The History of The Temple

History of Williams Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Temple
It has been said that the greatest legacy that can be left to succeeding generations is the recorded deeds of the generations gone before. Thus, these recorded facts of the history of “The Temple” enables us to revisit the past with grateful hearts and to be mindful as we move forth building on a foundation that was prayerfully laid by many dedicated souls.
Williams Memorial CME Temple was appropriately dedicated in honor of the late Bishop Robert Simeon Williams. Bishop Williams was the sixth bishop of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. He was born on October 27, 1865, in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. He attended the Community Schools at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He was converted in 1867 and joined the Louisiana Conference in November 1881. During that year he was also ordained as a Deacon by Bishop Isaac Lane. In 1883 he was ordained as an Elder by Bishop Beebe. In May 1894, while serving his third year at Trinity C.M.E. Church in Augusta, Georgia, he was elected to the Episcopacy.

Assigned to the Louisiana Conference in 1898, the first four years of Bishop Williams’ administration was so successful that the 1901 Annual Conference held in Minden, Louisiana, resolved to erect a brick structure in his honor in Shreveport, Louisiana, at a cost of $5,000.00. Bishop Williams served twelve years as Senior Bishop. He died on January 13, and was buried in Southview Cemetery on Williams Drive in Augusta, Georgia.

We graciously acknowledge that from a historical prespective the Temple, is in a sense is an “ecclesiastical progeny” of the Lane Chapel CME Church. The directive of the Louisiana Conference to build a new brick ediface in honor of Bishop Robert S. Williams, led some members of the then First Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of America–Shreveport (later to become known as Lane Tabernacle CME Church and now Lane Chapel CME Church) to remain there. Other members migrated to the newly erected church then designated the Shreveport Station of the First Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.
Thus it was mandated, a lot was selected and the church erected in 1903 with Rev. H. S. Doyle assigned as pastor. On December 13, 1903, at 3:00 p.m., Bishop R. S. Williams was invited to lay the Cornerstone.
Reverend Doyle pastored until 1907, increasing the membership from 150 to 180 members. Due to Reverend Doyle’s illness, Reverend Hunter pastored part of the 1907 Conference Year.
The following Pastors served the C.M.E. Temple with the membership increases listed below:
Reverend G.W. Mills – 1908-1910 Increased membership by 30
Reverend L.M.C. Rawlston – 1911 Increased membership by 5
Reverend H.W. Madison – 1912-1913 Increased membership by 20
Reverend J.C. Phillips -1914-1917 Increased membership by 57
During the second tenure of Reverend Mills (1918-1921), the membership reached 369. A parsonage was built and the Church debt was paid in full.
Reverend Felix L. Lewis pastored from 1922-23. He reported an increase of 49 members. Reverend Lewis became the 23rd Bishop of the C.M.E. Church in 1946.
Reverend I.H. Jones (1924-1925), had financial success and an increase in membership to 632.
Reverend L.R. Langford was assigned and pastored in 1926-1927. This year there was a decrease in membership due to the exodus of people going North. Reverend Langford left a membership of 475.
Reverend C.H. Copeland pastored from 1927-1929. The membership increased to 576 under his pastorate.
Reverend E.F.B. Amos, father of the late Bishop W.H. Amos, pastored from 1929-1932, leaving a membership of 550.
Reverend I. Garland Penn pastored in 1932-1933, leaving a membership of 570.
On November 14, 1933 the Church burned during the Annual Conference which was hosted by the Temple. Reverend I.H. Jones returned in January, 1934 and pastored until he passed to his eternal reward in May, 1934.
The Temple was rebuilt and the Cornerstone laid in 1934. Reverend J.A. Johnson, Sr., the father of the late Bishop Joseph A. Johnson, Jr., and the late Reverend James T. Johnson, Sr., served out the unexpired term of Reverend I.H. Jones. Reverend Johnson left a membership of 575 in December, 1935.
Reverend J.G. Collins was appointed and served from December 1935-1938. A debt of $2,000 was paid and the membership was 654.
