History

The Late Honorable Bishop William Lugene Smith, Founder:

Bishop William Lugene Smith was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 7, 1906.

Bishop accepted the baptism in Jesus Name on February 12, 1922 and was filled with the Holy Ghost the 16th of the same month.

Bishop William L. Smith had a Vision of his mission, just a glimpse of what the Lord wanted him to do.

As he prayed, the Lord showed him a little white church in sunny California.   At that time, Bishop was a young preacher and stood diligently by his Pastor, District Elder William Wonders, serving as Assistant Pastor. But the Vision of the little white church always stayed as a vivid picture in his thoughts.

His job as a railroad porter brought him often to Los Angeles. One day, while driving down Hooper Avenue, the Lord brought his Vision to immediate reality for there before him was the little white church he had seen years before in his dreams.  April 13, 1942 Bishop Douglas officially installed him as Pastor of Bethlehem Assembly Church. The church was incorporated in 1944 and was renamed Bethlehem Temple, Inc.

Bishop traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. He wrote a number of songs, poems and one book.

He served for fifty-four years as Pastor of Bethlehem Temple, Inc. We believe and trust that his life meant something for younger ministers to pattern after. Many pastors went out in the vineyard by way of Bethlehem Temple Church and Bishop Smith’s ministry.

Bishop retired from the pastorate on April 21, 1996 at which time he became Pastor Emeritus.  Bishop recommended that his son in the Gospel, Dr. Gentry Richardson, Sr., take his place as the pastor of Bethlehem Temple.  Bishop lived to be 103 years old.

In July 2013 Dr. Gentry Richardson, Sr. passed the mantle on to his son, District Elder Gentry Richardson, Jr. who God is using mightily to take Bethlehem Temple to a new dimension.