The vision began with Bishop Thomas B. Watson, Senior Pastor Tom Watson’s, grandfather and namesake, who founded the St. Joseph Helping Hand Divine Spiritual Church of Christ and the Churches of the Southwest. Bishop Watson also began some of the first healing and prophecy services in the city of New Orleans and served as the first Senior Presiding Bishop of the United Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ. While continuing as a spiritual leader in the community, he also gave 30 years of service to the public school system as a dedicated teacher. Under Bishop Watson leadership, the Watson name became synonymous with service. It is for his grandfather’s unselfish and relentless sowing that Senior Pastor Watson renamed the ministries Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries.
In the mid-1960s, the vision continued when Pastor Watson’s father, Bishop Aubrey Joseph Watson, Sr., was called to pastor the St. Expedite Spiritual Church of Christ on Dryades Street (now named Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.) After a few years of working and growing, the church bought and moved into a church at 3619 First Street. Bishop A.J. Watson labored at the church for 29 remarkable years until he turned the pastoral leadership over to his son, Thomas B. Watson, III. With his son leading the church and his tenure long and fruitful, Bishop Aubrey could have retired with a job well done. Yet, he continued to pastor St. Joseph Helping Hand Divine Spiritual Church of Christ and was Senior Presiding Bishop of the United Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ until his death in April 1994.
On a cool evening in December 1988, the vision expanded. Thomas Benjamin Watson, III, assumed pastoral leadership of St. Expedite Spiritual Church in Christ on the same night that he was ordained into ministry. Although only in his early 30s, Pastor Watson had been leading bible teaching, preaching and youth activities while serving as a deacon and youth minister. He was deeply honored to become the third generation of ministers, and clearly he wanted to recognize his father’s and grandfather’s hard work. But, Pastor Watson was greatly concerned that the “doctrine” of the spiritual church was in conflict with “sound biblical foundations.”
The Holy Spirit had filled his life with truth and understanding, and he insisted that all events in the church have a spiritual foundation. After much fasting, praying and researching, Pastor Watson declared that the church would become a teaching ministry. Watson Memorial Spiritual Temple and St. Joseph would become Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries. Its affiliation with the United Metropolitan Spiritual Churches in Christ would end. Watson Memorial would become and remains a non-denominational church.
On October 4, 1996 God blessed the growing congregation with a new sanctuary on Saint Charles Avenue. The community outreach arm of the ministry, the Family Center of Hope began operating in 1991. The Watson Memorial Christian Academy, which started in 1997, is dedicated to educating God’s children God’s way.
Anointed to teach and preach the Word of God, Pastor Watson and his helpmeet, the Rev. Pat Watson, continued to put the vision in action. In 1993, he began his full-time pastorate with a firm conviction to fulfill God’s plan for his life. A little more than a year later, Rev. Pat joined her husband in fulltime ministry work, and serves as director of the Family Center of Hope and the Christian Academy and administrator of the day-to-day functions of the church. In early 2006, Pastor Tom Watson expanded his level of service by offering his experience, knowledge and leadership as mayor of the city. Tom and Pat Watson have dedicated their lives to public service as pastors, social workers, and community organizers. Their leadership has always encompassed integrity, commitment and a heart for the people.
Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries (WMTM) is a “special order” church that ministers the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to individuals and families in the greater New Orleans area. Our doctrine alone affects change, promotes sanctification, challenges lifestyles and grants needs through faith. WMTM equips and empowers people to grow to their full potential as we celebrate, educate and mature the saints. WMTM is sensitive in personality and characterized by a loving, forgiving and nurturing environment.