By Ray Van Dusen
ABERDEEN – Chapter 119 of Psalms is Bro. Dave Dowdy’s favorite part of the Bible and he lives by it. Verses 9-11 especially hold true to his pledge as a preacher as he keeps the Lord’s word in his heart and lives by it to stay pure.
“I want to do what the Lord wants me to do and do it the right way,” Dowdy said.
At age 17, he was led to the Lord by a Christian comedian named Al Frank one night at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. He has since grown from leading Bible studies for younger children and serving in youth ministry across Mississippi and most recently the pastor of Walnut Grove Baptist Church for eight years, which earned him the designation of the church’s longest serving preacher in 100 years.
His path has now led him to serve as preacher for First Baptist Church. An important lesson he learned while attending New Orleans Baptist Seminary is that the message never changes, but the methods always do. He plans on elaborating on that lesson locally.
“I’ve got to find out the gifts, talents and skills of this church and then find out the needs of the community whether it’s support or providing ministry. I also have to keep my ear out for what methods make them realize God is important. That will all narrow down the focus,” Dowdy said.
His congregation in Walnut Grove was an extension of his family and a few have already been to visit him in Aberdeen. While one of his children was two when he started preaching at the South Mississippi church, another was born there so it was all they knew. Dowdy said once his family moved here, they instantly fell in love with the area and First Baptist Church.
“I’m planted here, but I want to bloom. My goals here are for us to love God first, love people, serve the world and be the light of the world as we live,” Dowdy said.
Youth ministry prepared Dowdy for a future leading churches.
“I remember making mental notes because it would be small compared to something in the future. I enjoyed youth ministry and I felt overwhelmed by being a pastor, but found out it’s about caring for people. If you go which direction is right, people will follow you; you just have to make sure the direction is right,” Dowdy said.
His wife, Mandy, also attended seminary and served children’s ministry in Baton Rouge, La. before the family went to Walnut Grove, which helps make them a stronger team.
“Our interests are the same. We both worked in churches and understand church policy and church problems,” Dowdy said.
The Dowdys have two children – Matthew, 10, and Elizabeth, 7, and his mother, Robin, lives with them as well.