WILLIE LEE was born William Matthew Lee on February 16, 1901, in Starkville, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, to Charlie and Hester Jones Lee. As a young man, he made his way to Parkin, Arkansas, where he worked as a farmer. There, he and Maggie Taylor (d. 1973) were married on September 22, 1918. To this union was born one son, Warren Harding Lee, who preceded his parents in death.
Bishop Lee was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost in 1925 under the leadership of Bishop Garfield T. Haywood. His call to the ministry would begin under Haywood at Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana. He moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he served from 1933-1938 as assistant pastor to Bishop Samuel N. Hancock at Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple Church. Greater ministry opportunities led him to Muskegon Heights, Michigan, where he pastored Christ Temple Church for a number of years. In 1954, at the request of the Official Board of Christ Temple in Indianapolis, Lee returned there to accept the pastorate which had become vacant the year before. In 1957, he became the assistant presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith Association when it was founded by Bishop Hancock. After Hancock’s death, he became the presiding bishop, serving a brief tenure from 1963-1964.
Adamantly following the teachings of the apostles’ doctrine and the traditions of the previous church leaders, Lee is remembered at Christ Temple for several notable achievements, including additions to the Christ Temple building that housed a home for aged saints, a publications and printing office that produced the Christ Temple Messenger, and a large parking lot in front of the church on ground purchased from the Metropolitan Park Board. Under his pastorate, Christ Temple grew and thrived. Much-loved by his devoted followers, his legacy lives on through the Bishop Willie Lee Fellowship Hall.
Noted for his strong faith and love for the Apostolic truth, he served faithfully at Christ Temple for 15 years until his death at the age of 68 on June 19, 1969.