Greg Simpson's Biography
Greg Simpson was happy with his chosen career in software development focused on websites and online applications. He enjoyed working for clients in insurance, health care, and small businesses. But as he reached his mid-30s he felt a pull in an entirely different direction.
“I had a good career, enjoyed the people I was working with, and enjoyed the work,” Simpson said.
“But I guess I felt that there was something more, something different for me. It took a while to realize that God was steering me toward ministry.”Simpson grew up in the Presbyterian Church of Canada; his mother was the organist at Appin Presbyterian Church through his childhood. There are members of clergy in both his mothers’ and fathers’ families, but he never considered ministry as a young person.
His computer science education took him to Mississauga and Brampton for five years. After moving back closer to home and settling in Rodney, Simpson was invited to Calvary United Church by members who he got to know through Ridgeplayers. “Dale [Peters] told me I was going to sing in the choir. I just couldn’t say no to Dale, I don’t know many people who could,” Simpson said. “I sang bass next to him for quite a few years. Calvary [United Church] was a welcoming place, it felt like home.”
It was there in mid-2006 when other church members recognized his experience on stage with amateur theatre at Ridgeplayers and WEDS, and bands The Five Guys and A String and a Prayer and invited him to lead a summer church service. One service lead to a few then many more, and by 2011 Simpson was supplying pulpits around Elgin and Middlesex, in both the United and Presbyterian churches. He started the year-long discernment process in 2011, guided by local clergy and members of the Calvary United Church congregation. This process recognized and identified his gifts for ministry, and recommended he start his education in the Designated Lay Ministry program.
The Designated Lay Ministry (DLM) program is aimed at people whose call to ministry comes after some life and career experience. It includes six 10-day intensive education sessions in Saskatchewan with reading and online correspondence content between sessions over the course of at least three years as well as supervised work experience in a part-time ministry position and three complementary courses. Simpson started the work experience portion of his DLM training at Calvary United Church in September of 2012 and graduated in May of 2016. He remained in his position at Calvary for another two years, leading worship, serving in pastoral ministry and growing the congregations’ connections to the community specifically connecting with youth in the area.
As of June 4th, 2018, he is the new minister at Chatham’s St. Andrew’s United Church.
Today Simpson feels he’s exactly where he’s meant to be.“Ministry is really enjoyable,” he said. “It’s an honour to be invited into people’s lives in their joys and in their sorrows. I get to sit with people through highs and lows, as they experience life and wonder about their faith.”
As a worship leader, Simpson feels right at home at St. Andrew’s.
“Working with Devon [Hansen] is so enjoyable. I feel like we connected immediately and have very similar goals with Sunday morning services. We share mutual respect for the worship experience, and can blend solemnity with fun, classic with contemporary. He’s a joy to work with.”“The other church staff, the council, the choir and other committees are great. It’s so nice to know there are people both visible and behind the scenes working to keep things running smoothly.”
Sunday morning worship continues to be an important part of St. Andrew’s United Church’s presence in the community, but Simpson is quick to mention the mission and outreach of the church.“St. Andrew’s has a commitment to supporting the Chatham-Kent community. That’s one thing that drew me here. I’m excited to work with the congregation to expand the reach; to think about new and creative ways that we can serve the community. Churches today need to be more engaged in the community: providing support and showing people that they are loved no matter who they are or where they are. Building new and strengthening existing relationships with larger community is something I am particularly looking forward to. There are so many organizations around doing good things, we need to draw close and build each other up.”
Community and church members are especially invited to come meet Simpson on September 16th, 2018 at 10:30 am for “Back to Church Sunday”.“Fall is a time of renewal as young people are going back to school and other programs are starting up. Back to Church Sunday is our chance to welcome people back after summer vacations and invite newcomers or those who haven’t been to church for a while. I would love the chance to get meet and get to know more people in the Chatham community.”
Simpson, Kent Presbytery and the members of St. Andrew’s United Church will also be celebrating a Covenanting Service on September 16th at 2:00 pm. All are welcome.Simpson reminded us to keep an eye on the St. Andrew’s website: http://standrewschatham.org/ and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/standrewschatham/) for upcoming events and programs