The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ
of the Apostolic Faith Inc. (1919 ~ present)
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 annuals of history. To speak od 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., L.L.D. We can safely say that God made choice of 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 scripture 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 Faith Inc.
It was in the year of 1914 when Bro. Lawson accepted the word of God, was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost. He was saved under the ministry of the late Bishop G.T. Haywood, who pastored the Apostolic Faith Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was also under the mentorship of Haywood that young Lawson received his ministerial training. He served Elder Haywood well, but as time went on, he gravitated toward differing viewpoints than his pastor, of which eventualy led to a seperation between the two.
Lawson realized that he held some personal convictions that Haywood did not hold, and this difference led to the formation of his very own organization. His two primary issues were, women preachers and the remarriage question. Lawson felt that it was unscriptural for women to preach, usurping authority over the man. He also felt very strongly about divorced people getting remarried. He felt that there was no Bible-right to remarry under any circumstances, thus eliminating the innocent party theory. Elder Haywood did not hold to either of these views. Thus, Lawson pulled away from his mentor and launched into his very own ministry.
Having established churches in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Antonio, Texas, preaching everywhere the apostolic doctrine, he was eventualy led to the mid-west, where he pastored a church in Columbus, Ohio. It was is Columbus, Ohio that he married the late Miss Carrie Fields of Leavenworth, Kansas. The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ had its inception in the year 1919. After moving to New York, he was invited to a prayer meeting which was in progress in a basement in the 40th Street area in 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 Jesus Christ".
Under the thriving ministry of Apostle Lawson, many preacher, 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. 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 at this site. This building is known as the "Mother Church" of the Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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 Bishop Lawson in various parts of Liberia, West Africa, British West Indies, England and the isles of the sea. So vast was the work until more workers had to be sent to Superindend the vast harvest of souls.
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 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 this illustrious leader came on Sunday July 2, 1961, and Bishop Lawson a prince of preachers, the Bible Answer man, God's shinning star departed this life. Bishop Maurice H. Hunter was elected to succeed Bishop Lawson. Today the organization has thrived under the very fine leadership of Bishop W. L. Bonner who succeeded the late Bishop Hunter.