OUR HISTORY AND HERITAGE
The Early Years | 1922-1966
Mt. Zion Apostolic Church traces its origins to the early 20th century, beginning in 1922. Originally located in Norwood on Indianapolis’ south side, it was founded by Pastor Lillian Mason as a prayer meeting in her home at 1206 Earhart Street. The church also held services in a railroad boxcar, a converted pool hall, and other storefront buildings during these early years. First known as the Pentecostal Assembly of Christ Temple and later Christ Temple No. 2 (named after Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly in Indianapolis), the church was affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), then moved its membership to the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith (PCAF) when it formed in 1957. Characterized by a constant struggle for survival, the membership during these years was small, from a high of approximately 50 members, to periods of time which Pastor Mason describes as “Just me and the Lord alone.” In spite of these and other obstacles, she successfully directed the construction of a two-story brick edifice at 3412 E. Prospect Street where the church would worship for the next 38 years. These were the seeds that gave rise to the ministry that we enjoy today.
Pastor Lillian Velma Lasley Mason, born October 1, 1890, in Munfordville (Hart County), Kentucky, served as founder and pastor of Christ Temple No. 2 from 1922 until her retirement in 1966. She was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost under the pastorate of Bishop Garfield T. Haywood and received her ministerial license through the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith. She was married to John Mason who preceded her in death. She died in 1975 at the age of 84. The Pastor Lillian V. Mason Sanctuary was named in her honor in 2005.
The Modern Years | 1967-1987
Elder James O. Franklin (elevated to the office of bishop in 1975 by the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith) was installed as the second pastor on November 19, 1967. Seeking to promote good sound business practices, and to help the church establish its own identity, he facilitated the church’s name change from Christ Temple No. 2 to Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in 1969. During these years, many firsts were implemented including the constitution and bylaws, the benevolent fund, and the Sunday bulletin. Organized groups included the Youth Training Council, the Brotherhood and Sisters Auxiliaries, the choir, and the Official Board. Through a foreign missions program, the church sponsored orphanages in Haiti, Jamaica, and Africa. As a skilled carpenter, Bishop Franklin helped build the Prospect Street church under Pastor Mason’s tenure and directed the construction of a three-story annex to the building in 1978. Under his leadership, Mt. Zion reached its peak in the late 70s with 100 members and nearly 150 regular Sunday School students. Writing dozens of articles for the church and the national organization, Bishop Franklin was best known for his knowledge of the book of Revelation and invaluable teachings on end-time prophecy.
Bishop James Oba Franklin was born November 1, 1921, in LaVergne, Tennessee. His marriage to Marian Perkins in 1946 produced 11 children: Stephen, Paul, Marshall, Jonathan, Teresa, David, Anita, Timothy, Gordon, Nancy, and Kathleen. He was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost under the pastorate of Elder Robert Tobin and received his ministerial license through the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith. An honorably discharged army veteran, he worked 24 years for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier before devoting his life full-time to the ministry. Serving first as assistant pastor at then Christ Temple No. 2 (later Mt. Zion Apostolic Church), he was installed as pastor in 1967 and served until his death at age 66 in 1987. The Bishop James O. Franklin Chapel was named in his honor in 2005.
The Contemporary Years | 1988-1999
Elder Lambert W. Gates (elevated to the office of bishop in 1997 by the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith) was installed as Mt. Zion’s third pastor on December 11, 1988. He set out to create a well-organized church with a greater presence in the community, envisioning Mt. Zion as an inspiration to its members and a beacon of hope to the unchurched. The Leadership Council was created in 1993 to bring the ministries to a higher level of service. A strategic task force developed the church’s first vision and mission statements. The Joyful Sounds radio broadcast went on the air in 1989. By the mid-90s, Mt. Zion had outgrown the building on Prospect Street and purchased its current building in the Forest Manor community in 1997. The building, erected in 1951, was purchased from Christ Presbyterian Church. Mt. Zion’s building on Prospect Street was sold to Prince of Peace Church of God in Christ. On May 4, Bishop Gates led the congregation into its new 38th Street home. Consistent growth brought about the need for a second morning worship service which debuted on April 19, 1998 at 8:00 a.m. In gradual succession came day Bible study, children’s church, the daycare, choirs, and television and Internet broadcasts. Mt. Zion was well on its way to realizing its new vision as the 20th century came to a close.
Bishop Lambert Wade Gates, Sr., a former high school English teacher in Detroit, has been senior pastor at Mt. Zion Apostolic Church since 1988. Born October 31, 1958, he was called to succeed Bishop James O. Franklin upon his death in 1987. Continuing his role as senior pastor at Greater Apostolic Faith Temple in Detroit, Michigan, 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.
The Current Years | 2000 and Beyond
Today, numerous ministries meet the needs of people in our church and community. The daycare offers services for infants to school-agers. A website team keeps viewers of the World Wide Web up to date on events. Ministry leaders work diligently to build up and perfect their programs. The Northeast Indianapolis Community Service Corp., founded by Bishop Gates in 2002, studies ways to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods. Radio, television, and Internet broadcasts enhance soul winning efforts. In June 2005, a 1600-seat sanctuary was added to the existing building, enabling the Word of God to reach greater numbers of people in the community and beyond. In October 2007, Mt. Zion became a sister church to Greater Apostolic Faith Temple in Detroit when Bishop Gates assumed full leadership after the death of his own pastor, Bishop Nemiah Smith. Mt. Zion in the 21st century, with a base of 1000-plus members, stands as a classic story of the faithfulness of God in raising up a people to reach the world with the life-changing news of Jesus Christ.