Dixie Hills Baptist Church
Prepared for the 50th Anniversary Celebration October 2011
In the 1950’s a housing development was started south of Bolivar that came to be known as Dixie Hills. Rev. Teddy Evans, Associational Missionary for Hardeman County, and others began to see a need for a church for all the families moving into the neighborhood. The Dixie Hills Baptist Church began with a revival and Vacation Bible School sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Bolivar. Services were held July 6-13, 1958, under a brush arbor. The Vacation Bible School, with Mrs. Reed Adams as director, met daily for boys and girls aged 3-16. Rev. Teddy Evans was the evangelist for the revival.
During the revival local residents of Dixie Hills were asked if any of them would like to have prayer meeting in their homes. The homes of Mr. & Mrs. Cecil Tillman and Mrs. Connie Mae Brown were used alternately as meeting places.
Rev. Billy Joe Sanders, was called as the first pastor while the new church start was still meeting in these homes. A block building owned by Mr. J.C. Rogers and located on Burnett Mills Road in Dixie Hills was soon rented to use for preaching services held twice monthly. Additional worship space and class rooms were soon added to the building.
A Sunday school was organized January 4, 1959, with Mr. Taz Enoch as superintendent and adult teacher. Attendance that first Sunday was 16. Members of the Bolivar First Baptist Church served as teachers and workers in the Dixie Hills Mission. That same year a revival with Rev. Raymond Whitlow as evangelist was held under a tent in front of Cecil Tillman’s house.
In October 1959, a three-acre lot was purchased on Highway 125 at Dixie Hills Road as a site for a future church building. The State Mission Board gave $2,000 and First Baptist Church of Bolivar donated $500 to buy this land. A cotton crop was planted on the land in 1960. Mr. Gene Howell (Doug Howell’s father) furnished the cotton seed and fertilizer free from his feed mill. Mr. W.D. Williamson and Mr. Huey Doyle, from whom the land was bought, broke the ground and planted the cotton for the mission. Mr. Bill Matthews paid for ginning the crop. The proceeds from the sale of this cotton were used to start a church building fund.
The mission called Rev. Ewell F. McKinnie as their second pastor on October 23, 1960. At this time, the Sunday School Superintendent, reported an enrollment of 117. The Training Union had an enrollment of 71 with Floyd Eubanks as Director. The Brotherhood, with Bill Sykes as President and the Women’s Missionary Union, with Mrs. Austin Avent as president, had just recently been organized. ( See A history of the WMU at Dixie Hills by Elizabeth Marcum and Catherine Adams; 1994) 29
On Sunday, October 22, 1961, the congregation of Dixie Hills Baptist Mission was called to order by Rev. W. Fred Kendall, II at 2:30 p.m., for the purpose of organizing Dixie Hills Baptist Mission into Dixie Hills Baptist Church. Until this time, the Mission had been under the sponsorship of First Baptist Church of Bolivar. There were 56 charter members of the new church:
Ellen Adams Mrs. Reed Adams Mrs. Austin Avent
Mrs. Connie Mae Brown Gordon Eubanks Mrs. Prewitt Martin
Phyllis Brown Rev. & Mrs. W.T. Brumbelow Mr. & Mrs. Wallace Castleberry
Leitha Mae Doles Mrs. Dorothy Ehrett Carolyn Eubanks
Mr./Mrs. Floyd Eubanks Larry Fish Mrs. Jean Gatlin
Mr/Mrs. Raymond Harris Donald Harris Rev. & Mrs. Ewell McKinnie
Linda Mckinnie Ann McKinnie Martha McCommon
Dwight Porter Mr. & Mrs. Hubert Shields Vicki Shields
John Shields Miss Edith Sisco Mr. and Mrs. Don Stallings
Wilma Lee Sterling Junior Sterling Mr. & Mrs. Bill Sykes
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Taylor Mr. & Mrs. Cecil Tillman Mr. & Mrs. Jim Vickers
Mrs. Floyd Thearp Mr. & Mrs. Gene Thearp Terry Williamson
Mr./Mrs. Cecil Tillman Mr. & Mrs. James Vandiver Mrs. W.D. Williamson
Mr./Mrs. Lonnie Vandiver Larry Vandiver
At this service, Mr. Taz Enoch presented the deed to the property where the new church building was to be built.
