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Carter Temple C.M.E. Church Archives

Identifier: harsh-1996-03

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection covers the tenure of Rev. Henry M. Williamson, who pastored Carter Temple from 1986 to his elevation as CMEC Bishop in 2002. He was President of Operation Push from 1991-1993 and initiated the “One Church One School” (OCOS) program in 1992. OCOS has developed and directed hundreds of church school partnerships across the nation with a mission to enhance school academic achievement.


  • 1952 - 2002


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

After the end of the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church acceded to the wishes of those Blacks that had supported them during the war and formed a separate organization, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in 1870. The church’s growth spread all over the United States. It changed its name to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CMEC) in 1954. CMCE has nine permanent Episcopal districts. Illinois is part of the Third Episcopal District.

Carter Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (C.M.E.C.) was founded in the home of Mrs. Lula Wheeler in 1921. Bishop Randall Carter (1867-1954) arranged the purchase of the original property for $21,000. Carter Temple officially opened on July 17, 1921 at 4310 S. Champlain Avenue. The church later moved in 1965 to 7841 S. Wabash, its present location. Carter Temple has had an impressive list of pastors:

Rev. JA Stout, 1921-1924 Rev. Leonard L Barnes, 1963-1978

Rev. Prentice A. Bryson, 1924-1928 Rev. L.L. Reddick, 1978-1982

Rev. Dr. I.C. Nicholson, 1928-1932 Rev. L.L. Craig, 1982-1986

Rev. John W. Jacobs, 1932-1935 Rev. Henry M Williamson, 1986-2002

Rev. T. C. Lightfoot, 1935-1940 Rev. Sylvester Williams, 2002-2010

Rev. EW Walker, 1940-1949 Rev. Allen Page III, 2010-2014

Rev. Shelby J. Laws, 1949-1963 Rev. Dr. Joseph B. Gordon, 2014-

Reverend Henry M. Williamson’s administration was important to Carter Temple in that membership and programs grew. Williamson was born in Arkansas and reared in Tennessee and Gary, Indiana. He was educated at Roosevelt High School in Gary and called to the ministry in 1967. He pastored at several churches before assuming the mantle of leadership at Carter Temple in 1986. During his years there, he initiated a weekly Bible Ministry and made community outreach part of the church’s mission. He developed the prayer ministry and more programs to encourage youths. Williamson was elected and installed as the 52nd bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in 2002.


Best, Wallace, Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Ferguson, Margaret. The History of St. Paul C.M.E. Church, Chicago, Illinois, 1907-2007 Revised. Ferguson Publication, 2007.

Phillips, C.H. The History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Arno Press, 1972.


3 Linear Feet (in 5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Carter Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1921. Carrie McMorris, a longtime member of the congregation, donated this collection, which contains church histories, programs, souvenir booklets and special events records of Carter Temple C.M.E. Church.


There are 5 series in this collection: Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Carter Temple Church History, Carter Temple Committees, Carter Temple Programs and Other Churches.

Series 1: Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, 1970-1995

This series is divided into two sub-series: National Conferences and Chicago District.

Sub-series 1: National Conferences, 1970-1995

CMEC outlines the national church convocations and breakdowns. It contains the Quadrennial Assembly of The Women’s Missionary Society from Atlanta, Georgia in 1991. It is arranged in alphabetical order.

Sub-series 2: Chicago District, 1988-1992

The Lay Ministry and the Missionary Society started combining their activities in the 1980s. Lay Ministry is responsible for Christian stewardship while the Missionary Society is responsible for promoting the missionary activities of the General Church. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 2: Carter Temple CMEC History, 1971-2002

This series contains the weekly church bulletins [the Sentinel], newsletters, church history and anniversaries, and pastor anniversaries. It has 3 sub-series: Sentinel bulletins, newsletters, and church and pastor anniversaries. The 50th anniversary and the 8 year steward report includes a detailed history of the church. Rev. Williamson’s work as a teacher is visible in his weekly Bible Study reports.

Sub-series 1: Church Bulletins (Sentinel), 1984-2002 are arranged chronologically.

Sub-series 2: Newsletters, 1987-1994 are arranged alphabetically.

Sub-series 3: Church and Pastor Anniversaries (1971-2001) are arranged chronologically.

Series 3: Carter Temple CMEC Committees, 1977-2003

This series has three sub-series: Missionary Society, Senior Usher Board and the Youth Ministry. All the sub-series are arranged in chronological order.

Series 4: Carter Temple Programs, 1979-2002

This series has five sub-series: annual programs and general programs. The annual programs are further divided into four sub-series: Family Reunion tea anniversary (1985-2002), Handel’s Messiah (1985-1990), Men’s Day (1979-2000), and Women’s Day (1989-1999). Each sub-series is arranged chronologically. The Family Reunion tea anniversary was started by Rev. Shelby Laws in 1961. Each year had a special theme and an invited guest speaker. The music department was led by Mrs. Dolores Mercer Chandler who had been the organist for Metropolitan Baptist Church from 1962-1981. She worked with gospel choirs all over the country including the Thompson Community Singers. The general programs are in chronological order.

Series 5: Other Churches, 1982-2000

This series shows the relationship Carter Temple had with other churches in the Chicago area. It is arranged alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Carrie McMorris [longtime member of the church] in 1996

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

  • Coalition to Save the ‘Met’ Archives

  • Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church Archives

  • Reverend George F. Martin Papers

  • St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church Archive

Guide to the Carter Temple C.M.E. Church Archives
Beverly A. Cook, April 2021.
April 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

Woodson Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
9525 S. Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60628 United States
(312) 745-2080