Mother Mary Magdalena Lewis Tate

Mother Mary Magdalena Lewis Tate, who was then called “An Apostle/Elder of Jesus Christ, a Mother and a light to the nations of the earth”, established the Church of the Living God in 1903.  She felt moved by the Holy Spirit of God to go out into the world and preach the Gospel first at Steel Springs, Tennessee and then in Paducah, Kentucky accompanied by her two small sons, Walter Curtis Lewis, the elder, and Felix Earley Lewis, the younger.  At that time she was known as Saint Mary Magdalena.  Mother Tate was greatly used of the Lord; an anointed servant whose preaching attracted both white and black people. The thrust of her ministry was a call to Holiness, with emphasis on clean living, sanctification and perfection.

Mother Tate’s call to the ministry and commission to go and preach the Gospel was more plainly shown to her in Paducah, KY.  She moved with fear and obedience to begin the work of preaching the Gospel as she made her first ministry voyage to Brooklyn, Illinois.  She returned to Paducah, KY and being pressed by the Holy Spirit, she was led to go to Paris, Tennessee.

On the streets of Paris, Tennessee, Mother Tate stood up and boldly preached the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  People, both white and colored, were amazed at the demonstration of the Gospel.  Her preaching and teaching was a great token of her Apostleship and Bishopric to which God had foreordained her.  She was so encouraged in the Lord that she was determined to go into all the world and preach. She visited many homes and taught the people the Word of God and many believed. Many others were also amazed at her preaching of the unadulterated Word of God.

Mother Tate’s work carried her to the State of Alabama where she and her followers were called “Do Rights”.  She was inspired and established many believers in the dogma called “The Cleanliness of the Word” based on St. John 15:3.  In 1907, while in Alabama, her ministry had come to a point where over nine hundred people were converted and turned to Christ through her preaching.  In 1908, Mother Tate underwent a supernatural experience which she understood to be the baptism and infilling of the Holy Ghost.  After that, she began preaching the baptisms and filling (indwelling) of the Holy Ghost as she found it in the Bible.  She also boldly went into the water and baptized a number of those converts with her own hands, through the physical strength given her of the Lord’s power.  She organized local units of her converts and called them “Bands” instead of churches.  The various “bands” came together and permanently organized and incorporated under the name “Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the truth”.

Mother Tate, the first Chief Overseer of our Church, traveled and preached the Gospel with her two sons through the State of Tennessee.  Mother Tate called the First General Assembly in Greenville, Alabama, over which she presided. Some walked as many as thirty miles to get to the first great Assembly of the church and also the first great Pentecostal Revival of the Church.  The meeting continued ten days or more and nearly a hundred people received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Mother Mary Magdalena was made the Overseer and Chief Leader of the Church, preachers were ordained, and pastors appointed before that Assembly adjourned.

Churches were set up in various places in Georgia and an Assembly was held at Waycross in 1911. The attendance was very large and some saints came to this meeting from Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.  In Ocala, Florida, Mother Tate established the Church, and then moved on to establish the Church in Tennessee and Kentucky.  Presiding Elders were appointed by 1911 and four State Bishops were ordained in the Church at Quitman, GA in June 1914.  By 1916, the Church had spread very fast and had grown very strong reaching over twenty states within the United States including the District of Columbia and some foreign countries and Islands.

From 1903 - 1914, Mother Tate called together the humble people of the southern sections of the country into the true light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and she taught true holiness in the Church of the Living God.  As the world war ensued, many of the Saints made an exodus from the South to the North, East, and West seeking new labor and new homes.  For a time, it was thought by some to be the worse run of the Church, but it proved to be for the best and served for the general out spread, building up, and establishment of the Church in nearly every state of the union from 1914 – 1924.  Mother M.L. Tate sent Bishop W.C. Lewis, one of the first four State Bishops, together with Bishop A.H. White to the east during the time of the great exodus. These, together with Mother Tate and Rev. B.L. McLeod with the assistance of Bishop F. Giles, worked to establish the Church in the northeast.

In 1929, Mother M.L. Tate, appointed Bishop A.H. White as the one to carry on the work of the Church and in a subsequent General Assembly, he was elected Senior Bishop of all churches connected with the Pennsylvania Group incorporated under the name “House of God, Which is the Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth”.  There are other branches of the Church of the Living God in many areas who continue to use slight variations of the name “Church of the Living God” and still carry on the great work begun by this anointed woman.