Re-Establishment Day

By: Khari Roulhac

I’d like to introduce you to a man named William Saunders Crowdy. His reputation so substantive, I’m careful not to squander. I’d like to tell you about The Farms. Profoundly unique in their location, their time and scope. I’d like to share with you a congregation. Rich in it’s history, steady in their beliefs, and dynamic in their sound.

William “Wilson” Saunders Crowdy was born to slave parents in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 1847. From a very young age he expressed a disdain for slave servitude. At the age of 16 he ran away from home and joined the army, serving in the Civil War from 1863-1865. He received his discharge from the army in 1872, then he settled in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Soon after establishing himself in Guthrie, he met and married his wife Lovely Yates Higgins (children; Mattie Leah, Isaac and August) and moved to Kansas City, Missouri. A cook and farmer by trade, “Will” did what it took to keep his family fed and a roof over their heads. His work with his local church as a deacon grounded him spiritually, his time in the Masonry gave him discipline.

On September 13, 1892, the Lord God appeared to William in a vision, telling him that he wanted him to redeem Israel out of spiritual, emotional, economical, and mental bondage. In Numbers 12:6, the Lord God declares; “Hear my words, if there be a prophet among you, I, The Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream”. So it was with with the call of William Saunders Crowdy, The Most High had chosen him to be a Prophet unto the world. Prophet Crowdy established The Church of God and Saints of Christ on November 8, 1896 (A re-establishment, four years after the initial revelation) with Tabernacles in Emporia, Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas. The Church of God and Saints of Christ is the oldest  African-American congregation that adheres to the Tenets of Judaism. The teachings of Prophet Crowdy were heard far and wide. He is said to have influenced many other congregations (including The House of Prayer, Church of God in Christ, Nation of Islam) locally and nationally.

In twelve short years, and in the shadow of the Emancipation Proclamation, Prophet Crowdy established nearly a hundred tabernacles in North America, Africa, Cuba and the West Indies. He was a successful businessman, industrialist, musician, Grand Master of Masons, author, and publisher. Today there are tabernacles in eighteen states in North America, Jamaica, Malawi, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Prophet Crowdy fell asleep on August 4, 1908. A succession of Leaders have sustained the work of Prophet Crowdy up until this present day. Today, his great-grandson, Chief Bishop Jehu August Crowdy Jr. leads the congregation.

Before his demise, and in 1903 Prophet Crowdy purchased forty acres of land in Bellville (Suffolk), Virginia. In 1917, Bishop William H. Plummer redeemed the first forty acres, after it had been lost due to financial difficulties, and then some. This land would come to be known as “The Farms”. There were eight farms in total. Some farms were devoted to turning soil to produce fruits and vegetables. While other farm’s housed a saw mill, an electric generator, schools, Buildings for church services, a music hall, dormitories, athletic fields, a dining hall, a variety of businesses and a residences for (widows and orphans, senior citizens) and the Chief Bishop and his family. It became the International Headquarters of the Church of God and Saints of Christ in 1919. The land provided for and served as a support system for the community. Serving the community in this way provided an example to the national congregation. This organic environment was the source of a special harmony for a growing, national congregation.

First Tabernacle – Boston was established in 1902, Pastored by Bishop William H. Plummer (Chief Bishop 1917-1931). This local congregation had a notable presence in the communities surrounding Woodbury (Roxbury), Fowler (Dorchester), and Warren Streets (Roxbury) in Boston. The Boston Tabernacle served the community with a Widow and Orphans home and an Early Child Development Center. Today, the Boston congregation worships at 10 Putnam Street in Roxbury, Pastored by Elder Gilbert G. White III. This group of creative and ambitious congregants, talk often about the members of old who sacrificed so that they may serve. They are actively looking for a new edifice to call home and they continue to echo Prophet Crowdy’s message of love for your fellow man. Their mission statement is “To provide a sanctuary for praise  and worship of God; love and fellowship of man; and direct need-based services to our community.”

November 8, 2012 is Re-Establishment Day. On this day the Church of God and Saints of Christ takes time to reflect on the life and works of Prophet Crowdy, the significance of their way of life, and the omnipotence of God Almighty. This year is the 110th anniversary of the establishment of this organization and the ten year celebration of the local Pastorship of Elder Gilbert G. White III. To commemorate Re-Establishment Day and the 110th anniversary, First Tabernacle – Boston is planning a “Silver and Black” Gala on the evening of Saturday December 1, 2012 (Moseley’s on the Charles in Dedham, MA). Sabbath Day services will be held at Holiday Inn, 55 Ariadne Road, Dedham, MA 02026 –  9am (Sabbath School) and 10am (Worship Service). All are welcome, bring a friend.

Attributing Sources

Church of God and Saints of Christ Website –

An Overview of the Church of God and Saints of Christ (a members handbook)
– Published by the Church of God and saints of Christ, 3927 Bridge Road, Suffolk, VA 23435

The History of the Church of God and Saints of Christ: Volume II (1908-1996)
– Published by the Church of God and saints of Christ, 3927 Bridge Road, Suffolk, VA 23435

Life and Works of William Saunders Crowdy
– Published by the Church of God and saints of Christ, 3927 Bridge Road, Suffolk, VA 23435

The Holy Bible: King James Version

About The Author

Related posts