Then, that August, the assembly rented and moved into a storefront at 1716 St. Aubin Street. This is where Elder Childs became affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. After being connected with that great movement, many of the able ministers met, including Mother Brewer, Mother Porter, Mother Campbell, and Sister White. The Lord gave great inspiration to the small group through His word. And so, the following year, probably in July 1920, the small congregation rented a living room for church purposes in the home of Sister Bryant on Lafayette Street. There they worshipped the Lord under many embarrassing and discouraging obstacles. Through all of this wandering and sacrificing, God was continually saving souls. After about two months of holding services in Sister Bryant’s living room, the group purchased a tent and pitched it on Clinton and Rivard Streets. This move took place in September 1920, and was considered the most historical place of their wandering. This is the place where Elder Carson of Springfield, Ohio, joined the saints. For some time, the services were conducted under many surprising and burdensome conditions, which finally resulted in a separation of the saints. Some of the saints moved their assembly to Duboise and Lafayette Streets. Others continued worshipping in the tent at Clinton and Rivard Streets. This development is difficult to trace and even more difficult to unravel.
Nevertheless, by the middle of November 1920, the assembly was reunited in a small storefront church at 1466 Monroe Street under the leadership of Elder Carson. Elder Childs left the church in the spring of 1921 to begin a work in Springfield, Ohio, where many souls were saved his ministry.
Then, during June 1921, by some spiritual carelessness and Biblical negligence, the union, again was broken, causing some of the people of God to wander as in a wilderness and a sheep without a shepherd.
It was in July and August 1921, a group of wandering saints regrouped and gathered at the home of Brother and Sister Harry Miller (Robbie) at 628 Napoleon Street for a prayer service. Among those present were: Brother Levi Miles, Brother Jordon Bond, Sister Lena Long, Sister Eleanor Hunter, Brother and Sister Louis Sydney, Brother and Sister Emond Sterrett Sr., Sister Robbie Miller and Sister Racalia Miller. They continued meeting at the above address until the death of Brother Miller.
Through a genuine concern for the lack of leadership among God’s people, they began to desire a pastor who might reconcile the saints together again, as one body. After many weeks of fasting, praying, suffering, and waiting on the Lord for deliverance, the answer finally came.
The faithful saints were led by the Lord through Brother and Sister Louis Sidney and Brother and Sister Sterrett to contact Elder Samuel Nathan Hancock. These saints had sat under his ministry in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was then presiding as Assistant Pastor to Bishop Garfield T. Haywood, the founder and the pastor of Christ Temple Church. Brother Levi Miles was appointed secretary for the purpose of composing a letter to Elder Hancock and to act as correspondent for the group.
Brother Miles wrote the letter requesting Elder Hancock to consider pastoring the small flock, which by now was in need of spiritual food. On October 20, 1921, the reply was received, giving the saints new strength. Elder Hancock was going to visit them. However, it was not known whether he would stay or not. Elder Hancock’s response stated that he would seek God’s favor in the matter because he wanted God to lead and direct him in making the decision on whether to remain in Indianapolis as Assistant Pastor at Christ Temple or leave Indianapolis to feed the souls of the saints in Detroit. God soon answered the prayers of the saints and of Elder Hancock.
In the meantime, a resurgence of evangelists from far and near heard about the work and struggles of the small group, and came to exert their influence upon changing and for offering leadership that would overthrow God’s righteous plan. But, instead of the saints becoming confused, they knew the stance they were taking would provide healing and reconciliation, both inwardly to the church herself and outwardly to the world.
On the night of December 16, 1921, when the enemy thought he would overthrow the plan God had sanctioned, Elder Hancock, a man of God, who had been destined to fulfill His purpose in Detroit, entered a small church and took over the service. This event not only marked the beginning of a new era, but the beginning of one of the world’s greatest ministries. He was appointed pastor of Bethlehem Temple Church that night and the first Bethlehem Temple Church was organized. Elder Hancock promised, “I will do a great thing in Detroit, Michigan.”
He first took steps to move the church assembly to another location, in a building located at St. Antoine and Montcalm Streets. This building was the foundation of the first Bethlehem Temple Church. Its only possession was twenty-five to thirty chairs.
The Lord blessed this ministry and delivered His people from the enemy who fought God’s work at every turn. In spite of these obstacles, God moved stones and “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them.”
In February 1922, Elder Carson was led by the Lord to relinquish his church assembly at 1466 Monroe Street to Elder Hancock’s ministry. The barrier that once separated God’s people was at last broken and the saints reunited at the old landmark at 1466 Monroe Street. After this great reunion, there was a great shout in the camp for many days. From that day forward, Bethlehem Temple Church was on the move.
Elder Carson left Detroit to begin a work in Los Angeles, California, where many souls were blessed from his ministry. Since that time, he has been called from his labor to be with the Lord.
After remaining on Monroe Street for approximately one year and seven months, the building became too small for the growing assembly. In 1923 Elder Hancock was led to purchase two cottages at 2238 Clinton Street. One of the cottages was converted into a church building with a seating capacity of 159 persons. The other cottage was retained for a parsonage. In the latter part September 1923, the congregation moved into their new location at the Clinton Street address.
Again, in the year of 1926, after spending two years and six months in one building, it became obvious that a larger edifice was needed. Therefore, the parsonage was converted and added to the church building, increasing the seating capacity to 400. The Lord continued to add souls daily, such as should be saved. The dedication of this building took place in October 1926.
Then again, in 1928, plans were made to further expand the borders of Bethlehem Temple Church, and within a few months, in one year 1929, a new church was built at 2254 Clinton of yellow brick with seating capacity of 1,200. Bishop Hancock planned and designed the building. In addition, he and the brethren of Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple Church dug the basement, laid the foundation and the bricks, set the steel posts and beams, and installed the laths. The materials were bought and paid for as the building went up. When the work was completed, not one cent was owed for the building materials.
The result of the achievements of building the new edifice was due to the loyalty, sacrifice, faith, and obedience of the saints that lived by God’s rule, :Obey those who have rule over you.” Full obedience to God’s law brought success from a lowly beginning with assets of twenty-five to thirty chairs, to assets totaling over two million dollars.
By that time, $560,000 for foundations, which included, approximately $150,000 for structural steel, which was stored in a warehouse, had been spent. The city reimbursed the church for the loss.
In 1962, Bishop Hancock and congregation purchased the Jewish synagogue, Sharey Zedek, which is the present edifice of Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple Church, located at 2900 W. Chicago Boulevard at Lawton Street. It has a seating capacity of 1,800 in the main auditorium. On April 5, 1962 a deposit of $100,000 was placed down on the church, and the balance of $500,000 was paid for all legal matters were completed. At the time of the purchase of the building on Chicago Boulevard and Lawton Street, Bethlehem Temple Church had over a million dollars tied up in this church and the church at 2238 Clinton Street.
On March 10, 1963, the Bishop Hancock congregation moved into its new location, which sprawls across 2 ½ lots of land and runs practically the full the length of the block. Within five short months of arrival into the new “home,” on August 18, 1963,
Bishop S.N. Hancock passed after a short illness.
Since that time Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple Church purchased the remainder of the land in the block previously owned by the Jehovah’s Witness congregation.