HOLY TEMPLE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
In the late summer of 1946, a spirited young man by the name of Brother Whitfield Jackson heard the voice of the Lord while living in Los Angeles, California. He proclaimed that the Lord said “go to Bakersfield California and leave all that you have behind and I will bless you with more than you ever had materially and financially”. He expressed that I don’t know where Bakersfield is, but he followed the leading of the Lord.
Elder Jackson had been a member of the Mt. Olive Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles California where the late Bishop E.B. Stewart was pastor. Upon arriving in Bakersfield, he began looking for a church home and later united with the “O” Street Church of God in Christ where the late Bishop Horace Douglas was pastor.
Elder Jackson was a personal worker. He visited the sick in their homes, hospitals and witnessed to any one he met along his spiritual journey. He was a man of great unmovable faith. He was later called into the ministry and received his Ministers License under the late Bishop Douglas. He was later ordained by the late Bishop E.B. Stewart. Elder Jackson was known as “Red Box Jackson” because he used a tool box and painted it red and people put their prayer requests in the box and many requests were honored and people were healed. The red on the box represented the blood of Jesus Christ.
In 1952, Elder Jackson was told by Bishop Stewart to go out into Crystal Heights, in Bakersfield California, and look around and see what the Lord would say to him. He was obedient and went away asking why the Lord had changed Bishop Stewart’s mind not to send him to Earlimart, California. Earlimart is a little town north of Bakersfield CA. Doing his personal work, Elder Jackson went through the community gathering children for Sunday School and the Holy Temple Church was formed.
In 1953, the members moved into a tent and by the spring of 1954, a windstorm destroyed the tent. It was time to build God a house.Later Elder Jackson was led to a house on Madison Street and he was informed that he would not be there very long. He met the late Rev. William Cefras and Mother Laura Cefras. Elder Jackson borrowed twelve chairs from the late Mr. Dell Rucker of Rucker’s Mortuary and the 12 chairs represented the 12 Tribes of Israel. Elder Jackson started services with the Howlette, Carter, Daniel, Jackson and Sister Eloise Adams children.
After a short stay, Elder Jackson was invited to hold services in a Woman’s home on Elda Avenue by the name of Sister Eloise Adams. He had previously met Sister Adams (Gooden) and regular services began and the Lord re-claimed Sister Adams, who later became Missionary Eloise Gooden. She became a faithful worker in the church services.
Elder Jackson met a former member of a Mission that had closed its doors and some of the members started attending church services at the little mission.
- The first brother of the Mission was Mr. Willie Wilson.
- The first child convert was little Sister Modell Jackson (Modell Tilford).
- First Children: Sam Carter (still active member), Shirley McMahan, Dorothy Hopkins, Joann Carter.
- First baptized convert, Brother Gatewood was one of the first baptized converts.
- First Church Mother / Pianist Mother Laura Cefras.
- Sunday School Superintendent, Rev. Earl Callagri.
- First Sunday School Secretary, Dorothy Hopkins.
- First Church Secretary, Sister Marie McMahan (later Mother Flenaugh)
- First Y.P.W.W. President, Sister Eloise Adams.
- First Y.P.W.W. Secretary, Sister Shirley McMahan.
- First Chairman of Deacons Board, Deacon John Dennis.
- First Sunshine Band President, Sister Josephine Jackson
- First Assistant Pastor, Elder Arthur Hayes.
- Second Assistant Pastor, Elder William Cummings
- First Pastors Wife, Mother Josephine Jackson
- Second Pastors Wife, Sister Paula Watkins.
- Third Pastors Wife, Missionary Frances Harris.
- Fourth Pastors Wife, Sister Daina Bynum
In 1954, the first appreciation service was held and the first public offering as $.75 cents given by the late Elder Arvotis Stinson. First offering table was given by Mother Anne Perry. The small Mission was growing. Elder Jackson had a vision to build a church on the corner of Elda Avenue and Planz Road. He wanted to build a house where God’s people could come and worship Him. This plan was put into force and the building of God’s house was now in progress. It was later in the same year we moved into a small framed church building. Elder Jackson was thinking about naming the church, the Community Church of God in Christ. But the Lord spoke to his wife, Sister Jackson, and she cried out the name “Holy Temple” and it remains as Holy Temple to this day.
