Community: The Israel of God’s Church, White Horse Army


The Israel of God’s Church, White Horse Army [1] was first established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1891 by Apostle George Washington Flowers (1854- 1923). The Sycamore Israel of God’s Church was established by Apostle George (as Flowers was called), who also established churches in the Illinois towns of Litchfield, Bunker Hill, Peoria, Springfield, and Chicago. In 1918, at the annual conference, Apostle George deemed that Sycamore would be the national headquarters of the Israel of God’s Church. In 1929, the Church built a 30-room masonry barracks at the intersection of California Street and North Avenue, specifically to house delegates and members during a six-day conference in August of each year. During this time, Black people were not allowed to use any motels in Sycamore or in the neighboring towns in the area. Therefore, this building was essential. The barracks is still in use today for the church’s national events. 

In 1958, the church erected an apartment building on North Avenue to house Black people who worked at Northern Illinois University, Chicago Insulated Wire Company, and other places in the Sycamore-DeKalb area. A professor from Africa was teaching at Northern Illinois University in the early 1960s. The professor came to the church after being turned away by every other landlord he approached, all of whom claimed to have just rented out the advertised apartment when the professor expressed interest. The church provided him a place to reside on North Avenue. [2] In 1966, the church built another apartment building on Lucas Street. This expanded the church’s ability to house people in the community, including white tenants. The church has always taken a progressive view to help all those in need, no matter the color of their skin. [3]

The Israel of God’s Church has a long history in Sycamore. At one time, several church members served on City of Sycamore committees. During the 1980s and through the 1990s, Wesley Coats was the Human Relations Committee President for two terms; Rev. Henry Wilson and Vernon Alexander also worked on the Human Relations committee. George Bridgewater sat on the zoning committee, and Wesley Coats also worked on the planning committee. The Israel of God’s Church has always been and continues to be very involved in the city of Sycamore. 

Ministers from around the country attending the Annual Meeting in Sycamore, 1950. Photo courtesy Israel of God’s Church.


Photos of the Israel of God’s church Annual Conference along North Avenue. The last photo shows a man preparing the fish fry for dinner during their Annual Conference.

[1] According to the Israel of God’s Church, the term ‘White Horse Army’ is based on the scriptures in the original King James version of the Bible – Revelation chapter 19, verses 11-16. In this passage of scripture, John the revelator, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ ,was called upon into a vision sent by God and shown Christ Jesus as the rider of the White Horse (representing the Spirit of Truth).

[2] Interview with Nathan Thomas, Daily Chronicle. September 23, 2003.

[3] True Republican, May 14, 1969.

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