CHRIST TEMPLE CHURCH
Christ Temple has a great legacy – It represents many years of fasting, praying, preaching, teaching, sacrificing and the will to continue on in spite of difficulties that would have discouraged the fainthearted. The dedication and loyalty of Christ Temple’s saints and leaders to the Word of God and to the church add to this legacy. The Church’s humble beginning exemplifies this dedication and loyalty
It is appropriate that once a year we celebrate and give thanks to God for the growth and development of this great institution. Those who have been here for years and those who recently arrived can rejoice together because we are a part of the church that Jesus established.
Three shepherds have held the staff of leadership: District Elder Walter Scott, Suffragan Bishop Lee A. Tolbert, Sr., and our current pastor, Bishop Mark C. Tolbert.
Our legacy began with our founding pastor, the late District Elder Walter Scott who being unctioned by the Holy Spirit was led to a church at 17th and Woodland. There he found the pastor, Elder Raymond Lloyd very discouraged and desiring to resign. Elder Lloyd said to him, “I have been waiting for you; the Lord told me you were coming.” Elder Scott under the direction of God and the Holy Spirit accepted the pastorate over this congregation (one member, Brother Mark Edgely) in 1938.
The new pastor and his wife, Evangelist Zephyr T. Scott knew that there was much work to be done in this portion of the vineyard. The building, a two-story storefront, was in great need of extensive repairs. Elder Scott referred to this building as “the inside of outdoors”, because anywhere you looked you could see outdoors. Utmost in the hearts and minds of Elder and Sister Scott was the Lord’s business of winning souls to Christ. These were just a few of the many necessary tasks needing to be performed – natural and spiritual.
The church was named “Christ Temple Pentecostal Church” and recorded as a charter at the state capital. Under the pastorate of Elder Scott, Christ Temple opened its doors on July 10, 1938. The first official Sunday School was held July 21, 1938; attended by three members and two visitors. The first fruit of the new Christ Temple’s labor was Brother Alonzo Taylor who was baptized in 1939 in Jesus name and filled with the Holy Ghost.
Because of the building’s condition and with a vision for new growth, Pastor Scott began to look for a new edifice. In 1941, Christ Temple purchased its first church located at 2104 Harrison. It was a converted house equipped with wooden, folding chairs and two coal heaters for warmth.
By 1944, the Lord had blessed Christ Temple tremendously. The church’s membership had grown to approximately 15 saints. This growth resulted in Sunday School classes being organized by age groups and auxiliaries were established.
Christ Temple had evolved by 1949, to the extent that it required an even larger facility for worship services. Elder Lee A. Tolbert, his wife Lorene, and son Lee Jr. were a part of that growth. The congregation suggested buying a corner storefront building at 2100 Harrison. Elder Scott agreed and they moved into that facility in 1949. He prepaid the mortgage on this building so far in advance that little, if any, interest was paid on the loan. The remaining balance was eventually paid off at 2100 Harrison by Sister Mattie Whitmore and the church repaid her. Elder Tolbert donated money to buy seating for the sanctuary and offerings from the Friday nights services were used to purchase a new furnace for 2104 Harrison. The church owned both buildings, the old church building was used for a dining hall and for baptismal purposes.
Church services were held nearly every night in those days. Missionaries went from home to home and into the neighborhoods witnessing to souls about Jesus and his goodness. Through their faithfulness, God blessed the church with more souls and the congregation continued to grow. Only one member had the luxury of owing a car and provided transportation where he could. Others either walked or rode the bus to church desiring to feed the hunger their souls had for the Word of God.
Christ Temple was a member of the Mid-Western District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World until 1952. Sister Zephyr served as president of the Missionary Department while we were a part of the district. After 1952, the church became a member of the Northwestern District Council under the organization of Bishop Herbert Davis. Elder Scott took an active part in the N.W.D.C. and was appointed to the title of District Elder. Sister Scott worked diligently as assistant secretary for the P.A.W. Women’s Auxiliary and within the Missionary Dept. of the NWDC. They, along with the church, would travel to the conventions and councils across the country. Our church hosted its first council in February, 1946. Due to the size of our facility, services were held at Macedonia Baptist Church.
