He was raised in Wichita, KS by a father who was an officer of a major flour mill and a mother who was well-known in her community as a Bible Teacher.It was in one of her weekly Bible classes in her home that he became a Christian. It was also here that Dorothy Hoidale, his high school sweetheart, committed her life to Jesus Christ. They married soon after and traveled to Los Angeles to attend Biola. After several children -- and several moves -- he graduated from Wooster College and then from Grace Theological Seminary.
He served several short-term pastorates in the Grace Brethren denomination before moving to Washington, DC in 1951 to become pastor of the First Brethren Church in downtown Washington, only a few blocks from Capitol Hill. In 1962 he became the pastor of a new church, the Grace Brethren Church of Greater Washingotn, in Temple Hills, Maryland. It was here that Pastor Dixon, and his wife, Dorothy, founded a Christian school and served as the senior pastor of a growing congragation until his retirement in 1992.
During this time, his church grew dramatically, a fact he attributed to the two major strengths of his ministry:
- Faithful expository preaching of the scriptures.
- Careful and sensible administration.
Rev. Dixon believed in the power of the Word of God, and his preaching reflected his confidence in the relevance of the Bible as a practical guide for a positive and dynamic Christian life. As a consequence, his preaching was powerful and convicting.
But he also belieed that administration was essential to a successful ministry. And he believed that seminaries too often defaulted on providing their students with practical experience in preparation for the pastorate. He took it upon himself to provide such experience to his young assistant pastors and mentored them to the point where they could become senior pastors in satellite churches he started in Waldorf, Calvert, and Frederick, MD.
The James G. Dixon, Jr. Scholarship Fund is designed to allow students at Wheaton College to gain the kind of mentoring that Rev. Dixon believed was so important for prospective pastors. Selected students may secure a summer internship in one of the four churches he founded, working with one of the pastors he mentored, or in another evangelical church under a pastor whose vision is similar to that of Rev. Dixon. The cooperating church and the student will agree on a determined stipend for the internship. The Scholarship funds will be awarded in the fall following completion of the internship.
James and Dorothy Dixon had six children, five of whom served in full time Christian ministry: Richard Dixon, CEO of the P. B. Hoidale Company; Dr. Paula S. Martinez, a professor at Wheaton College (1980-1995); Dr. Paul Dixon, a pastor; Dr. James G. Dixon, III (’71), a professor at Grove City College; Debbie Greene (’79), a pastor’s wife and counselor; and Peter Dixon, a principal of a Christian School.