The Reverend James C Simmons

The Reverend James C Simmons is the Senior Pastor of Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rochester, New York, and chairman of Rise Up Rochester, Incorporated. Born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Reverend Simmons is the son of Ralph Simmons and the late Rena (Waltz) Simmons. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC with a degree in Public Administration and Policy and certification in nonprofit management. Reverend Simmons further received his Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary at American University in Washington, DC.

Preaching since age 9, Reverend Simmons was appointed pastor to one of Rochester, New York’s most distinguished pulpits, Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church, on June 18, 2010. Reverend Simmons’ pastoral tenure is credited with Baber’s financial and administrative resurrection. Since his arrival, the parsonage mortgage has been retired, the administration building mortgage has been retired, the worship center mortgage has been renegotiated with a local bank, numerous repairs and improvements have been made, and the church’s other significant and aging deficit has been completely paid. The Baber Family also hosted the 16th and 19th Session of the Western New York Annual Conference during Pastor Simmons’ administration.

Pastoring since age 23, Reverend Simmons is the secretary of the First Episcopal District Self-Help Board of Directors and member of the First Episcopal District Governance Review Committee.  He is also the chairman of the Western New York Annual Conference Finance Committee, Dean of the Ministerial Training Institute, and member of the Board of Trustees and Board of Examiners.

Prior to his appointment to Baber, Reverend Simmons pastored Bethel AME Church in Schenectady, New York and served as Minister to Youth and Young Adults at Ward Memorial AME Church, Washington, DC, under the pastoral leadership of the Reverend Dr Conrad K Pridgen.

In the Rochester Community, Reverend Simmons is the chairman of Rise Up Rochester, Incorporation – a human service agency that empowers the community to establish and maintain a nonviolent culture and supports families of homicide victims. He is also the  member of numerous boards, councils, and organizations in the City of Rochester.

Reverend Simmons’ ministry has also been evident in other arenas. He has been an early childhood educator in Washington, DC and was a chaplain intern at the Petersburg Federal Prison. In high school he served as president of the largest student vocational organization in the state of Pennsylvania – the Pennsylvania Future Business Leaders of America – with a membership in excess of 12,000.

Each day Reverend Simmons strives to live out his favorite scripture: “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”