Perched on the corner of 56th St. and Allisonville road, I pull into the pristine parking lot of Berean Bible Church and enter the building to find the characteristically cheerful Pastor Charles Simmons Sr. sitting at his office desk reviewing the message he planned to give an hour later.
Seated across from Simmons’ stately desk, I can’t help but notice the massive amount of books stacked on bookshelves that had to have taken years to collect. My curiosity led me to wonder how Berean evolved into what it is today.
So I ask Simmons about the beginnings of Berean and he quickly recalled his days in seminary desiring to begin a church based on authenticity and purity.
“It was frightening, but I knew I wanted to impact the community with the truth of the word of God. I had seen so much false teaching. I wanted to do it the way the Bible says we should do it,” said Simmons.
Armed with the Good Book in hand (specifically Acts 2 and Ephesians 4), Simmons and a seminary friend, Michael Beck Sr., who shared the same vision, grabbed their families and began grassroots work in building a new church.
They passed out surveys and literally knocked on doors in search of the “church homeless.” Inspired by Acts 17:10-11, Simmons and Beck decided to call the church Berean Bible Church and looked for members who strongly desired to discover Christ for themselves through continuous Bible study.
Simmons didn’t know where God would lead Berean, but was certain the church would grow as long as he and Beck remained holy and loved the people of God.
“We wanted to be examples to the flock. A lot of times, you have men of God getting up and telling people ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ You can’t be an example unless you live what you preach,” added Beck, who serves as assistant pastor.
Starry eyed, Simmons professed that he still sees the hand of God working in Berean 20 years later, following the same idea God impressed on him in the mid 80s – preaching the word. Berean’s beginnings were good, but didn’t come without obstacles.
Berean had no money, no musicians, no Sunday school teachers, no hymnals and no money to even get the church basics for themselves. Simmons states God was indeed faithful and little by little people would bring items such as communion trays and offering trays. The congregation began to grow as well.
The Bereans were proverbial nomads squatting in several locations before settling in their current location. In 2000, Berean Bible Church opened its doors to a multi-million dollar facility.
Since founding Berean 20 years ago, Simmons states he’s seen other pastors succumb to prosperity teaching, immoral living and other earthly influences blended with watered down preaching. Although he has found himself giving messages of inspiration, and even correction, based on cultural changes, he clings close to God’s unchanging word.
“Pastor Simmons is truly a man of God. He is relentless and fearless about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From day one the ministry at Berean has been focused on soul winning and spiritual growth; directing people to Christ and maturing them for service. More importantly (Simmons) illuminates the Gospel,” said Claude B. Robinson, pastor of Greater Northwest Baptist Church, who also serves as Simmons’ mentor.
When asked about his role in the community, Simmons goes straight to the Bible to reiterate his job description; his calling.
Simmons knows he may not operate like other pastors, but believes in God’s promise and relys on the support of his dedicated wife, Cynthia, children and grandchildren. Some may say God’s promise has not only brought a stable building to Berean, but has provided a radio program titled Jesus is the Answer on WBRI-AM (1500) and solidified Simmons’ plan to go therefore and teach all nations with a television program titled Proclaiming Jesus Christ on WHMB Channel 40.
Other future plans include a teen center, encouraging more missionary work, a daily TV and radio ministry among other plans. Through his humor, vivid yet factual interpretations of God’s word and genuineness, the Bereans are right behind Simmons’ plans to build an army of Christ followers.
“I tell the Bereans ‘you never have to worry about me candidating for another church.’ I don’t care if someone came along and offered me a large church with a large salary. I love the people here,” said Simmons. “The thing I like most is they love the word of God, they love me and my family and they love one another.”
Simmons also knows every member in the congregation (including their ups and downs to formulate his weekly messages) and is very hands-on with members.
With Simmons at the helm, Berean marches only to the beat of the Holy Spirit. Neither money nor wall to wall members fuels his passion for preaching. He relies solely on God’s will for Berean and stands firmly in his truthful messages leading Bible-hungry people to join the multi-ethnic church.
“I believe that the faithfulness of God is what sustains any ministry. Berean has remained faithful to God’s ordinances and He in turn has blessed their ministry tremendously,” said Robinson.
For more information, call (317) 259-7834 or visit www.bereanindy.org.
5602 Allisonville Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Wednesday Services: Adult bible study is at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Teen bible study is at 7 p.m.
Sunday Services:Sunday school begins at 9:30 a.m.; Morning worship begins at 11 a.m.
You’re on the Air
Jesus is the Answer
WBRI-AM (1500) – 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each Saturday; 5 p.m. each Sunday
Proclaiming Jesus Christ
WHMB Channel 40 – 5:30 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. Sunday; 4:30 p.m. Monday