Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

“The Passing Of Giants Of The Human Spirits”

Chief Apostle Carl E. Williams, Sr. D.D.
3/7/1918 – 9/27/07

~ FROM GLORY TO GLORY ~
A MAN OF GREAT FAITH, POWER, KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM AND VISION


It was in the early 60’s, during the anti-poverty war, that I first meet Bishop Carl Williams. Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, Co-Pastor, 1st Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn, who was our Church’s preeminent community activist at the time, had organized a group of community leaders and clergy to avail ourselves of the resources to address the deteriorating social, economic and political realities in our neighborhoods, particularly as it related to youth. He was the center of attention. Surrounded by an enthralled audience, he told stories, made jokes and kept us laughing.
Humor, laughter, fun were characteristics that I was to learn were deeply engrained in his makeup. It flowed in his blood. I liked that about him. I like saints with smiling faces. We do not see them too much in our churches. We have sanctified sternness, stoicism - all too often we make serving God burdensome and joyless. But, Bishop Williams exemplified the biblical teachings that joy and happiness, in a life balanced with seriousness and solemnity is part and parcel of our spiritual heritage. The Scripture says, "The joy of the Lord is our strength.” And, “A merry heart do'th good like a medicine."

Moreover, what we have come to learn about people with humor, contrary to the popular notion, they are very, very intelligent. They are likable, personable and winsome. They are nice people. Some saints are not so nice. We really do not care to be around them.

But, God has some people who are sweetly saved. They are nice people. All of the admirable qualities I have enumerated, Bishop Williams had in abundance.

There was another aspect to his character that he showed during the war on poverty years, which was a love for the people. He evidenced this in his compassion for the community. This compassion drove him to do something about our situation. Keep in mind, it was during the turbulence times of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Movement and the Back to African Movement, that had the country in an upheaval and most of our churches turned within and became critical of those who were struggling to make applicable the fervor of our faith to the existing realities.

Bishop Williams was in the midst; his big loving heart was big enough to embrace the church and the community. He was an active member of many community and religious organizations.

We were in the Holiness Ministers’ Alliance, great men and women lead the way – Bishops James Forbes, Sr., who was chair, I. G. Glover, Itheil Clemmons, Nathanial Towsley, and F.D. Washington. I learned another quality about Bishop Williams, a rare quality indeed; he did not have to be out front to lead. He could lead from anywhere. There is a saying, “Some are born to lead, some are born to follow, some are born to do neither and some few are born to lead and to follow and to know when to do either.”

There were two things they asked me do, 1) present a paper on Black Power and Pentecostal Power; and, 2) be the treasurer of the organization. Both were grave mistakes. In obedience to their request, I spoke on the subject, “Black Power and Pentecostal power – Contradictory or Complimentary.” I argued that the screams of black power was the cry of all self respecting people demanding dignity and seeking empowerment to be all that they can be. Two Bishops stood by me – Bishops Forbes, Sr., who wanted to publish the speech, and Bishop Williams, who did his usual, looked at me admiringly, put his lips out, starting with a smile which became laughter and then an embrace and words, “Boy you are something.”

The second thing they did was to make me treasurer. They forgot what Bishop Glover had said, “You don’t put a hungry dog to mind the meat house.” I was a hungry dog. I confess for the first time, the $6.95 that was left in the treasury, as the organization declined, I did what David did when he ate the showbread off the altar, which thing he should not have done. I was hungry and so I took the $6 to buy bread.

Now, I hope that Bishop Williams and all the members of the Holiness Ministers’ Alliance, all deceased, don’t organize a delegation and approach God about bringing me up there to Heaven so they can forgive me and pray for me. I want their forgiveness and prayers, but pray that I might stay down here.

Things were hard in those days. We has a practice, I am not sure how it got started, that helped to sustain my salvation and my sanity. Bishop Williams and I started having early morning prayer meetings at the Institutional church, where he was pastor, after which, we would go to Junior's Restaurant for breakfast. I do not want to leave the impression that I was driven to the prayer meeting because of holiness. I was driven by hunger. So, during those prayer meetings we had, we prayed the shortest prayers on record. I couldn’t wait until the prayer was completed to hear him say, "Lest us go eat.” Junior’s should reserve a seat in the Restaurant in memory of Bishop Carl E. Williams.

I kind ‘a felt sorry for my wife, she had to stay home with the empty refrigerator and food closets, but due to the sensitivity and compassion of Bishop and Sister Williams, occasionally they would take us out to dinner – Sheepshead Bay, on the water, for a fresh fish dinner. It was for us, about as close to heaven as you could get on this side of Jordan. And to top all of this off, Sister Williams honored us on occasions, by bringing busloads of Institutional’s members to the youth programs at our church. They filled up our little church, which was then located at 1393 Pacific Street.

