first House of God Church in Florida in the city of Ocala. The first Florida State Assembly followed at Ocala in 1916.
By 1916, under the leadership of Mother Tate, charters were issued for churches in more than twenty states and in the District of Columbia. Between 1930 and 1962, fourteen charters were granted to establish The House of God. Four more states were added to the House of God roster by 1981. On the 9th day of May, 1988, The House of God gained recognition as a church in Jamaica West Indies. By 1992, charters had been issued in forty-three states by The House of God Church.
In 1924, The House of God Headquarters was established on Heiman Street in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mother Mary Magdalena L. Tate left this world after many souls were gathered as one in these last days. On December 28, 1930 her breath of life was reclaimed by God and her body was laid to rest in the family plot in Dickson, Tennessee. In 1963, her remains were exhumed and placed in Nashville’s historic Greenwood Cemetery. A marker to memorialize Mother Tate was erected near the entrance to the cemetery.
In 1931, Dr. Mary F. L. Keith was selected to the church helm and ordained Chief Overseer of The House of God Which Is the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy, Inc.
Dr. Keith was a spiritual leader, a master church builder, champion humanitarian, philanthropist, and a friend to all. As early as 1931 the first printing of Universal Sunday school lessons had begun and by 1941 Volume 13 was printed. In 1940, she founded the Keith Bible Institute in Ooltewah, Tennessee and the House of God Home for Children in East Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ministers, church officials, and children were trained and educated at the school. Adults and children were cared for in the House of God Home. Many were healed and cured of diseases.
In 1948, Dr. Keith erected a Temple for Church Headquarters at 2005 Heiman Street in Nashville, Tennessee; male and female dormitories were also built at that time. In the same year, she was responsible for the printing of the Church Song Books, and continued printing of Sunday School books and yearbooks while simultaneously fighting long battles.
Dr. Keith’s sacred advice was “Stay in the Faith and Doctrine.” “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1).
The visions and dreams of Dr. Mary F. L. Keith were shared and remembered by the true followers and friends of the Church everywhere. She was greatly loved and respected for her exceptional abilities and clear insight in leading God’s people. She firmly believed that the better trained one is, the better service one can give. She further emphasized a clean and holy life for God’s services.
Dr. Keith will always be remembered as a great spiritual leader, educator, master builder, a mother, and a woman of good deeds. She finished her work and put off this earthly tabernacle on July 14, 1962 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Dr. James W. Jenkins was selected and ordained Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop of The House of God Which Is the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy, Inc., Keith Dominion in August 1962.
Dr. Jenkins was highly recognized as a spiritual leader, an educator, a strong promoter of economic independence, and a church expansionist. He was responsible for establishing a Courtesy Welfare Program and the National Missionary Society in 1966. He also established the National Deacons Union and the Young Folks and Friends Union (YFFU). The Church was placed on a budget system and he escalated a building program on the local level with the motto that “Wherever there is a congregation there must be a temple.” The states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Texas were chartered and the church charter for California was revived. In 1966 our church organization in Jamaica West Indies received church status. Our organization received Tax Exempt Status the same year and we began printing of our Sunday School Books for two year intervals.
A teacher and a preacher, an avid debater and a stalwart fighter for justice, long battles that had started were finished and new battles were won. The Bible and the Church Decree were taught. He was two years of age when Mother Tate (known to him as Mother Estes) started the church. Under the auspices of his mother, Elder Addie Jenkins-Taylor, this youth became a member when he was 12 and began his work in the ministry the next year. As a young minister he walked with Mother Tate in the church work and excelled in knowledge under her tutelage.
Faced with the ever growing need for a larger sanctuary and adequate facilities for accommodation of delegates attending the General Assembly, in 1969 Dr. Jenkins and his followers purchased land for expansion. The J. W. Jenkins Dormitory was the first building to be erected and dedicated in 1976. In 1977, a second dormitory (the W. L. Nelson Dormitory) was erected and dedicated. In 1979 the Ervin Memorial Community Building was erected and other properties were renovated. During his tenure properties at Headquarters were gifted, most notable are the Plaza Apartments-Plaza Coin Laundry-land for the Ervin Memorial Community Center, the Youth Center and Tate Manor. In 1979 a temple was erected in Kingston, Jamaica W.I. The initial church work was begun in Haiti. In 1985 property was acquired that is now the James C. Elliott Office Complex. In addition, Bishop Jenkins revised our Church Hymnal, continued publication of the Present Gospel Speaker (The Church Newspaper), and published eight editions of the two-year Sunday School Literature.
Dr. James W. Jenkins’ sacred advice was “Let us Make Progress,” with scriptural support, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:8
Dr. Jenkins worked extensively to improve the spiritual, physical and economical condition of the Church. His dedication inspired the church to continue to build upon the foundation laid by his predecessors. His life being ended, he joined those who sought for a better country. His earthly resting place is in Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.
Bishop James C. Elliott’s indoctrination with the House of God Church began at a tender age. He received the baptism of the Holy Ghost at the age of eight, and four years later he began preaching and received his first appointment as a pastor. For twelve years he served as a local minister in the States of Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Other pastorates included Daytona Beach, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Sarasota, Florida. He moved with fear and trembling as he achieved the positions of Ordained Minister, Elder, General Elder, Trial Bishop, Chief Helper and then to the highest official position of Chief Overseer – Senior Bishop.
To continue the progress of the church, Dr. Elliott was responsible for sending out teams of ministers to do evangelistic work in states through the country and in Jamaica. Many souls have been saved through this effort. Because of evangelistic outreach under the Dr. Elliott’s administration, several other churches increased in areas of the country and foreign mission have been gained in Jamaica and Haiti. With the mission of the church in mind, we were preparing to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Surely, the fourth administration was committed to “Continuous Progress Through Evangelism.”