Some of the men ordained as deacons in the early 1960’s were Cecil Tillman, Lloyd Eubanks, Floyd Eubanks, David Gatlin, and Bill Sykes.
The building dedication service for the original church building (now the fellowship hall, and education wing) was held December 1, 1963. Design S-236 from the Architecture Department of the Sunday School Board SBC was used for the building plan. The auditorium was designed to seat 126 plus 32 for the choir. Later a folding curtain was removed and pews added to increase seating capacity.
The original church building was constructed at a cost of $45,000, most of which was financed by the sale of bonds. The church paid the debt and had a note burning service on August 7, 1977. The Building Committee consisted of Floyd Eubanks, Hall Brooks, Bill Sykes, Lloyd Eubanks, Charlie Taylor, Mrs. Reed Adams, Mrs. Peggy Eubanks, and Mrs. Bernice Williamson. The Finance Committee was made up of David Gatlin, Cecil Tillman, Hall Brooks, Lloyd Eubanks, Henry Richardson, and Bill Sykes.
A strong foundation for a healthy church was laid during these beginning years. The church has continued to build on that foundation until this present 50th anniversary year of 2011. The following record is a simple listing of some of the specifics of those years. The reader should remember that a church is not a list of events; a church is people. People who gather Sunday after Sunday to worship, teach, serve, give, fellowship, and do all the other things churches do.
In January 1977, the church purchased the adjoining house and lot, formerly owned by Rev. Ewell F. McKinnie, for $16,000. Additional rooms were added to the house in 1994. The house has been well used as a parsonage by three pastors and two associate pastors. The two lots were joined into one lot in 2006 for zoning reasons to allow the building of the Education/Office/Activities Building.
In 1986 a 2000 square foot addition was added to the church that contained a kitchen, fellowship hall, and bathrooms. The addition was built by volunteers led by Monroe Willis and David Gatlin. This addition was later converted to classrooms, again by volunteers. For a while this building was called the “youth wing”. The large room has also been used as a choir room.
The parking lot was expanded and black topped in 1987 and again in 2002, and again in 2008.
In 1989 the flat roof over the porches on the original building was replaced with a pitch roof due to continuous problems with leaking. This project was led by Monroe Willis.
Dixie Hills has had a long history of bus ministry. In 1964 the First Baptist Church of Bolivar donated a 1946 Dodge 30 passenger bus to the church. David Gatlin and others used the bus to pick up children. During the ministry of Scott Pearl the church’s white Ford van became affectionately known as the “FOD”, because the “R” had fallen off the FORD emblem on the back door. This van was finally sold after 20 years of service in 2000. In 1998 a 1994 30 passenger bus was purchased for $34,500.
Six different 15 passenger vans have been used over the years. Currently the van ministry is led by Wayne Webster and runs three vans on Sundays and Wednesdays. Only heaven knows how many lives have been changed because of this ministry.
More educational space was added in 1991. This 3,200 square foot addition contained seven class rooms, the pastor’s office and two large bathrooms. This volunteer project was led by Monroe Willis and Clifford Kirk.
The church was Incorporated December 15, 1995. The three incorporators are George Sargent, Monroe Willis, and David Gatlin.
November 28, 1998 DHBC had its first Thanksgiving Feast / Testimony service. People were given five kernels of corn to drop into a metal wash tub. They were to drop them in the tub one at a time as they told five things they were thankful for. The testimony service was a great success and has since become a tradition.
