Bishop Florence Simpkins Shorter, 68, founder and pastor of the Silver Temple Pentecostal Holiness Church of Washington, died Sunday at George Washington University Hospital. She suffered from high blood pressure.
In addition to her own church, which she had founded 24 years ago, Mrs. Shorter also was the overseer of three other local churches. She spent her evenings and weekends Bible preaching, praying, singing gospel songs or directing radio broadcasts of religious music.
For years she preached in a storefront church in the 400 block of M Street NW. For the past two years, her church had been located in the 1300 block of 9th Street NW.
In addition to visiting and praying with the sick, Mrs. Shorter was available day and night to help those needing advice.
She accepted phone calls even while working as a janitor for United States Services Industries, a job that she had helf for more than 30 years.
In 1976, Mrs. Shorter received the 10th annual "Janitor of the Year Award" from the Building Services Contractors Association, an international trade group of maintenance and janitorial companies.
She was born in Aiken, S.C., and moved to Washington in 1925. She had started singing in the Baptist church of her parents when she was a child. Later, she founded the Silver Tones, a gospel group, and sang with them for 31 years.
Mrs. Shorter broke with the Baptist Church to set up her own church. Later, she explained that "I wanted to be in holiness, so I called it the Holiness Church."
Of her longstanding devotion to gospel singing, she once said: "Singing makes you feel good. It's something you do for humanity."
Mrs. Hsorter was the widow of Wesley Shorter, a building contractor and minister in the Holiness Church, who died about five years ago.
She is survived by three sisters, Willie Mae Lowe, of Washington, and Katie B. Williams and Julia Morgan, both of Aiken, and two brothers, Ebbie Christie and John Simpkins, both of Jamaica, N.Y.