CHRISTOPHER L. SIMMONS was born in Washington, D. C. to the late George and Josephine Simmons. The youngest of three children, Chris was always with children around his own age in the home because his biological parents served as foster parents to over 300 children over a span of 38 years. It was during this time that the “seeds” were planted within him and his siblings of serving others and giving back to those who might be less fortunate.
Chris was called to the ministry at the age of 16 and preached his first sermon as a senior in high school at 17 years of age. Knowing then that his calling was full-time ministry, he enrolled in the Washington Bible College in Lanham, MD, while still in high school attending night classes.
After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, DC, he enrolled fulltime at the Washington Bible College and graduated with the B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministries. After graduating college, he felt that additional training would help him better prepare for the ministry and enrolled in the Masters of Theology Program at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, TX. Upon graduating with the THM in Christian Education, Chris enrolled in the doctoral program at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Chris started serving at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in the inner-city community of South Dallas/Fair Park, Dallas, TX in May, 1988. He was called to serve as pastor in September, 1989. The church was located in an area that was a infamously called the “war zone” because of the gang activities, drive by shooting, drugs, prostitution, and other societal ills prevalent in inner-cities across America. Although the church had in its DNA community outreach and ministry long before Chris became the pastor, it has been under his leadership that many of these ministries have been expanded and additional ones added in order to reach those in the community at an area of a “felt need” in order to share with them their “real need” – a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Under Chris’ leadership, Cornerstone started the Cornerstone Community Development Corp., Inc. which has as its mission of bringing about community development and revitalization in one of the most blighted area on South Dallas/Fair Park. New homes are being built and residents are moving back into the neighborhood.
Cornerstone has acquired a number of properties in the South Dallas community that we were once community nuisances and transitioned them into facilities that currently contribute to the growth and development. Among these are a former liquor store that is now the Cornerstone Kitchen, abandoned crack house that his now the Philemon House for the formerly incarcerated, a rundown apartment complex that is now the Cornerstone Care Center providing a number of outreach ministries in the community. In partnership with the City of Dallas, the development corporation has purchased a number of abandoned vacant so that new affordable homes can be built for the community.
Chris was nominated for the 2009 Dallas Morning News’ Texan of the Year. He has also been recognized by KRLD 1080 AM as a Community Hero; the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, innovator in mission; Heaven 97 Radio’s, Pastor’s You Should Know; the Bill Blair Hall of Fame; and, the Dallas Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance’s community service award. Chris has also served twice as the dean of the D. Edwin Johnson Theological Institute. A school that is geared to trained pastors, teachers, and other Christian workers for ministry.
Chris has been married to Janie for 35 years. They have three children and three grandchildren.