Reverend James C. Anderson (1938-1949): His leadership set many church organizations into action. The Benevolent Fund was set up for charitable purposes and to aid the shut-ins. The Dramatic Club was organized under his tenure.
Reverend M.J. Bell (1949-1953): Reverend Bell conceived the idea of the Annual Lincoln Tea. Funds raised at this event afforded many improvements around the Church. A public address system was installed and an electrical sign was secured.
Reverend L.R. Kibler (1953-1956): Under Reverend Kibler’s leadership the parsonage at 1853 Logan was built.
Reverend R.C. Thomas (1956-1963): The most outstanding job for which he is remembered is the construction of the Educational Building in 1960. The construction and renovation stand today as a testimony of his leadership.
Reverend Othal L. Lakey (1963-1966): While pastoring, Reverend Lakey worked to foster the first Head Start Program and our first Church Directory. Reverend Lakey was elected the 44th Bishop of the C.M.E. Church in 1982.
Reverend James T. Johnson, Sr. (1966-1969): Reverend Johnson’s leadership led to the burning of the mortgage on the Educational Building. The parsonage was renovated and needed Church repairs were made.
Reverend J.A. Faulk (1969-1983): Reverend Faulk’s tenure was now the longest pastorate served of 14 years. Additional property in the vicinity of the Church and a house and lot on Logan Street were secured. A modern parking lot was completed in 1970. Members of the Church participated in the federally funded ESSA Program. The first Bible Study Class taught by Mrs. Grace Johnson was held during his administration. Three new Sunday School Classes were formed in the Adult Department. In 1976 Rev. Jessie B. George was ordained a deacon in the 106th Session of the Louisiana Annual Conference.
Reverend Larry D. Anders assumed pastoral responsibilities in 1983 and is our present Pastor. He has entered into his 25th year tenure. This represents the longest tenure served by any pastor. Under his faithful and effectual leadership, along with committed members and through the grace of God, the church continues to promote the maintenance and growth of our Christian goals and objectives. He has already brought us to a spiritual awakening with his “Thus said the Lord” preaching and teaching. He conducts a Membership Training Class and Bible Study Courses. In Bible Study, learning, interest and attendance have increased. The weekly Radio Broadcast Ministry of the Pastor’s dynamic spiritual gospel sermons has spread to many listeners. Tapes are given to the sick and shut-ins. Reverend Anders has initiated several other innovations around the Church, such as the organization of a Youth and Young Adult Choir, “The Voices of Inspiration”(now a gospel choir of varied ages ), the monthly newsletter, “The Voice of the Temple”, and Church Clinics. He is highly concerned in the promotion of Love, Unity, Fellowship and Involvement.
The years 1983-2007 have been years of growth in membership and accomplishments under the continued, dynamic leadership of our beloved pastor, Reverend Larry D. Anders.
< 1983— the parsonage was refurnished.
< 1987— purchased van.
< 1992— the first computer for the office was purchased and donated;
the kitchen remodeled.
< 1993— a new parsonage at 718 Cobblestone Drive; the church interior re-painted, a decorative table and a floral arrangement for the foyer; re-painting and new fixtures for the bathrooms;
< 1994— the extension of the Pastor’s office; the church was re-roofed; time and energy landscaping the parsonage; the air conditioning system updated.
< 1995— the parsonage was re-roofed and the masonry re-mortared on the church; additional property acquired to extend God’s Kingdom.
< 1996— aluminum siding on church exterior.
< 1997— new heating system installed; a new Leslie for the organ was purchased.
< 1997 —Ms. Gwendolyn Campbell was elected the first woman on the Board of Stewards.
< 1998— a new van for the Bus Ministry; a new computer for the office and new brass altar candle holders were purchased and donated. The Praise Dancers were organized under the direction of Mrs. Dronzy Linnear.
< July, 1998 —Rev. Anders was honored as the longest tenured pastor of 15 years at “The Temple.”