Then the Bishop did an unthinkable thing at that time, he invited me to conduct a revival at the Institutional Church. In Church circles, I was a renegade to some of my colleagues, full of the devil to others and too radical for most. They never thought of me in the role of an Evangelist. Even then, I was preaching, teaching and acting out the ministry to which God had call me. That ministry synthesized spirituality, Afrocentrizm and the struggle for human rights and self-determination. I must say, one of the delightful satisfactions of my life, for which I am perpetually grateful to God, is I’ve lived to see vindicated the gospel that I was preaching at that time – which is now called holistic or full gospel. Some of the ministers have been honest enough and bold enough to actually come to our church and confess that they were wrong. They really didn’t understand what I was saying and doing. But, thank God for the encouragement and concrete support that He sent my way through men like Bishops Forbes and Williams.

I will always be grateful to him and his wife Elvonia; to his family for all that he did for me and for all of the people that he served so diligently, graciously and sacrificially.

Years later, we felt it a special privilege to have in one of our daycare centers his granddaughter, Evangelist Monique Walker, who sang so beautifully at his funeral.

So long Bishop. Thanks for everything. You fought a good fight; you finished your course and there is laid up for you a crown of rightness.

The funeral was held at Pilgrim Assemblies. It’s pastor, The Archbishop Roy E. Brown, along with The Right Reverend Albert Jamison, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Tabernacle, were the officiants. Professor I. “Butch” Heyward was the organist. Some of the clergy appearing on the program in various capacities were; Mother Gloria White, The Right Reverend Eric R. Figueroa, Bishop Huie Rogers, Overseer Robert L. Perry, Jr., The Right Reverend Carl E. Williams, Jr., The Right Reverend Jules Anderson. Musical contributions were done by Evangelist Carolyn Johnson White & Congregation, Evangelist Doreen Figueroa, The Institutional Radio Reunion Choir, Brother Alfred White and Bishop’s granddaughter, Evangelist Monique Walker. Deaconess Patricia Fulmore and Missionary Brenda Britt-Harris read the Acknowledgements and Obituary, respectively. The Most Reverend John C. White, Presiding Prelate COGIC International, delivered The Eulogy.

The following are excerpts from his obituary:
Chief Apostle Williams’ secular career included teaching business courses at the Phyllis Wheatley School of Business in Winston Salem, NC. This is where he met Miss Elvonia Penn, his friend and sweet heart. After a short courtship, the couple was joined in holy matrimony on September 19, 1939. The newlyweds then moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1940 and started their family. Born to this union are their two dear children, Carl Jr. and Amease.
Chief Apostle Carl E. Williams, Sr. was consecrated to office of Vice-Presiding Bishop for the state of New York, and on August 22, 1976, a double honor was bestowed on him as he was appointed the Presiding Prelate of the Church of God in Christ International. He successfully guided this organization for 25 years, remaining faithful in this position until August 2001. He then released the helm of his ship into the hands of Bishop John C. White. Retiring was not an option for Chief Apostle Williams, for he still had much to offer the people of the world. During this interval in his life, the title of Chief Apostle was bestowed upon him and indeed it is a suitable, appropriate honor. We bless God for this innovator, Chief Apostle Carl E. Williams, who God has used to prove that “The last shall be first and first shall be last.”

Chief Apostle Williams was the first pastor to charter a plane to transport his church and choir to Dallas, TX, singing a gospel concert in the airways and in the Dallas International Airport. He was also the first to rent major auditoriums like; Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, Avery Fischer Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Brooklyn College. All events produced full fledge sold-out gospel concerts. Preaching two or three times each Sunday, Bishop Williams proved to be the anointed teacher that was common place for a man who was never tired of his obligation to God and God’s people. We thank God for the precedent that Chief Apostle has established for us all to follow. His faithfulness is certainly and undeniably untouchable. His desire to emulate Christ Jesus resulted in the anointing and power that was demonstrated everywhere he ministered.

On the faithful morning of Thursday, September 27 at 4:41 AM, Chief Apostle Williams was changed from mortal to immortality. The Lord called His son home by saying, WELL DONE THY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, ENTER THOU INTO THE JOY OF THE LORD.

To God be the Glory! A great soldier has entered the pearly white gates. We will miss him, but we’ll meet him again over in Zion.

Upcoming Events
On Saturday, November 10, 2007 from 2pm – 4pm, a Rev. Daughtry will be giving a Report to the Community and their will be a film showing on his recent trip to the refugee camp in Gaga Chad.

The First Lady’s Committee of the House of the Lord Church invites you to celebrate with us On Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 12noon as we honor Rev. Dr. Karen Daughtry, wife of Rev. Daughtry, The National First Lady and Chair of the National Department of Women’s Work.

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday night forums 7pm to 9pm held at the House of the Lord Church.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum focusing on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.