James George Dixon, Jr. was born in Wichita, KS on February 3, 1922. His father was an officer of The Wichita Flour Mill, and his mother was a well-known Bible teacher in her community. It was in one of her 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 attended Biola together. After three children, and several moves, he graduated from Wooster College and from Grace Theological Seminary. He served two 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 started a new church, the Grace Brethren Church of Greater Washington, in Temple Hills, Maryland. It was here that Pastor Dixon, with his wife, Dorothy, founded a Christian school (Grace Brethren Christian Schools, Clinton, MD) and served as the senior pastor of a growing congregation until his retirement in 1992. During this time, his church grew dramatically, a fact he attributed to the two major strengths of his ministry: 1) Faithful expository preaching of the scriptures; and 2) 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. His preaching was consequently powerful and convicting. (A sampling of Pastor Dixon's sermons, including a full series on the book of Romans, can be heard at: www.pastorjamesdixon.com). As a pastor, his warmth and love for others was surpassed only by his passion for His Lord and Savior. Both his life and ministry reflected these qualities, and his preaching rejected legalism to focus on the positive Gospel of the grace and love of God in Jesus Christ. Pastor Dixon’s concern for the spiritual development of the believer was seen the establishment of small groups which he called cells. These groups met in neighborhoods throughout the Washington, DC area, and provided opportunities for fellowship and Bible study.
Rev. Dixon believed that strong administration was essential to a successful ministry; and he believed that seminaries too often defaulted on providing their students 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 became pastors in the satellite churches he started in Waldorf, Calvert, and Frederick, MD. He was one of the first evangelical pastors to develop the concept of one church with multiple satellite sites. His commitment to developing future pastors was also evidenced in his mentoring of young people through college scholarships and internships. In addition, his well known “preacher boy” classes introduced numerous high school students to the ministry.
On the personal side, he loved to work hard and play hard. His relaxation was found on the golf course, where he was known as a "scratch" golfer. He enjoyed playing sports with his children, and their yard was often the hub of neighborhood kickball, football and softball games. 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 Dixon Martinez, professor at Wheaton College (1980-1995); Dr. Paul Dixon, pastor; Dr. James G. Dixon, III (’71), professor at Grove City College; Peter Dixon, principal of a Christian School; and Debbie Dixon Greene (’79), pastor’s wife, teacher and counselor.
In 1996, The James G. Dixon, Jr. Scholarship was established by members of the family in his memory to allow students at Wheaton College to gain the kinds of mentoring that Rev. Dixon believed was so important for prospective pastors. As part of the scholarship requirements, selected students are to secure a summer internship in an evangelical church under a pastor whose vision is similar to that of Rev. Dixon.