ROBERT C. LAWSON
The history of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a
grand and glorious one. A chronicle that can take its position
in the annals of time.
To speak of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ as an organization
is to speak of its illustrious and dynamic founder, the
late apostle, Bishop Robert C. Lawson, D.D., LL.D. We can
safely say that God made His choice to use this dedicated
man to work His divinely inspired plan for this great organization.
For it was by his Herculean effort and prolific preaching
and the mastery of the inspired scriptures that Bishop Lawson,
with tenacity and determination hewed from the villages,
cities, towns and hamlets, the dynamic organization known
as the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic
It was in the year of 1914 when Mr. Lawson accepted the
word of God and was baptized in the name of Jesus and received
the Holy Ghost. A supernatural event took place in his life,
namely the miraculous healing of his body from Consumption.
This occurrence was stamped indelibly upon him and played
a major part in the shaping of his inspired faith healing
By his own testimony we learned that Bishop Lawson was divinely
called by the Lord through a whirlwind, hearing the voice
of God saying "Go Preach My Word! I mean you! I mean
you! I mean you! Go preach My Word."
Starting a small work in St. Louis, Missouri, and a later
endeavor in San Antonio, Texas, preaching everywhere the
apostolic doctrine, he was led to the mid-west where he
pastored a church in Columbus, Ohio. It was in Columbus
that he married the late Miss Carrie Fields of Levinworth,
Kansas. The couple was subsequently blessed with four sons.
The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ had its inception in
the year 1919. Bishop Lawson, then Elder Lawson was invited
to a prayer meeting, which was in progress in a basement
in the 40th Street area of New York City. So energetic was
his service to the Lord, that his fame spread abroad and
reached the ears of Mr. and Mrs. James Burleigh and Mr.
and Mrs. Edward Anderson. These two blessed couples opened
their homes to Elder Lawson and their home today is affectionately
thought of as the "Cradle of the Church of Our Lord
Within a short period of time, the congregation outgrew
its place of worship, having approximately 200 members,
and larger quarters had to be sought. Bishop Lawson purchased
the sight at 52-54-56 West 133 Street and relocated his
thriving church. It was there that his vision was enlarged
and the Lord laid upon his heart to conduct a tent revival
and great numbers were added to the church.
Under the thriving ministry of Apostle Lawson, many preachers,
missionaries, and teachers were sent into the field establishing
numerous works. To the far flung isles of the sea, to the
continent of Africa and to the Caribbean, these Christian
heralds went carrying the Apostolic message.
It was in the year 1932, that Bishop Lawson initiated the
radio broadcast over the stations WGBS. He broadcasted successfully
over WHOM and WINS. The broadcast is presently continuing
over station WBNX every Sunday evening from 8:30 to 9:30
As the work grew the quarters on 133rd Street were found
to be inadequate for so rapidly an increasing congregation.
Bishop Lawson found the present site on 124th Street and
7th Avenue and in August 1945, the congregation relocated
to this site. This building is known as the "Mother
Church" of the Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In
two short years the indebtedness of the church was lifted
and on Christmas day in 1947 the mortgage was burned.
The years following were outstanding in rapid growth and
spiritual progress. The church of Christ Bible Institute
flourished, the R. C. Lawson Institute in Southern Pine,
North Carolina already established, continued to grow. Through
the arduous labor of dedicated workers in various parts
of Liberia, West Africa, British West Indies, England, and
the Isles of the sea, the international works began to grow
and flourish. So vast was the work until more workers had
to be sent, to Superintend the vast harvest of souls.
During 1948, Mother Carrie Lawson known as the "Praying
Mother of the Air" departed this life. Mother Carrie
Lawson's passing is noteworthy because it was through her
intercessory prayer that many souls were delivered from
the powers of darkness.
Bishop Lawson in his lifetime was awarded many honors for
his contributions as humanitarian and for his scholastic
achievements. Among the honors, he received the Carver Merit
Award for outstanding service to his race and country. He
also held a Bachelor of Theology degree, a Doctor of Divinity
degree, and a Doctor of Literary Letters Degree from the
Lynchburg Seminary and College and the American Bible College.
Every organization must suffer the pangs of growth and the
Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ was no exception. In the
year 1957, there was a major schism within the ranks of
the organization. This occasioned Bishop Lawson's calling
together the now famous Summit Meeting, which was the rallying
and turning point of the organization. It was in the closing
session that Bishop Lawson preached a soul stirring message
recounting the work that he had done and hurled the challenge
to all who would receive it. "ADD THOU TO IT".
The challenge was accepted. From that moment on the organization
began to grow to new greatness.
The clarion call for our illustrious leader came on Sunday
July 2, 1961, and Bishop Lawson a prince of preachers, the
Bible Answer man, God's shining star departed this life.
Bishop Lawson's death necessitated new leadership. It was
to the Convention in August 1961 that Bishop William Lee
Bonner introduced proposals. "Twelve recommendations
for the common good. " The National Convocation acted
upon this and a three man apostle's Board was formed. Bishop
Hubert J. Spencer, Bishop William L. Bonner, and Bishop
Maurice H. Hutner. Bishop Hubert J. Spencer was unanimously
elected to preside. A year later the Board expanded to five
Apostles and Bishop John W. Pernell and Bishop Henry Jones
were included. Subsequent to the demise of Apostle Maurice
Hutner, Bishop J.P. Steadman was elected to the Apostle's
In the year 1961, Bishop Bonner was sent to the mother church.
Upon coming and seeing the need he set about the remodeling
of Refuge Temple. The mother church and headquarters of
the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is now known as the
Greater Refuge Temple. This ultra-modern edifice has changed
the face of 7th Avenue and is undisputedly one on the most
modern structures in Harlem, with a total seating capacity
of three thousand seats with thirty-six conference and meeting
rooms, all fully furnished in modern decor. The words of
or famed pioneer and Apostle are still resounding in our
ears. "Add Thou To It!!! Add Thou To It!!! and the
answer comes from the church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we
will, we shall, we have." "Hitherto hath the Lord
***Edited from original text Discipline Book, Church of
Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., third