Bishop Willie J. Matheney
Florida Western Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ
In 1962, I graduated from high school in Arkansas, along with my future wife Jean. After graduating from high school, I briefly enrolled in college before entering military service and serving in the Vietnam War. I did not realize it at the time, but God was using this time of military service to prepare me for the ultimate role of serving Him. After my three-year stint in the military, I re-entered college and ultimately received a B.S. Degree in Biology from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN in 1971.
I initially had dreams of becoming a medical doctor, but thankfully God had other plans for my life. In 1972, I accepted a position as a science teacher and football coach in a St. Petersburg, FL high school. I spent thirty years in the Pinellas County School System, working in many capacities, including serving as a high school Assistant Principal until my retirement in 2003. It was in that capacity that I learned valuable leadership and organizational skills that God has allowed me to transfer over to my work in His Ministry. That experience, along with my Masters Degree in Education from Stetson University in 1988 and Doctorate in Religious Education from Christ the King Theological Seminary in 2003. (Subsequently becoming a Professor and President of the seminary)
After a few years of sporadic church attendance, the Lord touched me in 1977 and began drawing me back to Him through the late Pastor Joseph Anderson. In 1978, I surrendered to the call and one-year later surrendered to God's call to serve Him in ministry. I was licensed as a Minister in `1980 and in 1983, was ordained as an Elder in the church by the late Bishop T. H. Thompson. In 1987, my wife and I founded Eastlake COGIC in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I am delighted that for over 30 years, I have had the blessed opportunity to serve my local church, my District and this great Jurisdiction. I am looking forward to an opportunity to serve God and His people as the Prelate of Western Florida
I was born in Crossett, AR, the seventh child of Mr. Willie and Jewil Matheney. My mother was a Missionary in the Church of God in Christ and she made sure that my siblings and I spent most of our time in the Church. As a child, I would frequently travel to our National Holy Convocation in Memphis, TN and at age seven was blessed to have our founder, Bishop C. H. Mason, lay his hands on me at Mason's Temple. I have always been thankful for the legacy in our Church which my mother established in her children; a legacy seen fulfilled by one of her sons, R.E. Matheney serving the Church of God in Christ as the Bishop of the Third Jurisdiction of Arkansas and two of her daughters serving as Pastor's wives and Missionaries in California, Missionary Yvonne Rucker (Husband deceased); Missionary Lois Cole, Husband, Pastor Robert Cole, Crusader's Temple C.O.G.I.C.