From ‘baby daddies' to true fathers


Members of the Greater Faith Baptist Fellowship Church congregation praise and worship during a Father's Day service at the church.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.

The Rev. James H. Dixon Jr. delivered a Father's Day sermon at Greater Faith Baptist Fellowship Church and instructed men on how to be true fathers instead of just "baby daddies."

Facts

GREATER FAITH BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP CHURCH

Pastor: The Rev. James H. Dixon Jr.
Location: Thelma Boltin Center, 516 NE 2nd Ave.
Services: Sunday school is 9:15 a.m., followed by morning worship at 10:30 a.m. Bible study is 6 p.m. Tuesdayat Catholic Charities at 1701 NE 9th St.
Phone: 352-224-5513 or pastor@greaterfaithf.org.

Dixon, pastor of the church that has services at the Thelma Boltin Recreation Center at 516 NE 2nd Ave., used a well-organized outline to deliver his message during the service that included Christopher Brooks, 14, and Jalen Hamilton, 9, giving brief speeches about fatherhood.

"Fathers have a special role in each child's life, to help shape and mold them to be followers of Christ," Christopher said.

"May God's blessing be on you (fathers), and everything you do," Jalen said. "In your going out and coming in, may his presence be with you — for you have shown me your ways. Happy Father's Day."

Dixon continually praised Christopher, Jalen and 10-year-old Trinity Shorter throughout the service for being cheerful and smiling ushers.

"Can I tell you all something?" Dixon asked during the service after the trio had collected the tithes and offering. "We need to have an attitude like these kids. They come up here grinning from ear to ear, and wanting to serve God. Instead of them learning from us, we need to learn from them."

Dixon preached from Exodus 4:18-31, which he set up by using scripture from the beginning of the third chapter of Exodus. The subject of his sermon was "Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place."

He said being stuck between a rock and a hard place happens when person has to make a choice they don't want to make.

Dixon emphasized that his message was specifically for men, and he said it wasn't the usual congratulatory Father's Day message to lift up men for their contributions to their families.

"I don't see too many fathers anymore," Dixon said. "I see a whole bunch of baby daddies though."

Dixon said Greater Faith has "awesome fathers," and that the men in the church need to go into the world and teach "baby daddies" how to be fathers.

He said being a good father entails answering God's call to uplift his kingdom. He said he initially ran from his calling and he used the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt to illustrate how to answer a call from God.

He said the three things that made Moses successful were that he surrendered to the call of God, succumbed to the conditions of that calling and secured the cooperation of those who were going to help him answer the call.

He said while surrendering to God's call, men should not burn any bridges, but believe in God's assurances, use the things God gives them to answer the call and to "bemuse" or pay attention to and obey instructions from God.

Furthermore, he said while succumbing to their call from God, men should not do it "halfway," but must assume "headship" of their homes and must remove all hindrances that prevent them from answering their call.

Finally, to secure the cooperation needed to answer their call, Dixon said men should let God recruit the people who are going to help them because some "old friends" won't be able to handle the task at hand, and to wait on God's reward for answering his call.

"He will deliver on his promise," said Dixon, who is the "Bridges to Prosperity" coordinator at Catholic Charities in northeast Gainesville, a three-phase program to help families save money and reach financial stability and prosperity.

Dixon said the church, which was founded in May 2011, began with Bible study meetings at The Glades Apartments (now Verdant Cove) on SE 43rd Street, before growing to have an additional Bible study at Tree Trail Apartments at NE 9th Street and 23rd Avenue, where the church eventually held its first service in the summer of 2011.

Dixon, a 1979 graduate of Buchholz High School, has been married to his wife, Cheryl Dixon, for eight years. The couple has one child.

Dixon said Greater Faith is the name of the church because it epitomizes the character of the church.

"We are a church that has greater faith," Dixon said. "That is how we have grown from only four members, with two of them being me and my wife, to 30 members, and we are going to continue to grow and be blessed by God because we have greater faith."

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