A.B. Simpson

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A.B. Simpson

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Albert Benjamin Simpson was born to James and Jane Simpson in Bayview, Prince Edward Island on December 15, 1843. As a young child, his family relocated to a homestead outside of Chatham, Ontario. A. B. Simpson entered Knox College, Toronto in the fall of 1861 in order to prepare for the ministry. In the summer of 1865, fresh out of seminary, the twenty-one year old Simpson accepted the call to the pulpit of Knox Church in Hamilton, Ontario. He was officially ordained by the Hamilton Presbytery on September 12, 1865. The next day, he was married to Margaret Henry of Toronto. In October of 1873, he was invited to the pastorate of Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, which he accepted in December of that year. In September of 1879, he relocated to New York City to become the pastor of Thirteenth Street Presbyterian. Burdened by a heart for the lost and forgotten peoples in far away lands, in early 1880 Simpson began editing and producing an illustrated missionary periodical which he entitled, The Gospel in All Lands. In the summer of 1881, his health in shambles underneath a tremendous workload, Simpson's body was miraculously healed, an experience which not only prolonged his life, but would prove formative for the following decades of his ministry. In October of the same year, finding himself in disagreement with the Presbyterian position on infant baptism, and troubled by the reticence of the congregation to reach out to the lost of the city, Simpson tendered his resignation from both the church and presbytery. Within two weeks, he began conducting public meetings in rented halls. By 1883, the new church which Simpson led had grown to 217 members, and his Sunday night outreach services were regularly attracting crowds of 700 people. Halfway through the year his congregation incorporated legally under the name Gospel Tabernacle. In 1882, Simpson launched another missionary periodical named The Word, the Work and the World. In March of 1883, his congregation formed its own missionary society, "The Missionary Union for the Evangelization of the World". In October of the same year, the Gospel Tabernacle launched the Missionary Training College. In October of 1885, Simpson held a convention which brought together a number of ministers from across denominational lines. Following the convention, Simpson, along with several of the key speakers from the convention, undertook a multi-city tour. In 1886, Simpson was invited to bring a similar convention to Old Orchard camp in Main. It was out of this convention that a movement was sparked which would consolidate in the form of two complementary alliances, the "Christian Alliance" and the "Evangelical Missionary Alliance". The following summer at the second gathering at Old Orchard in August of 1887, the constitutions to both alliances were finalized and adopted. The two alliances were not formed with an eye towards constructing a fresh denomination. Rather, the alliances were to function as "spiritual catalysts among existing denominations for holy living and world missions."1 By 1893, the Alliance had fielded 180 missionaries throughout the world. By 1895, that number had grown to almost 300. In 1897, the Missionary Training College was moved to Nyack, NY, and assumed the name of "Missionary Training Institute". A. B Simpson continued tirelessly in his full schedule of preaching to congregations, speaking at conventions, teaching at Nyack, writing books and magazine articles, and leading and administrating a growing international movement. On October 29, 1919, A. B. Simpson went to be with the Lord. Paul Rader, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, succeeded Simpson as president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. More biographical information on Simpson as well as information concerning the early history of the Christian and Missionary Alliance can be found in the book by R. Nicklaus, J. Sawin and S. Stoesz entitled, All for Jesus: God at Work in the Christian and Missionary Alliance over One Hundred Years. (Camp Hill, Penn.: Christian Publications Inc., 1986).


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Early Christian and Missionary Alliance

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Ambrose University College

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