Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wilson to be ordained bishop
By SUE WATSON
Bethlehem Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will ordain Bro. Steve Wilson as bishop Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. The celebration will continue at morning and evening worship services the following Sunday.
The ordination service will be conducted by Rev. Raymond Bishop, Mississippi district superintendent. Special speakers for the three special services include Rev. Robert Martin, general superintendent of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Rev. Terry Lough, St. Mary’s West Virginia; and Rev. Martyn Ballestero, South Bend, Indiana.
Bethlehem Church was established in 1945 by Bro. Alvie Bishop, and Bro. Jim Pipkin preached two years before Steve’s dad, Bro. J. Frank Wilson moved his family from Atlanta to pastor the church.
Steve Wilson was one and a half years old when his family arrived in the tiny town of Bethlehem in the southeast corner of Marshall County.
Wilson remembers the austere beginnings of the little church.
“It was a backwoods, country community then with gravel roads and the works,” he said.
Originally, church services were held in the Overton School house, about one block from where the first church was built. The last addition to the church was in 1986. The sanctuary seats about 600 today and regular attendance at Sunday morning worship service is around 300 souls with weekly attendance, including Wednesday night prayer service, at about 350, Wilson said.
Bethlehem Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is more than a house of worship. Wilson established the Bethlehem Christian School about 29 years ago and served as school administrator for the first 25 years.
The school is a K-12 serving about 70 students today. Pastor Jon Vazquez took over as school administrator after Wilson moved aside and Jacob Loveless serves as principal.
Bethlehem Christian School’s future plans include construction of a new auditorium, school house and gym.
Following his father’s footprints, Wilson began his 40-year trek in the ministry as youth pastor and music director, moving up through the ranks of assistant and associate pastor, pastor and senior pastor. Bethlehem has not had a bishop since his father Frank Wilson passed away.
Wilson said as bishop he will be responsible for the big picture, helping the church chart its direction and holding a vision for the future.
The pastor, Bro. Jon Vazquez, will continue to handle the day-today business of the church ministry.
No stranger to service work, Wilson served as general superintendent of the church organization - the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ - and a membership of about 1,000 ministers headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. He was bishop of that organization from 1999 to 2007. Wilson also served on the national organization in various capacities for 20 years.
He is not a stay-at-home preacher.
“In the early ’70s, I was manager of the Wilson Brothers Quartet which travelled in the East and made recording projects,” he said.
The Wilson Brothers Quartet will sing at his ordination ceremony.
Wilson has participated in revivals and conferences in Chile, Braziel, Argentina, Norway, Venezuela and Canada, to name a few far-away places. He has toured the Holy Land.
Wilson said the part of the ministry which has brought him the most fulfillment has been preaching evangelistic services, seeing many people converted, and helping others, comforting them and officiating at funerals for their families.
“Seeing many lives changed is my thrill of life, as well as my family,” he said. “One of my highest objectives is family.”
Wilson knows much about comforting and being comforted. The Wilsons lost their only son Patrick to a tragic drowning accident when the young man was 23. The son was a leader, a musician and travelled with a Southern gospel group. Had he lived, he would be following his grandfather’s and father’s footprints. He attended the Indiana Bible College whereas Bro. Wilson trained for the ministry at the Pentecostal Bible School in Tupelo. Patrick had served Bethlehem Church one year as youth pastor and school coach at the time of this death.
Patrick’s funeral was attended by many friends, as he was well known in the Southern gospel music circuit. Over 600 cars were parked for the service and Channel 3 News covered the funeral due to Patrick’s recognition throughout the Southeast in gospel music, sports and youth work.
Wilson explained that there are various Pentecostal movements which are akin to the Apostolic church movement.
“The church I pastor adheres to the doctrine of repentance, baptism for the remission of sin in the name of Jesus, and the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost as evidenced by speaking in tongues,” he said. “We believe in the Oneness of the Godhead with Jesus being the Supreme Being of the Godhead. We believe in a holiness lifestyle.
“When you say Pentecostal, that includes a lot of other denominations that speak in tongues. There are various Apostolic denominations that follow the apostles’ doctrine.”
There are numbers of Pentecostal movements in Marshall County, he said, both in the predominantly white and African American churches.
“We fellowship with black Apostolic movements in the county and have some black church members,” he said. “We desire to start a Hispanic ministry, also.”
Wilson is married to Pat Snider of Sharon, Tenn. They united in marriage in 1971 and are parents of Stephanie of Eureka, California, who is married to a pastor, Jon McDonald; and of Carla of Alexandria, Louisiana, whose husband, Johnathan Dean, is a youth minister of music. Bro. Wilson and Sister Pat are blessed with three grandchildren, Sydney and Simon McDonald of Eureka, and Klein Dean of Alexandria.
Bethlehem Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is located at the intersection of Highway 349 and Bethlehem Road, seven miles south of the Town of Potts Camp.
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