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Local pastor shares journey to identity

By Staff | Jul 22, 2011

The Rev. Dee-Ann Dixon preaches to children at New Street United Methodist Church. (Submitted photo)

The 2011 Storied Evenings events continued on July 13 with the Rev. Dee-Ann Dixon’s account of her journey in finding her calling as a minister.

Dixon, a pastor at New Street United Methodist Church, teaches Bible study classes in addition to preaching. Dixon said that one of the concepts from the courses is that “the journey is my home,” a concept summarizing her life.

From an early age, Dixon said she had questions about her identity and wanted to find a sense of belonging. Her father worked with the U.S. Forestry Service, so Dixon and her family moved often when she was young.

“We went from one town in the boondocks to another town in the boondocks,” Dixon said.

Dixon said moving was an adventure, but she also wanted one home and one place to which she belonged.

Some of Dixon’s questions about her identity stemmed from her multicultural background as well. Her mother was from the Philippines, and her father was American.

“In the 1960s, (as a multicultural family) we were different,” Dixon said. “People thought we were either Chinese or Mexican.”

Both of Dixon’s parents were involved in the Methodist Church. Dixon said she spent a lot of time in church as a child, making it the one place that she felt she belonged. She said it was the same community of people in different locations.

Dixon began college, but two years in she felt unsure that it was right for her. A professor that Dixon was close to talked to her parents, and they arranged a study abroad trip in the Philippines.

While staying with her grandparents on her trip, Dixon gained a sense of self from hearing stories about her family’s heritage. She also saw extreme poverty for the first time in the Philippines.

“People lived at the city dump, scavenging for things to sell or things to eat,” Dixon said.

She found it comforting that the churches there saw the desperate conditions and helped the poor.

When Dixon got back to the U.S., she realized how wasteful people can be but at the same time was thankful for what she had.

After Dixon left college, she worked in charge of Peace and Justice student groups. These groups were formed by students at different colleges, and this experience allowed Dixon to work with students and community nonprofits in an interfaith setting.

Dixon went back to school at Wesley Theological Seminary. She studied liberation theology, the idea that God loves everyone – including women, minorities and those typically left out of traditionally male-dominated Western theology.

This helped Dixon realize that she was called to ministry. In 1993, Dixon was ordained and was appointed to serve at Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town before she came to New Street United Methodist Church, where she has been a pastor for 19 years.

Dixon said that her family helps her shape her faith and vocation by keeping her genuine and grounded.

Dixon, who said she had attended other Storied Evenings, said this was her first time sharing a story and thanked both the audience and the event organizers for inviting her to speak.