ETS’ own Rev. Dr. Constance Simon has been named by the Michigan Conference as the Detroit Metropolitan Association’s Associate Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ (UCC).
Dr. Coni, as she is affectionately called, has had a distinguished career as an educator, including serving as ETS’ Director of the Doctor of Ministry Degree Program and Special Assistant to the Academic Dean. She also teaches Womanist Theory and Introduction to Christian Education at ETS. Away from the seminary, she serves as the Minister of Christian Education at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit. (Read all about her remarkable career here.)
In recognition of her latest honor, ETS wanted to ask her a few questions about her long affiliation with the UCC, what her new role entails and what’s with that Winnie the Pooh quote on her email signature.
ETS: How long have you been associated with, or involved with, the United Church of Christ?
Simon: My church, Fellowship Chapel, is United Church of Christ, so for over 20 years. I moved to Michigan in 1996.
ETS: Is this your first role with the UCC and/or the Michigan Conference? If not, what other roles have you had?
Simon: No. I once served on the Michigan Conference Board of Directors. And at Fellowship Chapel, I am the Minister of Christian Education. I also serve on the Church and Ministry Committee.
ETS: How were you selected as an Associate Conference Minister? Were you nominated? Did you apply?
Simon: A little of all of that.
ETS: What was your reaction to hearing you had been named an Associate Conference Minister?
Simon: Glad to serve the Michigan Conference and the Detroit Metropolitan Association.
ETS: What will you do in your new role with the Michigan Conference for the United Church of Christ?
Simon: I am over the 28 churches in the Detroit Metropolitan Association. In this capacity, I am a resource to the Linking Board, and Church and Ministry Committee. I will visit all the churches and my goal is ministerial support and being the conference resource person.
ETS: In what ways do you think your new role may impact/inform what you do at ETS?
Simon: United Church of Christ is known for their social justice stance, as well as being a church that welcomes all people. They have scholarships for students and they encourage seminary study. I graduated from ETS with a Master of Divinity and the ecumenical learning environment was wonderful. Many of my colleagues in the UCC attended ETS.
ETS: Assuming there are many, but could you share a favorite Bible passage, something you see as relevant to your new role?
Simon: Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
ETS: Your emails end with a quote from Christopher Robin to Pooh: “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Why does that passage speak to you? What do you want others to get from that passage?
Simon: My ministry call is as an educator and an encourager, like Barnabas in the Bible. I see everyone as having a continual engagement with life that has no end. I’ve reinvented myself and will continue to encourage others of all ages to do the same. I am a proud product of a strong, dynamic African-American family that has a legacy of achievement so it is my charge to do the work.
The passage is for others to know that the encouragement must not remain insulated but must vibrate out like sound waves that will impact the entire world. We were taught to “fearlessly go and do because the world needs you.”