Bishop William Lee Bonner was born on November 12, 1921 in
Georgia, to Emmett and Janie Bonner. Bishop Bonner was married to the late Ethel Mae Smith Bonner. He is the father of two children, Ethel Mae Bonner Archer and William Lee Bonner, Jr.
Bishop Bonner's ministry began in the 1940s under the tutelage of the late Bishop Robert C. Lawson, (1883-1961), founder of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. His first pastorate was the Green Avenue Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Brooklyn, New York.
It was in 1944 that Bishop Lawson sent Bishop Bonner to Detroit to pastor the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a store front. Today, it is a two thousand five hundred (2,500) seat edifice known as Solomon's
In 1961, upon the death of Bishop Robert C. Lawson, Bishop Bonner became the pastor of the three thousand (3,000) member mother church, the Greater Refuge Temple in
Harlem, New York City.
Apostle Bonner currently pastors churches in
New York City, Washington, D.C.,
Jackson, Mississippi, and
Columbia, South Carolina. He is the Chief Apostle and Senior Prelate of the General Assembly of the Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc. This is an international body of churches. Under his administration, the assembly has grown from one hundred and fifty-five (155) churches in 1961 to over five hundred (500) churches and missions throughout the world. He has faithfully kept the charge of the founder Bishop Lawson, to "Add Thou to It".
Bishop Bonner received his religious education and the Doctor of Divinity through the
Christ Bible Institute in
New York City. Pastor Bonner is listed in "Who’s Who in Religion" (1985). Bishop Bonner's ministry is based on prayer and faith in God. His message is one of hope and deliverance. He believes that those who pray can expect a miracle.
The Refuge Temple of Washington, D.C. was founded December 12, 1989, by Bishop William L. Bonner. The first services were held at Days Inn, at 12th and K Streets, N.W. In February 1990,
Junior High School, located at 49th and Brooks Street, N.E., became the church's final temporary home. The Lord blessed Pastor Bonner to acquire the land for the church in three weeks. On October 27, 1990 the church held a ground breaking service. On June 1, 1991, the first service was held at the new edifice for
Church. God has miraculously brought this work to pass, demonstrating that this is only the beginning for the continuous winning of souls for His Kingdom in the
Washington, D.C. area.
The ground breaking for Refuge Temple of Columbia, South Carolina was on July 20, 1993. It was organized with only twenty-two (22) members. Within three years, the congregation grew to seven hundred (700). The church is located on twelve and one-half (12.5) acres in the
Eau Claire section of
Columbia. Pastor Bonner's ministry in
Columbia also consists of the
Center, Retirement Community and the
College. Previously taped television broadcasts can be viewed every Sunday at six o'clock a.m. on WIS-TV, channel ten. Previously taped radio broadcasts can be heard nightly at ten o'clock p.m. on WMFV, channel 95.3, both in the
Columbia viewing and listening area.
"Add Thou To It" & "Strengthen The Things Which Remain"
Bishop Robert Clarence Lawson
Bishop William L. Bonner
Bishop James I. Clark Jr.
Featured here is the 1964 International Convention held at the Lawson Auditorium, are some of the great historical figures such as Bishop Perry Thomas who blazed the trail in Alabama, Bishop H.D. Jones, Bishop J.P. Steadman, Bishop Chris Dobbins, and Bishop W.L. Bonner wearing the White cape (far right).
Precious memories play a major role in our appreciation and understanding of the great C.O.O.L.J.C organization. We enjoy looking back in history to see some of the shoulders we have stood upon to rise up to the challenge where we are today. These men and women where used by God to bring us to where we are today. We salute the memories of their day.
"When you know the Bible and understand what is yours, you can say it is mine, not because I see it, mine, not because I can feel it, its mine because God said it."
Quoted by: Bishop R.C. Lawson
Bishop Lawson was a great Preacher, a great teacher, an outstanding Evangelist, par excellence who organized and Pastored many churches in the organization, which he turned over to other men. Bishop Lawson was an outstanding Foreign Missionary who oversaw the establishment of churches in the Caribbean, Africa, and other Foreign fields. Bishop Lawson was a prolific song writer, having written over 25 songs. He was an Educator organizing the R.C. Lawson Institute for students through High School and the Church of Christ Bible Institute to give Biblical training in the Word of God...
Article Reporter Mother Mabel L. Thomas
Pictures provided from the Contender to the Faith Magazine Fall, 2003