In 1952, a child was born to a woman whose life had been ravaged by unsavory elements forcing her to release her male child into an orphanage. Even while living in less than desirable conditions, God would touch this child’s heart, order his steps, and his life would be consecrated as he was anointed for service.
John O. Elliott was from the orphanage placed in the care of two loving and God fearing parents, Willie and Louise Dickerson, who became the instruments that guided, developed, and strengthened this young life. Though persons of simple graces, they imparted to this young child the hallmark of both their lives. Willie, being a product of the bituminous coal fields of West Virginia gave his son, now named Michael Aaron, his industry and work ethic. Mother Dickerson provided her only child with an appreciation of her God and His Church. It is from these streams of contribution Michael was nourished.
In the 1970’s, Michael began his pursuit of academic accomplishments, which resulted in secular and religious training at The Ohio State University, Titus Bible Institute, Boyce Bible College and Freedom Bible College.
As a part of his maturation Michael announced to the “Ebenezer” Church his call to the preaching Ministry. After serving as broadcast Minister on “WVKO” radio and director of the “Young Peoples Community Choir of Columbus Ohio” and establishing himself as a public personality in the city of Columbus; one October day in 1975 the musician and choir director, having sung on stages and in churches with major gospel artists, rose to the filled auditorium of the “Ebenezer Baptist Church” to preach his initial sermon entitled “Who will stand for God?”
Reverend Michael A. Dickerson now licensed as a Baptist preacher served his tutorial under his father in the ministry, Reverend L. C. Brown. While preaching throughout the city Reverend Dickerson with the guiding hand of Dr. M. J. Mitchell was called to be the Pastor of the “Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church” in Bellaire, Ohio. 1977 became the initial year of his Pastoral life as he began the awesome task of Pastoring six elderly ladies, a secretary, and one deacon, John Hood. After driving 126 miles, one way, to serve his congregation Pastor Michael Dickerson led the complete rebuilding of “Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church”, the “Jubilation Choir”, (consisting of young people from the surrounding Ohio Valley) and too many accomplishments to name here, but which, include being the first African-American to receive the keys to the city of Bellaire and the first African American to deliver the commencement address at Bellaire High School.
Pastor Michael Dickerson served faithfully the saints of the “Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church”, now increased in congregants to over 100 members, for six wonderful years.
Having heard of the mighty work at “Pilgrim Rest Church” the people of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania came calling for Pastor Dickerson after an introduction by Dr. George Turner. The “South Hills Baptist Church” of that City called Pastor Dickerson to be their Pastor in 1982. Following a spiritual installation by Dr. Jerome H. Ross, Pastor Michael Dickerson found at South Hills a young and growing Church. Pastor Dickerson began the arduous task of shaping the people of God into one of the City’s leading congregations. Upon his arrival at “South Hills Church” the Baptist witness throughout the nation was being called to a heightened spirituality; one that had been the experience of Pastor Dickerson at his home Church in Columbus, Ohio. The saints of South Hills honored God in their giving sacrifice and praise. South Hills soon became known as the “Pentecostal” Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. The Church continuously grew by leaps and bounds.
Birthed from that Ministry is Pastor McNeal Stewart of the Canaan Baptist Church, Elkhart, Indiana, Samuel D. Madden Pastor of the Resurrection Church of Christ, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Reverend Kenneth Hampton of the Bible Way Church, Raleigh, North Carolina and Reverend Marlin Martin of Higher Call Church, Homestead, Pennsylvania. These gentlemen represent only four sons of the Pastors preaching Ministry which also includes Pastor Daniel Davenport, Victory in the Word Church, Detroit, Michigan, Pastor Moses Edwards, Promised Land Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio, Pastor and City Councilman, Ricky Burgess, Nazarene Baptist Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bishop Frederick Brown, Faith Center Churches in Bluefield, West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, Reverend Mister Mark Thomas, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio, Reverend Mister Clinnard Gammon, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio and daughters Evangelist Cynthia Brown, Evangelist Helen Smith, Evangelist Shirley Eskridge, Evangelist Michelle Binford, Evangelist Kimberly Bozeman, Evangelist Lajuana Brooks, Evangelist Lois Walker, Evangelist Loretta Mack, Evangelist Patricia Watkins and the late Evangelist Angela Coston.
Aside from the vigorous task of enlarging South Hills Church Pastor Dickerson became a denominational force representing the larger Baptist witness of Pittsburgh and vicinity as President of the Baptist Conference. Pastor Dickerson was a board member of the NAACP, Hill Top Ministerium, YMCA and a member of Mayor Sophie Maslof’s Commission on Families. He served as a member of the Progressive Baptist Caucus, Allegheny Union Baptist Association and was interestingly featured as a prominent character in Haywood Giles’ book “Out of My Tree” by Random House.