Bishop Otha Miema Kelly transitioned home to receive his reward on Sept. 16, 1982. On October 14, 1982, four weeks after the demise of Bishop Kelly, Bishop F.D. Washington appointed Elder James Gaylord as Pastor of Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ. On March 5, 1983, Elder James H. Gaylord Sr. was officially installed as Pastor of Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ.
Many enhancements have been made to continue and preserve the property at 8-10-12 East 130th Street in Harlem. Pastor James H. Gaylord, a true visionary, has a genuine love for people and continues to reach out to the Harlem community. Between the years of 1993 and 1998, under Pastor Gaylord’s leadership and guidance, the Kelly Temple Church Family purchased six pieces of property on East 130th between Fifth and Madison Avenue. These purchases were done solely through the generosity of the church family without the assistance of grants or loans.
Currently, Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ is instrumental in obtaining affordable housing in Harlem and facilitating several ministries to meet the needs of the total man. Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ also provides monetary support and spiritual assistance in countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Australia and the Caribbean Islands.
Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ has been in the community of Harlem for over seventy-five years. In 1939, it was originally known as “The Mother Church” under the pastorate of Reverend Otha Miema Kelly. The first location of The Mother Church was a very small storefront on Fifth Avenue and 137th Street in Harlem. After a short period, Pastor Kelly and congregation moved into a larger storefront, located at 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The membership doubled in size, requiring the next move of The Mother Church to a double storefront at 22-13 Fifth Avenue. As the congregation continued to grow, Pastor Kelly moved the congregation to an old, erected church located at 70-74 East 128th Street. The Mother Church purchased that site and the mortgage was burned in five years.
In 1945, Pastor Kelly received a vision and mandate from God to erect an original edifice. Four years later, Pastor Kelly found three vacant lots at 8-10-12 East 130th Street, which was between Fifth and Madison Avenues. Pastor Kelly and the congregation purchased these lots in a foreclosure sale. On January 24, 1949, a ground-breaking ceremony for the new church building was held in the vacant lots on East 130th Street. On Easter Sunday, March 5, 1951, The Mother Church moved into the basement of the growing edifice. The upstairs sanctuary was completed in 1959.
In the late 1950s, The Mother Church Of God In Christ was renamed Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ, in honor of its founder Pastor Otha Miema Kelly. Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ has the distinction of being the first Pentecostal church in Harlem, which was built “from the ground up”.
In 1972, Bishop Otha Miema Kelly appointed Elder James H. Gaylord to serve as the Assistant Pastor of the Kelly Temple Church Of God In Christ.