The first service to acknowledge our church anniversary was in 1952. Prior to that service, a program was held annually including only the members to just reflect on how far we had come by the Grace of God.
In answer to Sister Zephyr Scott’s fervent prayers to send in people, God blessed us with even more souls, that created an overflow making 2100 Harrison no longer adequate. Elder Scott called for $500 pledges from the congregation toward the purchase of a new building. The saints followed Elder Scott’s direction which resulted in us owning our first “real” church building located at 4101 Agnes, dedicated in December, 1958.
Elder Scott believed in doing things according to the Word and holding fast to the strict traditions of the P.A.W., traditional attire was very restricted and conservative. There was a concern about the length of dresses and their sleeves, not wearing the color red; no jewelry was allowed except wedding rings. Most the young people felt there were no activities offered other than Pentecostal Young Peoples’ Union services on Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Activities such as movies, skating, organized sports and going to amusement parks were frowned upon and considered a sin. Elder Scott allowed the first church picnic to be held in 1959.
On July 27, 1961, our beloved First Lady Zephyr Scott was called to be with the Lord. Elder Scott’s vision and dedication to their ministry remained unwavering and the fruits of their labor were evident. He would later marry Sister Mattie Gibson and together they continued to work zealously for the Kingdom of God.
Christ Temple persevered and moved forward under Elder Scott’s ministry with the assistance of Elder Lee Tolbert and the other ministerial staff. Church activities expanded, councils were hosted, auxiliary numbers increased, other church associations were developed, various dignitaries visited, and this Old Ship of Zion moved onward and upward. The prayers, for new souls, were still being answered through the manifestation of Elder Scott’s vision for church growth.
Elder Scott’s health had begun to deteriorate over the years, though his spirit never faltered. On January 3, 1967, this great warrior having fought a good fight went home to rest in glory. Elder Lee Tolbert, after serving as interim pastor for one year, then received “the mantle” as pastor. Elder Tolbert selected Elder Wilbur Taylor as his assistant pastor. Elder Lee Tolbert was the consummate evangelizer. Each Sunday, even as Pastor, he drove the big, yellow bus. Picking up 75 to 80 members and visitors to attend services.
In 1969, our current edifice at 3400 Paseo was purchased under the leadership of Pastor Lee A. Tolbert, Sr. This building, was erected in 1927 was formerly a Jewish synagogue with beautiful architectural distinctions inside and out. Christ Temple took possession of the building in January, 1970; the saints were in awe of its beauty. Its seating capacity is 1400 in the sanctuary, along with classrooms, a small chapel, a fellowship/dining hall and a kitchen.
Of course, being an older building it required some modernizing and maintenance. Replacement of the heating and cooling system was necessary in 1975. Elder Lee Tolbert raised the $120,000 necessary to complete the task. Elder Tolbert hired some of the members for maintenance, repairs and cleaning of the building.
Tragedy struck within the first year after moving in; a fire in the kitchen caused extensive damage which was later refurbished. But, trials do not come without blessings. Funds had already been saved towards the payoff of the church mortgage and the insurance claim payment which allowed this vision to be manifested. A special mortgage burning ceremony was held – one year after purchasing the property! Praise the Lord!
Our continued growth was still evident. Under Elder Tolbert’s leadership the church purchased property on the north side of 34th Street and two lots on Paseo. Two six-unit apartment buildings and a house stood on this land. Members of the congregation occupied these multi-family housing units, which are now demolished. A day care center was established and operated out of the church for a number of years with Sister Margretta Heath as administrator. Elder Lee Tolbert purchased a greyhound bus that served as transportation to the conventions and other meetings for a number of years. Two vans were purchased for the transporting of the saints to and from services and a van specially equipped for the disabled was added to our transportation fleet.
In 1971, after Elder Wilbur Taylor was chosen to pastor Grace Temple Church, Elder James Gibson was appointed as s assistant pastor. Elder Gibson spared no pains to help in the forward movement of the church. During this time, several of Christ Temple’s members were being called to the ministry as pastors, ordained ministers, missionaries, and evangelists. Some others held official positions within the N.W.D.C. or P.A.W. God blessed us with zealous workers in all areas of ministry. In 1985, Elder Mark Tolbert was also appointed to the position of assistant pastor and Brother Glanie Whitmore took over the role of Superintendent.
