Maverick Priest from Southeast Missouri Reaching Out to Sex Workers in San Francisco

MARCH 27, 2006 - Posted at 8:05 a.m. CST

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A southeast Missouri man has found his calling preaching to young male prostitutes in the gritty streets of San Francisco.

The Reverend River Sims grew up in the small town of Lilbourn.  Now he's a priest in the independent Apostolic Catholic Church, whose nine parishes spurn material wealth in favor of social justice and working with the poor.  Analysts say Sims is part of a resurgence in urban missionaries inspired by St. Francis of Assisi's work in leper colonies.

The church is a good fit for the rebellious Sims.  He wears a camoflage jacket, shorts and skull jewelry as he walks San Francisco's seedier streets to distribute clean needles, condoms and Gospel tidbits to male prostitutes.

Sims estimates he's gone to 1,000 funerals for young sex workers and addicts since he established his ministry more than a decade ago.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)