The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ (COOLJC) was founded in the year 1919 by Bishop Robert C. Lawson, D.D., LL.D. Bishop Lawson in his lifetime was awarded many honors for his contributions as humanitarian and for his scholastic achievements. Among the honors, he received the Carver Merit Award for outstanding service to his race and country. He also held a Bachelor of Theology degree, a Doctor of Divinity degree, and a Doctor of Literary Letters Degree from the Lynchburg Seminary and College and the American Bible College.
In 1961, Bishop Lawson’s death necessitated new leadership. The Board of Apostles was formed with Bishop Hubert J. Spencer, Bishop William L. Bonner, and Bishop Maurice H. Hutner. Bishop Hubert J. Spencer was unanimously elected to preside.
Also in 1961, Bishop Bonner became the pastor of the three thousand member mother church, the Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem, New York City. William L Bonner became the third presider in 1973 and reign to 1995. He is now the Chief Apostle. Apostle Bonner currently pastors churches in Detroit, Michigan, New York City, Washington, D.C., Jackson, Mississippi, and Columbia, South Carolina. Under his administration, the assembly has grown from 155 churches in 1961 to over 500 churches and missions throughout the world.
Apostle Gentle I. Groover became the 4th presider and reign from 1995 to 2001. Apostle James I. Clark was the 5th presider and reign from 2001 to 2007. Apostle Matthew Norwood reign from 2007 to 2013, Apostle Robert L. Sanders, Sr.. reign from 2013 to 2016 and the current presider is Apostle James I. Clark.