District Elder Lee Tolbert, Sr. served faithfully as pastor for 23 years. In 1989, failing health persuaded him to delegate more church responsibilities to his Assistant Pastor, Elder Mark Tolbert.
Elder Mark C. Tolbert was voted in by a majority vote of the Christ Temple congregation and received the “mantle” at installation services performed by the late Bishop Samuel Layne in 1990.
Our present pastor, Bishop Mark C. Tolbert is a man of faith and vision. His vision seems to drive him untiringly. Pastor Tolbert may be considered somewhat radical in his ministry by some; though he still believes firmly in the principles of prayer, praise, and fasting to live a saved and righteous life. He has deviated from some of the old traditions, while reinforcing others, but never from the doctrine.
One change in tradition that has pleased everyone was starting Sunday morning worship at 10:45 a.m. instead of 12 noon; no more service dismissal at 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon. Another change was our traditional devotional service, which now consist of songs led by the Praise & Worship team. The purpose of these changes was to keep the service flowing in a timely manner, but the Lord will always have his way. In 2003, a new service time was implemented, 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. What a blessing for those who have to work on Sundays or have other obligations. This 75 minute service is a full service. Many souls are saved and touched by God at the 8 a.m. service.
Tolbert labors to address the needs of all individuals. He often expresses that we must minister to the natural as well as the spiritual. Fulfillment of these needs is evident through the numerous auxiliaries and outreach ministries available. The ministries that reach out into the community are very important because that is where the harvest is found. The educational, spiritual enrichment and support ministries prepare us for reaping the harvest.
In 1990, we had our first 14 day Tent Revival under the leadership of Pastor Mark Tolbert. During that tent meeting over 85 souls were baptized in Jesus name and 43 were filled with the Holy Ghost. For the next three years, our power packed tent meetings drew hundreds as the Holy Spirit, miracles and deliverance fell each night.
Our youth of today have little to complain about regarding activities. The youth department offers Children’s Church services on Sunday to instill biblical teachings and Bible study. The curriculum also offers recreational opportunities such as field trips and organized sports. One such field trip was three days of camping on property located in Odessa, Missouri that was donated to Christ Temple. An outing that both the young and old enjoyed.
A highlight in Pastor Tolbert’s ministry was the opening of the Lee A. Tolbert Community Center in the Spring of 1997. His vision behind the center was to offer a place where children from the church and neighborhood could come for fun and fellowship. He feels that if we can draw them for recreation, we can draw them to the church. A basketball clinic at the center in March, 1998 featured Meadowlark Lemon, formerly of the Harlem Globetrotters. Approximately 130 children from around the city attended the one day session and over 250 spectators attended just to watch the famous Globetrotter.
In 2004 Bishop Tolbert informed the board that God had been dealing with him about changing the name of the church but he was not exactly sure what the name was supposed to be. So he asked the board members to bring in name suggestions. Nobody brought in any names to the next meeting. In his frustration Bishop Tolbert went before the lord in prayer on several occasions and finally asked God to release him from this thought and this vision since it did not seem to becoming together. In his effort to ditch the entire plan and move on God began to speak to him and ask Bishop Tolbert questions. He said what it the name of your Bible College? Victorious Life Bible Institute; The Lord said what do you call your television ministry and he answered Victorious Life Telecast where we preach the Gospel that will bring you to a Victorious life. God asked yet another question, what do you call your book store? He answered Victorious Life Book Ministry and God said that’s the new name of the Church. Victorious Life Church. While branding all of these ministries Victorious Life components it had never dawned on Bishop Tolbert that God was actually establishing a new name for the church even though God had spoken to him several years prior to the actual changing of the name. The actual name change was finalized in 2006.
