INDEPENDENCE – On Sunday morning, June 1, at the oldest continuously running Baptist church in Texas, Robert E. Dixon and Dr. Paul W. Powell were honored for the legacies they started and what they became through the Texas Baptist Legacy Award.
Bryan Finley, a member of First Baptist Church of Kerrville, led the group in Bible study and posed the question, “When does a legacy begin?” Through scripture and biblical personalities like Abraham, Moses, Joshua and others, he summed up the answer with, “Legacy begins by starting something God directed. It continues when others who are directed by God to join the initiator who embraces them.“
“You’ll be amazed at what God can do with one, small bit of obedience,” Dixon said, as he received the award. Dixon is the retired executive director of Texas Baptist Men. Prior to the 30-year service, Dixon was director of Royal Ambassadors for Texas Baptists for two years, executive director for 28 years and a denominational leader through work in Jackson, Miss., Nashville and Memphis, Tenn. He was also a Navy veteran of World War II and professional baseball player.
Further exemplifying his impact in Baptist work, the North American Mission Board annually presents the Robert E. Dixon Disaster Relief Award to those involved in outstanding ministry to those affected by disaster. Speaking of Dixon, Dr. David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists said, “No one has done more for Texas Baptist Men and their work of ministering in times of disaster than Bob Dixon.“
Through this great legacy, Dixon has remained humble and focused on God’s work. “I’m grateful that the Father taught me early on that it’s His work and His Kingdom, I’m just a recruiting director,” he said.
Introducing Dr. Paul Powell, Dr. Joel Gregory, professor of preaching at George W. Truett Seminary, stated that we are here today to put an exclamation point to Paul’s work. Alluding to the song “Deep and Wide,” Gregory said, “Some leaders have a deep impact in one area. Others have a widespread but shallow impact. Paul’s is both deep and wide.“
Powell, who has written over 50 books, is the Dean Emeritus of the George W. Truett Seminary and has previously served as President of the Robert M. Rogers Foundation of Tyler and CEO of GuideStone Financials of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has also served in numerous offices with Texas Baptists, Regent Chairman of Baylor University, and as pastor at five Texas Baptist churches including Belfalls, Troy, Taylor, San Marcos and Tyler, where he served as pastor for 17 years at Green Acres Baptist Church. In speaking of Powell, Hardage mentioned, “To me, Paul Powell is Texas Baptists.“
Accepting the award, Powell quoted an old African proverb that he feels this best sums up his life’s work, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.“
He furthered this idea by telling two of the things he knows for certain: 1. God put him in ministry. 2. God has strengthened him to be part of all he has been part of. Closing his remarks Powell said, “Thank you for allowing me to be part of the journey.“
“In a church that birthed so much of Texas Baptists work and contains so much evolving history, there may be no better place to begin honoring those who started and continued a legacy,” said Hardage.
An example of the church’s impact and history can be found a few rows from the back, carved in a pew one can find two initials: SH. That carving is a remnant of the historic Texan Sam Houston, who attended and was baptized through this church.
The Texas Baptists Legacy Award was created after the Elder Statesman Award came to a close. But the desire to continue honoring the legacy of so many Texas Baptists, led to the establishment of the new award.
Also housed adjacent to Independence Baptist Church is the Texas Baptist Historical Museum which celebrated its grand re-opening on May 31. This museum houses the beginning work and continuous work of Texas Baptists.
Alan Lefever, director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection said, “The museum is a work in progress. It continues to add to its legacy as Texas Baptists continue to be God’s hands and feet.“