Strong Tower Pentecostal Church
Strong Tower Pentecostal Church is a branch of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ originated out of a schism within the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. In 1919, Richard Lawson resigned as a minister of the Pentecostal Assemblies and formed the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Harlem. The church organization grew as a result of Lawson’s evangelizing, songwriting, teaching, and preaching abilities. Following Lawson’s death in 1961, he was succeeded by William L. Bonner. There are now five hundred Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ churches in the United States and also churches in Africa, the British West Indies, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, Haiti and the Philippines. The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ believes in baptism in Jesus Name, speaking in tongues, a male ministry, use of wine during communion, requiring women to wear hats or hair covering during services, and following strict rules about divorce and remarriage.
Strong Tower is a branch of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was organized by Rodney Williams. While serving in the military, Williams was transferred from Hawaii to Germany in 1992. Although he was not enthusiastic about the transfer, he discovered the Strong Tower Church in Germany and went on to pastor a church in the United States by the same name. While attending the Strong Tower Church in Germany, Williams learned that this small church was once considered one of the most vibrant churches in Europe during the 1980’s. However, church membership decreased when large numbers of military families were transferred out of Europe. As a result of the decrease in membership and the struggle required to keep the church operating, Pastor, Elder Mark Jones decided to give up his position at the church. The church was to be closed in 1993. In order to keep the church open, Williams requested that his District Elder assume the title as pastor to satisfy military regulations while Williams would continue to act as the pastor. Williams was ordained as an Elder in 1995.
Rodney Williams was later transferred to Fort Lee in Virginia and became a member of Calvary Temple. He remained a member of this church for six months until he reports hearing a word from the Lord saying “I set before you an open door!” After this experience, Williams held his first service in Colonial Heights, Virginia. Later, Bishop Taylor, Rodney Williams’s former pastor, moved Strong Tower to the former Little Rock Church location in Chester, Virginia. Thirteen months later Strong Tower moved to its current location in Richmond where it has been since.
The Strong Tower in the United States is an African American church with humble beginnings. In Richmond it began with eight members and has grown to over one hundred. According to the Assistant Pastor, the television program has contributed to the church growth. Strong Tower has a television program which airs on the Fox Channel on Fridays for seven years. This television program has led to Williams starting a church in Warsaw, Virginia after some viewers from the Warsaw area began to regularly attend his church in Richmond.
A typical Sunday morning service begins with a song, prayer, and a scripture reading. Later a group a people led the congregation in a serious of songs. The offering is collected followed by the morning message by the Pastor. During the week Bible Class is conducted on Wednesday Night. The congregation is mostly middle class with some upper-middle class. The congregation is primarily under 40 years of age. Every first and third the church holds a service for children ten years old and under.
The church has outreach programs such as distribution of food during Thanksgiving and Christmas and a mascot called Halleluiah Herman, which they use when they do street evangelism. They believe this mascot makes their ministry more approachable. There are future plans to help feed the homeless and persons in the community who may need assistance.
Strong Tower Pentecostal Church
15 West Clopton Street
Richmond VA 23225-3940
Interview with Mr. and Mrs. Biggs
Profile prepared by Hope L. Ireland