In 1909, Brother G. T. Haywood came to Louisville, Kentucky and preached to the Christian Faith Band Church at 16th and Magazine Street where Brother Collins was the pastor. Some of the sisters came out of this church and started having cottage meetings in different neighborhoods. On Sundays, the saints had meetings at the home of Sister Theresa Coffman—this was the early beginning of the Greater Bethel Temple church. Other women were also instrumental in the early church including Sister Anna B. Calhoun and Sister Viola Beeler Breckenridge.
Brother Floyd I. Douglas, a native of Bardstown, Kentucky, was one of the preachers in the midst of the growing group of believers; he was married to Sister Anna Bell (Davis) Douglas, and was eventually chosen as pastor of the congregation—numbering about thirty-five, in August of 1912. The church was known as the “Louisville Assembly”. The church later found a place on Preston Street to have meetings. In July of 1912, they found a place over a restaurant at Hancock and Rosaline where they stayed several years.
In October of 1915, the church hosted a convention but not being large enough to accommodate the services, the church rented a place at Jackson and Lampton Street. Brother G. T. Haywood came to the convention and preached, encouraging the saints to stay at that location. Brother Schooler came to the church and explained how the congregation could buy the property at Jackson and Lampton by working together and making pledges for the first down payment. In a short time, the saints made their first payment of $500 and contracted to finish the loan in monthly payments.
In 1923, Bishop F. I. Douglas was led of the Lord to go to California to pastor. He came back to Kentucky in intervals until 1927. Several filled in for the church during the interim including L. W. Buckner. The church at Jackson and Lampton was sold and the money was used toward the purchase of the church at Clay and Breckinridge. Elder David T. Schultz was chosen as the next pastor in 1929 and that same year, the church name was changed to Bethel Temple. He was a native of Mayfield, Kentucky and came to Louisville from Kansas City, Kansas. He was united in holy matrimony to Sister Grace (Starkey) Schultz. They had two daughters – Sister Grace Catherine (Schultz) Osborne and Sister Davine (Schultz) Nolcox.
The church had many trials and setbacks during these early years but they fought on. The depression came and the saints had to pull together to make ends meet and to continue paying for the church. Surely the Lord was with them and allowed them to prosper in due time. The pastor, Elder David T. Schultz, counseled with the trustees of the Methodist church that they were purchasing. The trustees recognized their efforts and their Christian work and devised a plan so the saints could have ownership of the church.
In 1935, Pastor Schultz was nominated and elected to the office of Bishop. During the 1937 flood, Bishop Schultz’ leadership brought the church out victoriously. Bishop Schultz was the pastor of Greater Bethel Temple for almost 43 years and was the Senior Bishop of the 11th Episcopal District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. The church name was changed to Greater Bethel Temple after the dedication of the Christian Education annex in 1966. Bishop Schultz went home to be with the Lord on August 11, 1972. Elder Henry Jones, Assistant Pastor, carried on the church for the next nine months.
Elder Henry Jones was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost in 1943. Elder Jones was united in marriage to Sister Frances Esther (Lott) Jones and they became the proud parents of eight children – two sons and six daughters. He served faithfully as Assistant Pastor of Greater Bethel Temple under Bishop David T. Schultz. He later served with the same faithfulness under the leadership of Dr. William P. Foree and Suffragan Bishop Eugene J. Stewart. Elder Jones was a diligent witness for the Lord, often going beyond what was required of him to minister to the saints. He departed this life on May 18, 2006. The fellowship hall was dedicated and named in his honor in March, 2003 as “The Henry Jones Fellowship Hall”.
Dr. William P. Foree was a native of New Castle, Kentucky. He was married to Sister Roberta (Thomas) Foree. They had two daughters – Sister Nadine (Foree) Calhoun and Sister Paula (Foree) Lewis. Dr. Foree was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost in 1957 under the leadership of Bishop David T. Schultz. He became pastor of Greater Bethel Temple in May of 1973 after faithful leadership in Lebanon, Kentucky for nine years and for two years in Fort Worth, Texas. After pastoring Greater Bethel Temple for only four years, the congregation outgrew the 702 East Breckinridge building and purchased the current assembly, the former Adath Israel Temple. Under Dr. Foree’s vision, the church had a radio program that aired every Sunday night and the “Wake up with Joy” television broadcast every Sunday morning for about ten years. He was on the Board of Directors at Aenon Bible College and also served as Vice Chairman. After Sister Roberta Foree was called home, Dr. Foree was united in holy matrimony to Sister Bobbie A. (Talley) Foree of Nashville, Tennessee. The Lord called Dr. Foree to his eternal rest on January 30, 1988.
Elder Sherman A. Williams was a diligent worker and served as Second Assistant Pastor under Dr. William P. Foree. He was married to Sister Andrea (Myers) Williams and they became parents of three daughters and two sons. He returned to Greater Bethel Temple under the leadership of Suffragan Bishop Eugene Stewart after pastoring in Paducah, Kentucky. He was faithful to the Greater Bethel Temple leadership and congregation until he was called to his heavenly reward on August 15, 1999.
The Lord sent District Elder Eugene J. Stewart to be the pastor about one year after Dr. Foree passed. In April of 1989, District Elder Stewart was installed as pastor of Greater Bethel Temple Church. He is married to Sister Sylvia Elaine (Wicker) Stewart. They have two children–Eugenia (Stewart) Clairdy and Victor Stewart; and seven beloved grandchildren. He had previously pastored God’s House in Albuquerque, New Mexico for approximately fifteen years. He was elevated to Suffragan Bishop during his tenure at Greater Bethel Temple under Diocesan Bishop Alphonso Scott in 1996. He was Suffragan Bishop, Region II, under Diocesan Bishop Sherman Merritt. Suffragan Bishop Stewart re-established the corporation status of the church. He also led us through several major building projects. He made several appointments including three of the first women trustees and also added a Deaconess to the Executive Board. Both Suffragan Bishop and Lady Stewart love the people of God and are a blessing to the Body of Christ and to the Greater Bethel Temple Church family. On December 31, 2014, Suffragan Bishop Stewart retired becoming Pastor Emeritus.
“Continuing the Legacy” on November 27, 2016, Suffragan Bishop Rader Johnson was installed as Pastor of Greater Bethel Temple Church. We are glad to welcome Pastor Johnson, First Lady Rhoda Johnson, and their family!
*The early history is a compilation of memories written by the late Mother Katie Gilbert