Christ Temple No. 2 (later to become Mt. Zion Apostolic Church) was founded by Pastor Lillian Mason in 1922 as a prayer meeting in her home at 1206 Earhart Street on the south side of Indianapolis, in a village called Norwood. First known as the Pentecostal Assembly of Christ Temple, the church worshipped at various times in a railroad boxcar, a converted pool hall, and other storefront buildings. 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.” Dedicating more than 40 years of her life to this work, she realized the fruition of her labors in 1955 when she directed the construction of a two-story brick edifice at 3412 E. Prospect Street that would serve the church for 38 years. Pastor Mason died on August 13, 1975, at the age of 84. It has been said that whenever you see the church on Prospect Street, you see a monument to the life sacrifice of a woman who had a vision to work for God.
District Elder James O. Franklin (elevated to the bishopric in 1975) was installed as the second pastor of Christ Temple No. 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 19, 1967. Seeking to promote sound business practices and help the church establish its own identity, he facilitated the name change to Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in 1969. During these years, the church’s constitution and bylaws were created, and a choir, the Youth Training Council, and the Brotherhood and Sisters Auxiliaries were organized. The foreign missions program sponsored orphanages in Haiti, Jamaica, and Africa. As a skilled carpenter, Bishop Franklin helped build the Prospect Street church in the 1950s and directed the construction of a three-story annex in 1978. A Bible scholar with a deep interest in eschatology, he wrote many articles on the subject for the Sunday bulletin as well as the PCAF national organization. Under his leadership, Mt. Zion reached its peak in the late 1970s with 100 members and nearly 150 regular Sunday School students. On November 27, 1987, Bishop Franklin died at the age of 66. He was best known for his knowledge of the book of Revelation and invaluable teachings on end-time prophecy.
Apostolic Faith Temple was founded by Elder Nemiah Smith in Detroit, Michigan, in 1972. With no formal building, the newly established congregation held services in the homes of the members. A year later, it acquired a small storefront at 13213 Fenkell Street. As more people became transformed by the preaching of the gospel, a larger facility was purchased in 1975 at 20915 Evergreen Road in Southfield. In 1990, the same year that Elder Smith was elevated to the bishopric, the 400-plus members marched into their new home at 4735 W. Fort Street in Detroit. Over the next years, the church developed many membership and community programs and changed the church name to Greater Apostolic Faith Temple in 1997, to reflect its progress. On July 24, 2007, Bishop Nemiah Smith died at the age of 74. He named the church’s assistant pastor, Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr., as his successor. Already established as the pastor of Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, Bishop Gates effectively became one pastor in two locations, and Greater Apostolic and Mt. Zion became “sister churches.” The legacy of Bishop Smith lives on through its members who grew under his spiritual guidance and faithful leadership.
On August 25, 1988, Elder Lambert W. Gates of Detroit, Michigan, was elected to become the third pastor of Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a new leader, he envisioned Mt. Zion as a place of inspiration for its members and a beacon of hope to the unchurched and adopted the tagline “A Going Church for a Coming Lord.” In a special meeting on September 9, he appointed new officers and leaders, and set plans in motion for membership growth and greater community engagement. On December 11, he was officially installed in a ceremony held at Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly in Indianapolis. By the end of his first year, Mt. Zion was becoming one of the fastest growing Apostolic churches in the city.