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Bishop James Houston Smith was called to teach and preach the gospel and worked along in the ministry under Mother M.L. Tate since 1918. He was appointed to pastor in 1920 and was later ordained an Elder, and served in the capacity of State Elder over Mississippi for many years. In 1928, Bishop Smith began to do the work of a Bishop under the leadership of the late Mother Tate, but was not consecrated to the Bishopric until 1932. He was known as a gospel preacher and teacher and had the honor of preaching in 20 states, during which he brought 14 churches into the reformation. Bishop Smith worked along with Bishop A.H. White and served as the Second Vice President General for many years. After the death of Bishop T. Williams in 1952, he then became Vice President General of the church. He was the Pastor of Smith Holy Temple Church of the Living God in Chicago, IL for 35 years and presided as Bishop of Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, and a portion of Ohio. He was a person that loved God and always tried to hold his light high so that others may see and follow. He would say repeatedly, “Take your share of sufferings as a good soldier” and “Love one another”. In 1981, he was elevated to rank of President General and Senior Bishop after the death of Bishop A.H. White. He served the Church faithfully until his death on Sunday, February 2, 1986, at 92 years of age.
Bishop W. J. Marshall
1st Vice President
Bishop J. H. Smith
1981 - 1986
Bishop Arthur Warren
2nd Vice President
Bishop James Houston Smith
Senior Bishop (1981 – 1986)
Bishop Arthur Lee Warren
Acting President General (1986)
After the passing of Bishop J.H. Smith, the Lord provided a “ram in the bush”. The General Board of Bishops at that time designated Vice President Bishop Arthur Lee Warren to serve as the Acting President General of the Church until the meeting of the next General Assembly. It was not an easy task, but Bishop Warren was a man who had come through the ranks of the Church of the Living God as a Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, State Officer, General Officer, Presiding Elder, Pastor and then Consecrated Bishop. There was no question about his loyalty to the House of God. He loved the Church of the Living God and had devoted his life to the up building of it. Therefore, it was with confidence that the General Church Body embraced him as he served as the Acting-Presiding Bishop until the General Assembly of October 1986, which convened in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Bishop Jesse J. White, Sr.
President General (1986 – 2008)
In the Church of the Living God, Bishops were elected by the general delegation of registered delegates at the General Assembly, which is held in October of each year. In 1986, however, after prayerful consecration and consideration, the General Board of Bishops brought forth a new ruling to the General Church Body, stating that the Presiding Bishop shall henceforth be elected from among the members of the General Board of Bishops by a majority vote of that Board. Thus, there would be a quadrennial election for the office of the Presiding President General and an election of a First and Second Presiding Vice President of the church.
Also during the 1986 General Assembly, the Constitution/Credentials Committee of the Church was organized and given responsibility for the written work of a revision of the Church of the Living God Constitution and Church Discipline. Bishop Jesse White, Sr. served as the Chairperson for that committee and at that Assembly, a ruling was made to change the tenure of General Church Officers from annual elections to quadrennial elections, effective October 1988. During the same year, Bishop Jesse J. White, Sr. was elected President General of the Church of the Living God.
Bishop J.J. White became known as the "Visionary Bishop". He was a President General with a great vision for the upbuilding of the church. Under his administration, a new Constitution was drafted and approved in the 1987 General Assembly. Greater stress was put on the faithful study of the Word of God. A Ministerial Retreat was organized for the purpose of uniting the Bishops and the clergy. This retreat brought about an opportunity for much interaction among the clergy and help to motivate the prepartion, presentation, and implementation of the Word of God within the local churches.
In March 2008, Bishop J.J. White relocated to Greenboro, North Carolina with his wife, Mother Mae White. During the same year, Bishop White expressed the numerous responsibilities as President General became too heavy of a load, along with the recuperation of Mother White from her illness and the decreasing of his physcial strength.
In order for the church to move forward, Bishop White felt this was the time to make a transition. During the National Foreign Mission Convention of 2008, Bishop White expressed a desire to relinquish some of his responsiblilites. The Board of Bishops voiced their concerns and accepted his desire to resign. Each Bishop felt that is was in the best interest for Bishop J.J. White; both physically and mentally.
Bishop Jesse J. White is now the new Senoir Adviser on the Executive Board of Bishops.