Posted on : Monday June 6, 2011

By Bob Simpson, Associate Executive Director and Editor of BaptistLIFE

Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director and Editor of BaptistLIFE

Most all sons are proud of their fathers. I am certainly not the exception. My father, Marvin Simpson, is now 82 years old.  Unfortunately this man, who has enjoyed excellent health most of his life, is now fighting stage-four bone cancer. Typical of him, he is upbeat about his situation. He has always exuded optimism throughout the various passages of his life. While some of this comes from his natural “glass half full” personality, I also am confident that his relationship with Christ is the headwater of his positive attitude. He is a remarkable man.

My early childhood memories of him were before he became a pastor. Most of those memories revolve around him as a layman at Second Church, Cumberland, Md. In actuality, he fought the “call to preach” for ten years. During that time, he immersed himself in church work doing every major lay role including deacon, teacher and lay preacher. But God’s call is distinctive and exclusive.

One day on his drive into work, he pulled the car over to the side of the road, exited the car, got down on his knees and surrendered to the perfect will and call of God on his life. From that day on, he never looked back.

He was ordained on my ninth birthday. The day before I was not a “preacher’s kid.” The day after, I became one. As a family we began the journey of ministry that continues to this day. Dad’s first pastorate was the First English Church, Frostburg, Md. From there he was sent by the then Southern Baptist Home Mission Board to a little town in upstate New York: Plattsburgh.

In the early 1960’s Plattsburgh was the home of a U.S. Air Force Base. There were a lot of transplanted Southern Baptists on the Air Force Base who had started a little church and needed a pastor. It was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base with nuclear missile capability both via in ground missiles surrounding the base and on the B-52’s that were stationed there. While there our family lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Needless to say, those were interesting times for our nation and our family.

In 1967 Dad moved our family back to Maryland where he became the pastor of Bethany Lane Church, Ellicott City. This was the first of two stints at Bethany Lane. At the end of his Maryland ministry in the seven years before his retirement, Bethany Lane once again called him back to be their pastor. He retired from there as Pastor Emeritus. In between his two times as Bethany Lane’s pastor, Dad pastored Grace Church, Cumberland and First Church, Waldorf.

Dad was a natural leader who worked tirelessly to maximize his impact for the Kingdom. He not only pastored well, he was also very active in the life of both the Associations where he served and the Baptist Convention of MD/DE. As a pastor leader in various associations, he chaired missions, evangelism, personnel and finance committees at different times. For BCM/D he served as 2nd vice president of the Convention, a member and vice president of the General Mission Board, chair of the nominating committee, chair of the church pastoral assistance committee, member of the executive committee, and member of the camp/conference committee.

I tell you all of the above in order for you to gain a perspective on what it means for me, his oldest son, to be standing on his shoulders even in what I do currently for the BCM/D. It is humbling and motivating to see how God prepares you to follow His perfect will in life. The truth is that none of us are self-made. We all benefit from the care and loving leadership of those who have gone before us.

In my role at BCM/D, I often cross paths with someone who says to me, “Your dad led me to the Lord!” That is always amazing for a son to hear. What a legacy for each of his five children (four sons and a daughter)!

Happy Father’s Day, Marvin!  You have led your family and your churches well!