Reverend Barbara Simpson

Interfaith Minister

Bio

Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent  Northern England

I was born into a working class family in Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent an area which is famous for Spode and Wedgewood china.  Penkhull was mentioned in the Doomsday book recorded in 1066 by William the Conqueror. My father was an Engraver at SpodeChina where his whole family worked. My Mother stayed at home. We had very little in terms of material things, but we were a stable family. I am the eldest of three daughters. My role in the family was one of taking care of the younger children; I was a second Mum and was constantly watching the younger children, I felt responsible for their happiness. 

 

Church of England

Our family was members of the Church of England. I attended a C of E school. I saw the Church as a haven where I could go and find a friend to talk to; Reverend Greene was one of those friends, on Sundays I would get there early and usually stayed later to help him. I followed him around the large church helping him to arrange flowers; my job was to straightening the kneeling pads. I talked to him the whole time about my many concerns. He listened to me and asked questions about what I shared with him. I felt accepted.

 

Leaving Home

I decided to leave home at 22yrs old to go on an adventure in America. I obtained a position first in Great Neck LI then 3 months later as a governess to a family on 5th Avenue, New York. The two children and I became inseparable as we explored New York City together.  The affluence in this home shocked me initially. This was a contrast to my family where we conserved, sewed everything and reused hand-me-downs.

The family was interested in me and were kind and supportive

and I stayed with them for 2 years.

 

Working as a Governess then to College

It was during this time while working as a governess that I noticed many people went to college who were from ordinary working families like mine. I felt perhaps I could go too. I selected FordhamUniversity as I felt comfortable with a JesuitUniversity.  I was the first person in my family to go to College.

 Being clever enough for College was a difficult concept for me and I spent a lot of time initially feeling that I would be found out. In the culture where I grew up, intelligence and class was synonymous, we were working class therefore not college material. I struggled and worked hard with that. At Fordham I located a supportive therapist and integrated myself into the college community and became very active on campus

 

During College I supported myself as a nursery school teacher, I loved being able to sing play guitar and paint with these wonderful little people. It was second nature to me to play. I went to Bank Street College of Education where the philosophy was to learn through play. I helped to organize the first open classroom in New York. This was modeled after the British Infants School System. It was a very exciting era in Early Childhood Education.

  

Theatre

At the same time I became active in a Community Theatre Company we performed a lot of original children’s shows. We also did Adult drama and traveled to College Campuses to perform on weekends. 

 

GraduateSchool

Being a painter and in theatre I decided to pursue an MFA in Fine Art at Pratt Institute.  I merged together both the visual arts and the performance art. After graduating Pratt I taught Art Education at QueensCollege in the Education Department.  My main goal was to show teachers how to have more fun with Art in the classroom. As a result of my involvement at QueensCollege, I became a director of a YMCA Arts Camp in the Hamptons for several summers.

I also spent an enriching 2 years working in the DeronSchool in New Jersey working with special needs children in Art and Drama.

 

Museum Education

After supervising many trips to museums I got trained as a Museum Educator at BrooklynMuseum. Later I gained a position as a Museum Education Director at the MontclairArt Museum. 

My position included teaching and supervising museum volunteers and reaching out to the community through presentations. I created many Art Education programs for the public which were highly successful.

I supervised and taught volunteers how to make the museum art more accessible to all age groups. A part of my job was to oversee automating the museum as a result I learned a lot about technology.

 

From Museums to Technology

I became a programmer, an honest craft. A program either worked or it didn't, it was binary. I did not like sitting down all day and being alone. Then I got interested in Quality Assurance.  I liked that area because I got many projects in different areas of the company. When there was less of that I became a project manager hiring myself out as a consultant PM for a number of years with different banks and businesses. 

 

Path to Seminary

I had been considering seminary for a couple of years. I was doing some work for Citicorp when 9/11 happened. This urged my decision to be in service to God in a more direct way and I applied to seminary almost immediately.  I elected an Interfaith program.  As we studied each religion, I found irresistible segments in each wisdom tradition. I noted with delight the similarities between each of them. 

 

Weddings, Homes, Babies and Memorials

My life as a Chaplain has integrated my early experiences with children, the marriages and homes that I observed and the celebration of lives completed.  I see the hand of God in art, whether it is the creation of a flower or the creation of words to celebrate meaningful events in the lives of humans.  I look forward to being of service to you.

 

 

 

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