As we start the New Year, let us rejoice again over our collective fund raising success: against a 2015 pledge of $32,905, we raised $40,792.15 for the Great Commission Fund! Thank you!! This year’s pledge has come in at $41,475 (so far)—over $8500 higher than last year’s pledge. It is exciting to think of what God will do in 2016…..
Now, a bit of history; the historical facts and beginnings of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
It is no accident that so many of us here at the Grand Rapids Alliance Church come from disparate church backgrounds, some with little or no church in their upbringing. That is exactly what Founder A.B. Simpson was looking for when he began to organize Christian camp meetings and gatherings—to attract supporters from many main-line denominations, and to reach out to folks who were not attending any church.
But, back to the beginning…..A. B. Simpson (the initials stand for Albert Benjamin) was born December 15, 1843 on Prince Edward Island in Canada. He would be 172 years old today! Scottish Presbyterian forebears settled in Canada, and young Albert was raised under strict Puritan style disciplines—the family would ride a rattling horse drawn wagon nine miles to church; recite questions and answers from the Shorter Catechism, and sit in solemn meditation the rest of Sunday afternoon. Young Albert would rather play outdoors, and sometimes did, with consequences!
The family made sure all the children learned to read, and provided good books, inspiring Albert to desire a life of Christian service as early as age nine. When his oldest brother was selected as the sole family member to be sent off to college, Albert pleaded for his chance to go too, and his father supported both boys’ education in college and seminary.
Albert became quite a scholar and preacher, supplying the pulpit of the Knox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario, eventually becoming its young pastor. In September of 1865, he preached his first sermon as Pastor there, was ordained two days later, and married the day after that! He and Mrs. Simpson served several years there, before moving to Louisville Kentucky, and eventually to New York City to a large church. During all these years, he grew interested in foreign missions, sanctification, the indwelling Holy Spirit, healing, and deeper life in prayer.
Ultimately, Simpson, who had by his scholarly writings, eloquent preaching and caring pastoral work been given an honorary doctorate, was criticized for changing his thinking about baptism (from infant to adult immersion), healing, and so forth. He decided it was time to resign from his well-paid, prestigious post at the 13th Street Presbyterian Church, and struck out on an independent course. “For two years I spent a happy ministry with this noble people,” he reminisced later, “but found after a thorough and honest trial that it would be difficult for them to adjust themselves to the radical and aggressive measures to which God was leading me. What they wanted was a conventional parish for respectable Christians. What their young pastor wanted was a multitude of publicans and sinners.”
Note: we at Grand Rapids Alliance Church must also be sure to welcome all who come into our midst, as Christ welcomed the little children to come to him; and as he told the Pharisees, “
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”