The University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) is pleased to welcome Bishop Willie Lee Bonner Jr., Prelate, Tennessee Eastern Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Pastor and Founder of New Hope Church of God in Christ in Cowan, Tennessee, for an address as part of its 27th Annual African American History Celebration.
The event will be held virtually on Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m. and will cover this year’s Black History Month topic, “Black Health and Wellness,” as chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Attendance is free, with spots in the virtual audience being reserved online.
Bonner entered the ministry in 1973, and was ordained as an Elder of the Elder in the Church of God in Christ in 1977. He has served 36 years as district superintendent, 21 years as financial treasurer, and 10 years on the Church of God in Christ National Resolution Committee, in addition to other roles within the church and on outreach and mission projects. Additionally, he was owner and operator of Bonner’s Recycling and Trucking Company.
Through his role as bishop, Bonner has tried to use faith as a way for people to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle, which ties back into the theme for Black History Month.
Bonner, a native of Cowan, graduated from Townsend High School in Winchester. His ministerial education includes training from Liberty Bible College and Seminary, Moody Bible College, and the University of the South.
He and his wife, Verna, have three children, three grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
In addition to his faith-based work, he is also a Tennessee Department of Transportation retiree.
ASALH was founded in 1915 to bring attention to Black history and innovation. The group held the first celebration of Black history as a weeklong event in 1926, which grew into spanning the entire month of February in 1976, when President Gerald Ford made it official, saying in part that it was a way to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”