Smallwood Edmond Williams (1907~1991)
Bible Way Churches
Bishop Smallwood Williams was born on October 17, 1907 in Lynchburg, Virginia. A few months prior to his birth, his father died, leaving his mother (Mary) widowed, and with child. mary was a dynamic spiritual, and educational influence on young Smallwood. At the early age of fourteen, he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in Columbus, Ohio where he and his mother had moved. Columbus is the place where Smallwood spent most of his early life.
Not long after graduating from high school in Columbus, this young boy pracher was licensed at the age of sixteen, and at the age of eighteen, he became ordained, the youngest so honored in the Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As Smallwood progressed into young manhood, the late Bishop Lawson talked with him about going to Washington, D.C., to organize a church. In presenting this great challenge to Elder Williams, Bishop Lawson did not paint a rosy picture, but instead he told Smallwood that washington was a “preachers graveyard, and a mission wreckshop”. What a challenge! Although he could have refused, he humbly accepted.
In 1927 Elder Smallwood Williams was sent to Washington, D.C. by Bishop Lawson. From this appointment came the powerful organization known as the Bible Way Churches. At the age of twenty, Smallwood left the comfort of his home in Columbus, Ohio and arrived at Union Station in Washington, with only $5.00 in his pocket. He often related how that two angels met him at Union Station, “Goodness and Mercy,” and how they continued with him until the end of his life.
In 1941 the Bible Way Church began broadcasting over radio station WINX on Saturday nights. This brought the church great recognition and attention with many more citizens in the Washinton, D.C. area. Elder Williams would frequently announce very catchy subjects to preach, and people would come out to see its usual scriptural basis, and how the sermons would be developed.
The Bible tells us that it is not good for man to dwell alone. Elder Williams went to Washington alone, and single. However, he had been in courtship with a very fine young lady, sister Verna Lucille Rapley of New York City. Verna was serving as pianist and director for the Refuge Temple choir. She was loved and cherished by the New York congregation for her loving personality and talent. She was a jewel to the church, but now she had become engaged to a well-known young man in Washington, D.C., by the name of Smallwood E. Williams.
It was out of a National Pentecostal Ministerial Conference, September 25-29, 1957 that the Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ World-Wide was born. This conference was held at the Bible Way Church, 1130 New Jersey Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C. The authenticity and orthodoxy of the Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ World Wide can be attested as to its validity; Historically, Experimentally, and Doctrinally.
Bishop Williams was a civic leader and cival rights advocate. He fought for justice ad racial equality. On June 28, 1991 at the age of 84, Bishop Smallwood E. Williams went home to be with the Lord.