Samuel N. Hancock
Founder and Presiding Bishop
SAMUEL NATHANIEL HANCOCK was born November 9, 1883, in Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky, to John and Charlotte Wheat Hancock. He migrated with his family to Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of five where they settled in Norwood on the city’s south side. As a young man, Hancock joined Penick Chapel AME Church. His search for a deeper knowledge of Christ led him to Apostolic Faith Assembly (Now Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly) under the leadership of Garfield T. Haywood where he was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost in 1914. In 1915, during the early years of the Oneness movement, he was one of 465 members of Christ Temple, including Haywood, to submit to rebaptism in the name of Jesus.
In 1917, he became the first assistant pastor under Haywood at Christ Temple where he served for four years. In 1921, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, to assume the pastorate of a small church which would grow to become the renowned Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple Church with a membership of more than 3,000 parishioners. His promise to “Do a great thing in Detroit” included the building of homes for aged women and young working girls, a neighborhood carpentry workshop for boys, a confectionary and supermarket to aid people during the Great Depression, and donating to philanthropic causes. Artistic by nature, he designed the original logo for the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, created sculptures that adorned his church, and played piano and organ in his leisure. He authored The Great Godhead and numerous other articles for teaching and inspiration. Bishop Hancock was married five times, outliving all but one of his wives. He was first married to Bertha Valentine Hancock (d. 1912) with whom he had two children, Norlin Winifred and Emma Geraldine. His daughter preceded him in death at the age of ten. He was then married to Annie Williams Hancock (d. 1938); Ida Haywood Hancock (d. 1954); Anna Bell Douglas Hancock (d. 1961); and Bertha Jackson Hancock, whom he preceded in death.
In 1957, Hancock founded the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith Association, where he served as its presiding bishop until his death at the age of 79 on August 18, 1963. He left behind thousands of people drawn to Christ through his works and ministry, a thriving organization with hundreds of churches, and a spiritual and humanitarian mark on the city of Detroit and the world.