A West Virginia native, Fred Thomas Simms was born on April 28th to the late George W. Simms and Audrey M. Gore - (Simms) Totten. Bishop Simms is one of eight children who was raised and educated in Raleigh County. He and his wife Lady Marilyn Staples-Simms are the proud and loving parents of five daughters and fifteen grandchildren.
In October of 1977, he was ordained as a deacon and on December 18th of that same year, he preached his first sermon at the New Jerusalem Holiness Church in Lester, West Virginia. He continued to work diligently in the service of the Lord by serving as Assistant Pastor at New Jerusalem Holiness Church for fourteen years under the leadership of the late Bishop Joe Hairston.
Commissioned by God in February of 1993, Elder Simms began to fulfill the vision by birthing what is now known as Heart of God Ministries. The Lord blessed Elder Simms and the church to purchase the land located at 1703 South Kanawha Street, Beckley, West Virginia. In April 1996, construction of the sanctuary began.
Under the inspirational leadership of Elder Simms, the ministry began to experience tremendous growth in the congregation, so expansion became
necessary. In November 2004, Heart of God Ministries completed construction of the renovated sanctuary and dedicated the new edifice.
Elder Simms was ordained as Bishop by the Apostolic Faith Church of Jesus Christ, Inc. in 1997. His biblical studies include courses through Aenon Bible College in Columbus, Ohio (now in Indianapolis, Indiana), the Institute of Biblical Studies in Lynchburg, Virginia and St Thomas Christian College in Jacksonville, Florida, where he received a Doctorate of Divinity Degree in September 2005. He was consecrated and named Vice-Prelate of the Temple of Praise International Fellowship of Churches, Inc., in May 2011.
In addition to his evangelistic and pastoral ministry, Bishop Simms has appeared on Daystar Television, hosted a weekly television broadcast service (It’s About God) on Living Faith Television and a radio broadcast on WJLS 560 AM (The Sword of Victory). His dynamic style of anointed preaching and teaching has opened many doors for him throughout the United States to include serving as Guest Chaplain for the House of Representatives at the Nation’s Capital on April 14, 2010. He continues to spread the Word of God through a Sunday morning radio broadcast, “Let’s Have Church”, on WWNR 620 AM.
His love for the Lord and people extends beyond the pulpit and broadcasts, as it fueled a passion for the well-being of the community. Since 2001, Bishop Simms led the drive to provide school supplies through the annual “Back-to-School Community Event/Picnic”. Additionally, his passion is shown through other outreach programs and services operated by the church such as the Food for Body and Soul Food Pantry, Project Hope Addiction’s Ministry, Nursing Home Ministry, special youth programs, the community garden and hospitality gift items prepared for the Hospice House.
His great concern for the citizens of Beckley and seeing the rise in the area’s crime rate, Bishop Simms organized the first major community meeting held in the East Beckley area on February 4, 2013 to discuss solutions to the epidemic. Many
community leaders were present to include The Honorable Nick J. Rahall, (the former
United States Representative for West Virginia’s 3rd District), who also served as the keynote speaker. As gun crimes in the nation’s schools increased, so did the attention of the Bishop who once again went into action and assembled the area’s leaders.
He has participated in and chaired several committees for the purpose of developing methods to address and solve the issues that plague society. In 2015, he reached out to the city which then resulted in the development of training sessions to assist in preparing individuals interested in taking the civil service exam for the police and fire departments. When the city seemed divided, Bishop Simms hosted a “Unity in the Community” service on the grounds of the Stratton Elementary
School to which religious and civic leaders, among many others, attended in October of 2016. In the midst of all of this,
he continued to lead the charge in community beautification while assisting in the renewal of both Greenwood and
Hunter’s Cemeteries. The list of community activism continues for the one who truly has the community at heart. Earning the “key to the city” on several occasions, Bishop Simms has also been the recipient of numerous awards for his community service which includes: the 2008 “Citizen of the Year” award from the Mountain State Bar Association; Mountain State University’s School of Leadership and Professional Development’s “Living Leadership” award; the
“Sharing of Self” award presented by the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Holiday Commission of the State of West Virginia; an acknowledgement by the City of Beckley for excellence in community service during the Common Council meeting on March 24, 2015; in 2017, received the distinguished honor of having his street renamed “Fred T. Simms Terrace”; and on December 11, 2017 at the YMCA’s 31st annual banquet, he was received the “Spirit of Beckley” award – a community service award given to an individual who has worked selflessly to enrich southern West Virginia and positively affect the lives of those who live here. From a historical perspective, he was the first African American recipient of this prestigious honor. In addition to the many accolades of his accomplishments, in June 2010, he became a published author.
Bishop Simms is a present day visionary who continues to lead Heart of God Ministries, a forty-one member ministerial staff and thirty-two auxiliary ministries with a spirit of excellence. His vision embodies the desire to institute a unique Christian School for the purpose of educating and preparing young people to make a positive impact in society. Furthermore, it is his aspiration to open a family oriented Christian bookstore in the East Beckley area and build a multipurpose facility.
Graced by the Lord with an exceptional anointing, his incomparable dedication and commitment has led to the expansion of the ministry through the covering of Heart of God Ministries Church in India; The Word of Hope Outreach Ministries in Orangeburg, South Carolina; the establishment of Heart of God Ministries in Charleston, WV; and in 2017 the acquisition of Royal Kingdom Ministries in Capels, WV. Encouraging the growth and development of his congregation and countless others, he teaches by example as he lives what he preaches.
Bishop Dr. Simms labors untiringly through counseling, intercessory prayer, preaching and teaching. He exemplifies the heart of a dedicated and loyal servant who truly illustrates a passion to “Reach People with God’s Love”. His two favorite mottos are: “It’s not about Fred T. It’s about God” and “Let’s Have Church!”
Marilyn Lee (Staples) Simms was born on September 12th to Pauline Staples and the late Warren Staples. She is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia. In November of 1971, she married Fred T. Simms and they are the loving parents of five daughters and have been blessed with fourteen grandchildren
Her greatest miracle came in May of 1974, when she was saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost. While a member at New Jerusalem Holiness Church, in Lester, West Virginia, she was a choir member and a Sunday School teacher. In February of 1993, her husband, Elder Fred Simms founded the Heart of God Ministries in Beckley, West Virginia. She submitted to the leadership of her husband and co-labors with him in the ministry. Lady Simms believes supporting her husband in ministry and raising godly children and grandchildren are her primary purpose and calling. Restoring women and family relationships weigh heavy in her heart.
Lady Simms oversees the women’s ministry, “Women of Excellence” and is host to an annual women’s conference at the church. In 2010, she was awarded the Overflow Women's Award. As an anointed psalmist, many yokes have been destroyed as she ministers in song. She has allowed God to “order her steps” and is an influence in the music ministry as well. Demonstrating the love of God through a meek and gentle spirit is how she graces the office of “First Lady”.