Dr. Tommy Simons
I spend my days serving a wonderful family of faith in Saint Louis. Third is the type of community, if I were not serving as Pastor, we would join as members: we love the fellowship, location, worship style, diversity and service culture of Third Baptist.
I attempt to father two boys—Carson and Colton. My boys have taught me about grace, patience and the utter futility of parenting guides. I am graced with Caren—a gift from God and eharmony. I am amazed at her ability to juggle life, children, home and deciding to marry someone in the ministry.
I am a native Houstonian and continue to follow my Astros (resisting urge to convert to Cardinalnation), Rockets and Texans.
After receiving Masters Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)—I’ve been honored to serve four exceptional congregations: Vestavia Hills Baptist in Birmingham (1985-1994); Willow Meadows Baptist in Houston (1994-2007); Trinity Baptist Church in Memphis (2008-2015) and my present position as Pastor of Third Baptist in Saint Louis. I received Doctorate in Theology and the Arts (2014) from an exceptional Presbyterian Seminary in Memphis—Memphis Theological.
Music I Enjoy
Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby and the Noise Makers, Tim Story, Brent Johnson (Third’s exceptional organist) has led me to discover organ music; Phillip Barnes (Director of Saint Louis Choral Group) beauty of choral presentations, Jerry Garcia, Widespread Panic, Theolonius Monk, Miles Davis, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, R. Carlos Nakai, Brian Eno and The Who.
The Third Man, Rushmore, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption
Novels: The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway
History: The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Luther by Heiko A. Oberman
Martin and Malcom in America by James Cone
Truman by David McCullough
The Great Bridge by David McCullough
Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown
Devotion: I and Thou by Martin Buber
The Beloved Community by Charles Marsh
Theology and the Arts: Encountering God Through
Music, Arts and Rhetoric by Richard Viladsau
Stages by John Claypool
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
Who’s Afraid of Modern Art? by Daniel Siedell
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Leadership: Perspectives on Congregational Leadership by Israel Galindo
Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times by Peter Steinke
Generation to Generation by Edwin Friedman
The Practicing Congregation by Diana Butler Bass
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
For Down Time I enjoy:
Exploring “The Lou” with Caren
Cardinal games with my boys
Saint Louis Blues
Museums in Forest Park
Associate Pastor for Missions & Communications
I grew up in the small, rural community of Flintstone, Georgia. (Yes, the name of the community is Flintstone, like Fred and Wilma. However, we were Flintstone long before the cartoon premiered.) Growing up, church was central to life in the community and in my family. I grew up loving church. I loved Sunday School, where I could hear the stories of the Bible. I loved mission groups, like Girls in Action, where I could hear the stories of missionaries. And Vacation Bible School was my favorite week of the year!
I first felt called to ministry at the age of sixteen while serving in my church’s nursery. I knew God was calling me to ministry with children. When I shared this calling with my youth pastor and church, I was invited to be the assistant teacher in the church’s preschool mission group. Looking back, I am sure that I learned just as much as the children during those years, for I was mentored in children’s ministry by loving adults who had dedicated their lives to serving children in my church.
I graduated from Shorter College (now University) in Rome, Georgia, with a bachelor of arts degree in communications with a concentration in print journalism. My journey from college to ministry training took a circuitous route as I continued to discern my calling to ministry. During this time of discernment, I worked in many different fields: campus ministry, retail, nursing home administration and development. Through all of these experiences and relationships, God led me to the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, where I obtained my Master of Divinity degree. When I graduated from Wake Forest, I was ordained by Knollwood Baptist Church, which is also in Winston-Salem.
For me, coming to Third has a beautiful blending of two passions in my life: communications and children. When I was in college, I had a difficult time choosing between two majors: communications and elementary education. I settled on a major in communications, but often found myself in the children’s classrooms during Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I have served as children’s minister in three congregations, and my role at Third Baptist is the first opportunity that I have had to blend both of my passions into my ministry position, which is a gift to me. (Vacation Bible School remains my favorite time of the year!)
Some of my favorite musical artists:
Little Big Town
Some of my favorite books:
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
In Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz Weber
Postmodern Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith
Sacred Stories of Ordinary Families by Diana Garland
Some of my favorite children’s books:
The Little Red Hen
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Minister to Families
I have been involved in the life of the local church my entire life. After growing up in a pastor’s home in northwest Missouri I felt God’s call in college at Missouri Western State University. I began serving at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis as a summer missionary for several years. That morphed into my being called as the Chaplain there upon my completion of Campbell University Divinity School. From the CAC I served as the Associate Minister to Chowan University, Murfreesboro, NC for the last five and a half years.
