The House of God Church History

The House of God, Which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy, Inc., Keith Dominion, was founded by the Late Mother Mary Magdalena Lewis Tate.

Mother Tate began traveling and preaching in Steel Springs, Tennessee and Paducah, Kentucky. She gathered black and white audiences into informal "Do Rights" bands or churches in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. She preached to both white and black audiences. She officially organized the church in 1903 in Greenville, Alabama. The church name was taken from I Timothy, 3:15-16.

The official history states that after a period of illness, Mother Tate experienced a miraculous healing and the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost as evidenced by speaking in tongues. Thereafter, she convened a 10-day General Assembly in from June 25 to July 5, 1908 and officially incorporated the organization. As founder she also was designated the Overseer and Chief Leader of the Church. Under her leadership the

church continued to expand. The rapid growth of the church through powerful revivals and the State and General Assemblies, soon gave the church tremendous strength. By 1916, the church had spread throughout twenty states, including the District of Columbia and into some foreign countries.

In 1924, the House of God Church Headquarters was established in Nashville, Tennessee. The church also purchased eleven 50 x 140 city lots for $5,000, including a large brick building with five rooms. A publishing house opened in the building after it was renovated and equipped with printing presses, paper cutters, print type and type-setting equipment. Part-time workers hired from several African American schools in the are staffed the publishing house. For two decades from this location, the New and Living Way Publishing Company printed Sunday School literature, music, and several periodicals.

The Church Founder

Bishop Mary Magdalena Lewis Tate ("Mother Tate") was born in Vanleer, Tennessee on January 5, 1871. She was the first American woman to serve as a Bishop of a nationally recognized denomination. She is also the first African American woman to incorporate a religious denomination in the United States – more than a dozen organizations esteem her as their founder and establishmentarian.

Mother Tate began her ministry by gathering converts into “Do Rights” bands or churches, so named because people responded to her message by wanting to “do right.” These associations in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee purchased property to house a meeting place for their worship services of song, testimony, Bible study, and preaching. In 1903, she united these groups into what we now call the House of God, Which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy.

Mother Tate also facilitated open and visible access to church leadership for women. She purposefully used generic language when referring to church positions in order to make them available for both genders, and she mentored women to take their place in leadership. In response, women answered her call. During the denomination’s first century, several hundred women served as evangelists, ministers, and bishops.

At the core of Mother Tate’s teaching stood the concept of cleanness. Cleanness, she taught, must direct one’s entire life, from eating and drinking, to marriage and family, even to the way one participates in social and community affairs. She died on December 28, 1930 and was buried in the family plot in Dickson, Tennessee. Her remains were relocated in Nashville's historic Greenwood Cemetery in 1963.

The 2nd – 5th Church Administrators

In 1931, Bishop Mary F.L. Keith was selected and ordained Chief Overseer for The House of God, Inc., Keith Dominion. In 1948, Bishop Keith erected a sanctuary at Headquarters. Dormitories were later built. Under her leadership, the Church was established/re-established in across the nation and on the island of Jamaica. Bishop Keith also opened the Keith Bible Institute and The House of God Home for Children before passing away on July 14, 1962. ​

In 1962, Bishop James W. Jenkins was selected and ordained Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop. Under Bishop Jenkins, the church received Tax Exemption Status from the federal government, launched a church newspaper, and erected a new national headquarter complex. Bishop Jenkins grew the number of churches and the portfolio of land and properties. During his tenure, the Courtesy Welfare Program was launched to assist members in emergencies and placed the church on a budget system prior to his earthly transition on July 15, 1990. ​

On August 9, 1990, Bishop James C. Elliott was anointed and appointed the fourth Chief Overseer of the Church. He continued church expansion into new states and the countries of Canada, Haiti, and the Bahamas. Bishop Elliott focused on restoration of the national complex and programmatic expansion. He is also celebrated as the founder of the House of God Academy and Bible College. Bishop Elliott died on May 26, 2004.

In September 2004, Bishop Rebecca W. Fletcher was selected and ordained Chief Overseer and Senior Bishop. A long-time resident of Philadelphia, she devoted her life to evangelizing the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. She commissioned the official church museum and promoted the work of the International Missionary Outreach Society. On February 8, 2021, Bishop Fletcher exchanged time for eternity.

The Current Senior Bishop

Bishop Dr. Clary K. Butler, Sr. was consecrated as the presiding Senior Bishop, General Moderator, and Chief Overseer of the House of God Church on Sunday, March 28, 2021 in Nashville, TN. A native of Charleston, S.C., Dr. Butler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from South Carolina State University, a Master of Arts degree from Webster University and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Colorado Theological Seminary. ​

Chosen by God for five-fold ministry, he received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1978, prior to being called into the ministry in 1979. He began his ministry as a Mission Worker, Associate Minister, Assistant Pastor, Pastor, Presiding Elder, General Elder, State Elder and Presiding Bishop. He is married to Deaconess Patsy Butler and together they have three adult children. His commission is clear – “Evangelize, Bring Back the Love and Fill God's House.”

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