Just a week after turning over leadership of his congregation to his son, Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ’s Bishop Ervin Sims Jr., who grew the church and its outreach over 40 years, died on Jan. 6 at age 72 after a long illness, family said.
Bishop Sims was not able to attend son Jason Sims’ installation as senior pastor at Mt. Carmel on Dec. 29, but an empty chair was symbolically kept onstage for him next to his wife of almost 50 years, Mary K. Sims. Son Jason Sims preached his first sermon as senior pastor on Jan. 5; Bishop Sims died early the next morning.
Among many honors and awards, Sims was recognized as one of COGIC’s 100 Influential Pastors.
Because he was a Bishop in the Church of God in Christ, Sims will receive two funeral services. The locally-officiated celebration will be 6 p.m. Mon., Jan. 13, at Mt. Carmel, 2025 N. 12th St., Kansas City, KS, with visitation 3 - 6 p.m. The nationally-officiated celebration will be at 11 a.m. Tues., Jan. 14, at Mt. Carmel, with visitation 9 - 11 a.m.
The services will be streamed live at MtCarmelCOGIC.org.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
THE LORD’S SERVICE
When Bishop Sims was appointed pastor at Mt. Carmel, it was a small church, said his brother Timothy Sims, pastor at Wichita’s Planeview Church of God in Christ. “He really made it grow,” he said.
The church is now a 24,000 square-foot facility with sanctuary seating for 700.
Bishop Sims pushed the boundaries of the church’s outreach ministry, too.
In the early 1990’s the four-block area surrounding Mt. Carmel was full of crumbling infrastructure, dilapidated housing, and vacant lots.
He founded the Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corporation (MCRC) in 1994 as a catalyst for change. They built Mt. Carmel Place, a $6.1 million affordable senior housing facility (61 units) completed in 2001; an $8.4 million Community Center completed in 2006 in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club; and 16 of 48 planned single family homes for low-to-moderate income families. MCRC also manages the Willa Gill Center providing free hot meals to the public 365 days a year, and owns and operates eight transitional housing units, and provides a broad range of social service programming.
Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ, Bishop Sims told The Community Voice in 2018, is a “good-sized church, but we weren’t able to fund all that’s been done here. People need to know how to access tax credits, federal funds, and put in place all of the recording mechanisms, so they don’t get in trouble with federal funds.”
He also led mission teams to the Dominican Republic; England; Wales; and Ghana and Togo in West Africa.
DRIVE TO PROVIDE
Bishop Sims was born in Kansas City, KS, to construction company owner Ervin Sims Sr. and Helen Everett Sims. They lived just blocks from the Mt. Carmel neighborhood. He was called to preach at age 18 through a recurring dream, but graduated from the University of Kansas in mechanical engineering (though he took religion classes) and later went to work for Monsanto. He left the company when he received the offer to lead Mt. Carmel. Alongside his ministry, he took a job as a senior engineer with the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, eventually retiring as assistant general manager. He and Mrs. Sims would have been married for 50 years on Feb. 14, 2020.
“He set the bar high for all of us,” brother Timothy Sims said. “He got a degree, and pursued a career – not just a job – all the while maintaining his faith in Christ.”
For the last four years, he battled Stage 4 cancer. He quit chemotherapy due to ill effects and impact on his hearing, and had been doing well, Mt. Carmel spokesman Anthony Simpson said. “He was here the Sunday before Christmas and he had said [the next day], ‘I really don’t know that I’m going to be able to make it to the installation,’ ” Simpson said.