Greater Refuge Temple Church’s Bishop William Lee Bonner Dies At 93


Bishop William Lee Bonner


Greater Refuge Temple Church’s Bishop William Lee Bonner Dies At 93

Bishop William Lee Bonner, beloved pastor of the renowned Greater Refuge Temple Church (GRT) in Harlem and Chief Apostle of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ (COOLJC), has made his transition from labor to great reward; it was announced today by church officials. He was 93 years old.

Bishop Bonner, affectionately known to millions around the world as “Pastor Bonner,” leaves a rich legacy that is unparalleled. Heralded as a spiritual giant by his contemporaries, Pastor Bonner was known for his ministry of preaching the true, unadulterated Gospel of Our of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pastor Bonner was sent to become the pastor of the now 2,500 member GRT after the death of its founder, Bishop Robert Clarence Lawson, in 1961. Upon arriving and seeing the need, he immediately set about the remodeling of the “Mother Church” and headquarters of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Refuge Temple. Yet, Pastor Bonner proved that he was more than a preacher—and literally undertook the Herculean effort of serving in the role of general contractor in order to renovate the edifice that is now known as Greater Refuge Temple today. This ultra-modern edifice has changed the face of Harlem’s historic “7th Avenue” and is undisputedly one of the most modern structures in the community. In addition to GRT, his passion for souls—and youth in particular—led him to create a multi-million dollar youth center known as the R.C. Lawson Building, also located in Harlem. His desire and vision to build and create establishments that would benefit the Kingdom and people of God continued well into his later years.

For over fifty years, many across the country and even in foreign lands have testified of the great miracles of healing, deliverance and breakthrough under his powerful preaching and teaching. Millions also experienced his evangelistic ministry via “The Hour of Truth” broadcast–which aired on nationally syndicated television outlets such as BET and The Word Network—as well as radio stations and via livestream. Over the decades, Pastor Bonner has simultaneously pastored churches in New York, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Mississippi; and Columbia, South Carolina. As the spiritual overseer of more than  700  churches worldwide on three continents, Pastor  Bonner stands today as one of the greatest ministers of all times.

Pastor Bonner was preceded in death by his wife, the late Mother Ethel Mae Bonner, and daughter, the late Ethel Mae Bonner Archer. He is survived by his son, William Lee Bonner, Jr., his grandchildren, a host of nieces and nephews and beloved family, friends and co-laborers worldwide.

Details for the Homegoing service are to follow. For more information, please visit


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