The Rev. Martha Simmons, an associate minister at Rush Memorial United Church of Christ in Atlanta, will be the chaplain for Week Nine. She began her week at the 5 p.m. Vespers Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy with a sermon titled “What Matters? Faith in Almighty God Matters.”
For almost 30 years, Simmons has preached throughout America and in Africa. For the past 20 years, her primary ministry has been the codification, preservation and elevation of African-American preaching for present and future generations. Through this work, she is providing homiletical models and approaches to ministry that promote excellence in African-American preaching and ministry.
Her sermon titles for the rest of the week include “A Tale of Two Boys,” “Something Is Up,” “Lessons from a Pit,” “Knowing When to Fight” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Simmons has developed a reputation for being a mentor to young clergy, and she is actively engaged with the church’s role in political and social issues, such as prison reform and drug policy reform.
“Oh, the African-American church, and the Latino church as well, we don’t have a choice,” Simmons said in a 2013 interview with the website Faith and Leadership. “We don’t have a choice. Unless we step up and say the systemic issues are really what the problem is, we’re wasting our time. There’re some things that you’re only going to be able to change if you attack — if you approach them as systemic issues, because that’s what they are.”
Simmons has created several notable projects, including Women of Color in Ministry and The African American Lectionary, which she also directs. For 13 years, she has served as president and executive editor of The African American Pulpit journal.
A homiletics authority, Simmons has served as a guest instructor for numerous seminaries and divinity schools.
She is co-editor of These Sisters Can Say It, Vol. 2, author of Doing the Deed: The Mechanics of Twenty-First Century Preaching, and is one of two general editors of Preaching with Sacred Fire: African American Sermons 1750 to the Present. She also co-edited 9.11.01 African American Leaders Respond to An American Tragedy.
During her 27-plus years in ministry, she has received numerous awards and citations for her nonprofit work with civic and social organizations. She was also a 2013 inductee of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel College of Ministers and Laity.