Bro. Ed Dickerson still preaching after 51 yearsBy L. AGNES RUSSELL,
“That’s the girl I’m going to marry!” Those were the words of young Willie Edward Dickerson when he first “laid eyes on” Miss Stella Stamper at a church in Louisiana where he was preaching a revival. Forty-five days later, on Sept. 13, 1969, they were married!
Stella, born Aug. 16, 1951, was from Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, but she actually has family here in Newton County, as her grandfather’s brother had settled here. She had a Baptist mother and primarily attended the Baptist church, where she was saved and baptized in the fifth grade. Because her father’s family was Church of God, she visited there often, and has since also become Pentecostal in belief and experience like her husband.
Bro. Ed, as most people call him, was born April 12, 1948, at Laird Hospital, Union, to Willie Doris Dickerson and Louise Cooksey Dickerson. Born into a purely Pentecostal family, he was reared with a strong awareness of the love of God, the saving power of the blood of Jesus, and of the sanctifying, wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit.
When he was about five, he stepped on a nail. Crying from the pain of the injury which was showing signs of infection, he called into the other room where his dad, Willie Doris Dickerson, was working. He asked what he could do to make his foot better. His father just told him to pray for it. Little Ed asked, “What do I say?” Bro. Doris told him to ask Jesus to heal it. He simply prayed, “Jesus, heal my foot!” His foot was instantly healed of the swelling, soreness, and redness; and he has always recalled and retold his memory of how the bed jumped up — possibly even off the floor — and down as he was healed! When questioned by his dad, he knew exactly what had happened. “Jesus healed me!”
This experience has influenced his life and ministry ever since. He went to the altar Jan. 21, 1962, a Sunday night, to be saved, and the following Tuesday night, he received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. January 1965, at the age of 17, in the 11th grade, he was called to preach. Shortly after, he was invited to preach one Sunday, the invitation was repeated for the next Sunday, and he has been preaching continually since.
After graduating from Union High School in 1966, he attended East Central Community College for two years, then Lee College —now Lee University — in Cleveland, Tenn., for one year. He received his credentials with the Church of God of Cleveland in 1967.
While pastoring, he later earned a Bachelor’s degree of Theology in 1994 and his Master’s degree of Theology in 1997, both from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Atlanta, Ga. He has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina. Before founding the Decatur Church of God, they were with Hudson Chapel Church of God in the Union area, which he pastored for 23 years.
The Dickersons have been married 48 years and have four children — Angela, Jonathan, Margie, and Josh — who have also given them eight grandchildren. The greatest miracle they ever experienced in their married life concerned Jonathan when they lived in Newton. God brought their eldest son back from the dead after drowning in March 1976. Jonathan, almost two years old, fell into a pool of water, where a hole had been dug for a septic tank that had not yet been installed.
When he was found, there was no heartbeat and his eyes were “glassed over.” After they worked on him, he was in a coma for 17 hours, with his eyes open the entire time. Doctors said he would not live, or if he did, he would be a “vegetable.” Bro. Ed told the doctor, “No. God gave him his life back — He’ll give him his brain back.”
When that baby woke up, he said, “I want a drink of water,” and continued to speak in full sentences, though, before the accident, he had only said “Mama,” “Dada,” and “baba.” He recovered completely, receiving a scholarship to college because of his high ACT score, and he now works with computers for a living.
Bro. Ed had told us that many years ago the Lord had impressed on him to start a church in Decatur, but it was about eight years ago that he actually felt led to begin this new work, at a time in his life when many people think of retiring. Sister Stella said, concerning leaving Hudson Chapel Church of God, that “When you look back and see how He has blessed you, you’re not about to say ‘No!’”
The new church, now about eight years old, is located on Hwy. 503, on the right going towards Meridian. Services used to be held in the mobile facility on the front of the property, but now there is a new building in the back.
The church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., worship at 11 a.m., and Sunday evenings at 6 p.m., also Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. I know from experience that, if you attend Decatur Church of God, you will enjoy good preaching, good people, and good music, to the glory of God!