The Rev. Kyle E. Sims has been appointed Director of Seminary Admissions and Church Relations. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Erskine College, a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Erskine Theological Seminary, where he is currently working on a Th.M. degree. An ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church since 1999, his most recent service has been as senior pastor at First ARP Church in Lancaster, S.C. He was Vice-Moderator of the ARP General Synod in 2018-19 and is now Principal Clerk for the denomination. Here, he answers a few questions about his life and work.
• Can you tell us a little bit about your time as a college student at Erskine—what campus activities you were involved in, any professors who were especially helpful or inspiring?
I graduated from Erskine College in 1993. I played basketball from 1989-93. I was recruited in Coach Robbie Hicklin’s first class. I was a starting center on the 1991-92 team. We won the NAIA District 6 Championship and played in the national small college basketball tournament in Kansas City, advancing to the Elite Eight.
Coach Hicklin passed away from cancer in the summer of 1992. I learned a great deal about life from playing college basketball. In addition to Coach Hicklin, Coach Monty Wooley and the late Red Meyers (he had retired but came back to help us) were a great influence on all of us who played during that time.
Besides basketball, I was very active in College Republicans, helping restart the Erskine chapter in 1990 and serving both in the Erskine chapter and the state organization. I was also able to participate in the South Carolina Student Legislature.
Dr. David Grier was extremely influential in helping me mature as a student and Dr. Benjamin Farley took a great interest in helping me as a religion minor. There were several other professors that I had a close relationship with, including Dr. Doug Fry, Dr. Joe Shehigh, and Dr. Gary Freeze. (Dr. Fry and I got banned from playing hockey in Reid Science Hall after an errant puck broke a beaker.) The close relationships that we had at Erskine with all our professors was something I missed when I attended graduate school at other institutions.
• You served as pastor of First ARP in Lancaster for 17 years. How would you characterize that experience?
One of the hardest decisions I have had to make is to leave First ARP Church Lancaster. This congregation has become like family to us, and they are all dear people. In 17 years, we have gone through many blessings and battles together and we can testify to the Lord’s goodness to us through it all. I am excited for the next man the Lord calls to be pastor at First Lancaster and hope that he has the same wonderful experience.
• Any previous experiences as a pastor?
Before coming to First Lancaster, I was the pastor of two churches in a yoked charge in western York County, South Carolina. Smyrna and Hickory Grove ARP Churches are in two small towns, and we enjoyed being there for eight years, living in the country while I was a rural pastor. Before moving to Smyrna in 1997, I worked for 14 months as director of Christian education at Rogers Memorial ARP Church in Rock Hill, S.C.
• During your time at First Lancaster, you were chaplain of the Lancaster City Fire Department for about 17 years. What has been especially meaningful for you in that experience?
My father was a policeman in the city of Greenville and I grew up being around first responders. Being in the fire department always reminded me of the time I spent with my dad. I enjoyed being a part of a dedicated group of people who were serious about serving their community. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the department and the opportunity to help both the community and the men and women in the fire service.
• As you embark on your new challenges at Erskine, meanwhile studying for a Th.M. at the seminary, how do you plan to manage your time and energy?
Taking classes for the Th.M. program has been rewarding and challenging. Doing deeper research on topics with a view to addressing needs within the church is exciting and stimulating. It is important to take small bites each day to balance the work with other responsibilities.
• What is most exciting to you about your new position at Erskine?
It is exciting for me to see the opportunity given to Erskine College and Seminary to be a blessing to Christ’s Church and especially to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. It is a great privilege to be a part of this work.
• Here’s your chance to brag about your family. What would you like to tell the Erskine family about your family?
I am married to Kelly Counts Sims, my best friend and one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She has been a fabulous mother to our children and the perfect pastor’s wife. She also is an Erskine grad (Class of 1995) and has served on the Erskine Board of Trustees.
Our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, graduated from Erskine in 2021 with a degree in music. Many times I have been taken aback by how talented she is— from her singing abilities to her giftedness at working with people. I am extremely proud of her work in admissions at the college.
Our son Peter is a freshman at Erskine where he is majoring in history. He is by far the hardest working person in our family. He has a sweet spirit and is loved by all.
Our youngest son Spencer is a sophomore in high school. He is our natural athlete and excels in basketball and baseball. He is one of the most astute students of sports I have ever seen. He is a good teammate to his friends. He has had to overcome some difficulties in learning, and I am so proud of his hard work in academics.
Our baby is Myra Jean, whom Kelly and I named for our mothers. She is the typical last child, trying to keep up with all the older siblings. She likes to do her own things. She has decided to focus on volleyball and has seen great improvements the last two years. This spring she has a part in a local homeschool co-op play in Fort Mill. She is full of life and loves to ask questions.
Winston is our Miniature Australian Shepherd and is the smartest dog I have ever owned. London is our adopted cat from a family that moved to the mission field in England. London has quickly established her rule over the house, as cats are apt to do!