Pastor Llewellyn Dixon on TEEM Scholarship, Bi-vocational Practice, and the Path Ahead
For Pastor Llewellyn Dixon, the call to ministry was, initially, slightly inconvenient. “I was just graduating college, and I believe I had my call in the ministry then, but I was like, ‘Lord, are you really sure?’” The call, he felt, might be at odds with the plan he had established. The plan, after graduating from Jackson State University, did not involve seminary. The plan involved medical school.
Dixon considered the call in his heart, the path not taken, and…took the MCAT.
“They say, ‘You don’t fail it, you just don’t pass it,’” He remembers, chuckling. “[The first two times] I didn’t pass it. So, the third time, I was like, ‘Okay, God. Please help me with this. But I’ll tell you what. If you’re really calling me into the ministry, then if I pass this MCAT this last time, then I’ll just stop that and go straight into the ministry.’ I didn’t think God was going to answer a prayer like that, but [I prayed anyway].”
Dixon took the MCAT for the third time and passed. In fact, not only did he pass the exam, he got accepted to multiple medical schools. The prayer had been answered—and as a result, Dixon took the road less traveled.
Instead of making inroads in the medical community, Dixon decided to take a day job in the public health sector and work under pastors in faith communities. Soon, he decided that he needed a formal degree to support his service in ministry. He decided to attend McCormick Theological Seminary, where he first earned an MDiv and then earned a Doctor of Ministry in Theology. During that time, he also attended classes at LSTC, and was impressed by the community and instruction at the neighboring seminary.
The years of seminary presented challenges: Dixon was working full time for the Illinois Department of Public Health as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist during the day, coming home to care for his four (and then five) children, and then attending class at night. “I was just focused on the end point,” Dixon says, as he recalls what amounted to three full-time jobs on his plate at that time.
After graduating from McCormick, Dixon found a role as Senior Pastor at Jubilee Faith Community Church in the ELCA. It was a dream; a supportive community, opportunities to serve a faithful congregation, and a parish waiting for leadership.
There was only one hiccup: he needed to get re-credentialed in the ELCA.
That’s where LSTC’s Theological Education for Emerging Ministries program, or TEEM offerings, came in. As a pastor currently serving in an emerging ministry site, Dixon was able to engage the leadership development program and become fully authorized as a Lutheran Pastor. It’s an experience that Dixon has characterized as a robust educational path, one that has helped him engage deeply with his congregation. “I hope I can be an encouragement to others who might consider the same path,” he says.
Today, Dixon is completing his Clinical Pastoral Education before graduating. It’s been a long road, but worthwhile. And to others who may find themselves in similar situations, Dixon says, “I would truly encourage this program because it gives you all the necessary building blocks that you need to be successful.”