The “ Dodd ” part was added in honor of longtime pastor Dr. James L. Dodd after his death in March. He had come to the church in 1969 intending to fill in for two weeks and ended up staying 41 years.
Dodd was a professor at LaGrange College, then taught at the University of Georgia and was superintendent of West Central Georgia Regional Hospital in Columbus for about 11 years.
“Even when he was teaching at UGA , he’d come back and serve Dallas every week,” senior elder Shep Phillips said, adding, “We’re probably the only Presbyterian church named in honor of a Methodist minister. … We think we’re kind of an unusual church, but we want to do good for the community.”
LaGrange College retiree Fredrick Mills Sr. filled in for about five weeks after Dodd ’s death, and the Rev. Meg Jackson Clark of Sharpsburg became part-time pastor on Oct. 1.
“I’m excited to be there,” said Clark, who was a full-time associate pastor at Newnan Presbyterian for 13 years. “Reaching out to the community will be our focus for the next while. We want to connect with the people in our neighborhood.”
She still works full time as a library associate at the Coweta County Public Library, which she called “an intellectually stimulating environment.”
“I enjoy books,” she said, “but more than that, I love people and being of service to people.”
Previous pastors at Dallas- Dodd have gone on to more prominent roles: Tom Are became minister at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, one of the largest congregations in the Southeast, while Doug Hix and John Law wound up on the executive presbytery in Atlanta.
Dallas- Dodd has 46 active members and “we hope to grow,” Phillips said.
For the next two weeks they’ll be manning the Interfaith Food Closet on Pierce Street as they do every year. At Christmastime, they’ve been adopting families and supporting Sparky Smallwood , who helps residents of local mobile home parks.
“That way he gets to help a lot of people,” Phillips said. “He keeps a list of people in trailer parks and knows what they need, not just the kids. He’s been known to buy washing machines.”
The church supports Presbyterian College and last year bought a well in Africa to provide fresh drinking water, one of the greatest needs on the continent. The church also supports the Society of St. Andrew’s food project in the United States.
“Right now we’re really looking at ways we can be more responsive to the community on Ware’s Cross Road,” said Phillips, who was born and reared on Ware’s Cross Road. “We hope to grow” beyond the current 46 active members.
The church, formally established in 1953, was named after the Rev. A.E. Dallas, a beloved friend and longtime minister of First Presbyterian. Nine of the 50 charter members are are still living - Phillips, Jo Ann Phillips, Marcus Philips, Jane Evans, Eugene Langford , Janelle Langford , Mary Langford , Charles Lee Jr. and Mary Ann Lee.
The church gets together with Hillcrest and Asbury United Methodist churches each year for a combined Thanksgiving service.
Joel Martin can be reached at jmartin @lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 235.