Bishop Nathaniel Simmons, son 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 from the Fuller Normal Industrial Institute in Greenville, South Carolina.
In the early stage of his ministry, Bishop Simmons fell in love and married the beautiful and charming, the late Johnnie Mae Keesley. 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 October 1965, Bishop Simmons began his first pastorate at St. Paul FBH Church in New Rochelle, NY. The church was abundantly blessed, 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. There was 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, Zion Chapel was burned to the ground, and his home was firebombed. In spite of these afflictions and challenges, the church gain added strength and continued to flourish.
In November 1975, because of the added threats, and for the security of his family, Bishop Simmons was relocated to St. Paul FBH Church in Newark, NJ. Seizing the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to utilize his God-given skills and utilizing his family’s commitment to service, 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, and in 1985, 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 approximately twenty churches.
On December 16, 1993, Bishop Simmons and Sister Ruby F. Hill were unity in holy matrimony. They both served untiringly at St. Paul Sounds of Praise, Newark, NJ until his demise in February of 1999.
In October 1994, under the leading of the almighty God and the scripture Isaiah 43:19 in his heart, he founded the Sounds of Praise Pentecostal Fellowship Ministries, Inc. On November 26, 1994, along with Bishop-elects Allen H. Simmons, Charles W. Williams and Henry A. Tindal, Joseph W. Parks, John Bland and Walter B. Medlock, they were consecrated and installed into the Bishopric, 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."
Our founder 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, Mrs. Ruby F. Simmons; four children, Bishop Wayne Andre' and wife, Kim; Stacey, Natalie, Takesha Hill: Six grandchildren: Jonathan, Andrea, Aleesia, Wayne Andre', II, DeAndra and Tiffany; 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.
We will always remember our Founder, Bishop Nathaniel Simmons.
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?