Hundreds to gather for funeral of much-loved Bishop
PUBLISHED: 16:30 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 18 June 2019
Hundreds of mourners from around the world are expected at Trinity Park showground in Ipswich for the funeral of Christian apostolic minister Martin Simmonds, who once conducted baptisms in the River Orwell.
Bishop Martin, who lived in Ipswich, died last month aged 82.
He was the founding pastor of Bethel Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Ipswich.
Mourners from across the UK, USA, the Caribbean and Africa will pay tribute at the service on Friday June 21.
Martin also volunteered as a Relate counsellor, taking part in the local pulpit exchange programme, leading prayers at Ipswich council meetings and participating in the annual Mayoral Civic Celebration of Community.
Born on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, he came to Ipswich in 1960 to join his brother Charles.
He was joined by his young family, Ethlyn his wife and their two children, Rhoda and Ivena the following year.
Martin helped grow a bible study group in Hazlecroft Road into a community church, which by the early 1970s became established as the First United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) and which today is known as Bethel Apostolic Church on Luther Road, Ipswich.
You may also want to watch:
He would conduct baptisms of early members of the church in the River Orwell.
Martin was pastor at the church until 2013 when he stepped down due to ill health and handed over to his son Nathan.
Before becoming a full-time pastor he worked at the former Crane's engineering works in Nacton Road in Ipswich.
Martin remained connected to his beloved homeland of Nevis and he established a church community there and one in Kenya, Africa.
He died peacefully at home on May 19 and is survived by his wife Ethyln of 63 years, seven children, 16 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
A church spokesman said: "Martin was a man of character and believed that the character of a person was so much more than their reputation.
"He would take advantage of any situation to inspire and share his wisdom and challenge others to become better versions of themselves.
"He will be fondly remembered and missed by the Bethel Church family and the Christian community locally, nationally and internationally."
The funeral takes place at 10.30am.