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York pastor Simmons retires after six-year commute from Mississippicomment (0)

January 12, 2006

By Jason Mayfield

Retired pastor Bob Simmons went to Siloam Baptist Church, York, in Bigbee Baptist Association in January 2000 to preach a brief series of messages while the church searched for a pastor. It turns out the series lasted a bit longer than either expected.

Simmons retired again from the ministry Oct. 30, 2005. This time from Siloam Baptist after serving as pastor of the church for six years, extending a personal ministry that now spans 56 years. The church honored Simmons and his wife, Mary, with plaques of appreciation, a bouquet of flowers, a scrapbook of letters from people the couple knows and surprise visits from old friends.

“He seemed to get people involved,” said Brad Campbell, Siloam’s associate pastor. “We’re a small church, 35–40 in Sunday School and 60–70 in worship, so the goal wasn’t for him to increase numbers so much as just to get people involved. With his personality, he kept people interested. He’s very persuasive, doesn’t take no for an answer.”

Campbell said Simmons was the church’s first pastor in its modern history to not live on the field — he lived in Meridian, Miss., and commuted for his sermons. Simmons stayed in touch, however, throughout the week. The pastor told Siloam’s members that all they had to do was call and he’d come running. Campbell said the arrangement worked so well that the church is looking at its next pastor doing the same.

“I was the person folks would come to if there was a problem, and I can honestly say that in the time he was there, there was never a complaint,” Campbell said. “He just loved the Lord and all others. He lived, breathed and preached exactly who he was.”

Church member Rhodes Taylor said, “He truly is a loving pastor. When you were having problems, he was there with you. There was never a critical comment from anyone during his pastorate. He truly loved every one in this church.”

Campbell said part of the reason Siloam and Simmons fit together so well was that both were missions-minded. Simmons first began serving as a pastor while at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and he served several churches around that area and in Meridian before he and his wife were able to answer a calling they’d both felt for some time — a call to serve overseas.

The couple spent 10 years in Hong Kong and then teaching at a seminary in the Philippines before returning to the United States. While at Siloam, they were able to travel to Rome to teach for a summer.

More than two months into his retirement, Simmons isn’t sure what his next step will be. He said he already misses Siloam, a church he called the friendliest, sweetest place — the “beatenest, eatenest church in the association.”

One hope Simmons has is to preach another supply pastorate — this time, somewhere a bit closer to home.

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