< November, 1998— Mrs. Debra Tyler Coleman was licensed as an exhorter in the local church.
< 1999— audio equipment for the hearing impaired was purchased. The first annual Scholarship Banquet in honor of Rev. Larry D. Anders was held August 21, 1999 (Four Scholarships were given Fall of 2000).
< October, 1999— Mrs. Debra Tyler Coleman was licensed to preach in the local church.
< 2000— the church was re-carpeted, the pews re-upholstered, remodeling and new foyer furniture, draperies, blinds, outside patio furniture, furniture leading to the patio and ceiling fans were purchased.
< July, 2000 —Mrs. Debra Tyler Coleman was admitted on trial in the 130th Session of the Louisiana Annual Conference.
< 2001—the church was re-roofed, the note on the carpet was canceled. Pastor Anders was recognized and honored for twenty-five years in the preaching ministry of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Sis. Debra T. Coleman was ordained a Deacon in the 131st Session of the Louisiana Annual Conference.
< 2001-02—New air conditioning and heating units were installed in the parsonage along with a new breaker box to increase electrical wattage. New air conditioning units and electrical circuits were installed in the church.
< 2002-03—The church adopted the slogan “We’re Gonna Kick It A Higher Knotch”. The membership was challenged to become more actively involved in the church’s ministries. New Choir robes were purchased for the Temple Choir and the Voices of Inspiration. Rev. Debra T. Coleman was ordained an Elder in the 133rd Session of the Louisiana Region Annual Conference.
< 2003-04—Renovation was done for a new pastor’s study. A commercial refrigerator was bought for the kitchen. The church operated under the slogan “This Is Your Year to Join the Movement.”
With a vision for a new church building, a “New Church Building Fund”
program was established.
< 2004-05— “Reclaiming…Recruiting..Renewing” was the evangelistic thrust for the year. Members engaged themselves in more outreach ministries. The evangelistic team walked the streets of Jackson Heights. Parents and children from this area and the Providence House joined us in Vacation Bible School. Both have continued to come and be a part of Sunday School, the Children’s Ministry and Sunday Morning Worship Services.
< 2005-06—“Reclaiming..Recruiting..Renewing…:Going Beyond the Walls of This Church” was the underlining theme for the year. With a vision to do more evangelistic work in the community, members were challenged to engage in ministry beyond the walls of the Temple. As a direct result a family from the Providence House joined our church through this effort. Children were also inspired and invited others to join. Bro. Steven Hinton received a license to exhort. The new air conditioning and heating units were purchased.
< 2006-07—“From Good to Great: The Jesus Challenge”, the quadrennial theme of the CME Church was the focus for the year. Our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Thomas, L. Brown, Sr., Presiding Prelate of the 4th Episcopal District outlined a course of study through the gospels to help us “to grow from being mediocre, good, superior to great leaders. He said: “The challenge for us is to reclaim the passion, purposefulness and profundity found among the early leaders of the CME Church so that we may more adequately minister in the 21st century.” Bible study attendance continued to grow in numbers. The floors of the parsonage were completely redone. A paved driveway was added to the church. The roof was repaired. Bro. Steven Hinton received his local license to preach.
Other improvements to the church building and property have been made. The church shows an increase in its benevolent giving. The Food Pantry continues to be a vital part of our Church Outreach Program. Donations are given on regular intervals to our sick and shut-ins, assistance to needy families, the YMCA, YWCA, Providence House, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations. Through the power of Almighty God and the preached Word of Reverend Anders, members of the congregation continue to be led to give immeasurable gifts to the church.
The Temple has hosted the Louisiana Region Annual Conference for many years along with other episcopal, annual, district and local meetings. The church housed The Fourth Episcopal District-Louisiana Incorporated Computer Learning and Preparation Center. Thanks to the vision of former Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr., it was once an intricate part of its ministry. Many persons from the congregation and community have become computer literate through this program. With renewed vision we pray God’s grace will continue to lead us onward and upward.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!