Hemphill was born December 10, 1892 in Simsboro, Louisiana, the
son of Tilman and Willie Anna Hemphill. The family moved several
times in Brother Hemphills childhood and he attended schools in
Dodson and Pollock, Louisiana. Brother Hemphill was called "Doctor"
by his father from his birth as he intended to make him a medical
doctor as his grandfather was before him, but God had other plans.
At the age
of 12, Brother Hemphill saw a vision of the coming of the Lord
and himself "tending the Lord's flock" and he knew from that day
forward he was to be a minister of Jesus Christ. He became a Holiness
Methodist preacher at the age of eighteen and also did mission
work for the Salvation Army for a couple of years. In 1912, at
the age of twenty, while ministering in Texas, Brother Hemphill
came in contact with some people preaching the "Holy Ghost" message
and became hungry for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He received
it shortly thereafter while on his knees in a hotel room in Fort
Worth, on the site of what is now the Tarrant County Convention
Center. A year or two later, Brother Hemphill saw in the scriptures
that the apostles baptized their converts in water in the name
of Jesus, a belief which he preached and practiced throughout
the remainder of his life.
was a pioneer of the Pentecostal message in Louisiana, Arkansas,
Mississippi and Texas from 1912 through the 1920's, preaching
open air and brush arbor meetings, as well as on streets and in
school houses when they were available. This message was unpopular
at that time and it's preaching brought much persecution. Brother
Hemphill was shot at while in the pulpit on more than one occasion,
rotten egged, cursed and threatened with lynching, but God was
faithful and many were converted and filled with the Holy Ghost.
A New Orleans Times - Picayune newspaper reporter visited one
of these brush arbor meetings and told of throngs of people attending,
having come on wagons, horseback, bicycles and walking. Brother
Hemphill was referred to in the article which was carried by other
newspapers, and was seen by his mother in the Shreveport Times,
"the chief apostle and high priest of the Holy Rollers". Brother
Hemphill, always a man of humility, got a good laugh out of that.
It was during
this time when Brother Hemphill went back to his boyhood town
of Pollock, Louisiana, which was then a booming sawmill town,
and held a brush arbor meeting that lasted for six weeks and in
which ninety people received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Persecution
ensued and one night Brother Hemphill was attacked during the
alter service by a man who reportedly had "brass knucks" and he
received a broken nose and loosened teeth but was undeterred and
rather rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for the cause
of Jesus. In 1931, Brother Hemphill moved to West Monroe, Louisiana,
in the Brownville Community and started a work which was to become
known as First Pentecostal Church. The services started in a tabernacle
but Brother Hemphill soon obtained some army barracks at Swartz
which he tore down and hauled to Brownville and used the material
to build the first church building on Wheelis Street. This church
was pastored by Brother Hemphill for seven and a half years. In
mid 1938, after the death of his wife Etta, he and his family
moved to California where he evangelized and pastored for a time.
In 1944, after much prayer, Brother Hemphill felt called by the
Lord to return to Ouachita Parish, so moving to Bawcomville he
founded a church which he was to pastor into the late 1970's,
when advanced age and failing health forced his retirement. Brother
Hemphill was also heard throughout Northeast Louisiana for some
twenty-five years preaching on the radio program which was called
"The Bible Truth Broadcast'.
He went home
to be with the Lord on February 14, 1981 at the age of 88, leaving
behind a legacy which continues to this day, a large family, most
of whom are serving the Lord, and saints in many places who heard
the gospel first by his mouth and are following on to glory.
had a heart for other ministers and had many get their start under
his ministry, among them Oliver F. Fauss, D.L. Welch, and "Son"
Worbington. Brother Hemphill is remembered as a man of much prayer,
who had calloused knees from his habit of praying three times
daily. His widow Sister Beatrice Hemphill to whom he was married
for 42 years, still resides in West Monroe and remains faithful
to her Lord and church.
work for God, Brother Hemphill saw many miracles including several
dead raised to life and on two different occasions had angel visitations.
Only eternity will reveal how many people Brother W.T. Hemphill
was able to affect for God in his sixty-eight years of ministry,
too whom he was truly "your servant for Jesus sake."