Ipswich: Church stays in the family as pastor hands over to son

Clovette and Nathan Simmonds

Clovette and Nathan Simmonds - Credit: Archant

The founding pastor of an Ipswich church has stepped down after 53 years – handing over the pulpit to his son.

Bishop Martin Simmonds founded the Bethel church with Don Double in 1960, and after meeting at several venues in Ipswich the church set up a permanent home in Luther Road 40 years ago.

Now Mr Simmonds’ son Nathan has been installed as the new pastor of the church.

Nathan said it was not just the case of his father handing on the role. He said: “I believe that it has to be a spiritual calling. Nepotism doesn’t come into it. The role of pastor should be God given and could have been passed to anyone.”

Some of the current Bethel members have been attending services from the early days of this church fellowship, with a few who attended the first formal services back in 1961.

Nathan said the older worshippers had nothing to fear: “There will always be a place for our older members. I’m looking to add more energy and creativity into the church.

“We’ll all get old one day but it doesn’t mean we stop having something to contribute. I see the older members helping and supporting the younger members.”

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He added “My style of leadership is based on being a good listener and sharing a lot of the responsibility. I always involve others as it helps me to see other angles or point of view.”

Nathan is married to Clovette, they have five children; four girls and one boy.

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