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In 1915, Bishop G. T. Haywood, the first Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the world, sent Bishop R. C. Lawson to Columbus, Ohio, from Indianapolis, Indiana, to lead this growing congregation. Bishop Lawson was an evangelist at that time, who had already established churches in places like San Antonio, Texas. In 1914, he established Lincoln Park Church of Christ, now the Conquerors Assembly, where Suffragan Bishop Jon Ellis is the Pastor. Prior to 1918, Bishop Lawson also established the Temple Church of Christ, in St. Louis, Missouri, where Suffragan Bishop Ron E. Stephens is the current Pastor.


Bishop Austin Augustus Layne was born on April 2, 1891, in Barbados, British West Indies to Reverend Samuel and Mrs. Helen Layne. He was one of nine children, five boys, and four girls. He arrived in New York City in May 1913; he was 22 years old when he came to the United States.

Education: Bishop Layne was educated in private and public schools in Barbados. After coming to New York, he took a graduate course from Columbia University; he also studied at the Shelton College of New York and the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Illinois.

The Call: His former religious experience was Episcopalian and the Christian Mission Church; he subsequently accepted the Pentecostal Faith under the pastorate of Mother Susan G. Lightford at The King’s Chapel Assembly Church of the Apostolic Faith in New York City. During this time, the Lord called him into the ministry, and he started preaching from the street corners in New York City.

Holy Matrimony: In August 1914, a young lady named Selena Alberta Stewart who was also born in Barbados, British West Indies, on May 14, 1891, to Mr. Samuel and Mrs. Martha Stewart (a family of six children, three girls and three boys) came to the United States of America at the age of 23 and arrived in New York City to temporarily visit a cousin.

In the spring of 1916, the young Minister Austin Layne introduced the young Selena Stewart to the Apostolic Faith. She was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. She embraced the Pentecostal Faith (becoming “one of them,” the “noisy” folks she condemned.)

On Thursday, October 12, 1916 at eight o’clock, at 202 West 131st Street, New York City, in the home of her cousin, Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey Griffith, Selena Alberta Stewart, and Austin Augustus Layne were joined together in Holy Matrimony.

A Step of Faith: On October 19, 1918, they left New York City and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, and spent two weeks with Elder J. M. Turpin. Due to an epidemic of influenza, the churches were closed, and the service was held in the Turpin’s living room; six people were baptized, and some were filled with the Holy Ghost.

The Storefront Church: On November 20, 1918, they arrived in St. Louis, Missouri. upon their arrival, they took over a small church congregation that had approximately seven to twelve people. These people held religious services on Market Street; it was a little storefront with a seating capacity of about thirty. At that time, people in St. Louis were very much against the Pentecostal Movement and they referred to Bishop Layne as the “Anti-Christ.”

Tough Times and Courageous Leadership: The members of the St. Louis storefront church were very poor, so Austin and Selena Layne took the money they bought with them from New York City and bought 25 chairs, a stove and the two of them wall-papered the interior of the building. Here they worshipped until it was leased from under them; they were forced to move. They found a place on Laclede, only smaller and less desirable, without conveniences and a horse stable next to it. The rent was $20 a month. With high hopes that God would open a way for them, they got a more desirable place in the Fall of 1920 on Leffingwell and Bernard Street, which was more commodious and sanitary, but the rent was $30 per month. Some members thought they had a hard enough time getting $20, and the question was asked, “How are we going to get $30 per month?” Their courageous leader told them, “God would provide,” and so He did!

The Vision Comes to Pass On January 18, 1948: The Temple Church of Christ, 4146 Washington Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri was built and equipped for a total of $125,000. On September 12, 1948, the Corner Stone was laid. On February 18, 1949, the saints worshipped in their new edifice and the first Communion Service was held. On November 25, 1962, Temple Church of Christ liquidated the mortgage, six years before maturity. The last project to be completed by Bishop Layne was the central air-conditioning, which cost $11,000.

Home going:  Bishop Austin Augustus Layne departed this life at the age of 76 on October 15, 1967, and Sister Selena Layne departed this life at the age of 92 on January 20, 1984.

Temple Church of Christ Pastors

  • Bishop Austin Augustus Layne, Sr.–November 20, 1918 to October 15, 1967

  • Bishop Samuel Austin Layne, Sr.–October 1967 to June 11, 1997

  • Elder Clifford Wayne Matthews, Sr.–July 1997 to October 2007

  • District Elder Ronald E. Stephens–January 6, 2008 to present (Pastor Stephens was installed on Sunday, April 13, 2008)

Under Pastor Stephens’ leadership, many accomplishments were achieved at the Washington location. On Sunday, November 1, 2015, the congregation moved from Washington Boulevard to its present location at 2741 Dayton Street. With the help of the Lord, we were able to purchase this building with two parking lots and additional property with cash! Meaning–no future mortgage to burn! As of today, the sanctuary has been totally renovated, extensive work on the two parking lots, replacing the entire roof, new awnings, church sign, tuck pointing and sealing of all windows, and renovation of the Lower Level.

District Elder Ron E. Stephens was elevated to Suffragan Bishop in 2020.

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