I have enjoyed leading and being part of nearly 30 mission trips, both local and internationally with the students with whom I’ve served at the CAC and Chowan. I believe practicing Christian disciplines in community is both an exciting challenge and essential component in students lives. My hope for the church is that we learn our faith by doing it and help be answers to someone’s prayers.
I have been fortunate to serve with strong influential mentors and allowed to serve in places allowing great creativity and collaboration. I am thankful that Third provides another opportunity to love God’s people and to meet the great needs of the world, together. I look forward to learning and growing with families and students as we shape our spiritual lives and join our selves to service.
I met my wife of just over two years, Dani at Chowan University. Dani and I and our cat, Addie Mae, are enjoying getting acquainted with our downtown neighborhood as well as going to Cardinal games and sampling the many restaurant options the city provides. My perfect day is a day spent with her (and probably going to an independent bookstore).
Movies and TV I like
I like Wes Anderson’s movies, Ken Burns documentaries, and generally whatever PBS is showing, although I just finished and enjoyed The West Wing for the third time and am currently enjoying Suits. Northern Exposure is probably my favorite TV show, or at least, favorite writing for a TV show.
Music I like
Though 90% of the time I listen to jazz or NPR I contend that the 90’s were the greatest decade for music (R & B, hip-hop, rock, pop), and for a while I was enamored with the alternative Christian music scene (90s-early 00’s), which I still listen to nostalgically. This is what I’m enjoying listening to right now but week to week my “favorite” list changes:
Chance the Rapper
Herbie Hancocks’s late 70s Trio
Less Than Jake
Pedro the Lion
Joshua Redman’s Quartet
Cecile McLorin Salvant
Vigilantes of Love
Books I like
I’m stumped when asked if I read for work or pleasure….I read the New Yorker, The Christian Century, and Sojourners pretty faithfully and try to read a book a week of different genres, with varying degrees of success; these are some that perpetually come to mind or are some recent reads that have stuck with me:
-James Baldwin-The Cross of Redemption
-Gregory Boyle-Tattoos on the Heart
-Jonathan Brooks-Church Forsaken
-Will Campbell-Brother to a Dragonfly
-J. Carter-Race: A Theological Account
-Ta’Nehisi Coates-We Were Eight Years in Power
-James Cone-Said I Wasn’t Going to Tell Nobody
-Ellen Davis-Getting Involved with God
-Steve Erickson-These Dreams of You
-Doris Kearns Goodwin-Wait Til Next Year
-Greg Jarrell-A Riff of Love
-Sue Monk Kidd-The Mermaid Chair
-James Martin-Jesus a Pilgrimage
-Anne Tyler-St. Maybe
-Reggie Williams-Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus
-Christian Wiman-My Bright Abyss
-Walter Wink-The Powers that Be
-And some of my favorite poets: Elizabeth Alexander, Wendell Berry, Amena Brown Nikki Giovanni, Mary Oliver, Terry Minchow-Proffitt, Tracy K. Smith, Kevin Young
Please tell me what you are listening to, watching, and reading as I always welcome suggestions!
Dr. Edem Dzunu
I was born and raised in Ghana by joyful Presbyterian parents who helped me to understand and value the freedom in dwelling in God’s presence at all times. My service in ministry began in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana and continued at Christ Church (Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership) in Milton Keynes, UK. Now, I am delighted to be serving as Associate Pastor at Third Baptist Church, leading our community engagement efforts. Community for me is anywhere God has placed human existence, and I am thrilled to be a participant in our church’s efforts to engage with members of the community around us and to find ways to walk with them in a manner that glorifies God.
My wife Pamela and I are also co-founders of Baobab People, a Saint Louis based nonprofit organization that works to connect cultures through dialogue and learning. With the support of many, we are able to create safe spaces where conversation around difficult topics occur in ways that preserve the dignity of those involved.
I have a passion for travel, and over the years, I have spent time teaching, learning and developing friendships in countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. For nearly eight years now, I have been serving as an adjunct professor in the English Language Programs at Washington University in Saint Louis.
Some of my favorite things to do include having a conversation with friends and family over a simple meal, playing the clarinet, listening to the music of Mozart and Handel and watching my four year old son, Etornam, doing well at his swimming lessons.
I am a St Louis native who went to work for Dow Chemical out of college and did work in Sales, Office Management, Marketing and Information Tech in several cities and at Headquarters in Michigan. After I moved back to St. Louis, I opened up a branch office for Edward D Jones as a financial consultant.
I like working with my hands to make things and have dabbled in Stain Glass, wood working and home remodeling. I love sailing and had 7 sail boats during my sailing years. I have two children and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart 24 years ago.
Groups who are interested in renting the church’s facilities should contact Tom.