Later, classrooms, Pastors office, ladies lounge, kitchen and new pews were added to the church. Most of all, Holy Temple was a saving station for those in need of the Lord.
In 1983, our Founding Cornerstone was placed in the left front wall of the church and it was dedicated by the late Bishop Warren S. Wilson, Prelate of the California Valley Jurisdiction.
In 1984, Elder Richard Watkins was led by the Lord to come to Holy Temple with his family from St. Paul Church of God in Christ to help Elder Jackson. Elder Jackson was becoming feeble due to his age and the load of being a pastor for many years. He worked diligently and never tried to disrespect Elder Jackson as the pastor and was appointed to be Pastor in 1992. Elder Jackson retired and became the Emeritus Pastor. One of Elder Jackson’s desires was to have a cement or black paved parking lot so that when it rained the Saints shoes wouldn’t get muddy, but he never got to see his dream come true.
Pastor Emeritus W.F. Jackson went home to be with the Lord on May 12, 1993. He was a warrior who fought a good fight and finished his course.
Elder Richard Watkins visualized remodelling the church and along with Elder Donald Harris, they began to work toward raising money for the parking lot project. Elder Harris initiated a plan to collect $1.00 per Sunday from each member toward the parking lot rally. The idea bloomed and soon the removing of the trees, shrubs and groundbreaking began.
1998 – 2018
Elder Watkins served as Pastor until 1998 and Elder Donald Ray Harris was appointed pastor in November of 1998. Pastor Harris had never been under the leadership of the late Elder Jackson and he wasn’t aware of the Red Prayer Box. But the Lord led Pastor Harris to have a prayer box built so people could put their request in it for prayer. The prayer box was mode out of a white mailbox with a red flag and many prayers have been answered and testimonies have been told during church services.
Pastor Harris wanted to complete the vision of both Elder Jackson and Pastor Watkins, being a cement mason, he was able with the help of his crew and brother of the church, to complete the vision. Later Pastor Harris had a complete architectural plan drawn to remodel the inside of the church.
In 2001, the construction began and church services were held in the dining room for 10 months. When you look back at the beginning, they had service in a house using chairs and we used chairs in the dining room when we started the re-construction inside the sanctuary. Just look at the similarity of the leaders of Holy Temple. We continued to praise the Lord for all His goodness and kindness shown toward us during a journey to Canaan. A baptismal pool was designed and constructed by Pastor Donald Harris. The drawing of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist was done by Pastor and First Lady Harris’ nephew, Carlton Yarborough. Mother Marie McMahan Flenaugh was the first member to be baptized at 90 years old in the new pool.
New lighting, carpet, window coverings, speaker system, new piano and new bathrooms for men and women with handicap accessibility were added. The Brothers came together and worked out direct plans for the remodelling. Brother Joe McClary had the idea to knock down a wall in one of the classrooms and extend the dining room and he also suggested putting new double doors entry facing the west side of the church. The church has grown tremendously since that great gathering in 1952. The late founder Pastor W.F. Jackson, would be so happy to see that his vision went beyond eyes seeing.
Pastor Harris served faithfully and loyally for 17 years and resigned as pastor on March 6, 2016. Bishop Samuel Doyle, Jurisdictional Prelate of California Valley Jurisdiction, assumed supervision of the church and sent several Ministers in to preach to us during this time.
In July of 2016, Bishop Doyle sent Elder Wayne Bynum from Fresno CA to preach to us and we enjoyed him greatly. Bishop sent him again in August and regularly thereafter. On Wednesday night October 19, 2016, Bishop Doyle met with the church and informed the congregation that he was appointing Elder Wayne Bynum as pastor of the church and the congregation accepted unanimously.
Since Elder Bynum has been pastor, the 2nd Mortgage has been paid off, the 1st Mortgage is in process of being paid off, the membership has grown, new ministries have been organized, souls have been saved and baptized and the vision of the late Pastor W.F. Jackson continues to be fulfilled.
Pastors dates of service:
Pastor W.F. Jackson, Founder, 1952 – 1992
Pastor Richard Watkins, 1992 – 1998
Pastor Donald R. Harris, 1998 – 2016
Pastor C. Wayne Bynum, 2016 – Present