BISHOP HELEN M. LEWIS, (1905-2001),
THIRD CHIEF OVERSEER
Called into the preaching ministry in 1928, Helen (Middleton, Matchett) Lewis amassed an impressive dossier of accomplishments during her tenure in the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Inc. She was instrumental in helping to set up and to build the local temple at Crystal River, Florida as early as 1923. Under the leadership of Bishop Felix E. Lewis, she was ordained and appointed assistant pastor at Crystal River, and went on to serve as pastor at Crystal River, Daytona Beach, and West Palm Beach, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee. She also held the office of presiding elder of the West and East coasts of Florida. After serving in various other capacities, she was elevated to the bishopric at Sanford, Florida in 1932. Later, she was appointed district bishop in the states of Kentucky and Indiana. In 1937, she was appointed assistant chief overseer, and served as general secretary and treasurer of the church.
The Lewises moved to Nashville, Tennessee around 1931 and in 1951 to West Palm Beach, Florida where Bishop H.M. Lewis was active in local and community affairs. After the death of Bishop F.E. Lewis on September 15, 1968, she served as Chief Overseer pro tempore. In April 1969, she was officially selected and seated as Chief Overseer by the Supreme Executive Council of the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Inc. As chief executive officer, her responsibilities included primary oversight over the entirety of the spiritual, ecumenical, and ecclesiastical affairs of the organization.
Bishop Lewis co-authored, along with her son, Meharry H. Lewis, the church's doctrinal treatise, The Beauty of Holiness: A Small Catechism of the Holiness Faith in 1988. She has been featured in numerous news media articles, including the Palm Beach Post and the Nashville Tennessean; the Bibliography of Afro-Americans in the Pentecostal Faith; and, in Who's Who Among African Americans in the United States. She positively impacted the lives of thousands of people by the way she lived and demonstrated that "Holiness is a total way of life." Because of her highly esteemed spiritual leadership and her dauntless character and life, she is revered, loved, and appreciated by people from many walks of life.
Bishop Lewis passed away quietly at her home in West Palm Beach, Florida at a ripe age of ninety-six. She is buried in a Crystal Memorial Gardens family plot in Crystal River, Florida. (Written by Gloria Lewis-Lockhart.)