The only church left in the Vinings Village grew from 14 Sunday regulars to nearly 80 since 2006 when the Rev. Beth Dickinson became its senior pastor.
Dickinson was born in Lilburn, and she and husband, Keith, and two sons, Thomas, 3, and Jacob, 8, moved from Suwanee to Vinings six years ago when she took her position at Vinings United Methodist Church.
This year, the Rotary Club of Vinings named Dickinson its Citizen of the Year, an annual honor it only gives to a non-Rotarian if members feel someone has truly gone above and beyond for the community, said Debby Bolt, the club’s 2011-12 president.
“We look for someone who is a leader in the Vinings community,” Bolt said. “Reverend Beth is just an integral part of our community. Everyone here who knows her loves and respects her.”
The church’s congregation is small, but Dickinson leaves its doors open to the whole community.
“She makes her church available to all organizations in Vinings and just the general public in Vinings,” Bolt said. “We all know we can call Reverend Beth anytime we need her and she’ll be there for us.”
Dickinson opens her arms to a vast range of clubs in the community, including Alcoholics Anonymous, the Vinings Village Civic Association, Zumba exercise classes, Narcotics Anonymous, the Vinings Woman’s Club, as well as the Crime Victim Advocacy Council, a homicide support group.
Dickinson is also a member of the woman’s club, civic club and the Vinings Historic Preservation Society.
“The honor really recognized what I believe we have been trying to do since I’ve been here, which is to be an active part of the community,” Dickinson said. “I’m a strong believer in recovery groups. I believe God’s healing is available (to those) who have experienced that.”
Her vision for the church in upcoming years is to attract more worshippers with a more modern contemporary service called Rejuvenate held one Sunday a month at 5 p.m. during the summer and every Sunday at 5 p.m. starting in September.
“It is my prayer and my hope that service will grow and reach a new group of people we haven’t been able to reach,” Dickinson said.
She said she offers the church’s space generously because she likes the idea of a church being the community hub.
“What better way to reach out to those around it?” Dickinson said. “I believe the church and God has a lot to offer to the community it is in. I believe it helps the community to grow stronger.”