The House of the Lord Churches Celebrate Their 85th Holy National Convocation
October 9, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry
During the weekend of October 8-11, 2015, The House of the Lord Churches will celebrate their 85th Holy National Convocation. In addition to its doctrine, rituals, programs, attire, and physical structures, every church has its own spirit – ethos, “the way they do things,” that sets them apart as God manifests Himself in different ways according to His purpose. The spirit and the uniqueness are located in the Church’s history, and it is usually in the history of the Founder. Our church’s history started with the Daughtry Family – Uncle Robert Daughtry. Although he was enslaved, he felt called to be a minister. He was probably named after the enslaver.
Among his children were Rev. William Van Daughtry. He became a pastor of Asbury Methodist Church in Savannah, GA. He was educated, prestigious, influential, and wealthy. (When he died, he left homes and properties for all of his children.) His son, Bishop Alonzo Austin Daughtry, left the family tradition of Methodism with its pomp and prominence and the family itself to follow Bishop Marcelino de Grace, an itinerant preacher.
It was always a mystery among the Daughtry children why Bishop Alonzo would leave the security, prestige, bourgeoisie, and all that attended thereto to follow a man who didn’t have a church – at least in Savannah. They worshiped under a tent on a dirt floor.
Eventually, Bishop Alonzo felt the call to the ministry. He was ordained by Bishop Grace to pastor a small congregation in Augusta, GA. It was a dramatic and traumatic shift from comfort and wealth to scarcity, uncertainty, and anonymity.
Thus, we see in the Daughtry men a call to ministry. It’s reasonable to conclude that the plantation was not the beginning of this special connection to God. It was either in the DNA, or passed on in the African people that came to America; or, a combination of both. But, its origin was deep in African religion or priesthood.
In Rev. William Van Daughtry, we see leadership, education, and perseverance. The son of a slave became the pastor of one of the largest churches in Savannah, GA. In Bishop Alonzo Daughtry, in addition to the call, there was also the courage and audacity to break with the past and endure the misunderstanding and resentment from family and friends, brave new paths or ventures, and the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices.
As time passed, Bishop Daughtry observed a change in the man who had ordained him. Bishop Grace was becoming “Sweet Daddy Grace.” The name of Jesus was no longer evoked while praying at the altar, but it was the name of Sweet Daddy Grace. There was a heated meeting to address this change. Bishop Alonzo quoted 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
When he finished with the Scripture, he emphasized that we should worship Jesus Christ and Him only. A menacing confrontation broke out between Bishop Alonzo and those who believed as he did, and the followers of Bishop Grace. Bishop Daughtry’s wife, Emmie, with two babes, escaped by crawling through the opening at the bottom of the tent. No one was hurt although Bishop Daughtry and his family were threatened.
Around 1929, Bishop Daughtry and his devotees finalized separation from Bishop Grace. In 1930, they incorporated The House of the Lord and the Church on the Mount. (Publicly, the church is known as “The House of the Lord Churches.”) The Constitution Bylaws were prepared in a small booklet.
The church grew exponentially, expanding to other cities. The appeal of Bishop Daughtry’s ministry broke the color line. Blacks and whites worshiped together, which was against the law in Augusta and the Jim Crow South. Bishop Daughtry was threatened with incarceration. However, he remained defiant, citing the Scripture (Acts 5:17-29): “We must obey God rather than men.” No arrests were made.
There are several observations:
*Bishop Alonzo Daughtry’s willingness and courage to challenge authority – whether personal (i.e. Bishop Grace) or governmental.
*There was an emphasis on teaching. The Bishop was preeminently a teacher and a writer. By extension, education generally was high on his list of priorities.
*To be sure, the Bishop believed in the power of prayer. He was a faith healer. He was fundamental in his Biblical teachings and actions. The healing ministry of Bishop Daughtry became widely known. The church, which had been built immediately following the departure from Bishop Grace, was standing room only.
There are three more very important aspects to Bishop Daughtry’s ministry.
Firstly, he believed in economic independence, individually and collectively as a people. Hence, wherever he started a church, he started a business. When he came to Brooklyn around 1942, he founded a church on 2024 Fulton Street and started a business on the corner of Saratoga Avenue and Dean Street.
Additionally, he implemented a Burial Society. The Bishop recognized that insurance companies were exploiting our people. He started a Burial Society in which members would pay, and at death the burial expenses would be paid. Whatever was left would be given to the family. The insurance company took him to court with the support of Black morticians. The court ruled against the Bishop. Years later, the Bishop was vindicated. The court reversed the ruling. Notification was widely disseminated that anyone who was a family member of a policy holder was entitled to monetary remuneration.
Secondly, Bishop Alonzo was also a history maker. As he was dying, the Bishop used his influence to ensure that a woman, Mother Inez Conry, would become the National Leader, or the Bishop of our Church. This was in 1952. It was the first time that a female national leader would follow a male national leader. As far as I know, it still holds true.
Thirdly, the Bishop prophesied. After serving as the National Presiding Minister for eight years, Mother Conry resigned as the leader, and I became the National Leader, or the Bishop. Another aspect of Bishop Daughtry’s ministry was revealed in predicting that I would become a Minister. Once we had moved from the South to Brooklyn, NY, for the next ten years, my life was far removed from anything relating to religion. Yet, Bishop never wavered in his prediction that I was the one who would carry the family tradition.
We see, then, the spirit of The House of the Lord Church give rise to and is manifested in:
– the courage to resist and challenge ungodly, unrighteous authority
– the bravery to chart new trails
– the creativity and courage to develop new and different program which prioritize the needs of the least
– the willingness to fight for human rights and self-determination of all people.
– to observe the ancient religious tradition of prayer, fasting, biblical study, tithing/sharing, and witnessing
Thus, there is the belief in our family that we have a covenant with God. If we love God and the people, and work with and for the people, God will bless our family in every generation.
The Convocation will conclude on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 12 noon at The House of the Lord Church (415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217). I will deliver a message entitled, “The Magnificent Children of Blackness: The Call For a Spiritual and Cultural Revolution.”