The 1948 headquarters edifice (site of the Nashville local church), was renovated to include an elevator, the F. Dovie Shuford Memorial Library, several classrooms and offices, and houses The House of God Academy and Bible College, founded by Dr. Elliott. This brought to fruition the church school that is recorded in the church annals during the 1920 St. Louis, Missouri General Assembly. A correspondence course has been developed to continue the on-campus curriculum leading to certificates in Christian Education for adults.
Under this administration, The House of God Plaza Apartments, other rental housing complexes and dormitories were renovated to include modern conveniences at the Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. The church has been chartered in Arizona. To date, the building and renovation programs have expanded into millions of dollars for over ninety (90) churches throughout the country.
We thank God for Bishop James C. Elliott, our fourth administrator, who was used as an instrument for the Lord as we excel spiritually and expand our horizons. He was a leader who had the experience of being in the presence of God through prayer.
Bishop Elliott departed this life on May 26, 2004 in Nashville, Tennessee. His remains are located at Sarasota Memorial Park where he was interred on June 9, 2004.
Bishop Rebecca W. Fletcher received the Holy Ghost at the age of 15 in the House of God Church, Baltimore, Maryland. She answered the call of God immediately and began preaching the unadulterated gospel of God in 1941.
After she married Deacon James W. Fletcher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, God led her to open Bible study in her home. Neighbors and children from the community gathered faithfully for this evangelistic explosion. From this outreach, Chief Overseer, Bishop M. F. L. Keith appointed her to pastor and build an edifice in Wilmington, Delaware and a building was dedicated in September 1973. She pastored there from 1959-1976. She was pastor in Wilmington and Philadelphia. Striving to retrieve a decent Church building in Philadelphia, they moved from smaller buildings to the present building of worship on Oxford and Hancock Streets. That building was renovated and dedicated in September 1978. Currently, extensive renovation of that edifice is nearing completion with a rededication in clear view.
At Headquarters, all of the dorms have seen renovation and the Youth Center has been revitalized for community needs as well as for the needs of our precious youths. The lot where the home of our Founder was located will soon have a new building, the Rebecca W. Fletcher Heritage House. During her administration, on an every third year rotating basis with the IMOS/IDU Summit and Youth Congress, we began our Leadership Conference to further mold our people in the dye cast that has been set.
Bishop Fletcher has served as presiding state bishop for the dioceses of Connecticut, Florida East Coast, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Georgia #2 and New York.
On the National level of the church she served on the Supreme Executive Council, Secretary of the General Trustee Board, Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee, Complex Committee Chairperson, Publication Committee Chairperson, Advisor to the International Missionary Outreach Society, and as a Sunday School Committee writer. She is a Certified Religious Studies Instructor, she holds a Doctor of Divinity Degree, and most importantly, she is an Elect Lady of the Lord.
Bishop Rebecca W. Fletcher was anointed as the Fifth Chief Overseer on Septembers 22, 2004. A devout searcher of the Scriptures as well as a teacher who imparts knowledge of God’s Word, our current Moderator and Chief Executive Head of the House of God Church sincerely cares for the souls of God.
On February 08, 2021, Bishop Fletcher entered eternal rest.
And here were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath.
A native of Charleston, S.C., Dr. Butler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from S.C. State University, a Masters of Arts degree from Webster University and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Colorado Theological Seminary.
Married for over Fifty Years to Deaconess Patsy Butler, together they have three children. His track record as a revolutionary thinker & prolific communicator has established him as a leader amongst leaders. During his development years he was a distinguished drum major and academic scholar. Prior to his ecclesiastical calling he was an international recording artist and world-renowned musician, performing with award- winning artists such as; Wilson Pickett, Bobby Byrd, Eta James and many others. For 29 years, Dr. Butler served his community as a broadcast journalist and was the founder, president and CEO of WMCJ Radio for over 16 years. Civically, Bishop Butler has been a member of a number of boards and organizations including Omega Psi Phi Inc. which is an international community service organization.
Bishop Butler has a tremendous passion for God's word coupled with an infectious love for God's people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his calling. Chosen by God for five-fold ministry, he received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1978. This gifted and sought after entrepreneur dedicated his life’s mandate to change lives and save souls. Many leaders today share his revolutionary message of empowerment and hope.
Called into the ministry in 1979 and having received his mandate from God, Dr. Butler obediently fulfilled his calling. He began his ministry as a Mission Worker, Associate Minister, Assistant Pastor, Pastor, Presiding Elder, General Elder, State Elder and Presiding Bishop; serving the diocese of SC, GA, NC, IN, MS, and NJ. As a visionary he constructed, renovated and/or remodeled countless edifices and halls in the same areas. As his spiritual growth flourished, Bishop Butler was further commissioned by the 5th administration to serve as General Elder over the diocese of Pennsylvania and Delaware.
In October 2012 he was subsequently appointed as Chief Helper by Bishop RW Fletcher. On special assignment, one of Dr. Butler’s many highlights and perhaps his most notable accomplishments include being commissioned by the 3rd and 4th administrations to successfully defend the church in the midst of litigation in SC, TN and NC.
At exactly 12:00 P.M. Sunday, March 28, 2021 in Nashville, TN Bishop CK Butler was ordained Apostle Elder, Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop of The House of God Church. Together with his wife, Patsy Butler, they are an anointed duo that God is using to make a change in the lives of His people.