Being heard over the airwaves has raised Victorious Life Church to a new level in the community. Our services have aired on various radio stations for many years and in 1994 we began broadcasting on television (locally and on cable). Audio and video tapes of the broadcast are available for public viewing. Also, telephone prayer lines are open during the telecasts. These are some of the modern resources of today that Bishop Tolbert uses to spread the Gospel. But, we know that God still uses “just plain old ordinary people” to bring in the sheep, therefore, increasing the flock.
Our Pastor is on a mission from God. Not willing to be defeated by Satan, he is willing to try anything to spread the Gospel; thereby rendering Satan a defeated foe. His vision is that we all live a prosperous and victorious life. Since the inception of Pastor Tolbert’s vision from God, he has always planned to build a community that will include assisted living facilities, a senior citizens complex, a child care and head start center and a Christian skating facility just to name a few.
One of Bishop Tolbert’s other revolutionary idea was to stream our services live via the internet. In years past we sent cassette tapes and VHS tapes out to college students and those who were sick and shut in. Bishop Tolbert was one of the first pastors in the nation to stream our services live via the internet before many streaming companies were born. Our services are now not only seen on television but anyone can view our services live via lap or desk top computer, IPhone, iPad, or any device that can access the internet.
In 2010 Bishop Tolbert was led of the Lord to begin an 8 am service; not just because the 10:45 am service was filling up. The Lord led him to start this service to facilitate the schedules of the various members and community that needed a service that would allow them to get to church and make it to work or come to church after working an all night shift but they could not stay up and wait on a 10:45 am service. This service has grown immensely. The first 8 am service Bishop gave out long stem roses to all the ladies that attended, it was awesome to see the smiles on the faces of the ladies who were blessed with a rose. Bishop Tolbert’s philosophy is to serve the public. This move to add an early Sunday service though a strain on his voice and the ministry team knew that it was a necessary addition to help more people be able to hear the gospel and take away any excuse about being able to give God some quality time on Sunday.
The Word of God says, “Without a Vision the People Perish”. By the help of God and the commitment of the people of God, this vision will come to pass. Seventy five years have passed and God has established a vision for this church. The church Is not brick and mortar, nor is it flesh and blood. The church is the institution created, ordained, and established by God. We are confident that by the grace of God there will be a Victorious Life Church here to spread the Gospel until Jesus Christ comes back.
God has produced several anointed pastors that received their nurturing through the church. Though some of these great persons are no longer with us, they also have passed on great legacies. The fruit of our labor is still evident today through its off-spring churches.
Bethel Pentecostal Church (New Bethel)
Founder: Pastor Rosie Summers
Pastor: Elder Kenneth Neal
Pastor: Elder Reuben K. Johnson
Pastor: Elder Jathan Austin
Present Pastor: Bishop A. Glenn Brady
Grace Temple Pentecostal Church (Greater Grace)
Founder: Elder Alonzo Taylor
Pastor: Elder James Roustic, Sr.
Pastor: Elder Virgil Cox
Pastor: Elder Wilbur Taylor
Present Pastor: Elder Eugene Taylor
Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ
Founder: Elder James Alford
Present Pastor: Suffragan Bishop Daniel Chavis
Good News Temple
Founder: Elder E. L. Gordon
Present Pastor: District Elder Morris Brown
Christ Temple Church, Waterloo, IA
Founder & Present Pastor:
Suffragan Bishop Lee A. Tolbert, Jr.
Emmanuel Repentance Temple
Founder: Pastor Lois Seals
Present Pastor: Pastor Celeste Ward
Founder: Elder Melgin Williams
Present Pastor: Sister Ethel Williams
Greater Miracle Rejoicing Temple
Founder & Present Pastor: Pastor Jerry Spratt
Word of Life Worship Center
Founder & Present Pastor: Evangelist Sherri Fuller
Berean Apostolic Worship Center
Founder & Present Pastor: Elder Nathaniel Bradley
New Life Empowerment Center, St. Louis, MO
Founder & Present Pastor – Elder Christopher Collier
Our Mission is to provide a place and opportunity to worship Jesus Christ and preach a message of hope and faith through God’s Holy word. This message will develop, mature, and lead people of all ages, races, creeds, and colors to a Victorious Life through Jesus Christ.