Rev. DeWayne and Sharon Dickerson began pastoring Reid Chapel February of 2019, then the pandemic hit the world. They began doing messages and music online and Facebook live, while continuing to hold services—first, in the parking lot and later in the gym/fellowship hall (Family Life Center), which is large enough to spread out. The church has about sixty to seventy active members, most of which continued to come to church.
Bro. DeWayne told me about his experiences in Hudson Chapel Church of God, “I went to the altar as a six or seven-year-old child and I believe I was saved in those elementary years. I believed when I was twelve, it was my time to get serious. There was a real move of God in an evening service in December 1962. Many were in the altar praying. I felt like I had to have a breakthrough in my life. As I began to pray, others noticed me praying and joined with me. I felt the wonderful Holy Spirit come in and had a feeling of spiritual euphoria and joy. A new world opened up for me in the Spirit.” He felt this was his conversion experience of being born again and receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. He added, “Growing up in a Pentecostal church here, speaking in tongues was a gift that the church benefitted from regularly.” [See I Corinthians, chapters 12, 14, and Acts 2.]
His wife’s experience took place in her father’s church in North Carolina. She recalled, “I was saved in the fourth grade at eight years old. It was after the Sunday night sermon. The Holy Spirit caused me to want to go down to the altar and give my life to the Lord. So I did. I remember just crying and crying, and I didn’t want to get up. You wouldn’t think a child could feel like that, but I can still remember it to this day.”
She went on to tell of an experience at youth camp later, “I was probably twelve years old and received the Baptism and spoke in tongues as they did in the Book of Acts. Lots of others were experiencing it.” She continued, “Playing the piano, I just get into the Spirit, getting my greatest blessing, being alone with the Lord.”
Around the turn of the 20th century, God gave people all over the world a hunger for more of Him and they began having their own personal Pentecostal experiences. This new wave of the Spirit came to this area in the 1920s. The surviving patriarch of the Dickerson family, Willie Doris Dickerson, was born to Henry and Janie Dickerson August 27, 1927, the same year the Rocky Hill Church of God was founded. He was ten years old when the Hudson Chapel Church of God had its beginnings, so he shared some memories of that period of time.
Before this, there was a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Holiness church in the area. He remembered, “Mother had been saved in the Methodist church. John Holder was the Methodist preacher. He preached of salvation and holiness, living a sanctified life.” He continued, “Mother went to the altar, seeking a closer walk with God, I assume. She was seeking the Lord for a sign she was saved. As she prayed that night at home for a sign, she saw a ball of fire in the pine trees and took that to be her sign. Later, she was the first one to receive the Baptism.”
An evangelist from the Rocky Hill Church of God came to the Union area to visit. The evangelist, Bro. Grady May, a WWI veteran, had been dying with tuberculosis while he fought the call of God to preach. When he gave up fighting, God healed him. In Neshoba County, he had been a neighbor of Andrew Frederick, a sharecropper on Henry and Janie Dickerson’s cotton farm. Mr. Frederick let him preach one night in his house. Mrs. May played a pump organ that was in the house, and when he finished his sermon, Bro. May gave an altar call, which was unusual.
He explained to me, “They went on to have several services in the house, then a few services behind the house. Finally, in late May 1937, they built a brush arbor about where the Hudson Chapel parsonage is now. The meetings went nine weeks in the open air with no rain. Mr. Andrew Hudson gave the property and became the first convert of the new worship place.”
Mr. Dickerson continued, “Wintertime came. They went from house to house until 1938, with worship and prayer meeting. Some of the participants, my daddy and others, attempted to build a worship house. It had a sawdust floor, four walls made with rough-sawed lumber, and a 50-gallon oil drum for a heater. My grandfather John Dickerson was saved in the open-air revival.”
“This was the Great Depression. There was no money. They needed $75 to buy the tin top. Granddaddy mortgaged eighty acres of land to borrow $75 to put on a tin top. He died on December 17, 1939. My daddy took it on himself, got some hired help, cut timber, and paid that note.”
In the mid to late 1950s, they built a block building where the church is now, and it was remodeled in 1964 or ’65. He said, “It’s a plain country church.” He also told me that many preachers had come out of Hudson Chapel Church of God through the years.
Bro. Grady May went on to become a very respected Church of God minister in Mississippi. Later, his son Flavius Joseph May became a professor in the Pentecostal School of Theology and in Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee. Bro. F.J. May was also on the council over the Churches of God of the United States.
Mr. Dickerson said of those first meetings, “I was almost ten. My mind was alert then. I heard someone say about Bro. May, ‘He’s an unknown-tongue, Holy Ghost preacher.’ I wanted to hear that first hand.” He told me that the preachers he had heard had preached the gospel but were not Pentecostal. He told me of his initial salvation as a child and his more mature Christian growth as he gained biblical understanding and spiritual experiences with God.
Having been a member of both Baptist and Assembly of God churches, I knew to what he referred. I guess I consider myself “Bapticostal,” as I am grateful for the salvation I received in the Baptist church, yet also thankful for the way God drew me and my family into the Charismatic movement in the 70s. I love all the good Christian people from both streams.
The entire Dickerson family has been a blessing to Newton County, not only by their preaching, but through the musical skills of the guitarists and singers of this talented family. Most importantly, the Dickersons’ dedication to God has been a testimony to all in the communities they influence.
Live for Jesus! He’s coming soon! You may contact me at email@example.com or 601-635-3282.