Bishop William Lee Bonner
Bishop William Lee Bonner was born in a small southern town named Milledgeville, Georgia. Bishop Bonner is the second boy born to Emmett and Jane Bonner. His father wanted him to continue in the family tradition of share cropping, yet the Lord had another plan for the Bishop. His first step was migrating from his small town to New York City. It was on 133rd Street that the young Bonner was saved under the pastorate of Bishop Robert Clarence Lawson in the old brownstone known as ‘the cradle of Refuge.’ As a young minister he served as the chauffeur and right-hand to Bishop Lawson. In 1946, he was appointed to pastor a work at 13126 Orleans, Detroit, Michigan with the words of Bishop Lawson in his heart “Add thou to it”. Under his ministry the congregation experienced rapid growth. Bishop Lawson saw something special in the young Elder Bonner as he began to climb the ranks in the organization swiftly.
After the death of Bishop R. C. Lawson Pastor Bonner became the next pastor of the Greater Refuge Temple. Through many prayers and fasting, he sought ways and means to upgrade and rebuild the Temple, which now stood as the mother church and the headquarters of the organization. With the help of God, he was able to set in motion the wheels of renovation and modernization, to redesign the interior and the physical structure to reflect the beauty and to depict the divine order of God. Spiritual restructuring would follow. Bishop Bonner continued to build wherever he went; first churches, then adding other projects; cultural/recreational facilities for the youth, family development centers; and most recently the W.L. Bonner College, the R.C. Lawson Library, a Retirement Community and seven million dollar Southern Regional Headquarters Church in Columbia SC. The Lord has also blessed Pastor Bonner to pastor five churches with a membership of over 10,000 people combined. Through the anointing that God has placed on his life, Pastor Bonner continues to rebuild countless lives and winning to Christ hundreds-of-thousands souls. Today only major coliseums and convention centers are able to accommodate the large convocations of the COOLJC.
Bishop Bonner’s life stands as the Lord’s role model to all who choose to walk in the Light. His Spirit filled life has served as an example to many. His passion to win souls for Christ has been the principle directive of the COOLJC and the influence of Bonner’s teaching and preaching has turned many young men to focus their attention to preaching the Word and yielding their life to God and the work of evangelism.
An evangelist at heart, Bishop Bonner is one of a handful of men alive today who has the ability to move into a city and command a meeting of thousands as at day’s notice. As the spiritual overseer of more than 700 churches worldwide on three continents; and with an estimated membership of in the hundred thousands, Chief Apostle William Lee Bonner stands today as one of the greatest ministers of all times. The young elder, who dreamed of ministering to the world has become the “head”; abounding in great divine favor to the grace to “Add Thou To It.”
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