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WATSON TEMPLE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
WATSON TEMPLE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
In the year 1930, when our great nation, the United States of America, was in the midst of an "economic depression”; and fraught with racial segregation, poverty and all of the social evils and injustice which the times allowed, the "Spirit of God" moved upon the city of Tallahassee, Florida and the Church Of God In Christ was born. It happened on this order. Mother Cora Harvey started conducting Prayer Services in a little building on Boulevard Street. Her praying and singing were so "Spirit-Filled" that Sister Frances Ming (Frances Hobbs) was drawn to the Services. They were joined together and the Lord was great in their midst. The "Spirit of the Lord" drew people to that little rented house, and they were delivered, their expectations were lifted, their hope was ignited, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. As the Lord continued to bless and add members to the "Holy Fellowship", Mother Harvey felt the need for a Pastor to give leadership to the growing membership; therefore, she wrote Bishop W. R. Nesbitt, Church Of God In Christ , requesting a Pastor. Bishop Nesbitt responded by sending Elder Zed Brown, Midway, Florida , to pastor the young flock.
Elder ZED BROWN - 1930-1934 - With a dedicated, hard-working, leader, the congregation continued on Boulevard Street, praying and witnessing to those who were drawn to them. They were taught the doctrines of the Holiness Faith and took on the form of a congregation of "Believers in Holiness". All who were saved did not remain with them, but God blessed the Church with some stable families who served as the nucleus around which future growth would be realized. In addition to the Founders and other stable members, the Lord sent Deacon Elias Sims and Family, from Daytona Beach , Florida ; Elder and Sister Stennis Watson, from Defuniak Springs , Florida ; Brother Buck Hannah and Family from Pensacola , Florida , Elder Owen Smith and Family and others who became consistent supporters of the Church. Deacon Elias Sims and his Family operated several businesses in the Negro Community, and other members of the Church held significant positions in the community. All of these factors contributed to the growth and development of the Church.
Elder Brown moved the congregation from Boulevard Street to the Knights of Pythias Hall on Macomb Street , and there the Lord continued to bless the Church. Anticipating building a new edifice in the future, a lot was purchased on the corner of Copeland and Carolina Streets. Serving as pastor for Midway and Tallahassee ; serving as foreman at the Brick Plant in Midway, and serving another mission in the Panhandle became too taxing for Elder Brown. In conference with the Bishop it was decided that a new pastor would be sent to Tallahassee . The members of the Church recommended Elder Stennis Watson, and Bishop Nesbitt appointed him pastor in the Convocation, March, 1935.
1935-1940 - Elder STENNIS WATSON - Elder Watson, a faithful, loyal and dedicated servant of the Lord, took the leadership of the Church and invited Bishop Nesbitt to come to Tallahassee and conduct a Revival in the Summer of 1935. Bishop Nesbitt, accompanied by his family and Professor Daniel Thompson, musician from Buffalo, New York, conducted Revival Services in the Philadelphia Primitive Baptist Church. The building was packed every night, souls were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, and people were walking up and down the streets praising God for salvation. The Noon Day prayer services were largely attended and the power of God was great in the midst of His people. Not only were souls added to the Church Of God In Christ congregation, but members of other denominations came and received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Revival was a real source of encouragement for Elder Watson and the saints, as evidenced by letters received by Bishop Nesbitt. Anticipating future growth and building. Elder Watson and the congregation exchanged the lot, purchased by Elder Brown, for the parcel of property on the corner of Georgia and Dewey Streets. The congregation had a mind to work: they organized a block purchasing plan whereby each member was asked to purchase blocks at ten cents per block. Two Sundays were set aside each month to receive their gifts and the Lord blessed their efforts. The members worked and gave of the little money that God had blessed them with, and after two or three years they were ready to begin building. When the day for the ground breaking ceremony arrived Elder Watson was ill; therefore, Elder Owen Smith, a faithful associate minister of the congregation, conducted the ceremony. Subsequently, Deacon Perman Arnold and his son Brother Leroy Arnold, assisted by Elder Owen Smith, Deacons Elias Sims (the Forefather of the Sims membership of our Church); James Robinson (grandfather of Mother Frances Stallworth), and Bill and Mamie two strong mules, dug out the foundation for the Church. Construction began and by November, 1940, the basement was completed to a point where it was thought to be feasible to dedicate it. In respect to the work that had been accomplished by Elder Watson and the congregation, President J. R. E. Lee, Florida A & M College , with the Marching-100 Band came to join in the celebration. The Band performed under the Big Tree in the Church yard and sum of $25.00 was raised. Other guests, representing the Florida State College For Women, were present. Elder Watson was the trusted Custodian for the Institution for a number of years. Shortly after the Church basement was dedicated, Elder Watson went to be with the Lord. After Elder Watson's demise Bishop Nesbitt, after conference with the officers of the Church, appointed Elder T. G. Grier pastor. Elder Grier was a former maintenance man for the City of Cocoa, Florida, with desirable skills; therefore it was felt that his expertise would be beneficial for the building program of the Church.
