Bishop William L. Bonner
Apostle William Lee Bonner was born on November 21,1921 in Bolden County, Georgia, to Emmett and Janie Bonner. Apostle Bonner is the widower of the late Ethel Mae Smith Bonner. He is the father of two children, the late Ethel Mae Bonner Archer and William Lee Bonner, Jr.
Apostle 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 Apostle William Lee Bonner to Detroit to pastor the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a storefront. Today, it is a two thousand five hundred (2,500)-seat edifice known as Solomon’s Temple. In 1961, upon the death of Bishop Lawson, Apostle 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 Detroit, Michigan, 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.”
Apostle Bonner received his religious education and the Doctor of Divinity through the Church of Christ Bible Institute in New York City. Pastor Bonner is listed in “Who’s Who in Religion” (1985). Apostle 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. Bishop Bonner, an auto-pedagogical scholar, has written many books that enable Christians to know and understand who they are in Christ, and to comprehend,
more thoroughly, tenets of the Christian faith. Some of his works include Another Comforter, The African Story, The Battle of Armageddon, The Uncontrolled Emotions of Young People, Life in the Holy Spirit, The Three Women: Sarah, Rebecca and Jezebel, The Apostolic Dilemma, Part I and II, My Father in the Gospel, and Add Thou To It. In addition, many books have been written by others as a tribute to his contributions to church growth and evangelism, Christian education and world missions. One of the most distinguished of these works is The Man and His God.
Pastor Bonner is a visionary leader, church planter and builder, evangelist, pastor and educator. He established the Commission for World Evangelism to increase the involvement of parishioners in missionary work. Under his administration the denomination (COOLJC) has experienced phenomenal growth. In 1961, the organization had 155 assemblies with a combined membership of 45,000. Today there are approximately 506 churches with a combined membership of 100,000. Church congregations are located in every major city in the United States, with churches and missions in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, West Africa and Europe. As a world missionary, Pastor Bonner has expanded upon the work began by Bishop Lawson in establishing, not only churches, but educational institutions and health facilities. In Bokaytown, Liberia, West Africa, he built a clinic so that women could come from the “Bush” to have their babies in sanitary conditions.
W. L. Bonner College is the crown jewel of Pastor Bonner’s educational ministry. Since 1995 the school has trained approximately 1,400 students for ministry and professional development that has made them eligible for promotion and advancement within their denominational institutions. Earning its first accredited status with The International Christian Accrediting Association (ICAA) in 1999, the institution is now pursuing the accredited status with The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
Representatives marvel as they listen to Pastor Bonner tell the vision that God gave him to start a theological institution for training ministers, missionaries and lay persons to become more effective in their ministry. Pastor Bonner has influenced those who once felt that higher education and training was not essential if you are called by God, to enroll in the college and many have remained until they received the institution’s highest degree, the Bachelor of Religious Studies.
Apostle Bonner desires to see every church in this Organization grow and have the spiritual and financial success that the Lord Jesus Christ intends for them to have. The members of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc. embrace the vision of our great visionary, believing that we shall receive all of the gifts and all the blessings that God has for us.