The Revd Jim Simons (TESM ’85) to fill Vacancy on Executive Council

PECUSA’s Executive Council has appointed an avowed, practising Evangelical, Jim Simons, to replace a departing liberal. The Council’s job is to carry out the programs and policies adopted by General Convention, and to oversee the ministry and mission of the Church.

Jim graduated from Trinity School for Ministry in 1985, before its commitment to evangelicalism became muddied by a belief that something called an ‘evangelical Catholic’ was possible (see here for the futility of that) or that the New Testament’s description of Christ’s death as an atoning sacrifice should be down-played to accommodate ‘post-modern’ sensibilities. (And before the word ‘Episcopal’ was dropped from its name.)

Jim was one of the earliest leaders of the group of conservative clergy (containing both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics) who refused to leave the Episcopal Church to form ACNA as a rival Anglican presence in the US, and is committed to working to keep a place for both minorities in the Episcopal Church. ‘I will bring a conservative perspective from my own theological viewpoint, which I suspect is part of the reason I was elected,’ he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also said he wants the council to understand that many theological conservatives want to remain in the Episcopal Church. Rumor has it that this increases the number of such conservatives on the Council to three out of thirty-eight. Still small, but a fifty percent increase overnight is something to be thankful for!

This appointment is something for all Evangelicals to applaud. The single most important cause, under God, of the growth of Evangelicals in the Church of England from a despised minority to a substantial majority was the decision taken in the 1960s to engage with rather than stay isolated from the governing bodies of the church, even though it would expose just how tiny a minority they were. Jim’s appointment comes after years of dedicated engagement; let’s pray there are more Evangelicals doing the work he has done for so long.