1941-1947 - Elder T. G. Grier, a hard working, uncompromising Bible preacher became the leader of the congregation. Because of the lack of funds the beginning of construction was delayed. As finance became available the work was begun, with Elder Grier performing almost all of the skilled labor; block masonry, plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. The Church was finished and dedicated May, 1946. For the betterment of the Church, after the Church was dedicated Bishop Nesbitt removed Elder Grier and reassigned Him. In appreciation for his services, by request of Bishop Nesbitt, the Trustees: Elias Sims, P. A. Orner, Owen Smith and Gertrude Sims, with the concurrence of the membership, gave Elder Grier a love token of $1500,
1947-1951 - Elder Owen Smith, a faithful, cooperative and loyal servant of the Church, was appointed pastor. He was well known in the community and used his influence to attract persons to the Church. With his wife by his side, he worked with the officers and members to pay of the debts of the church and to build a stable membership. In addition to serving as pastor, he served as custodian for the First Presbyterian Church and received worth while assistance from that congregation. Sister Smith would invite the College Students to spend the weekends with them and to attend the services at the Church. Elder Smith's health began to fail and in conference with the Bishop it was determined that he should resign the pastorate and seek to regain his health.
1952-1962 - Elder W. R. Nesbitt, Jr. was appointed pastor. He was Veteran's Officer, with offices at FAMCEE, and sought to interest the students in attending the Church. The Chancel area and Choir were re-designed, the Interior of the Church was painted to beautify the Sanctuary. He conducted a Radio Ministry on Sunday afternoons, assisted by his youngest brother, who journeyed from Jacksonville to conduct the music. He worked with the various churches in the community and gave leadership to the organization of the Holiness Ministers Alliance in Tallahassee . With his family he sought to build on the foundation which was established by the former pastors and to win others to the church. Elder Nesbitt resigned to become Principal of the Adult Vocational School In Jacksonville. After Elder Nesbitt's resignation. Bishop Nesbitt sent Bishop A. E. Reid, former Prelate of Montana, to serve for a short time. After Bishop Reid, Elder R. L. McLeod was assigned. But, in the fall of 1962, after conferring with and hearing the desires of the officers and members of the Church, Bishop Nesbitt made choice of Elder E. L. Sheppard and appointed him pastor. God has honored and set His approval upon this appointment, and the record speaks for itself.
1962 - Elder E. L. Sheppard - a dynamic, faithful, dedicated minister and preacher of the Gospel, became the leader of the congregation where he had formerly served. He identified with the officers and members and began a program to revive the Church. With the support of a dedicated Trustee Board and faithful members great changes have been made for the betterment of all concerned. There is a vibrant youth ministry in place; the Gospel is preached with power; a righteous example is set for people to follow; Radio and TV ministries are a part of the soul-winning strategy; a Spiritual atmosphere for real growth and development is present, and persons are invited to come and learn the Holy Way .
The Church offers the students who come to Tallahassee a safe haven where the Spirit of the Lord dwells. The saints are alive and the Spirit of hospitality abounds. From the little house on Boulevard, to the Hall on Macomb , to the Church on Georgia and Dewey and now to the Church on Brevard; the Spirit of the Lord pervades the air. We are here because the Lord has blessed us and we thank Him for letting us assist Ilia in bringing souls into the Kingdom. WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE LOVE THE LORD AND WE KNOW THAT WE ARE LOVED BY HIM A-MEN
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Church Of God In Christ
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