Meet Rev. William and Gail Simmons, long-time Ranch donors.
“The fact that the Ranch weds spiritual life and healing is what gets me to North Dakota in December when it’s 18 below,” says Rev. William Simmons (Pastor Bill).
Pastor Bill, a member of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation board of directors, comes to Ranch board meetings from St. Louis, MO—where he enjoys a much warmer climate, serves as the administrative pastor at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, and enjoys family time with his wife, Gail, their four children, and four grandchildren.
As a board member, Pastor Bill is committed to ensuring that the expertise of our therapists, psychiatrist, psychologists, youth care workers, nurses, and occupational therapists, remains linked to a strong foundation in the Christian faith.
“What compels me to serve,” he says, “is an appreciation for how the Ranch is there for kids who come from broken and difficult family situations. We can teach skills, but it is the change of heart that ultimately leads to the healing our kids need. The Ranch connects children to faith, and to a relationship with Jesus that provides the change of heart that moves and motivates all the other skills—so they are able to heal and be made whole again.”
In addition to Pastor Bill’s contribution as a board member, he and Gail have long supported the Ranch financially. They learned of the ministry through the Ranch’s connection to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as a Recognized Service Organization.
Gail, a nurse by vocation, volunteers at church in various capacities and works part-time for a health care delivery company. “Her real delight and calling,” Pastor Bill said, “is being available for our children when they need her to take care of our grandchildren. That is where her heart is.”
Gail’s heart for family, combined with Pastor Bill’s passion for the ministry’s work and business, is what has motivated them to support the Ranch financially for many years.
Pastor Bill also shares the Ranch mission and stories with the mission committee at Christ Memorial, and the church contributed thousands of dollars to the Ranch’s Hope in the Heartland Campaign—a campaign to support the building of the Fargo campus. He played a key board role in the successful completion of the Hope in the Heartland campaign in 2016.
Through the campaign, and his work at Christ Memorial, Pastor Bill has learned to appreciate the significance of every gift.
“The small and regular gifts given are equally as significant as the larger gift. It is not the size of the gift, but the heart and compassion behind the gift that commends it to be worthy in God’s sight. Thankfully, God provides both types of gifts—the small and the large—and the combination of these are more than sufficient.”
The Simmons lived in the “north country” for a time in the late 70s—when Bill did his vicarage at a church in Fergus Falls, MN. While they chose to move back to St. Louis, in part to avoid the cold winters, they have a special tie to the area and feel blessed to be supporting the work of the Ranch.
“It is an honor to serve on the Foundation board,” Pastor Bill said, “and I look forward to new and increasing ways to steward the gifts so generously donated [to the Ranch] by our many donors.”
Read more stories like this and explore other issues of Ranch Voice here.