OUR HISTORY AND HERITAGE
From Humble Beginnings
Apostolic Faith Temple’s inception occurred in 1972. During April of that year, the Lord led Elder Nemiah Smith to leave his position as assistant pastor at Zion Apostolic Church in Ferndale, Michigan to form his own congregation in Detroit, Michigan. He and less than 25 saints banded together and founded a small ecclesiastical work. Joining Elder Smith were Brother and Sister Theodore Dickerson, Sister Lue Ella Downer and family, Brother and Sister Johnny Holley, Sr., and family, Brother and Sister Marshall Glenn and family, Mother Inez Linson, Brother and Sister Arthur Varner, and Mother Mary Wilson. This newly established church family had no permanent structure in which to dwell. Bible classes, prayer meetings, and worship services were held throughout the city in the homes of various members. After several months of moving, the members responded to a gracious offer made by Pastor Herbert Richey to share his facility located in West McNichols.
Places to Call Home
In the spring of 1973, God blessed the members to acquire a small storefront at 13213 Fenkell Street in Detroit. It was a small storefront site. Here, the members labored spiritually, physically, and financially to convert the building to a place which merited the name of Apostolic Faith Temple. Over the next three years, more people were transformed by the preaching of the Gospel and the membership increased to 100, necessitating a larger facility. In April of 1975, the congregation moved to 20915 Evergreen Road in Southfield, Michigan where the membership continued to grow, and the qualities of faith, unity, and diligence were maintained. By May of 1984, the 250-plus members paid off the church’s mortgage, the growth pattern continued, and within a year, an even larger church home was needed. Steps were taken to accommodate the size of the present and future church family. In 1985, building fund endeavors began, spearheaded by the recently installed assistant pastor, Elder Lambert Gates. Approximately one year later, enough money was gathered to purchase 8.5 acres of land located on Lahser Road in Southfield. The plan was to build an 800-seat sanctuary, pending the city’s approval. However, the Lord had a different plan. Instead of building in Southfield, God led Pastor Smith and the members to purchase a constructed edifice in the city of Detroit and in July of 1990, God blessed the members with a 1,700 seat, three-story building at 4735 West Fort Street. In August of that same year, Pastor Smith, Assistant Pastor Gates, and 400-plus members returned to Detroit, making the transition from the “old” to the “new” Apostolic Faith Temple. With continued membership growth at this present location, the church’s natural as well as spiritual provisions extend beyond the church walls to the neighborhood through a clothing program, annual Thanksgiving and Christmas food projects, an outreach prison ministry, and an involvement in community and civic organizations. In 1997, to reflect the guidance and work of God through the church, Bishop Smith and the congregants changed the name of the edifice to Greater Apostolic Faith Temple. Also reflected of God’s divine leading, the church paid off the mortgage in 2000, just ten years after occupancy.
Bishop Nemiah Smith, born June 16, 1933, in Rentz, Georgia, founded Apostolic Faith Temple in 1973 and served until his passing on July 24, 2007 at the age of 74. He was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost at the age of 15 and received his ministerial license through the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Married to Irene Smith until her passing, their union produced eight children: Linda, Glenda, Morris, Mary, Christopher, Nehemiah, Julia, and Julius. In addition to his children, he was survived by his second wife, Evangelist Dorothy Smith.
A Change of Leadership
July 24, 2007, B ishop Nemiah Smith made his transition from earth to glory. However, years before his departure, he wisely selected and groomed his successor, Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr., and July 25, 2007, Bishop Gates became the senior pastor of Greater Apostolic Faith Temple. Under his capable leadership, progress continues with advancements in membership development, organizational structure, ministry creations, community relations, the physical plant, technology and social media usage, and local and global telecasting.
Bishop Lambert Wade Gates, Sr., a former high school English teacher, has been senior pastor at Greater Apostolic Faith Temple since 2007. Born October 31, 1958 in Detroit, he was named successor upon the death of the founder Bishop Nemiah Smith, after having served as assistant pastor for many years. Continuing his role as senior pastor at Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, his distinction as one pastor in two locations attests to the call on his life for expansive ministry. He is married to Nancy Franklin Gates and they have two sons, Lambert, Jr., and Cameron, and a granddaughter, Teagan.