Dennis Burton was the first paid youth minister to serve the church. Scott Pearl also served as youth minister from 1998-2001. Wayne Webster was hired as youth minister in July 2001. He always gave his salary back to the youth fund, and gave up his salary completely when the church called Josh Hussung full time (2005). Bro. Josh was our first full time staff other than a pastor. The youth ministry continues to thrive under Bro. Wayne’s leadership.
A ground breaking ceremony was held for the current worship center the first Sunday of August 2001 and the dedication service was held August 18, 2002. The building was designed by the building committee for a seating capacity of 300. David Gatlin drew the sketch used for the building. Monroe Willis was the lead builder of the many volunteers. All the work except sheetrock, insulation, brick, and shingles was done by volunteers. The stained glass windows were made in Bro. Jimmy Garrett’s shop behind the parsonage. Several volunteers helped make the windows, working for an hour or two each Wednesday night after church. The pulpit furniture was made by Wayne Webster and Bro. Jimmy at Doyle’s Cabinet Shop at night after the shop was closed. The 2002 Easter Sunrise service was held in the partially completed building. This was a deeply moving service for those who were sacrificing money and service in construction of the Sanctuary. The church grew significantly in attendance and membership during this time.
After a few months rest the volunteers begin the renovation of the old sanctuary into a kitchen and fellowship hall in October 2002. After that project was complete the old fellowship hall and kitchen were converted into classrooms.
DHBC had its first ever Drive-Thru Living Nativity on December 16, 2000. Live characters and animals make the birth of Jesus come to life for those who drive through the parking lot. The church put out 3’800 crosses on the church lawn for the first time in January of 2001 to mark Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. The church continues these two projects on alternating years.
On April 29, 2004, the Dixie Hills Baptist Church Brotherhood was presented the Spirit of Giving Award at an awards banquet for outstanding volunteer service by the Memphis and Shelby County Community for their work at Western Mental Hospital. The Brotherhood began this ministry in 2001 and continues today. The Brotherhood has had breakfast on the first Sunday of each month since the breakfast was started by Sam Harris in 1967. Over the years the Brotherhood has done many, many mission projects, both locally and in other states.
Mandy White was hired as the first part-time Secretary on May 28, 2002. She served until July 2007. Shelley Mayfield was hired as Secretary/Financial Secretary beginning September 1, 2007, and continues to serve in that position.
The position of Children’s Minister was created at the December 2005 business meeting. The vote to create this new staff position was 75 to 2. April Howell was called to fill the position with no opposition. She served as a paid staff member from March 2006 until July 2007. She has served as a volunteer since then. The Children’s ministry continues to grow in size and scope under her leadership.
After hiring a Secretary in 2002 the concept of staff leadership began to develop. The “Staff” consists of the Pastor, Associate Pastor, Worship Pastor, Senior Adult Coordinator, Youth Coordinator, Children’s Coordinator, Nursery Coordinator, Prayer Coordinator and Secretary. The staff prays together, plans together and provides comprehensive leadership to the church. This concept has helped to transition DHBC from a small church to a medium size church.
A 12 member Prayer Planning Committee was elected at the June 2004 business meeting to begin praying and planning for three things: 1. Consider building an activates building. 2. Hire a full time staff member. 3. Purchase a bus/van. After months of serious praying and studying about prayer, the committee felt God’s leading to call a “godly man” to serve alongside the pastor. This strong impression from the Lord led us to make a step of faith asking the church to call a full time Associate/Worship Pastor, believing God would provide financially. The staff was elected to serve as the search committee. The church called Josh Hussung as Associate/Worship Pastor February of 2005.
Part of the arrangement for the new Associate/Worship Pastor was that he would live in the church parsonage. A rented home was provided for the first six months while the Pastor built and moved into a new home.
The Prayer Planning Committee continued to pray and soon recommended that the church pursue a building program. The Church voted to build the existing Education, Office, Activities building at the August 2006 business meeting.
