Dr. Dickson

From our rector, Rev. Dr. R. William Dickson:

Like many of you, I was not raised an Anglican.  Indeed, I was raised a Southern Baptist – but I rejected the Christian faith altogether and was a complete agnostic during my high school years.  My attitude was such a vacuum of hope and optimism and faith that I had become very convinced that human existence itself was entirely devoid of meaning or significance.  I had convinced myself that the only reason thinking people didn’t take their own lives was their inconsistency combined with their fear of a moment’s pain.  The wretchedness of this nihilism was surely taking its toll upon me the year I was graduating from high school.

But that June of 1971, my shrewd parents insisted that if I were to continue having the use of the family car – an outrageously cool Volkswagen bug – that, since I refused to go to church with them, I would simply have to find some church to attend.  One Sunday morning I headed off down the road and randomly (or so I imagined) turned into a local church not far from our neighborhood.  I was a wild looking guy with long, freaky hair – yes, I know, the 70s were not kind to barbers – but the rather upright people within this church greeted me warmly and were very friendly to me.  That was the first thing I noticed.  But it was the second thing that, in fact, turned my life upside down – or, in my case, turned it right side up: the brilliant pastor of that church, Dr. Joe Wall, preached a blazing sermon on justification by faith from Romans 4.  Somehow, it was as though never before in my life had I heard of the grace of God.  That day, I believed the gospel, and walked out of that church a radically different guy.

To illustrate the powerful transformation of that day I would have to elaborate about the darkness of my previous and complete negative view of life itself.  I won’t bore you with it.  But I will tell you this: I am one who has no doubts about the fact that God is able to redeem the utterly lost.  And this is not merely an interesting theoretical proposition to me; it has been my personal experience of the power of God working through his gospel, saving me and others, and providing that amazing grace we sing about.

I went off to UT (Austin) and grew in my faith.  I got very involved in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and several excellent Bible Churches in Austin.  Following graduation, I went to Dallas Theological Seminary.  To me, it was a no-brainer.  Every significant theological influence in my life up to that point in my life had had some sort of connection with DTS.  At DTS I majored in Greek and New Testament.  Following my graduation from DTS I went overseas to do doctoral work at the University of Edinburgh where I studied the differences between the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Minor Prophets.

It was in Edinburgh where I first encountered the beauty of Anglicanism.  The three-punch combination of Cranmer on liturgy, Jewel against Rome, and Hooker against the Puritans made a believer of me in a hurry.  I completed my Ph.D. in 1991 and returned to America a passionately convinced Evangelical Anglican.  Inasmuch as no part of my theological education had been in an explicitly Anglican setting, upon pursuing the priesthood I was forced to do a one year Anglicanization at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.  It was an unspeakably wretched year and I am somewhat surprised that my resolve to become an Episcopal clergy person survived it.  But it did, barely.  I was ordained into the diaconate in the summer of 1994 and into the priesthood the following January.

I love Saint Andrew’s.  We are a ’28 Prayer Book parish and I love that.  We are firmly committed to the historic Evangelical Anglican tradition.  We are unequivocally committed to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the teaching of the English Reformers.  We treasure expository preaching and beautiful, Low Church liturgy.  I can say without any doubt that this expression of Anglicanism is extremely compelling and attractive to people of varying backgrounds and various ages.  We have lots and lots of new faces showing up each Sunday, and generally they find what they encounter to be deeply rewarding.  As they say, “If it aint broke…” — well, you know.

Welcome.  I want you to meet my wife, Ginger, and I want you to meet my friends and colleagues at Saint Andrew’s.

Let me know who you are.  I want you here with us.  All of us do.

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One comment

  1. Reverend doctor William, I had no idea you had a connection to Joe Wall. Maybe we’ve talked about it, but my memory… Well, I’ve got a good one, it just doesn’t last very long. Did I tell you he was my boss, our Russian Field Director a few years back? His life and theology, now over 4 decades later, is still making a huge impact for the Gospel all over the world. He’ll keep pouring it out until the day he dies. I sure enjoyed reading the story of our Redeemer’s miraculous saving work in your life. Thanks.

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