Amnesiac pastor's story like a movie … a fictional movie
Last month, newspapers and other media were fascinated with the story of James Simmons, formerly known as Wesley Barrett "Barre" Cox (see early pieces in the Associated Press and San Antonio Express-News). His story sounds like a bad TV movie: the married youth minister from San Antonio was one day found beaten in the trunk of a car in Memphis. When he awoke from a coma two weeks later, he had amnesia and no recollection of whom he was. But 16 years later, one of his old friends from Bible camp discovered him—preaching at another Texas church. And now he's senior pastor of White Rock Community Church, a predominantly gay congregation in Dallas. Sunday's Houston Chronicle takes another look at his story, and decides it's "fraught with contradictions. They begin with Simmons' claim of amnesia and his varying, unverified account of a beating that he says robbed him of his memory. They continue to his use of another man's name, Social Security number and birth date and his strange explanation of how he obtained them. They extend to his puzzling embellishments to others over the years and his strangely accurate bursts of memory. And adding to the mystery is an expert's opinion that, despite inconsistencies, ambiguities and outright untruths in his story, Simmons may well have no memory of being Barre Cox." But other neuropsychiatrists say it sounds like Simmons "had a life he didn't like and ran out on it." Beth Cox, whose marriage to Simmons was dissolved during his absence, initially told the Associated Press, "It doesn't really matter now [what really happened]. But I know God has been with him and with us. He brought Barre back to the ministry, and he watched over him." Meanwhile, Simmons' first sermon at White Rock Community Church—which he preached only days after his discovery—was on Lazarus's resurrection.


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