In 1998, pastors David Helm and Jon Dennis began work on planting a church on the South Side of Chicago called Holy Trinity Church. From the very beginning, Holy Trinity Church had training in its plans. In fact, the third of the three divisions in its philosophy of ministry paper is dedicated to the idea of training to instill God’s Word in others. And so, Helm and Dennis took special care to identify young, promising men and women for the purposes of training them for ministry. Each year, one or two young men in the midst of seminary arrived ready for training. As the initiative grew, so did the need to commit resources and time to training.
In 2000-2001, Chicago Plan (Simeon Model) was born. It combined three distinct elements: classroom style teaching, ministry exposure in a real life church and mentoring from a practicing pastor. The program had grown to six or seven participants each year. Meanwhile, College Church in Wheaton was continuing to host its annual Workshop on Biblical Exposition—a workshop inspired by and modeled after those of Dick Lucas and the Proclamation Trust in London. The Wheaton Workshop was rapidly growing to the point of warranting new locations. Partner churches around the US began to host regional iterations of the Workshops. With the Workshops growing so quickly and the Chicago Plan requiring institutional support, a new organization was needed.
The Charles Simeon Trust was founded in January 2001 by David Helm, Jon Dennis, and Kent Hughes (then of College Church). It was named for Charles Simeon, an evangelical and trainer of preachers in Cambridge, England who ministered for 54 challenging years. You can read more about Charles Simeon in this short biographical sketch [pdf, 167kb]. The new organization took over managing the Workshops and the Chicago Plan. In 2005, the Trust hired Robert S. Kinney as the Director of Ministries. His job was to begin expanding the work and building the organization. By 2007, the Workshops had grown to 9 locations and the Chicago Plan had grown to 25 students. The classroom style teaching still took place on a single afternoon and the participants were working in five different churches/congregations and being mentored by five different pastors. Given the swift expansion, it was once again time to evaluate the infrastructure and the methodology. Along with a newly hired Director of Training, the Director of Ministries and the Executive Director began working on our Online Courses. The courses (then called the Simeon Course) became an online platform for training in exposition and was launched in the autumn of 2009.
Since the founding of the Charles Simeon Trust, the Workshops have continued to grow. In 2011, the Trust began dedicated Workshops for women in ministry. These proved immensely popular and began to regionalize in the United States and Canada the very next year. In 2013, at the direction of the Board of Directors, the Trust began to add Workshops for pastors outside of the US and Canada. Building on new works in India and Cuba, the Workshops expanded to 19 countries over the next four years, and continue to grow into the present.