Pastor Armond “Albert” Simone, born on April 7, 1918, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Simone from Cicero, Illinois. A graduate of J. Sterling Morton High school, he took his college degree at Carthage. He graduated from Maywood Lutheran seminary in May 1943 and then did graduate work as a case worker in social service for the Lutheran Home Finding Society in Chicago. On November 21, 1943, the young Italian Seminarian came to serve St. Paul’s during the war years. Pleasure comforts he did not have, neither house nor car. But he served with warmth and compassion to both the young and the old.
While the Reverend Mr. Simone was pastor here, plans for a new church at St. Paul’s were advanced. The outdoor Easter sunrise service at Powel Park was launched by him to become an annual event. In December 1945, St. Paul’s became self-supporting after receiving aid from the Mission Board of Illinois Synod for sixteen years and St. Paul’s took a mighty leap in benevolence. Pastor Simone wrote: “Thank God we became a giving church – let’s remain so.”
In Pastor Simone’s 1946 Annual Message regarding the outdoor Easter services and St. Paul’s becoming self-supporting follows:
“This year 1946 has, like the other years, seen the growing popularity of the Outdoor Sunrise Easter Service. St. Paul’s Church can look to this fact, that it contributed to the community this service. The year ’46 has seen other churches begin their outdoor Easter services. In this coming year 1947, if by the Grace of God, St. Paul’s Church will have its fourth annual Easter Service, and we hope that the attendance will be beyond all expectations.”
“As we have come to the end of the year and the beginning of a new year, St. Paul’s Church takes the step that all mission churches must look forward to take. After sixteen years, we are now to be a self-supporting church. Often it is in less years that a mission church reaches to be self-supporting; unfortunately we have had our ups and downs and our progress has been slower. But we can be thankful that in all these years, we have had the generous help of the Board of American Missions and its staff who have helped us in our struggle to reach our graduation day.”
Resignation of Pastor Simone
At a church council meeting on August 1, 1946, Pastor Simone made a motion for permission to attend Loyola University to obtain further schooling. The motion was not seconded and therefore not carried. Two month later, Pastor Simone announced his resignation from St. Paul’s effective at such a time as when a new pastor could be obtained. He gave as his reason, a desire to continue his studies toward the attainment of a Ph.D. Degree, and prayed that his departure could be on a basis of friendliness and Christian fellowship. Church council unanimously accepted his resignation.
Letter of resignation dated October 3, 1946 follows:
Dear Members of the Church Council:
After prayerful consideration of my future in the service of the Kingdom of God and whereas I have decided to attend graduate school working for my Ph.D. and since this conflicts with pastoral duties, it seems most practical then for this congregation that I resign as pastor, so that a full-time pastor is called.
Having enjoyed the three years of my work here this being my first congregation, and the cooperation of the church council who have helped me in my ministry, I deeply regret that we must come to our parting ways.
As you accept this resignation, rest assured that my very purpose for this resignation is that I may enter the graduate school this fall.
I will of course serve as pastor of this congregation until another full-time pastor is called or until it seems best for the congregation.
A full-time pastor, I believe, as you desire, might be the most beneficial for the growth of this congregation. It is my hope that the congregation will achieve all its ambitions – and it must, for the Church of Jesus Christ must advance, for it is not upon the minds of men that it is built upon.
Would that I may leave with your blessings and your continued friendship – I remain,
Sincerely in Him,
Pastor Simone’s resignation was brought to the congregation for their approval. After considerable discussion, a motion was made and seconded that the action of council to approve his resignation be rejected. This motion was carried by a vote of 31 to 17.
A second and third letter from Pastor Simone conveyed his desire to resign due to illness. “For me now to tender my resignation is one of those difficult things, but I find it necessary as recommended by my physician, Dr. Samuel Keller (a member of St. Paul’s), to resign as pastor. The resignation is to become effective as of January 19, 1947.” At a congregational meeting, Mrs. Gunda Berg (mother of Margaret Sneesby) made a motion that Reverend Simone’s resignation be accepted with regret by St. Paul’s congregation. The motion was passed without dissent. The Reverend Albert Simone preached his farewell sermon at the 11 a.m. service on January 19, 1947. The title of it appropriately was “The Pastor’s Farewell.”
Pastor Armond Simone and his wife Helen returned to Waukegan during the Thanksgiving weekend in 1981. Pastor and Helen Simone developed a worship experience featuring two clowns named Joyful and Amen. Joyful and Amen led the entire worship service on November 29, 1981 at the 11:00 A.M. service only. These two clowns were committed to lead Christians in a worshipful service of praise to God in mime. Through mime, the service is structured with a significant, meaningful experience of praise and thanks to God – celebration, proclamation, and participation are all combined in this service. The clowns taught us how to laugh at ourselves and to accept life not as a burden or tragedy but as a fulfillment in becoming Christians who serve Christ in serving others.