Bishop Gregory L. DixonBy Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
The greater Los Angeles area lost a dynamic spiritual leader and dedicated community advocate with the untimely passing on April 6 of Bishop Gregory L. Dixon, pastor of the First Church of God - Center of Hope.
While enroute to an engagement in Chicago, Bishop Dixon reportedly suffered a massive coronary during the flight. He was 55 years old.
As senior pastor of the 3,500-member congregation in Inglewood, Bishop Dixon was highly regarded for his all-encompassing Biblical knowledge, emphasis on education, and community empowerment. He and his wife, First Lady Barbara Dixon, were often at the forefront of activities aimed at improving life for local residents and businesses.
Most recently, he led the First Church of God congregation in purchasing the former Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood. Renaming the facility Hope Chapel, plans were underway to establish a number of outreach ministries benefitting the greater community.
Bishop Dixon's homecoming celebration is planned for Monday, April 16, at 11 a.m., at First Church of God, 9550 Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood. The public viewing will be held on Sunday, April 15, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Several pastors recalled the impact of Bishop Dixon had on their personal lives as news of his passing filtered throughout the metropolitan area.
"Words cannot explain how deep a loss we felt in the ministry community. Many of the younger pastors were mentored by him, including myself. He always took the time to listen and gave good counsel," said Pastor Sonja Dawson, Esq., of New Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
"On behalf of the New Mt. Calvary Church Family, we send our heartfelt condolences to the Dixon Family and the entire First Church of God church family."
The Rev. Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church noted, "Bishop Dixon taught a class for us on church leadership and community development at the USC Cecil L. Murray Center. He shared challenges and celebrations of taking a vision for a better health care facility to reality.
"His enthusiasm was infectious and was a wonder to witness. We all could benefit from Bishop Dixon's model of minister and meaningful lifelong mission." Expressing his reaction upon hearing the news, the Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan of Ruach Christian Community Fellowship said, "So many thoughts and emotions entered my mind regarding his sudden and shocking transition.
"He had just hosted a Good Friday celebration at First Church of God. He was a disciple of Jesus Christ, mentor, Episcopal covering, confidant, prayer partner, friend and brother.
"Bishop Dixon died while being faithful to his God-given assignments. I will, like many countless others miss him deeply. He mentored me in his life and living and now in his death and dying. Servant, well done, rest from thy loved employ," he said.
In addition to being a pastor, Bishop Dixon served as president of the renowned Southern California School of Ministry, a member of the Board of Trustees for Azusa Pacific University and the founder/president of Eagle's Wings Evangelistic Ministries, Inc.
He was also a guest lecturer/speaker at the Case Western University Medical School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, and Hope International University.
Known for his love of learning, Bishop Dixon was the holder of a bachelor's, master's and doctorate of theology degrees as well as the recipient of a honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Biola University.
His survivors include his wife, Lady Barbara; children, Geremy and Joinel; several grandchildren and the First Church of God congregation.