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
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
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
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.
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 @
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord
Church @ (718) 596-1991.