Rev. Noel Peter Simms - Lead Pastor
Reverend Noel Peter Simms embraces a quote by the renowned Johenetta B. Cole, which goes to the heart of his conviction as a Christian scholar. She quotes, “Perhaps the real goal of education is not to know but to act.” In addition, Reverend Simms also gain inspiration from biblical text as quoted in the book of James, “Faith without works is dead.” These quotes are steps in his theological thinking that is rooted in pragmatic practices which understands that theory and practice are inextricably linked to each other.
For the past twenty years, Reverend Simms have been involved in teaching, preaching and counseling on inter religious issues of theology, language, power and the religious discourse of Black preachers in Black churches. It is in this particular arena that he tries, to the best of God given ability, to make a difference.
Reverend says of himself that initially he was more a thinker than a doer. He engaged in disembodied scholarly pursuits—ivory tower intellectualisms—studying first religion at the College of New Rochelle and then philosophical theology at Harvard University. It was while he was at Harvard that something shifted in him and he became interested not only in theoretical knowledge, but how this knowledge can and must be applied in one’s experience. He studied under the tutelage of, H. Richard Niebuhr who enlightened him to the seminal work of William James. James argues that as thinkers we must always be mindful of the consequences of our ideas. This important lesson has deepened my conviction as a minister and pastor and informs every lesson or sermon I preach from the pulpit.
His experience as one of the few Pentecostal\Apostolic students at Harvard in 1989 was quite interesting in that he came out of a denomination which was suspicious of theological inquiry or scrutiny. However, he argues, that his tenure at Harvard along with its rigorous scholarship served only to strengthen his faith.
After Harvard, he returned to New York City where he worked as an Assistant Pastor at the Greater Rescue church in South Jamaica Queens. I was also the director of Christian Education in the same church. He sought to put my practical theology to work in the Church, but little did he know that he would be met with so much resistance. Consequently, he began to look outside the church for concrete ways to serve people and transform lives.
In 1992 he was recruited to work in the Department of Education. In taking this challenge he did further studies in Education at Bank Street College. In the pursuit, I was introduced to a book by the author Paulo Friere Pedagogy of the Oppressed. No other book has made such an impact on him as this book did. After reading this book, he came to understand that the work of a Christian and minister is not simply in the church but in the world.
Consequently, within the last eight years Reverend Simms has worked to establish his current ministry, Greater Faith Covenant This ministry is growing and constantly impacting community in a concrete way, through progressive biblical teaching, preaching and educational seminars.
Reverend Simms has earned an Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering, from New York City Community College, a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the College of New Rochelle, a Masters of Divinity from Harvard University and a Masters of Supervision and Administration from Bank Street College.
Nevertheless,in all these academic accomplishments, Reverend Simms agrees that his most significant life experience is being saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. It is through this favor that God has blessed Reverend Simms with a competent, abled and beautiful helmate in ministry, his wife, Elder Annmarie Simms. Together they have seven children.