When he died, July 22, 2000, Bishop Morris Ellis Golder left behind a powerful Apostolic legacy and a thriving congregation, Grace Apostolic Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he founded in 1953. Born January 23, 1913 to Earl and Margaret Golder, Morris was only a small boy when his parents were converted at Eleventh and Senate, later Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church, and he was raised under the careful and strict tutelage of his godly parents.
Eleventh and Senate was the epicenter of Apostolic revival in the city of Indianapolis. There, the Golder family was blessed to sit under the visionary leadership of Bishop Garfield Thomas Haywood, who distinguished himself in the early Pentecostal movement as a theologian, hymnist, dynamic preacher, and stalwart apologist.
As a young man, Morris fell away from the church, and he entertained ideas of becoming a jazz orchestra leader. Most evenings, he could be found at the Walker Ballroom on Indiana Avenue. One cold January night, the voice of the Lord spoke to Morris as he danced with a young lady. “Run for your life.” The message was clear and simple. A rattled Morris Golder, who had spent all his money, walked home, talking to God and asking for a little more time before committing his life (Garrett 21-22).
Morris had promised his mother that he would attend church Sunday night. He arrived at 10 PM. He returned the following night and slept through the sermon. At the close of service, however, he responded to the invitation. That night, January 20, 1930, Morris E. Golder repented, was baptized in the Name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost a few minutes after leaving the baptismal tank (Garrett 23). His life was forever changed, and he developed a strong relationship with God.
Only four months after his conversion, Christ Temple’s beloved pastor, Bishop Haywood, died. Bro. Golder remembered Haywood as a frequent guest at his parents’ home, but he had only just begun to enjoy his wise and methodical Bible teaching. Robert F. Tobin succeeded Haywood and radically influenced the young Morris Golder, who received a call to preach shortly after being saved. Elder Tobin was a fiery preacher and kept rhythm slapping his hand on the pulpit while delivering his syncopated sermons. This oratorical style was passed on to Morris Golder, and his messages were marked by the same metrical pattern and fervent delivery (Garrett 34).
Despite his early drawing to the ministry, there were limited opportunities for young preachers at Christ Temple. Like many other young ministers of that era, Morris Golder did much of his early preaching in downtown Indianapolis street meetings. He preached his first revival for Ace Summers in Mount Vernon, Illinois (Garret 38; 42).
In 1935, Elder Golder became acquainted with a small group of believers in Saint Louis who had formed a church but had no leader. He and his young wife, Elizabeth, were invited to become their pastor, and he led the church for several years, moving from a small mission at Goode and North Market Streets to a more spacious property at 2406 Belle Grade (“Our History”). The church was the first racially-integrated assembly in Saint Louis (B1-B2 Cebula 1).
At the death of Elder Robert Tobin in 1947, Morris Golder received the call to return to Indianapolis to lead Christ Temple. In February 1948, he was installed as the new pastor, and the church experienced phenomenal Apostolic revival under his capable leadership, with weekly attendance exceeding 1,000 (Garrett 51-53).
In 1953, Elder Golder felt led to leave Christ Temple and begin another church in Indianapolis. With 30 charter members, he founded Grace Apostolic Church, which became one of the most thriving Pentecostal assemblies in the city. From their humble beginnings in the rented Rex Theater, Grace grew mightily, purchasing property at 22nd and Broadway Streets and building a brand new 2,200-seat sanctuary, which was completed in November 1990 (Garrett 76).
Morris E. Golder was an integral part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. He served the organization in various capacities including Treasurer, Editor of the Christian Outlook, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aenon Bible College, Auxiliary Director of the National Sunday School Association, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Apostolic Light Press. In 1972, Elder Golder was elevated to the bishopric as overseers of the 11th Episcopal District of the PAW, which included Kentucky and Western Tennessee (Garrett 70).
Bishop Golder, who received an advanced degree from Butler School of Religion, now Christian Theological Seminary, and an honorary doctorate from Aenon, was also an accomplished author. He wrote eight books, including an official history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (Cebula B1-B2; Garrett 68).
For many years, Bishop Golder was a prominent voice of Apostolic ministry through his radio presence on WTLC. Each Sunday morning, the Bishop delivered the uncompromised truth over the airwaves preaching strong messages on the New Birth, the Mighty God in Christ, and Bible holiness. At his death, Suffragan Bishop George Stearnes of Gary, Indiana, said: “We called him the ‘Prince of Preachers.’ ‘Prince’ because he was a man of humility, but also a man of great power and wisdom. His was a voice of harmony in a world that needed it” (Cebula B1-B2). Bishop Golder’s life was a true testimony of God’s saving power, and his ministry was a blessing to the worldwide Body of Christ.
Cebula, Judith. “Mourners Pay Last Respects to ‘Prince of Preachers.’” Indianapolis Star. 29 Jul 2000, B1-B2.
Garret, Gary W. The Life and Times of Bishop M.E. Golder. Springfield, MO: Apostolic Christian Books, 2000
“Our History.” Bethesda Temple <www.bethesdatemplest.org/history.nxg>. 10 Dec 2008.