The origin of The House of God, Which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy, Inc., Keith Dominion, can be traced to the divine vision of one, Mother Mary Magdalena L. Tate, a unique black woman in American religious history.
In 1903, Mother Tate established the Church as she traveled and preached the Gospel throughout the state of Tennessee. She came to Alabama in 1905 where she established many people on the cleanliness of the Word. In 1907 over nine hundred people were converted and turned to Christ through her preaching. The following year, the Church was first incorporated under the name of the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth.
From June 25 through July 5, 1908, the first General Assembly was held in Greenville, Alabama. Ministers were ordained and pastors were appointed in that meeting. Additionally, Mother Tate was approved and accepted as the Apostle Elder, President, and first Chief Overseer. She also was accepted to the Bishopric by the Board of Trustees and Bishops. In 1911, Mother Tate entered the state of Georgia and the first Georgia State Assembly was held at Waycross, Georgia, and the appointment of the first Presiding Elders as well as the consolidation of financial support for Pastors were accomplished. In 1914, the first four state bishops were appointed at Quitman, Georgia, and the first Decree Book was conceived and printed.
The rapid growth of the church through powerful revivals and the State and General Assemblies, soon gave the church tremendous strength. By 1916, the church had spread throughout twenty states, including the District of Columbia and into some foreign countries. In 1924, the House of God Church Headquarters was established in Nashville, Tennessee. The theme for the first administration was “Come into God’s House.” On December 28, 1930, Mother Tate fell asleep in the Lord.
The Next Chief Overseer
In 1931, Bishop Mary F.L. Keith was selected and ordained Chief Overseer for The House of God, Inc., Keith Dominion. The Keith Bible Institute and The House of God Home for Children were an integral part of her works. Acting on a vow to help others in need, Bishop Keith helped many members to obtain education and training in the ministry developing future leaders of the Church.
In 1948, Bishop Keith erected a sanctuary at Headquarters. Dormitories were later built. Under her leadership, the Church was established/re-established in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. It was also during this period that the Church was established on the Island of Jamaica.
The work of Bishop Keith with her faith, her courage, and her untiring efforts contributed immensely to the influence of the church. The Church grew spiritually and physically under her divine leadership. The theme for the second administration was “Stay in the Faith and Doctrine.” Again the church suffered a great loss on July 14, 1962, with the death of Bishop Keith.
Let Us Make Progress
In 1962, Bishop James W. Jenkins was selected and ordained Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop. The theme for the third administration was “Let Us Make Progress.” Bishop Jenkins was a strong advocate of economic independence and church expansion. During his tenure, the Courtesy Welfare Program was launched to assist members in emergencies. He also placed the church on a budget system.
During the third administration, Church Building Program was implemented on the local level; church received Tax Exemption Status from the federal government; churches were chartered in the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas and California; and the National Society was also initiated. During the period of 1966 to 1969, the Church’s Song Book was revised, and the Church’s Newspaper and Sunday School Books were continued.
By 1969, the deep sense of responsibility, broad vision, and persistent faith moved Bishop Jenkins to begin the financial drive for a new Headquarters Complex Building program on a cash basis. Property for the new Headquarters Complex was also purchased that same year. In 1976, the J.W. Jenkins Dormitory was built and dedicated. The second dormitory, the W.L. Nelson Dormitory, was dedicated in 1977. By the end of 1979, the Ervin Memorial Community Building was completed. Land, houses, and apartments were donated in support to the Church’s new Headquarters Complex Building Program. A temple was also erected in Kingston, Jamaica, W.I. By 1981, the vision over the years had flourished into the erection and dedication of the Headquarters Sanctuary in Nashville, Tennessee.
Let Us Make Progress Through Evangelism
Bishop James W. Jenkins was held in esteem by the community and most of all, in the abiding affection and admiration of his beloved followers. The doors of life were quietly closed for Dr. Jenkins on July 15, 1990. God graciously tendered His mercies upon us, and on August 9, 1990, he anointed and appointed the fourth Chief Overseer of the Church, Bishop James C. Elliott. He began his administration with the theme, “Continuous Progress Through Evangelism.” Bishop Elliott founded The House of God Academy and Bible College to educate and train members of all ranks. In 2001, Bishop Elliott authorized the creation of an official website for the Church. During the fourth administration, the Church expanded into the states of Arizona, Kentucky, and Mississippi as well as into the foreign countries of Canada, Haiti, and Nassau, Bahamas.
The Fourth Administration also witnessed the restoration of the Old Headquarters Sanctuary built by Bishop Keith in 1948. The Old Sanctuary was restored in order to house the local church congregation. The F. Dovie Shuford Memorial Library and the House of God Academy and Bible College, were founded and is presently housed in the restored Old Headquarters Building. Additionally, Bishop Elliott erected a “Flags of Faith and Wall of Fame” and commissioned a bronze bust bearing the likeness of the founder, Mother Tate, which is encased in glass and installed in front of the Headquarters Sanctuary.
Again the church suffered a great loss on May 26, 2004, with the death of Bishop Elliott. In September 2004, Bishop Rebecca W. Fletcher was selected and ordained Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop. Bishop Fletcher’s administration theme and on-going mission is “Girdling the Globe with God’s Grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”