Fellowship Diversity Pioneer Dies
Scott Richard Temple, who led efforts to ensure the broad ethnic diversity of the U.S. Assemblies of God, died Nov. 1 after a battle with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He was 68.
Temple retired because of the illnesses in October 2020 after 40 years of ministry with the Assemblies of God. His final 17 years of ministry came at the national office in Springfield, where he started leading the newly created Office of Ethnic Relations in 2009. Temple’s duties included serving as a resource to the presidents of fellowship/language groups, assisting groups desiring to pursue conference or district council status, and helping fellowship groups focus on discipleship and building up churches.
In part because of Temple’s endeavors, the Assemblies of God is now the most diverse evangelical body in the U.S. More than 44% of AG adherents are nonwhite. Many ethnic fellowship leaders considered the welcoming, cheerful, and convivial Temple one of their own.
“Scott Temple provided outstanding leadership to our language/ethnic fellowships,” says AG General Superintendent Doug Clay. “Through his relational influence, he brought these fellowships into the life and missional activity of this church. Scott was truly a Kingdom ambassador for the Assemblies of God.”
Dennis J. Rivera, who succeeded Temple in the post, says his predecessor left a legacy of loving service and pastoral ministry to AG ethnic language fellowships and language districts.
“Scott, with the skill and dedication of a true shepherd, walked side by side with many of the leaders of our 24 fellowships as they organized,” Rivera says. “Scott loved these leaders and spent many hours in one-on-one conversations with them as a leader, mentor, and friend.”
Once in the position, Rivera soon realized Temple’s huge heart for racial reconciliation, noting how Temple coined the phrase, “the multiethnic church is God’s antidote to the sin of racism.” Rivera came to understand how much ethnic fellowship leaders embraced Temple.
“They loved Scott because they knew he genuinely loved them and had their interests and ministry success in his heart,” Rivera says. “Scott worked with the goal to make the AG look more like ‘heaven on earth,’ according to Revelation 7:9. Scott will be greatly missed. He served with distinction.”
Even earlier, Temple worked as a catalyst to facilitate healing the divide between ethnic communities. He spent 20 years as an AG pastor before becoming national director of U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries in 2003. Only eight ethnic/language fellowships existed when Temple started at the national office. In his 17 years, he oversaw the inclusion of 14 ethnic and two language groups, including Samoan, Vietnamese, Nigerian, Japanese, Haitian, Ghanaian, Korean, and Myanmar, the latest to join in 2019. In all, 1,250 ethnic/language congregations now are part of the AG.
Temple grew up in a loving home, the oldest of five children. His father, Donald, worked as an executive with Woolworth’s in New York City.
Yet nobody in the family knew the Lord. All his siblings followed his path into alcohol and illegal drugs in the 1970s. His involvement in drugs and alcohol deepened, and he earned a reputation as a drunk in high school.
He found the Lord through a cross-country trip as a hippie in a minivan as a widow named Dorothy Minnick shared Scripture with him. His family couldn’t deny the witness of his transformed life. Following his baptism in the Holy Spirit, one by one, his parents, brothers, sisters, and their spouses came to accept Jesus as Savior.
He married his wife, Susan, in 1981 and graduated from the AG’s University of Valley Forge in 1982. The couple co-pioneered Lewisburg Assembly of God in Pennsylvania before spending a year at a Bible college in Nigeria. Back in the States, Temple pastored New Testament Assembly of God in Millville, Pennsylvania; Englewood Assembly of God in New Jersey; and Parkcrest Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri.
Survivors include his mother, Grace; wife, Susan; and five children: Kathryn, Amy, David, Christine, and Alyssa.
Viewing will be from 3-6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Greenlawn Funeral Home, 3540 E. Seminole St. in Springfield. A celebration of life will begin at 10 a.m. Nov. 18 at Bread of Life Church in Rogersville, Missouri. The service will be livestreamed. Donations may be made to an AG ethnic fellowship.
TOP PHOTO: Scott Temple (center) signs formal documents establishing the AG Myanmar Fellowship in 2019.
LOWER PHOTO: Scott Temple (center) at his retirement event with (from left) daughter Amy Temple, wife Susan, daughter Christine Temple, and son-in-law Ryon Ward.