After completing high school in 1973, Mark attended Kent State University and graduated in 1989 Cum Laude. He attended Ashland Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1993 with a Masters of Divinity degree. Mark began working with youth in 1979 when he took a position as Minister of Youth, Families, and Young Adults at the Ravenna First Congregational Church. Between 1979 and 1990, he carried his ministerial duties into the community with school visitations and participation in school assemblies, establishing visitation ministries at the Portage County Jail and the Juvenile Center, assisting the chaplain at Robinson Memorial Hospital, meeting with the high school football team before games for prayer and encouragement, and holding various offices in the Ravenna Ministerial Association. In 1988, the Simone’s were honored as the cover family by USA Today’s Weekend Magazine in the Family Spirit issue. In 1990, Mark took a new position as Associate Minister to Youth and Specialized Ministries at the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls. He became active as an author writing Ministering to Kids Who Don’t Fit, Teaching Today’s Youth. He also wrote articles in the Youth Builder series in the Gospel Light.
In 1994, Mark was a presenter in Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Slovic Republic. In 1998, he addressed youth leaders in South Africa at four conferences. During May and June of 1999, Mark went to Cape Town, South Africa as guest lecturer at the Huguenot College and Seminary.