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O U R   F O U N D E R

We give God the glory for the things He has done.  For He truly is the one who made all of this possible!  We give praise and thanks to Him for the instruments He has used down through the years and is presently using here at St. Paul.


The history of this great church spans more than eighty years.  Around 1931, or perhaps even earlier, like many newly appointed churches, the church made several moves while getting established.  Mother Leanna Pinkard along with Mother Elizabeth Page, Mother Ricks, Brother and Sister Logan started out having prayer in her home on Newark Street.  The church then moved to Warren Street and then on to West Kinney Street [in an upper room near the present site of the Abyssian Baptist Church], all in Newark, NJ.  In 1939, while on West Kinney Street, our church received one of the most celebrated and distinguished leaders in the history of the Fire Baptized movement in the person of Elder Raymond M. Palmer.  One of Elder Palmer’s first achievements was that of relocation.  We were relocated to 469 Washington Street, Newark, NJ.  It was at that time [1939] that he changed our name to St. Paul Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas.


Others must receive their recognition, for they shared in the pain and the glory of our long history.  Great leaders such as the late Rev. [Bishop] John P. Graham and the late Rev. J. J. Johnson pastored St. Paul in the early to mid 1950’s traveling from Philadelphia, PA.  Bishop Graham went on to become the Bishop of the State of Rhode Island and pastored the Holy Temple.  Rev. Marion Manners, our first and only female pastor, was originally from the Virgin Islands.  She came to pastor in the mid 1950’s to 1966.  She traveled from Paterson, NJ.  Under the pastorate of Rev. Manners, St. Paul entered into negotiations for our present location.  She saw the church at least one time before God called her home to her reward.  The mantle of leadership then fell on the late Rev. Donald Womack from 1967 to 1974, who served as the assistant pastor under Rev. Manners prior to her death.  The church experienced great growth under Rev. Womack.  An extraordinary feat was wrought by him, as he was able to secure a loan and along with 39 members was able to pay off the loan within ten years.  We are grateful to God for these great pastors who gave many years of love and service to St. Paul.


In 1974, a chain of events began to occur at St. Paul.  The church was in transition and in need of a “Moses.”  While presiding as elder of the New York District and serving as temporary pastor of St. Paul from 1974 to 1975, Elder Raymond M. Palmer once again demonstrated the long-range vision and wisdom that characterized his anointed career in ministry.  In 1975, he appointed a young, anointed, conscientious, imaginative, and dedicated “country preacher” – Rev. Nathanial Simmons.  History declares that the church reaped a great harvest of souls under the leadership of these anointed pastors. 


Bishop Simmons and his family left the comfort of a lovely home in Chicago for a tiny apartment in the Manners House.  He left a thriving membership at Zion Chapel for a church in Newark with only 18 members.  He willingly walked into an atmosphere of pain, poverty, and discouragement, but he did not let that deter him.  Instead, he walked into the lives of people who needed him.


His vision was connected to the people of this community, and the City of Newark.  St. Paul disassociated from the FBH Church in October of 1994 in the Annual Convention in Mount Vernon, NY.  We then became known as St. Paul Sounds of Praise Pentecostal Fellowship Ministries.  However, we never ceased to be “Good Ol’ St. Paul.  During Bishop Simmons’ tenure, St. Paul grew to tremendous numbers.  Expansion became the need and the first church remodeling took place in 1981.  In all, a $400,000 renovation took place and the loan was paid off in 3½ years ~ there had never been a time that St. Paul was more productive.


Bishop Nathaniel Simmons made a mark that can never be erased.  God used him to change lives and he allowed God to save souls!  He left a deposit in the earth, in his community and city.  He made a deposit in you and me.  To God be the glory for the things He has done!  Listed are a few of the things accomplished during Bishop Simmons’ legacy:


> Lighted cross out front

> 1st Recording Project

> Extended both walls 12 feet

> 2 Buses and a Busing Business

> New sanctuary pews

> Weekly Nursing Home Service

> Air conditioning the sanctuary

> 2nd Remodeling Creating 105,000 sq. ft. Building


After the demise of Bishop Nathaniel Simmons at 7:25 p.m. on February 21, 1999, the church was in shock.  During that time, Bishop Allen H. Simmons, Sr. of Summerville, South Carolina, served as interim pastor.  Bishop Walter B. Medlock of the Bronx, New York, was interim assistant pastor. Evangelist Callie Burks, Mother Ruth Fitz, Elder Tony Stephens, and Elder Wayne Andre’ Simmons served as associate pastors.  After serving as pastor for four years at Bethel Sounds of Praise Church in Port Chester, New York, Elder Cleveland Blash, Jr. was appointed as pastor of St. Paul in October of 1999 at the Sounds of Praise Fall Conference.  Elder Blash was installed on February 4, 2000.


Here at St. Paul, we are committed to continuing the legacy and fulfilling the vision of the late Bishop Nathaniel Simmons in this community, this city, this nation and the world at large.  That vision is —

To proclaim Jesus Christ and His gospel message of salvation. 

To bring people to membership in the family of God through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

To develop them to Christ-like maturity

To equip them for the work of the ministry in the church, as well as fulfilling their mission in the world.  Ultimately glorying and magnifying God.


