The Life and Legacy of Bishop Alfred Singleton
Courtesy Photo from the Singleton Family: Bishop Preaching
“It matters not what happens to me, but what happens to those of you who believe in me.” A saying that the late, great Bishop Alfred Singleton lived by each day, as he led his family, his congregation, and thousands of individuals he impacted within his nearly nine decades of living, and five decades of ministry.
Bishop Singleton was a man of many accomplishments in his life yet described himself as an “old country preacher” who dedicated his life to his faith in God and a passionate commitment to sharing that faith with the world.
Beyond being a Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, and a pastor for more than 30 years to the Bread House Church in Lansing, MI, he was an impactful father, grandfather, great grandfather and a spiritual and father to many, especially young men who didn’t have a father in their lives.
Courtesy Photo from the Singleton Family: The Singleton Family
“A part of my dad’s legacy is that he was the ultimate father figure,” said Bishop Alfred P. Singleton, II, Singleton’s eldest son and current pastor of The Bread House Church. “Young men who were looking for someone to look up to usually found what they were looking for in my dad. He offered structure and stability in situations where that was short in supply.”
He always would say “make a way or find one” when we were faced with problems, encouraging us to never ever give up,” Singleton II added.
Bishop Singleton was born Oct. 18, 1928 in Montgomery, Alabama where he spent most of his adolescent years. Born to Willie and Verona Singleton, he was the third oldest of seven children growing up in the Jim Crow South, experiencing the many pains and injustices that blacks faced during that time.
As a boy, he suffered from dyslexia and a sporadic education, and yet those challenges sparked an interest and quest for knowledge in his later years that would become insatiable. Raised in the Methodist church, with ministry in his lineage, perhaps it was of no surprise that Bishop Singleton would later become a minister himself.
By the time he was a young man, Bishop Singleton traveled north to Detroit, MI to escape the racism and segregation of the South and pursue a better opportunity for a maturing young black man.
It was when he arrived in Detroit, he encountered the love of his life, Elizabeth Hawkins and through her invitation to her church, Greater Bethlehem Temple where the late Bishop Hancock pastored, he began a committed life of following Jesus Christ.
Singleton dedicated himself to his newfound faith, recalling many nights where he would “pray all night long at church.” A quick study, Bishop Singleton received an enhanced biblical education from the late Bishop Samuel N. Hancock. His teachings covered the knowledge and practical application of the Holy Scriptures. It was widely accepted that Bishop Hancock was listed as one of the nation’s top Bible Scholars.
Hancock schooled Singleton for four years, and Bishop Singleton soon became his assistant pastor at Greater Bethlehem Temple, until while serving in the U.S. Army, Bishop began to sense God leading him to pastor in California.
“I prayed to the Lord for guidance,” said Bishop Singleton in a memoir. ‘Lord, if you want me to preach, knowing my inability to preach, you will have to let me know and someone else too.” He knew then that God would show him the way.
The way led Bishop from Detroit to California and finally to Lansing, Michigan where he lead and pastored “The Bread House Church”, (formerly known as Bethlehem Temple Church) for greater than 30 years. Throughout his decades of ministry, Bishop served as a District Elder, Bishop, and Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, from 2001-2008. He also earned an honorary doctorate degree in Theology and served as the Chief Executive Coordinator of the Midwest Apostolic Bible College’s Michigan Campus.
“My dad was the kind of preacher that everyone wanted,” said Singleton, II. “He was a preacher’s, preacher. He was a storyteller.”
He married Elizabeth on February 24, 1951, and the two shared more than 50 years of marriage together, before Elizabeth’s death in June 2006. They raised 12 children together, and more than 40 grandchildren and a host of great grandchildren continue to be born to this union. In 2008, Bishop Singleton was blessed to find some “sunshine” again, marrying Antoinette Halton. The couple shared nearly 10 years together before his passing.
Apart from his dedication to the church, family was everything to Bishop. Singleton II shared fond memories of growing up in Los Angeles as a young boy, watching his father “making the way or finding one,” starting out with house-to-house prayer, later founding the Bethlehem Temple Church of Monrovia, all while making a living doing odd jobs around the city.
“My dad was very entrepreneurial,” said Singleton II. “I can remember a time while growing up in Los Angeles where we helped my dad cleaning at an office complex.
Affectionately known as “Big Daddy” to his family, the Singleton family cherished Bishop for his wisdom, candor, his dedication to God and the people of God, his hospitality, and certainly his enjoyment of gathering around a delicious meal. “My dad was a connoisseur of food,” said Singleton II. “He really liked Mediterranean dishes. And he particularly enjoyed a Jewish corned beef sandwich place in the Farmington and Detroit area." Thanksgiving was a major holiday within the family, where they would all come together to eat, celebrate, and sing gospel songs around the piano. Singing was a long-held tradition with the Singleton family, even forming a gospel recording group, “The Singletons”, which featured Bishop’s daughters and grandchildren. The Singleton’s single “Pour Out Your Holy Spirit,” made the Top 40 Hits for Gospel in 2006 and featured a snippet of one of Bishop’s messages on it.
“My dad could sing too,” said Singleton II. “One of his favorite songs was, Through it All. My mother had a great voice as well. We are a singing family.”
Singleton’s associates remember him as well-read with an in-depth knowledge of the Bible. He combined esoteric references with extemporaneous monologues on the pulpit, said Bishop David Maxwell of the Eliezer Temple Church in Lansing.
“He was a preacher’s preacher,” Maxwell said. “He had this strong, raspy voice. When he opened his mouth, he had already captured his audience.”
“My dad was a very proud man,” said Singleton II. “He always wanted to put his best foot forward, and family was everything. He was especially proud of his family.”
Bishop Singleton made his transition on December 4, 2017, leaving behind a legacy of faith in Christ, love for each other, and a hope for heaven.