The Living Gospel Church - Our Roots

By his own admission, Bro. P.H. Jefferson needed “a lot of God” when he walked into the Body of Christ Church
Bishop P.H. Jefferson, Founder
 located on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, California in late 1948.  He was seeking a refuge and answers to complex questions.  His life was shattered and had turned upside down.  His 19-year-old wife had just been buried, having died of toxemia, today called eclampsia, while pregnant with their first child.  The couple had been married for fourteen months.  Their newborn baby, Michael, had somehow survived from a premature birth, but was clinging to life in an incubator after three months.  The hospital bills were mounting and Bro. Jefferson had no major medical or government medical plan, and no such thing as Obamacare.  He had previously been married and his desire was to gain custody of his 10-year-old son living in Los Angeles, but now that hope was on hold.  With so many things happening, he felt that Oakland was his curse.

As he walked into the church, the Spirit of the Lord arrested him.  The songs of Zion soothed him.  He felt a sense of peace that he’d not felt ever.  He had been invited to the church by Bro. Bullock, Bro. Gray, and Bro. Davis, and he wanted to see them but that night he met God.  He found the Prince of Peace.  He was ushered to the altar, where he began to thank God.  Soon he was filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  From that moment his life changed and for the next 43 years he would dedicate his life to God and God’s people.

For the next two years, he sat under the teaching of Bro. C.O. Dixon, an anointed teacher, and a disciple of Bro. William Sowders, the founder of the Body of Christ ministry.  Bro. Jefferson became totally engulfed in the Word of the Lord.  He was totally dedicated in knowing the types and shadows about that restored church, of understanding who and where the Devil resides, and absorbing the truth through revelation.  He was faithful in every way, not missing any services, allowing God and church to be the center of his life.  He traveled to Shepherdsville, Kentucky to attend the camp meetings in order to gain more knowledge about the Body of Christ.  He loved, respected, and was subject to his pastor, Bro. Dixon.

After two years there, he felt the leading of the Lord to start a Body of Christ work in Los Angeles.  This was a bold move on his part as the Body did not have any black pastors.  Furthermore, some of the brethren at the time didn’t feel God called black men to pastor and some wouldn’t allow blacks to sit on the platform in their church.  Bro. Jefferson had no animosity towards them.  He had grown up in the segregated South and was not deterred.  He was determined to obey God.  He had met Mother Margaret Houze at a meeting in Oakland, California.  She lived in Los Angeles and was traveling every Sunday from Los Angeles to Chino, California to attend church services pastored by Bro. Cornelius Mears.  The travel was too far to travel during the week.  Bro. Jefferson met her again in Chino and she invited him to start Bible classes in her home during the week.  He agreed.  This was the beginning of The Living Gospel Church with Bro. Jefferson, Mother Houze, and 6-year-old Sarah Houze, the grand-daughter of Mother Houze, who would some day become Bro. Jefferson’s daughter-in-law.

God blessed the Bible classes and people came to hear the Word of the Lord.  In 1951, the church moved to a storefront on Avalon Boulevard in Los Angeles and became incorporated by the State of California.  God sent people from various parts of the country including New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Tennessee.  The church flourished.  As the church grew, Bro. Jefferson felt the need to focus strictly on the people that God had sent to the church.  Thus, he stopped attending the Body of Christ meetings.  He felt no ill-will towards the brethren at all.  He was consumed in doing God’s work in Los Angeles.  The Body of Christ revelation had to spread to people everywhere, and he was duty bound to obey God’s will.

As time passed, God began to deal with Bro. Jefferson to expand this teaching to meet the needs of the people.  He started to conduct classes to teach boys how to be men, to teach men how to be Bible husbands and fathers, how to be honorable employees and honest businessmen, how to be accountable for one’s action, how to recruit others via deeds, not just words, and how to avoid being a slave to debt. He even taught the principles of good nutrition, admonishing the people how God wants His people to eat to live--not live to eat.  He taught the older women to teach the younger women how to be Bible mothers and wives. He taught the single women to live a sacred, holy life.  The application of this Gospel to everyday living resulted in a huge growth in the church.  The growth allowed the church to move twice in order to accommodate the influx of people.  The church went from renting a space to buying the church property.  God gave Bro. Jefferson a gift of teaching and preaching, breaking the Gospel down to its lowest common denominator so that even a child could comprehend.

Bishop D.L. Jones

For the 40 years that Bro. Jefferson pastored, this was his total life.  His greatest love was for the people of God.  As his time started to wind down, God revealed to him the need to prepare young men to pastor churches under this ministry in other parts of the country.  God also revealed to him that one of those young men, Bro. D.L. Jones, would succeed him as overseer of this ministry.  Bro. Jones had aspired to be a medical doctor as a young boy growing up in Central Texas, but God had a different plan for his life.  God wanted him to help people’s souls, not their bodies, for the soul is eternal, body,  temporal.  Bro. Jones, a brilliant student, earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology/Sociology and graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA’s prestigious School of Business.  Yet, he turned down the opportunity of being a captain of industry to give his life to the work of the ministry.  He met his wife, Sis. Alyce Faye Jones, in college.  She left a career as a technical writer and spurned her pedagogic yearnings to support her husband in the ministry, being a help in organizational skills and in the music department.

Bro. Jones sat under the teaching and worked with Bro. Jefferson for over 25 years.  As young men were sent out to pastor a work, Bro. Jefferson became the bishop of this Body of Christ ministry. In 1991, the work had expanded to six churches, and Bishop Jefferson prepared himself to leave this earth.  On May 24, 1991, Bishop Jefferson passed away and passed the mantel on to Bishop D.L. Jones.

For the past 23 years, Bishop Jones has dedicated his life to continue this work and allow God to expand it.  The number of churches has more than doubled, including a location in Barbados.  More people have been added to the Body and have received the Holy Ghost.  More lives have been changed by the teaching.  Bishop Jones has kept the faith despite great challenges with his health, including diabetes, blindness, and kidney failure, requiring dialysis.  He continues to give his best to this ministry.  This is his life.

History will record that The Living Gospel Church has remained stable for the past 63 years.  The transition from Bishop Jefferson to Bishop Jones was innocuous – and without rancor.  The Living Gospel in recent years has rekindled its fellowship with the other Body of Christ Churches.  God has smiled on this ministry and, as we remain faithful and committed to God, He will continue to do so for generations to come.