> New Sanctuary Seating

> The Bookstore

> United Voices of St. Paul

> Productive Scholarship - Since 2001

> Chapel

> Debt Free Since 2001

> T.V. Broadcast

> Website

> Christian Education Classrooms

> Installation of The Executive Leadership Team

Our Church History

Elder Raymond M. Palmer

[Namer of St. Paul] 1939

Mother Leanna Pinkard


Rev. J.J. Johnson

The Early Years

Bishop John P. Graham

The Early Years

Rev. Marrion Manners

Mid 50's - 1966

Bishop Nathaniel Simmons

Sounds of Praise Founder

Feb.1975—Feb. 1999

Bishop Allen H. Simmons

Interim Pastor

Feb. 1999 - Oct. 1999

Elder Cleveland Blash, Jr. 

Oct. 1999 - Oct. 2014

Bishop Nathaniel Simmons, DD

The key word is great. Bishop Nathaniel Simmons was not great because he deserved it or because others wanted it, Bishop Simmons was great because he followed the example of Jesus. Jesus was a servant, and he preempted himself of his glory with God, just to become a servant. Mark 10:43,44, "Let him that would be great among you be your minister, and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be your servant." Bishop Simmons certainly was a servant indeed. He served his church, his people, and his community. A really great man is known by at least three things: generosity in design, humanity in execution, and moderation in success. Bishop was all of these and more. Bishop's generosity was unparalleled. He gave of himself, all of the time, and with all of his heart. His humanitarianism was par excellence, for he who gave so much, loved much. His success never caused him to be self-exalted or self-deserving, because he was not just a good man, he was God's man.


Bishop Nathaniel Simmons, son of the late Reverend Mose and Mother Eva Adams Simmons was born on June 6, 1937 in Summerville (Jedburg), South Carolina. He graduated from Alston High School then moved to New York City to continue his education. He was called into the ministry in December 1962. He received a Baccalaureate degree in Theology and a Masters in Pastoral Excellence from the Manhattan Bible Institute in New York City. He received an Honorary Doctorate degree from the Fuller Normal Industrial Institute in Greenville, South Carolina.

In October 1965, Bishop Simmons began his first pastorate at St. Paul FBH Church in New Rochelle, NY. The church was blessed abundantly and many souls were added to the local assembly.


In November 1966, Bishop was sent to Zion Chapel FBH Church in Chicago, Ill. Once again, the Lord used him to minister to the needs of the people and Zion Chapel grew as souls were saved and added to the church. This was with much suffering for the cause of Christ and the preaching of the unadulterated gospel. Because of his stand for holiness in one of the roughest areas in Chicago, his church was burned and his home bombed. In spite of this, the church gain added strength and flourished.


In the early stage of his ministry, Bishop Simmons fell in love and married the beautiful and charming, the late Johnnie Mae Keasley. To this union four children were born. Glenn Nathaniel, (who preceded him in death), Bishop Wayne Andre, Stacie, and Natalie. This core group worked untiringly in ministry and faced together the obstacles and challenges to overcome, through Christ, with victory.

In November 1975, because of the added threats, and for the security of his family, Bishop Simmons was sent to St. Paul FBH Church in Newark, NJ. Seizing the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to utilize all of his skills, he believed God for the seemingly impossible. St. Paul grew from a membership of eleven to twelve hundred during his administration.


He served as Presiding Elder of the California District for three years in the FBH Church. In 1985, he was appointed to the office of Presiding Elder of the New Jersey District. Over a span of eight years, the district grew from nine churches to twenty churches.

Bishop was known for his loving kindness, thoughtfulness and love for people. He had a magnetic smile that would capture the heart; old hearts as well as the young. His theme in life was "caring and sharing". He was a role model for many young men and women in the church and community and known throughout the nation and abroad for his anointed preaching, teaching and singing abilities.


On December 16, 1993, Bishop Simmons and Ruby F. Hill were united in holy matrimony. They worked hard in serving the church until his demise.


In October 1994, under the leading of the almighty God, he founded the Sounds of Praise Pentecostal Fellowship Ministries, Inc. On November 26, 1994, Bishop Nathaniel, along with Bishop-elects Allen H. Simmons, Charles W. Williams and Henry A. Tindal, J. Parks, John Bland and Walter B. Medlock, was consecrated and installed to the Bishopric, and anointed by the Presiding Bishop of the Churches of God in Christ, His Holiness Bishop Chandler D. Owens. "To God be the Glory for the things He has done."

Bishop Simmons has been one of the most celebrated Pentecostal evangelists in this century. His ministry has been a definite reality in our times: a Prince of Preachers, Counselor Extraordinaire, Master Teacher, and a Pastor's Pastor. His anointing, charming personality and influence has won many souls to Christ, and his works do follow him.


Even in his ultimate message to the saints, he stood like Moses, a giant among giants; a colossus, even in the midst of mighty men. The request of his spirit parallels that of other great men; and he said, "Lord, I beseech thee, show me thy Glory."


Our Bishop entered into eternal rest on Sunday, February 21, 1999 at his home in South Orange, New Jersey at 7:30 PM. He left to cherish his memory: a loving wife, Pastor Ruby F. Simmons; four children, Bishop Wayne Andre' and wife, Kim; Mrs. Stacey Garner and husband, Van; Mrs. Natalie Wilson, and husband, Joe; and Miss Takesha Hill: Six grandchildren: Jonathan Garner, Andrea Simmons, Aleesia Simmons, Wayne Andre' Simmons, II, DeAndra Simmons and Tiffany Simmons; five brothers and wives, six sisters and husbands, too many nieces and nephews to count, aunts, uncles, cousins and a devoted church family, numerous spiritual sons and daughters, several godchildren and many wonderful friends.


God saw the road was getting rough. The hills were hard to climb. So, he gently closed your weary eyes, and whispered peace be thine. O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING? O GRAVE, WHERE IS THY VICTORY?

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