Pastor to the Pros

Eric Simpson, senior pastor of Eagle (Alliance) Church in the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville, Indiana, will be on the sidelines Sunday during the NFL playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. Simpson has been on the church’s pastoral staff for 21 years, lead pastor since 2013, and a volunteer chaplain for the Colts for 19 years.

“I just care about people,” says the Alliance chaplain. Whether ministering to sports teams, in prisons and hospitals in the United States, or in countries devastated by war, Alliance institutional and military chaplains bring God’s message of hope to people in a variety of settings. “God placed me with the Colts because the players are real people who need Jesus,” Simpson adds.

Eric with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen.

Hunter Smith was the punter for the Colts for 12 years. “[Simpson] would toss me snaps while I warmed up, punting the ball into the net,” he says “His emphasis always is the spiritual interests and well-being of the Indianapolis Colts.” Smith now serves as Eagle Church’s worship leader.

The reverberations of Simpson’s ministry to the team extend into the community, as demonstrated this season by a 10-year-old girl’s dying wish to attend a Colts game. The Colts organization asked Simpson to meet with the girl, who is suffering from cancer, and her family on the field and introduce them to the team members.

“Because they do not attend a church, I gave them my cell number and offered my spiritual support,” says Simpson. “Soon after that game, I received a call from the family requesting my presence. The young girl was nearing the end of her earthly life. I’m the closest thing to a pastor they have, and I believe Jesus wanted me to be with this family as they said good bye to their daughter.”

“That’s what I love about [Simpson],” says Smith. “Everyone is the same to him. Though he has only been asked to minister to players and coaches, you will see him having conversations at all levels of the organization—from scouting to grounds crew, from front office to fans, Eric sees souls, not titles.”*

*Hunter Smith quotes used with permission from Zionsville Community Newsletter, January 2015 issue.


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