WHO IS GILBERT EARL PATTERSON?
Gilbert Earl Patterson was born September 22, 1939 in the parsonage next door to the Church of God in Christ in Humboldt, Tennessee. He is the son of the late Bishop William Archie Patterson, Sr., and Mary Louise Patterson. He is the brother of the late Elder William Archie Patterson, Jr.; Evangelist Mary Alice Patterson Hawkins; Tennessee 4th Jurisdictional Supervisor of Women Mother Lee Ella Patterson Smith; and Evangelist Barbara Patterson Davis.
He was saved in May of 1951 at the age of 11 at Holy Temple church of God in Christ, 1254 Wilson St., Memphis, Tennessee where Bishop W. A. Patterson, Sr., was Pastor. At that time, a revival was being conducted by Elder Johnny Brown.
In May of 1952, the Patterson family moved to 1695 Chicago Boulevard, in Detroit, Michigan. While in Detroit, at the age of 16, Gilbert Patterson received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost on Sunday night, September 16, 1956 at his father’s church, New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ, 7361 Linwood Avenue. One month later, the Lord called him into the gospel ministry. He preached his first sermon on Tuesday night, January 22, 1957. The sermon text was Isaiah 59:9; his subject was “We Wait For Light, But We Walk In Darkness.” He was licensed by his father in March of 1957 and was ordained by Bishop J. S. Bailey on August 28, 1958.
In Detroit, Gilbert Patterson attended and graduated from Hutchins Intermediate and Central High School. He also attended the Detroit Bible Institute.
As a teenager, Gilbert worked diligently as a choir member, lead singer in the New Jerusalem Ensemble and as a part-time national evangelist. While yet a teenager, he was privileged to speak in the National Holy convocation of the Church of God in Christ and in the International Youth Congress. On two occasions, he was privileged to preach in the presence of Bishop C. H. Mason.
In December of 1961, Gilbert Patterson returned to Memphis to serve as Co-Pastor of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ and to attend Lemoyne College. At that time Holy Temple had 80 adult members and a few children.
From December 1961-June 1964, Holy Temple experienced no growth. However, something happened in June that turned the church around. Elder Gilbert Patterson led the congregation in 3 days and nights of total abstinence fasting and prayer. This was followed in July with a 30-day tent revival which was held two blocks from the church on the corner of Wilson and McLemore. During the revival, 55 new members were added to the church. From that time until the present, God has blessed Gilbert Patterson to bring together large crowds.
In 1965, Elder Gilbert Patterson became known as God’s young Apostle because of his gift to gather large crowds and lead so many to Jesus Christ. At that time he was also talking about establishing missions and organizing churches. He continued as Co-Pastor of Holy Temple and the church experienced tremendous growth between July 1964 and December 1974.
In 1969, following the death of Tennessee Bishop, A. B. McEwen, Sr., a rift began in the Patterson family. Many of the Pastors of West Tennessee wanted Gilbert Patterson’s father, Bishop W. A. Patterson, Sr., to return from Detroit to full time service in Memphis as the Bishop of West Tennessee. Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson refused, using the Catholic Church as his example. He felt that the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ should be the Bishop of Memphis just as the Pope is Bishop of Rome.
Gilbert Patterson attempted to champion the cause for his father but failed. During the Convocation of 1974, the General Board supported the Presiding Bishop and was preparing to move against Bishop W. A. Patterson, Sr., and his son to remove them from Holy Temple. In an effort to end the feud and stop any further efforts against his father, Gilbert Patterson resigned from Holy Temple with an effective date of February 23, 1975. In the meantime, Gilbert Patterson purchased and remodeled the old Mt. Veron Baptist Church building at 547 Mississippi Boulevard. At that location he opened Temple of Deliverance, the Cathedral of Bountiful Blessings, March 2, 1975. On that day 436 persons became members of the church. They came from every demonination and religious organization in Memphis. The church was too small from the first day. In less than three years the membership grew to over 2,000, therefore, immediate plans were made to build a larger sanctuary. On October 8, 1978, 3 years and 7 months from the opening, Temple of Deliverance entered its new sanctuary.
At a cost of 1.2 million dollars, it was the first church built by blacks in Memphis at a cost more than a million dollars. That point was noted in the December 7, 1978, issue of Jet Magazine. By 1984, the 1,200 seat sanctuary could no longer contain the 11:00 a.m. worshippers. After adding chairs in the aisles, the crowd frequently overflowed into the fellowship hall downstairs where the worship could be viewed on a closed circuit T.V. screen. On July 5, 1987, Bishop C. D. Owens dedicated the new wing which seated approximately 600.
In September of 1986, during a telephone conversation with his uncle, the Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, the Presiding Bishop expressed his desire to see his nephew back as an active member of the Church of God in Christ. As a result of that conversation, Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr., had Gilbert Patterson’s name added to the General Board’s agenda during the Convocation of 1986. Many of the Board members had waited for this day and had often spoken of Gilbert Patterson’s return. Board members such as O. T. Jones, Jr., F. D. Washington, J. D. Husband, LeRoy Anderson and C. D. Owens were very ardent in their support.
The most vocal was Gilbert Patterson’s lifelong friend, Bishop Chandler D. Owens. He refused to break his friendship with Gilbert Patterson although he was frequently under great pressure to do so.
During the November 1986 General Board meeting, the General Board voted 11 to 0 to invite Gilbert Patterson to come back in the active ministry of the Church of God in Christ as a Jurisdictional Bishop with jurisdiction in Memphis. This meeting was chaired by Bishop L.H. Ford in the absence of Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. This action of the General Board in November 1986 was not executed by Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr., until January 29, 1988 at the Bishop’s Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bishop G. E. Patterson was elected to the General Board in 1992 and again in 1996. After graciously conceding the last election for Presiding Bishop that he lost by only one vote, he was elected on November 14, 2000 by more than 900 votes.