In May 1978, Bishop Keith and Pastor Deborah Butler graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a mandate from God, and a burning desire to obey that mandate, to fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12). In 1978, Bishop Butler founded Word of Faith Christian Center (WOFCC) in a teaching center located on W. Mc Nichols Road in Detroit, Michigan. Sixty people attended the first Sunday service in January, 1979. The very next day, WMUZ, a local Christian radio station, broadcast Bishop Butler's first daily radio program, The Word of Faith Radio Broadcast.
Before moving into its first official church building in 1979, WOFCC services were held at the temporary locations of Marygrove College and the Northwest Activity Center, both located in Detroit, Michigan. WOFCC's first church building was located at 15121 W. Eight Mile Rd, a small storefront in Detroit that comfortably held 150 folding chairs. The air conditioning unit rarely worked, but people continued to come to hear a very young minister preach the Word of God with boldness, courage, and conviction. By 1980, Bishop Keith Butler was teaching two services with Sunday School classes in between those services. Lines to two very small restrooms formed to the right of the hallway book table where "Faith Food" books and tapes were sold. There was just enough space for a nursery, ministry room, and a "match-box size" office for Bishop Butler which, at many times, doubled for whatever space was needed to meet the congregation's needs.
Hundreds began to come to hear the Word of God at WOFCC. This tremendous growth in such a short period of time forced WOFCC to hold its Sunday morning services at McCauley Auditorium on the campus of Mercy College in Detroit. But soon thereafter, McCauley Auditorium was not large enough to seat the growing number of people who came to hear God's Word, hearing how to walk in divine health and prosperity, and learning about the other manifold blessings of God. While at McCauley Auditorium, Bishop Butler knew it was time to move again. He persisted in his efforts to buy a closed Southfield school to house worship services and the soon-to-be educational complex, Faith Christian Academy (FCA). But God had other plans for Word of Faith
Word of Faith Marches On
Bishop Butler found another building that would become the next home of WOFCC. Members marched around the property of 928 E. Ten Mile Rd. in Ferndale, Michigan singing an old hymnal, "We've Come This Far By Faith" and indeed the church had come very far! On July 5, 1981, a victorious church marched into their newly purchased building where the sanctuary seated 500 people. The Faith Food bookstore, Laymen's Bible School, and Faith Christian Academy, WOFCC's elementary and middle school, opened at this location. In this same year, Word of Faith's television broadcast was taped on location and shown weekly on WGPR, a local TV station in Detroit.
During its first year at 928 E. Ten Mile Road, a prophecy based on Isaiah 54:2-3 was spoken over Bishop and Mrs. Butler and the Word of Faith congregation. Isaiah 54:2-3 says, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." It wasn't long before Word of Faith was holding two Sunday services in its new church home. By 1983, the two Sunday morning services, with video-tape viewing to those seated in the Fellowship Hall, could not adequately serve all the people the Lord was sending.
As Bishop Butler revealed the vision to reach out and win the city of Detroit for Jesus, a spirit of anticipation, prayer, and preparation moved throughout WOFCC's church family. By October 1983, WOFCC purchased the former Temple Israel church building located at 17000 Manderson in Detroit. The 1,200 seat sanctuary was totally renovated in time for the first Sunday service.
As Word of Faith grew in size and scope, the Manderson building served the ministry well with numerous rooms and offices, two fellowship halls, a commercial kitchen, a stage with dressing rooms, and audio-visual rooms. Eventually, three Sunday morning services were necessary by November, 1986. In 1987, offices for the church staff had to move to another professional office building located in Southfield, Michigan due to WOFCC's phenomenal growth.
On July 15, 1988, Word of Faith moved to 7616 E. Nevada in Detroit. This location had a school building that was perfect for Faith Christian Academy. All administrative and ministerial personnel could be housed in one building at this location. With seating for 2,300 people, Word of Faith had to hold two Sunday morning services upon moving into this new facility. Attendance continued to grow, producing the need for Bishop Butler to hold three Sunday services, two in the morning and one in the afternoon. "…and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)
After only five years at the East Nevada location, WOFCC held a special service to "burn the note." The mortgage on this property had been paid in full to the glory of God! It became apparent that WOFCC needed additional parking space for those coming "in by the droves" to hear the Word of God. Additional property in the surrounding neighborhood was purchased. While at this location, the year 1994 would usher in a new phase of Bishop Butler's outreach ministry - The Living Word Television and Radio broadcast ministry. Through this television and radio ministry, Bishop Butler was able to reach other cities with the Word of God, reaching out to various cities around the country such as Philadelphia, PA, Atlanta, GA, Jackson, MS, Jacksonville, FL, and even as far as St. Thomas, USVI.
In keeping with the international component of the vision, to send ministers to every continent, especially Africa and the Caribbean, Word of Faith Christian Center became Word of Faith International Christian Center (WOFICC) in 1994. Word of Faith has always been a church that has supported missions programs and the sponsorship of sending other ministers to various places of the world. Time would illustrate the international emphasis of Word of Faith by opening eight churches in Uganda, 15 churches in Pakistan, and 150 churches in Kenya. Bishop Butler currently serves as pastor and spiritual advisor over these international ministries and pastors.
The church's growth continued to soar with membership rapidly increasing from 6,000 upon moving into the East Nevada location to 11,000 upon moving away from the East Nevada location in 1995. On December 12, 1995, to accommodate its 11,000 plus membership, Word of Faith moved into a much larger facility located at 23800 W. Chicago in Redford, Michigan. The first Sunday service in this 4,000 seat location was held on December 31, 1995. To add to the miracle of moving into this new location, Word of Faith, a predominantly African-American church formed a "Joint-Operating Agreement" with the former owners, Temple Baptist Church, which was a predominantly Caucasian church. This tremendously blessed union continued until March, 1997, when Temple Baptist moved into its newly built church. It was said by many, "it couldn't be done", but they didn't know our God! To God be the glory, and it was done!
Reaching membership numbers of 14,000, it was time for Bishop and Mrs. Butler, and the Word of Faith congregation to pray about another church home. Based upon the needs, at least 30 acres of land would be necessary to build a 5,000 seat sanctuary and to accommodate all the other ministry operations. Ephesians 3: 20-21, [Amplified Bible] says, "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [actions of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen." That's exactly what God did by guiding Bishop Butler and the congregation to its next location.
The Jewel of the City
On July 9, 1996, WOFICC added another milestone to its history. Word of Faith International Christian Center purchased the lush and peaceful 110-acre, former friary, Duns Scotus, in Southfield, Michigan. For 17 years, Bishop and Mrs. Butler along with the congregation, stood on God's Word for the fulfillment of this point of The Master Plan to ... "build a 5,000 seat sanctuary". God did super-abundantly, above, all we could ask or think, giving WOFICC what many referred to as the "Jewel of the City." From this jewel, WOFICC continues to reach out to all nations with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. The newly built, 5,000 seat sanctuary stands at the North Elevation of the existing structure. The freshly renovated Chapel is on the South Elevation. God truly deserves all the glory! Word of Faith International Christian Center has indeed "come this far by faith."
On January 1, 2011, Bishop Butler installed Pastor Andre Butler as the new Senior Pastor of Word of Faith. Pastor Andre is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center, and Kennesaw State University. He has served as the Co-Pastor of Faith Christian Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Senior Pastor of Faith Christian Center in Smyrna, Georgia, and Co-Pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center. His lovely wife, Minister Tiffany Butler is a graduate of the Word of Faith Bible Training Center. Bishop Butler remains the Presiding Bishop over Word of Faith while pastoring Faith 4 Life churches in Round Rock and Dallas, Texas.