To launch the building effort a “Miracle Day” was planned for November 19, 2006. On that day 244 attended Sunday School. A red wheel barrow was used to receive a cash building fund offering of $30,370.17 and a three year pledge offering of $165,725.00 for a total offering of $196,095.17!
The Education, Office, Activities Building ground breaking ceremony was Sunday, January 28, 2007. Since a growing children and youth ministry created the need for more space the ground breaking was carried out by 21 children. The children were:
Matthew Blankenship, Cade Craft, David Craft, Stone Craft,
Edie Howell, Sally Howell, Taylor Howell, Macy Lipford,
Taylor Lipford, Billy Mays, Briason Mays, Clay Moralez,
Amber Roberts, Blake Roberts, Christopher Roberts, Miracle Roberts,
Mallory Rodgers, Bailey Rodgers, Katie Seaton, Riley Seaton,
Molly Stafford, Andrew Strugis, Joshua Sturgis, Clay Tucker,
Tanner Tucker, Zach White,
Before the official ground breaking volunteers had already begun preparing the ground for the building by cutting several large trees. The shop behind the parsonage was torn down and moved to Daniel Downen’s on Saturday, February 4, 2007. Many volunteers worked each Saturday for a year constructing the 10,200 square foot building. The construction volunteers were led by David Gatlin, Monroe Willis, Wayne Webster, and Alan Garrett. The biggest group to work was on March 24, 2007 when they poured 105 yards of concrete! The staff moved into the offices on May 6, 2008.
Space does not allow for the telling of all the events that have been part of the experience of the Dixie Hills Church. Who can know which events have had the most influence on the future of a church. Events such as the “Its Not About Me” revival led by Craig Tacket with one night’s attendance surpassing 500 and 70 professions of faith during the week seem significant. But the quieter events such as the acceptance of Tina Mays as our first black member in 2001 may have been more important. The purchase of a video projector in February of 2001 when they were very expensive, and no other church in the county was using one was more significant than realized at the time. The decision to start the deacon P.A.C.E. ministry was a significant decision. Perhaps other decisions not made were just as important as those that were made. Or perhaps there were some events that should not have occurred. God knows.
Events and decisions are simply mile markers that remind us of God’s providential work with an imperfect people. We humbly acknowledge that the grace of God has allowed the church to be healthy and united. Praise Him!
The personality of this church has been a willingness to try new things, to be warm and accepting to all people, and to give freely of ourselves in service. If the LORD does not return before then’ one day someone will extend this written history of the Dixie Hills Baptist Church. May that writer have much to add! The prayer of the people here in 2011 is that the church continues to so love people that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and experience continuous spiritual growth.
Rev. Billy Joe Sanders 1959-1960
Rev. Ewell F. McKinnie 1960-1964
Rev. Baylon Hilliard 1964-1967
Rev. W.W. Clark 1967-1969
Rev. Steve Sturdivant (Interim) 1969
Rev. Bertie Moore 1970-1974
Rev. George Weaver (Interim) 1975
Rev. Orville McMahan 1976-1989
Rev. Howard Kitter 1989-1991
Rev. Daryl Watson (Interim) 1991
Rev. Charles Pratt (Interim) 1992
Rev. Tim Smith 1992-1997
Rev. Jimmy Garrett 1997-present
Rev. Scott Pearl Associate Pastor and Youth 1999-2001
Rev. Josh Hussung Associate/Worship Pastor 2005-2009
Rev. Dave Wade Associate/Worship Pastor 2010-present
The church has been served by various music ministers both paid and volunteer, including:
Wallace Castelburry David Gatlin Joe Hunt Clifft
Dwight Porter Allen McCall Randy Smith
Hugh White Scott Pearl Randy Gatlin
Josh Hussung Dave Wade
Pastor: Jimmy Garrett
Associate Pastor/Worship: Dave Wade
Children’s Minister/Secretary: Ellen Cone
Youth Minister: Wes Depew
Nursery Coordinator: Lisa Garrett