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A Brief History
EL Bethel Temple of Jesus International was founded in 1958 as Praise Temple Church of the Nazarene after a revival meeting conducted by the late Rev. Warren A. Rogers of Detroit, Michigan, then district superintendent of the Gulf Central District of the Church of the Nazarene.
More than sixty-five people attended the meetings held in the school auditorium of the Holden Street School then under principal, W. B. Nixon. Mrs. Lessie Weaver furnished music from the piano while the Five Stars singing group ministered every night. The Central Jubilairs shared the singing spotlight and doubled as ushers. This fledgling church met on the corner of Lee and Carter Streets in Orlando, Florida with its new pastor, the late Bishop Archie Williams, Sr of Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. Compassion for the lost and soul-stirring preaching drew many members and soon necessitated a larger meeting place. The Church of the Nazarene and an Orlando businessman named Earl Gorman helped relocate this growing church in West Orlando on Vineland Road (now Bruton Boulevard). The church was named Gorman Memorial (after the generous businessman) and continued to grow attracting people with its caring approach to ministry. Pastor Williams moved away with his family to lead a Church of the Nazarene in Detroit, Michigan while Dr. Leonard Adams replaced him as pastor in Orlando, Florida.
Bishop Edward Thomas accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior under Dr. Adam's ministry. After a few years, Pastor Williams returned to Gorman Memorial to resume his pastoral duties. After the passing of his wife Inez, this pastor continued to face the challenges of a new church while dealing with his loss. Years passed and as the church grew, new and innovative programs sprang up including several building programs, programs for youth development, an athletic program for young men, a thriving Sunday school program, and one of the finest gospel music and choral programs in the city.
Elder L. Jean Lamar Conway led the worship and praise teams as psalmist. Dr. Williams collaborated with Central Florida area Nazarene pastors in starting a district-wide ministerial program which led to a four-year bible college education. This training program would later become the EL Bethel Bible Institute. God continued to deal with Dr. Williams about reaching the total needs of man spiritually, physically, emotionally, economically,vocationally, and psychologically. This burden would prophetically lead to THE VISION as we know it today and the vehicle for the fulfillment of this vision in EL Bethel Temple of Jesus, Inc.
Dr. Williams later led several fund-raising drives to acquire prime real estate on the corner of Bruton Boulevard and Prince Hall and in 1986, the church marched from its former 1602 Bruton Boulevard address to its present new address at 3000 Bruton Boulevard. Ever marching forward, EL Bethel Temple of Jesus opened the EL Bethel Christian Academy the next year with over 30 new students in grades ranging from kindergarten three (3) to the eighth grade. Many talented students have graced the rolls of this private school effort. They have gone on to distinguish themselves as top students in public secondary schools and colleges and universities. Destiny, a Christian youth music group, was begun with the musical talents of students of the academy.
After leaving the ranks of the Church of the Nazarene movement, EL Bethel Temple of Jesus was incorporated to continue the on-going work of reaching the lost and empowering our people. The first Holy Convocation, an annual church leadership and homecoming event was organized in July of 1990. Reverend Dr. Archie Williams, Sr. was ordained the first bishop of EL Bethel Temple of Jesus, Inc. by Apostle S. D. James. Afterwards, three bishops and several elders were ordained and papers presented to other ministers, deacons, deaconesses, mothers, evangelists, and local preachers.
After the sixth Holy Convocation, Bishop Archie Williams went to be with the Lord Jesus on Sunday, September 24,1995. Over forty pastors and their wives have entered the ministry from under his fatherly care. The EL Bethel Temple of Jesus International ministry continues under the leadership of the Bishop's Council. The chair of this council is Dr. Cliff C. Morris, Jr. The other governing bishops are Dr. Edward M. Thomas, Sr. and Bishop Larry S. Herbert. The Late James T. Williams (Dr. Williams' son) was a founding member of the Bishop's Council who transitioned to be with the Lord in 2005. Dr. Thomas is senior pastor of EL Bethel Temple @ Orlando (The Rainbow Church) while Bishop Larry S. Herbert is the senior pastor of Victory Deliverance Center of Auburndale, Florida. Pastor Willie David Arrington is the current senior pastor of Sanford EL Bethel Temple formerly shepherded by Bishop James T. Williams.
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