Bio: Dix, Reverend Ken (Last Sermon - 2009)
Contact: Robert Lipprandt
Surnames: Dix, Schultz
----Source: The Tribune Phonograph (Abbotsford,
Clark Co., WI) Wednesday, August 26, 2009, pages 1 & 8, By Ben
Dix, Reverend Ken (Retirement - August 30,
Rev. Ken Dix delivering final sermons
Reverend Ken Dix, a longtime minister serving Colby and Athens,
will deliver his last sermons this Sunday. His entire professional
ministry has been tending to two parishes, the First United Church
of Christ in Colby and Christ United Church in
started Aug. 15, 1965, making it almost exactly 44 years of service
as he steps down Aug. 30.
reverend has always demonstrated his belief that there’s
little that separates a church from its broader
me, church and community are intertwined with people," he said.
"You don’t look at time; you look at people and that makes
He has served in city government in Colby for 20 years, including eight years as mayor. Dix was also one of Colby’s five original EMTs and served in that capacity for 30 years.
reverend splits his time between the two counties he’s in. He
serves on the board of the Marathon County Housing Association and
the Clark County Economic Development Corporation
Serving the two communities has kept Dix
comfortably close to home. He grew up in Stratford.
From there he went to Lakeland College in
Sheboygan before attending United Seminary in the Twin Cities. His
initial ministry took him to Berne, Ind., and a downtrodden area of
North Dakota. He later worked with a mentor in Lasuer,
When he finished his schooling he said he didn’t intend to return to the area. Dix was looking for just about any parish in the Upper Midwest that he could ease into. He had interviewed at a number of churches before settling into the Colby and Athens churches.
felt at home; I knew I belonged," he said. "I saw things that
needed to be done here as opportunities."
Initially Rev. Dix thought he’d only stick
around for five years or so. But the churches had become such a
natural fit he figured he’d stick around.
the end of five years I thought, ‘I have no reason to
leave,’" he said.
Rev. Dix said most ministers shy away from taking
two-point parishes. However, he sees some benefits from serving the
pair. When the pressures of one grow overwhelming he noted the
other can be sort of a relief valve.
He’s travelled the farthest of any reverend
for a two-point parish in the state, making the 20-mile trip each
Sunday for almost as long as the two churches have been together.
(They joined in 1960.)
small towns where one person sometimes has to wear several hats,
Dix said his relationships often go beyond his work in the
"I’ve shared a lot of events with a lot of
people," he said. "Many people say they think of me not only as
their pastor, but as their friend."
Serving 44 years has also given him the rare opportunity to watch the generations go through his congregation. He now ministers to the third generation of some families.
"Certainly there’s great joy, but also a
sense of your mortality," he said. "The joy outweighs the
minister he has faced several tragedies in his communities,
including being part of crisis teams. He’s grown used to
being on call for schools, police departments and health care
"It’s part of what I figure is my
ministry," he said.
said the biggest change he’s seen in his years in the
ministry is the shift away from family farms to corporate
agriculture. That, in turn, has affected the small-town character
of his communities.
Even with those changes he noted some tight-knit towns have resisted some of the trends. He pointed to the two parochial schools, two grocery stores and the bakery in Athens as evidence that the old sense of community loyalty has not gone by the wayside.
retirement, he’ll be taking things easy. He said he’s
moving into an apartment to get away from the busy work of home
Rev. Dix will continue his work with the Rural
Arts Museum in Colby and said it’s his mission to find a
caboose to display in front of the old depot. He’ll also
stick with the Marathon County Housing Association and
for why he’s stepping down as reverend, he put it quite
simply, "I thought it was time," he said.
daughters, Lynn and Lindsey, have graduated from college. His wife,
Sue, has a few more years left teaching second graders. She has
been at Colby Elementary School for two decades.
two churches will have an interim reverend for the next six months
to a year. Marlea Gilbert is the intentional interim who will
reside in Colby.
In the meantime a search committee will go through profiles of prospective reverends to search for a permanent successor. Dix will remain with the churches through all this.
"They’ll still accept my check for the
offering," he said.
reverend said he was proud to see the Athens church put up a new
building after the congregation outgrew the old one. Now, he said
it looks like they’ll have to consider expanding
Colby he said it’s always a joy to gather in the great room
each Sunday. He said it extends the services as the congregation
"It’s just a great fellowship area," he said. "You need that fellowship with your faith."
With his final services approaching he
doesn’t want to make a big deal of it, telling his
parishioners not to host a send-off in his honor.
"It’s not necessary that we have anything official," he said. "I’m not going to make a big issue about saying goodbye."
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