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Charles Simeon and Evangelism

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? 
Romans 10:13-15, NRSV

Nov. 12 is the feast day of Charles Simeon, who was a priest in the Church of England in the early 1800s and is recognized as a leader of the evangelical movement in the Church of England. In the portion of Paul’s letter to the Romans above, which is appointed for reading on this feast day, Paul asked three questions about evangelism: “How are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?  And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?

Charles Simeon proclaimed the Gospel and helped to send many into ministry. He was not particularly well liked when he was in college, or even as a new priest at Holy Trinity, Cambridge. There was disagreement about his preaching style–his parish vestry did not approve. “His sermons were unfailingly biblical, simple and passionate.”[i] Over time he was appreciated, especially by the students. His dedication to preaching the Gospel and sharing the Good News had immeasurable wide reaching influence. One history of Charles Simeon says, “By the time he died, it is estimated that one-third of all the Anglican ministers in the country had sat under his teaching at one time or another.”[ii]

Charles Simeon, as a leader in the evangelical movement in the Church of England, helped to send missionaries to proclaim Jesus Christ to those who have not yet heard and not yet believed. He was very humble, simply preaching the Gospel and sharing the Good News. His focus was on Jesus, not on himself. How might each of us endeavor to reflect Charles Simeon’s devotion? How might we focus on Jesus, sharing His Good News through our words and our lives?

Collect for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon
O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.[iii]

[i] Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006, Church Publishing Incorporated, p.450. 
[ii] Christianity Today, Charles Simeon: Evangelical Mentor and Modelhttps://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/charles-simeon.html accessed 11/2/20
[iii] Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006, Church Publishing Incorporated, p.451.  
The Rev. Lisa R. Neilson
Associate for Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries
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