Brief History of Unity Christian Fellowship International (UCFI) Ministries
The history of Unity Christian Fellowship International (UCFI) began before the vision was manifested. Working behind the scenes, God was creating an alliance and a unified body of baptized believers whom many came through the same vein of South Korea, under the leadership of our Presiding Prelate (Dr) Apostle Nelson K. Williams.
Born December 9, 1965, in Fayetteville North Carolina, where he was reared by devout and praying parents, Mr. Edward and Mrs. Rozena Williams. Holiness was a way of life in the Williams’ household to include music, which became a tether, as Apostle Williams grew up, causing him to remain connected to the church as he waited for his call to Ministry.
In the 1980s, the Lord would continue to influence Apostle Williams in his early years through music and would later be invited and led to Holy Deliverance Church of God where Apostle Bennie L. Kelly was Pastor, who would become a Spiritual Mother and where he would commit to following the Lord even more. By the 1990s, Apostle Williams had played with some of history’s most notable gospel artist, such as John P. Kee and Donnie Harper and the New Jersey Mass Choir to name a few. During this time, he would also be joined in marriage to our own First Lady, Lillian Williams, and by 1995, God would call Apostle Williams to Ministry in South Korea. God would soon confirm his call on one Sunday morning as he stood behind a podium giving the benediction, and God spoke, “You are the shepherd of these people. It’s time for the Shepherd to speak.”
Through this Ministry in South Korea at the Camp Walker Chapel, many would be saved and join themselves to the birthing of what would eventually be called UCFI. In 2003, God would speak the name of this Ministry to Apostle Williams and reveal his next assignment in Virginia. While yet under the banner of Holy Deliverance Church of God in 2011, UCFI later that year would become an independent body; several pastors and their churches in the early years would join the Ministry of UCFI under Apostle Williams’ leadership.
UCFI headquarters would hold its first service at the Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2012, UCFI Headquarters would relocate from Mount Vernon High School to 1346 Jefferson Davis Highway, Woodbridge Virginia where the Ministry would hold its first Holy Convocation, and United for a Purpose (UFAP) was officially launched. A three-day fellowship event designed to reach souls all over the world to include various ethnicities and cultures, while the saints of God came together to learn, share, and commit to a closer walk with God. Through this event, Iron Sharpens Iron was also born, allowing pastors and leaders to collaborate and exchange testimonies and wisdom aimed at becoming better servants of God and His people.
From 2013 to 2014, UCFI held UFAP in Woodbridge, Virginia consisting of seminars, training, a concert, dinner, and an official day culminating at the Hylton Memorial Chapel Christian Event Center. In 2015, Apostle Williams relocated UFAP to Huntsville, Alabama at the Four Points by Sheraton, and where we celebrated the elevation and Ordination of Bishop Ernest Edwards that was held at True Light COGIC church, and official day and worship that culminated at the Huntsville Rescue Mission. In 2016, UFAP was again held in Woodbridge, Virginia, and in 2017 it moved its dinner venue from the Hylton Memorial Chapel Christian Event Center to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, consisting of a concert and Christian entertainment. In 2017, UCFI Headquarters would again relocate to its current location to 14747 Arizona Avenue in Woodbridge, Virginia. The 6th Holy Convocation (UFAP) would also be celebrated that year in an elevation and ordination of Bishop Leonard Lacey who also became a part of the Board of Bishops. In 2017, Apostle Williams also would appoint the Board of Bishops over regional areas; Bishop Michael Collins would oversee the Western Region, Bishop Kendall Washington Sr. would oversee the European Region, Bishop Ernest Edwards would be responsible for the Southeastern Region, Bishop Leonard Lacey the Northeastern Region, and Apostle Lenard King would oversee International Evangelism.
In 2017, God would again lay upon the heart of Apostle Williams to provide a special event for pastors and leaders, establishing a Pastors & Leaders’ Summit, of which the first one would be held in Germany hosted by Faith Temple Christian Center International (FTCCI) under the leadership of Bishop Kendall Washington and Pastor LaYona Washington. In 2018, the Holy Convocation (UFAP) was again held in Woodbridge, Virginia and the Pastors & Leaders’ Summit was hosted by the Western Region Bishop Michael Collins and United in Christ Discipleship International (UICDI) at the Apache Casino Hotel in Lawton, Oklahoma. In 2019, the Holy Convocation (UFAP) was again held in Woodbridge, Virginia, while the Summit was held in Charleston, South Carolina hosted by Apostle Lenard King.
In 2020, the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) became a pandemic, and many churches became creative by holding virtual services and maximizing social media, which became platforms of Ministry reaching souls well beyond the local community. In 2020, UFAP was canceled along with the Summit. As 2020 continued to cause the nation and many cities to lock down and to quarantine, UCFI leadership would minister and bring a little cheer and joy to the Body of Christ. On 19 December, a virtual comedy show was established called “The Gift of Laughter” hosted by comedian Johnathan Slocumb, broadcasted on YouTube and Facebook live.
In May 2021, the Lord would again bring forth change to UCFI as He revealed a new season for the church, reassigning our Presiding Prelate (Dr.) Apostle Nelson K. Williams and First Lady Lillian Williams back to South Korea to establish and lead another group of warriors. In the meantime, Apostle Williams installed his First Assistant Presiding Bishop, Michael Collins, as Pastor and under shepherd of Unity Church Woodbridge, Virginia during his mandate in South Korea. Apostle Williams remained Senior Pastor of Unity Church Woodbridge, Virginia, and the Presiding Prelate of UCFI Global Ministries. In 2021, due to the pandemic, UFAP Holy Convocation was largely held virtually, although portions of it remained in-person. Apostle Williams along with the Board of Bishops, to include speakers and training seminars were conducted on-site at the headquarters church, Unity Church in Woodbridge, Virginia as the team broadcasted each session virtually.
The year of 2021 also brought increase and elevation of Pastor Kenny Kendrick of Clarksville, Tennessee, to Bishop and overseer of the South-Central Region of UCFI Ministries in the United States. As vaccines and booster shots were administered throughout the nation, a decision to hold an in-person Summit was decided, which was held in September in Huntsville, Alabama at the Jackson Center hosted by Bishop Ernest Edwards and UCFI Huntsville. As God continued to bless UCFI in the midst of the pandemic, the UFAP Ensemble produced its second recorded album called “One Sound,” which was played on local radio stations throughout the nation and shared on social music platforms such as YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, and others. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. As we trust God, He continues to write the story of this organization.