Church History  |  Bishop Charles Harrison Mason  |  Bishop J.O. Patterson, Sr.  |  Bishop J.O. Patterson, Jr.

During the year of 1924, a small group of saints held prayer services on Wells Avenue, near Woodlawn, in the home of the late Mother Jordan and Brother N. D. Jordan (who was saved in these meetings). These services gained so much momentum that it necessitated a larger meeting place. A few months later, a storefront, located on the corner of Woodlawn and Wells was obtained, hence, the incunabulum of the Woodlawn Church Of God In Christ. Some of the charter members were Brother and Mother Jordan, Mother Virginia Gates, Mother Tommie Beasley, Sister Etta Howard and Brother Horace Carroll. They chose as their leader, Elder Harvey. Revival services were conducted, and many were saved and added to the church, and, again, the place of worship was too small. A lot, located at 1010 Woodlawn Street was purchased and the members erected the church with their own hands. Through the years, pastors and members migrated.

In the year of 1941, the Lord sent a studious, ambitious and dynamic pastor, a young man with a vision for the people, the Elder J. O. Patterson, Sr. Through his ministry, the membership was increased, clubs and auxiliaries organized, pews purchased, a complete renovation of the church and other features added. Woodlawn Church became one of the most outstanding churches in the City of Memphis, Tennessee.

While en route from New York to Memphis, Tennessee, the Lord spoke to the Bishop J. O. Patterson (then Elder J. O. Patterson), saying, "I want you to build me a house. Go back to the old landmark on South Wellington Street. Name the church Pentecostal Temple. In a vision, he was shown the design of the church and was assured the Lord would be with him in his undertakings. Yet, knowing the financial status of the small congregation, he began to question God. Again, the Lord spoke, "Be not afraid, I will direct thy path. Don't worry about the money, remember, the wealth of this world is in My hands, the cattle on a thousand hills are mine". "Whereof He hath given assurance". (Acts 17:31) the project was presented to the members of Woodlawn Church Of God In Christ, who received it wholeheartedly. First on the agenda was to find the church site. As the pastor approached two lots located on South Wellington Street, the voice of the Lord spoke, This is it. Attorney A. A. Latting, legal advisor for the church, was called upon to do all things necessary to be done in order to negotiate the purchase of said property. Being a personal friend of the pastor, he advised against the project, for he know the financial standings of the church. Seeing the determination of Bishop Patterson, he proceeded with the deal.

On February 8, 1950, a meeting was called by the pastor. By a majority vote, Woodlawn Church Of God In Christ, Incorporated. A board of trustees was elected and granted permission by the members to do all of the church's business. A payment of $1,000.00 was made on the lots located at 225-229 South Wellington Street, which cost $15,750.00. Plans were made to raise funds for the future church home. June 1, 1950, was the beginning of a three weeks' revival service, conducted by Elder A. A. Childs, of New York City. This meeting was a success, both spiritually and financially. A few months later, Woodlawn Church was sold, and services were held at the J. O. Patterson Funeral Home. "And the lord shall guide thee continually"..Isaiah 58:11.

Scanning the list of architects in the telephone directory, which were numerous, the name of Kirby Stringer stood out from the rest of them. Immediately, the pastor called him, told him of the plans for the church and that the Lord directed the call. This was ratified when Mr. Stringer answered, "Yes, Rev. Patterson, I believe the Lord asked you to call, for I was just drawing the sketch of a church for no particular cause. The cost of the blue prints will be $2,000.00 but I will draw them at cost, $350.00 and the balance of $1,650.00 will be my gift to Pentecostal Temple." "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you," Mr. Kirby Stringer.

Days and weeks passed, pastor, members and hired workmen labored day and night. On Easter Sunday, 1951, foundation services were held. The sermon was delivered by Bishop A. B. McEwen. As the work progressed, the building fund was diminished, and it became necessary to obtain a secured loan. After contacting officials of several loan companies, receiving very little consideration, seemingly, all hope was gone. "Question not, but live and labor, "till your goal is won". With this thought in mind, Bishop Patterson continued praying, asking the Lord for guidance and courage. He went to Mr. Alex P. Dumas, manager of the Memphis District of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, who showed interest in his plight and sent a letter to the president of the company, recommending the loan. Upon receipt of this letter, the application for a loan was processed and granted.

Initial services were held in the dining hall of the new church edifice on Sunday, June 1, 1952. At a later date, this hall was dedicated and named in honor of the church mother, Mother Virginia Gates. Opening Day of Pentecostal Temple was July 20, 1952. The sermon was delivered by Rev. Blair T. Hunt, pastor of the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and principal of Booker T. Washing High School. Two weeks of pre-dedicatorial services began July 21, 1952. Bishop O. M. Kelley of New York City, laid the cornerstone and preached the morning's message. At 2:00 P.M., Senior Bishop C. H. Mason offered the dedicatory prayer, and the dedicatory sermon was brought by Bishop A. B. McEwen.

“To God, to the people and to the Churches Of God In Christ, Incorporated, we dedicate and present, this, the 3rd day of August, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-Two. Pentecostal Temple Church Of God In Christ Incorporated, 229 South Wellington Street, Memphis, Tennessee.”

As the congregation grew, it became necessary to build and larger building. The Old Temple, completed in 1952, has been converted into a Multi-purpose Room for Dining, Receptions, etc. This building is known as the Lofton-Gates Hall; name for the late Chairman of the Board of Deacons of Pentecostal Temple for thirty-nine years, Deacon Walter Lofton and the first Church Mother of Pentecostal Temple, the late Mother Virginia Gates.

In 1981, the new building for Pentecostal Temple was completed at a cost of approximately Four-Million Dollars with the gifts of the members of the church and friends of our Pastor around the world. The plans and knowledge required in building the church was given to the founder and late pastor, Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Pentecostal Temple Church Of God In Christ, located on the corner of Linden and Danny Thomas Blvd on the perimeter of downtown Memphis. Entering the spacious main sanctuary of about 2,500 seats, you are overcome by the illuminated (approximately 2 story high) figure of Jesus with outreached hands, welcoming you into His arms. The Sunday pastoral services and many special services are held here.

The R. M. Henly Chapel seats up to 400 and is named in memory of one of the Deacons of the church. The furniture and lighting from the former church building, which is now the dining facilities, are used to preserve memories of the past. The Chapel is used for services that don't require the large seating capacity of the main sanctuary.

There is also a Prayer Chapel, Nursery, Gymnasium, Class rooms and a Bridal Suite designed especially for the bride and her wedding party to dress for weddings.

J. O. Patterson Ministries produce high quality audio and video recordings with state of the art professional cameras and recording equipment. Many audio and video tapes not available anywhere else are available to the public.

Pentecostal Temple clothes and feeds thousand of needy families yearly through its Food Distribution Program and Clothes Closet. It is staffed by dedicated members of the congregation.

Many years ago, the late Mother Deborah Mason Patterson established a Christmas Basket Fund to provide needed families with food at Christmas time. This project is still in operation today.

Every member of Pentecostal Temple is challenged to join and actively participate in an club or auxiliary of the church, organized by the Senior Pastor, for the purpose of grouping different ministries of the church, promote fellowship and to perform special functions effectively.