George Albert Simons (1874-1952) of New York State was the first and only American missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed as superintendent of the Russia Mission. He arrived in St. Petersburg in 1907 during the reign of the Tsar Nicholas II. He succeeded in registering the first Methodist congregation in St. Petersburg in 1912, based on the registration of the Methodist congregation in 1906 in Kaunas, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Imperial Empire.
Simons soon mastered the Russian language, and he established numerous congregations in and around St. Petersburg and as far East as Marinsk.
A tireless worker, he developed an extensive publishing program of Methodist resources: hymnals, journals, liturgies, discipline, and beliefs, etc. In 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution, he was forced to leave Russia. In 1920, he was reassigned to the Baltic States with headquarters in Riga, Latvia, with some continuing responsibilities for the Russia Mission. In Riga, he established an institute to train clergy, continued his publishing program, and procured numerous properties for church buildings.
Without the efforts of Simons, Methodism in Russia and the Baltic States would be but a shadow of what it is today. The foundation he laid helped make possible the rebirth of Methodism in these countries after the demise of Communism. He was indeed a pilgrim, who journeyed to a sacred place, Russia, to plant seed for the growth of Methodism. He had the soul of a poet as can be seen in his vast amount of poetry and hymns that bear witness to his theology and experience in Russia.
""This book fills a critical gap in the history of Russian and Baltic Methodism by documenting the life and ministry of its first missionary and chief organizer, George A. Simons. The Methodist movement owes a huge debt of gratitude to S T Kimbrough, Jr., for his painstaking work of reconstruction and interpretation. Both inspirational and informative, this fine study deserves a wide readership among those who care about the past, present, and future of Protestantism in Eastern Europe.""
--Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, Boston University School of Theology
""Dr. Kimbrough's meticulous research is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the origins of the Methodist Mission in Russia and the Baltic States, and should spur further analysis of the development of these churches and the changing social environments in both the United States and Russia that shaped their ministry.""
--Robert Hunt, Southern Methodist University
Dr. S T Kimbrough, Jr., currently a Research Fellow, Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition, Duke Divinity School, holds a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he taught biblical studies. He has also taught at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Institut fur Religionswissenschaft (Bonn University, Germany), The Illiricus Faculty in Zagreb, The Theological School Drew University, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Other Wipf and Stock publications: The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley, Radical Grace: Justice for the Poor, Partakers of the Life Divine, and two books of poetry.
S T Kimbrough, Jr. is a Research Fellow of the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition of Duke Divinity School. He is the founder of The Charles Wesley Society and has served as its president and editor of its journal, Proceedings of The Charles Wesley Society. As author/editor he has published many books on Charles Wesley, including: The Manuscript Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley, M.A. (2 vols.), The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley (3 vols.), and The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley.
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