Charles Simeon–curmudgeon mentor


One of my favorite figures from evangelical history is Cambridge Holy Trinity Church pastor and mentor Charles Simeon. He is the subject of one of the chapters in my Patron Saints for Postmoderns. Here is the brief profile I contributed to the forthcoming Zondervan Dictionary of Christian Spirituality:

Simeon, Charles (1759 – 1836). Evangelical pastor-mentor. He was for over 50 years the evangelical pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge and fellow of Cambridge University. He mentored some 30 percent of the Anglican ministers of his day (over 1,100) through informal preaching seminars and “conversation parties” in his Cambridge rooms. Born of wealth, he also pulled strings to secure pulpits for many of his protégées. He was a man of difficult temperament, often impetuous and even arrogant, who struggled for sanctification through repeated lessons in humility. For decades he was ostracized for his beliefs and foibles by Cambridge townfolk, undergraduates, and even many in his own congregation. But he wrote over 2,500 widely used “sermon skeletons,” covering the entire Bible, sent countless chaplains to India, helped launch the hugely influential Church Missionary Society, inspired the men who later founded the Cambridge Prayer Union, a precursor to today’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. And he finished his race respected and beloved, having almost single-handedly renewed a Church of England in danger of losing all the benefit it had gained in the evangelical revival of the mid-1700s.

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