History of Temple Church Of God In Christ

About Our History

Temple Church Of God In Christ began its walk in faith and ministry in 1900 under the direction and prophetic leadership of Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. The date was in doubt until the discovery and review of court depositions filed during the lawsuit between Bishop Mason and Deacon Frank Avant, who was a former deacon at the church. In the sworn deposition C.H. Mason made the following statement: “Oh, I have been pastor of this church about seven years, I think it was in 1900, - about that time I was pastor, just a little before I was thinking about the building. That has been built about seven years, but I was pastor before it was built.” Bro. A.D.J. Smith gave testimony that he lived in Memphis since January 18, 1901, but was a member of Bishop Mason’s congregation beginning in 1889. In response to the questions, “What position, if any, did you occupy in the church and how long did you occupy such a position?,” Smith testified, “Trustee, October the 22nd, 1900, I made a contract for that property.” Smith further testified that the first trustee board consisted of Brothers A. Liddell, Ed Loveless, Jim Murphy and D.J. Smith. Finally, the sworn deposition of A.J.I.J. Prophet stated he was a member of the Sanctified Church on Wellington Street; however, the official name was the Saints Home Church Of God In Christ. At the appellate hearing on May 24, 1909, Bishop Mason won his church building back.

The final decree of the Tennessee Supreme Court stated the following: “The Court is further of the opinion and doth accordingly adjudge and decree that the defendants, C.H. Mason and those adhering to him are entitled to the use, occupation and enjoyment of the Saints Home Church Of God In Christ, which is situated on the east side of Wellington Street near Vance Street, in the City of Memphis Tennessee, together with the land and improvement belonging, or in any wise appertaining to the same, and the Complainants, their agents, friends and sympathizers and each of them, are hereby perpetually enjoined from in any manner, trespassing on the same.”

The Saints Home Church Of God In Christ was the headquarters of Bishop Mason’s fledgling organization. The church later had a name change and the building situated over the bayou at 392 South Wellington Street became the Temple of the Saints. The congregation eventually moved to 672 South Lauderdale Street, which is our current location. This transition signaled the beginning of our congregation’s love for the building known as the Old Temple. For years the building on the corner of Lauderdale and Georgia Avenue was referred to as the “The Mother Church,” where the Saints’ testimonies of miraculous healing and deliverance echoed throughout the church and across the city of Memphis.     

After the burning of the “Tabernacle,” which was the building where the Holy Convocation was held for a number of years, the Old Temple temporarily served the General Church Of God In Christ as its official headquarters and sanctuary. Temple Church Of God In Christ became the national gathering place until Mason Temple was completed. In 1958 the original structure at Lauderdale and Georgia was destroyed by fire. The new building was completed in 1961 and this edifice still stands strong today.    

The legacy of Temple Church encompasses a rich history of illustrious pastoral leadership: Bishop Charles Harrison Mason (1900), Elder C. H. (Bob) Mason, Jr. (1955), Bishop James Oglethorpe Patterson, Sr. (interim), Elder Joseph E. Booker (1969), and Bishop J. O. Patterson, Jr. (1988-interim). In 1991 Bishop David Allen Hall, Sr., was appointed pastor and under his leadership, Temple Church Of God In Christ continues to be a beacon in this community.