David Dixon will be honored as the new preaching minister at the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ during a reception on Sunday, June 3, from 2:30-4 p.m. in the fellowship hall.
The church, with about 200 active members, remains one of the major anchor downtown churches in Jasper, with Jasper's First Baptist Church, the Jasper First United Methodist Church and Desperation Church at the Jasper Civic Center.
Dixon, who started at the church on May 6, said the congregation is well-known for its work across the state.
"This congregation within the Church of Christ is very visible church," he said. "They are widely known ... The goings-on here set a precedent for a lot of other churches, especially in Walker County but even further than that. It was a great opportunity."
He replaced Patrick Morrison, who has moved on to the Curry Church of Christ. Dixon was happy that Morrison will not be far away for a question, noting he has been friends with Morrison since college. "I will rely heavily on him to make some connections in town," he said.
Dixon, who turned 40 in February and was born in Birmingham, was still moving in books into his office Wednesday, as well as unpacking at his new home in the Smith Lake area. He noted he loves sports and outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. He was excited the kayaks had just arrived with the movers, which will allow him back on the water.
As Dixon's father was a preacher, the family moved around the Southeast. He graduated Northside High School in Warner Robbins, Georgia, and gradated from Faulkner University in Montgomery in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He then got his master's degree in secondary education from the University of South Alabama in 2005.
He married the former Rachel McCullough two weeks after graduating Faulkner and today the couple have three children, Micah, 12, Sarah, 6, and Asher, 2.
After working in a bank for a while, he became a high school math teacher. After two years of study, he completed studies at the Memphis School of Preaching, in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2011. After working for three years at the Warm Springs Road Church of Christ in Columbus, Georgia, he then preached for three years at his last church, the Wesconnett Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Florida, where his wife was from.
As for coming to Jasper, Dixon had a clear vision for coming here.
"I've told folks I believe this is the job and this is the position God has been preparing me for my whole life," he said. "Growing up, starting in about 1988, my family and I came to camp here at the Indian Creek Youth Camp at Oakman, and we've been coming ever since. We loved it. It was our highlight of the year."
Also, the Church of Christ has a number of congregations in the area. But the camp had an emotional tug for him.
"It always felt like home to me. We moved around so much, camp was the one thing that was always steady. We loved coming here. It was always a place I always wanted to come back to," Dixon said. "When this opportunity came up, we took it. It just has felt like home ever since we moved here.
"We look forward to being here for 30 years. We look forward to retiring here. That's our plan," he said, saying he wanted to watch his children grow up here.
As for the local church, he said it was a knowledgable congregation.
"The level of Biblical knowledge is higher here than most of the places I've worked with. The history here and their impact on the community is well known. The things they have going on here and throughout the Southeast and throughout the world, really, those are the things I've noticed already," he said, adding he is "extremely impressed with the leadership here."
He noted the church is constructing a larger building for the clothing outreach program near the church office to offer more space. The older building will be repurposed.
Dixon looks to be active in the community through the church's radio ministry and by speaking to as many Churches of Christ congregations in the community as possible. He said he wants to visit members and get to know as many as possible.
He also mentioned the Gus Nichols School, a Bible study group that meets on Thursday nights. "I want to be involved in that as much as possible. That is something that has gone on for a long time, too," he said, noting it will likely take a break for the summer before starting again in the fall.
As for goals for the church he would be passionate about, Dixon said, "I would like to insure we can build a leadership for the future that is as strong as the one that is here now. That is one thing I want to focus on. And, of course, evangelizing the community, getting out and teaching the Gospel."
Noting his years as a math teacher, he said he considers himself more of a teacher than a preacher, and that he wants to be involved in Biblical instruction. Dixon added he hopes that he "lives what he preaches," as strengthening, encouraging and building up the church are top priorities for him.
As for cynicism against Christianity among young millennials, he said that is a group the church wants to reach out to. He said over time the church may can "change some things up, not do things the way they've always done them and maybe employ some new methods and maybe new technology to reach out through podcasts and those types of things that may not have been done before. That may give us a few new open doors." He said that generation is looking for more authenticity in their worship, which he hopes the church can provide.
He also hopes the church leads in giving an atmosphere where one can be searching for the truth. "We speak where the Bible speaks and we're silent where the Bible is silent," he said.
Anyone wanting more information may go to the church's website, sixthavenuechurch.org, or call Dixon at the church phone number, 205-384-6446, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.