Peter Adam pays tribute to a great mentor of his. A shorter version of this tribute was first published in The Melbourne Anglican, September 2018.
Peter Adam is Vicar Emeritus of St Jude’s Carleton, Vic.
Harrie Scott Simmons, 5th September 1918 – 4th May 1999.
Harrie was born in Melbourne, attended Scotch College, and was converted through the Crusaders movement by Baden Gilbert, who ministered at Montague (South Melbourne). It was a slum parish, and some of the Crusaders helped with ministry in the parish, and paid for a women’s worker to assist in ministry there. Harrie also joined CMS League of Youth. He trained for the ministry at Ridley College, when Bishop Baker was the Principal, and benefitted from his Biblical preaching and emphasis on the devotional life.
Harrie was ordained in Melbourne, and served his curacies at St Andrew’s Brighton and Holy Trinity Kew, and then worked as Assistant Minister to Dean Langley at St Paul’s Cathedral. He then left for India in 1947, where he served at Amy Carmichael’s centre for children at Dohnavur, then as chaplain at Vellore Medical College and Hospital, and then as Chaplain at Lushington School at Ootacamund.
On one occasion at Vellore, Harrie was preaching on the text ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’, and Dr Mary Verghese was converted to Christ. She later had a significant ministry as a surgeon repairing the hands of leprosy patients, and a vigorous Christian witness throughout her life.
He was forced to return to Melbourne because of ill-health. Here at home he served as Chaplain at Malvern Grammar, then Chaplain at Ridley College, and then worked for the Australian Institute of Archeology. He was also active in speaking at Scripture Union and CMS activities for young people.
Harrie had a constant and extensive ministry praying for, counselling and mentoring young men. He was a person of great compassion and patience, deep spirituality, attractive holiness, and practical wisdom. He was a great intercessor, and you knew that once you were on his prayer list you were on it for life! He ministered to a wide range of men from all backgrounds. He was a faithful student and teacher of the Bible, and a wise evangelist and personal counsellor. He had a keen interest in people, and the gift of friendship.
I am one of many young men whom Harrie met ‘by chance', and who was befriended for life. He converted me to Christ, and then met with me every Tuesday for 3 years to disciple and mentor me, both as a Christian, and also then into ordained ministry. When I went to see the Archbishop’s Chaplain to offer for ordination, he asked me who had influenced me most in my call to the ministry. When I told him it was Harrie Scott Simmons, he replied, ‘We don’t think much of him at Headquarters’ [!] I am thankful that I automatically replied, ‘Well he converted me so I am very thankful for him!’
It was my privilege to preach at Harrie’s funeral in 1999, and St James’ Glen Iris was full of men who praised God for his ministry. He had a wonderful combination of high standards for us, and deep compassion and understanding when we fell short. Harrie had a deep love of classical music, and an outrageous sense of humour. He was a poet, had a keen interest in and expertise in Egyptology, and an attractive simplicity of life.
I recently spoke at a meeting at which 48 ministers were present. I mentioned Harrie by name, and after my talks four other ministers came up to reminisce about him, and we thanked God together for him. He truly was a ‘Father in Israel’ to many. His life, ministry and prayers are still bearing fruit. We praise and thank God for all his saints, and especially at this time, for Harrie Scott Simmons.
‘Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.’ Daniel 12:3.