Pastor Alan Dicks may be new to Blue Earth’s First Baptist Church, but he has been involved in ministry work for decades.
As he observes, “I’ve had quite the life.”
A native of Villisca, Iowa – known for an unsolved axe mass murder which occurred in the town over 100 years ago – Dicks pursued a career path which diverged from his town’s violent history.
He says attending a summer camp as a teenager in 1972 first influenced his future in the ministry.
According to Dicks, “I gave my life to the Lord at camp.”
Following his high school graduation, Dicks continued his education at Kansas City’s Calvary Bible College – now Calvary University – in 1973, where he received his initial certification following a year-long course of study.
An avid sports fan, Dicks took a short detour to Minnesota the following year when he was recruited to play football at Saint Paul’s University of Northwestern.
However, Dicks eventually returned to Calvary in 1975. He graduated with a biblical studies degree in 1979.
More adventures were to follow.
Prior to his graduation from Calvary, Dicks had participated in a Global Outreach Mission program in Germany.
“I went with a group of seven. It was a great two months,” Dicks says.
Upon his return to the United States, his identical twin brother, Arnie, introduced him to a woman named Tamara Kay in 1976.
The two were married in 1980, and have remained so for the past 42 years.
The couple began building their life together in the following years, with Dicks trying his hand at several career paths before settling into his current line of work.
The Dicks family initially settled in Houston, Texas, to be near Tamara’s family. Dicks worked in restaurant management for a time, but eventually set out to pursue his dream of joining the Army.
Dicks enlisted in 1980, and was deployed to Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1981.
Overall, Dicks enjoyed his time in the Army. However, he observes, “If I hadn’t been married I would have enjoyed basic training a lot more.”
Dicks’ pull toward his family further increased when his first son, Nathaniel, was born in 1982.
After deciding not to re-enlist, Dicks pondered what he should do instead. He worked intermittently as a security guard while he found his footing.
Eventually, he landed on a career in teaching and ministry, which he has pursued for 35 years since.
After earning his education degree at Calvary, Dicks received his first teaching job when he was 33 years old. He has continued teaching in the decades since, primarily in Christian education schools.
His and Tamara’s family grew during that time with the births of Lucas, Abe, Ariel and Wesley.
The couple thought their family was complete once they had five children. However, upon meeting a boy named Jared whose vibrant red hair resembled Tamara’s, the Dicks family decided they had room for one more.
“He was falling through the cracks,” Dicks says, remembering when he first met Jared. “We realized he was not going to be able to spend his life with his mom.”
The couple went through the lengthy process of becoming foster parents, and Jared came to live with them in 2016. The Dickses officially adopted him soon after.
Even now, the couple still fosters children semi-occasionally.
“(Tamara) is great at foster care,” Dicks says. “I’m good, but she’s great.”
Dicks, Tamara, Lucas and Jared relocated to southern Minnesota when Dicks accepted a position at Mankato’s Grace Christian School.
Facing staff cuts, Dicks sought other local job opportunities, teaching briefly at Winnebago’s Genesis Classical Academy before beginning a four-year long career with Alius Health.
A turning point in Dicks’ career occurred one day when he was listening to a sermon on the radio which was being delivered by an 80-year-old man.
“If he can do it, I can,” Dicks thought, observing that he himself is years away yet from turning 80.
Upon learning that there was an opening for a pastor at First Baptist Church in Blue Earth, Dicks reached out to the church and was quickly granted an interview for the pastorship.
In October, he preached his first sermon at First Baptist Church, and he was officially offered its pastorship in December.
“It was fast,” he recalls, adding he has now held the position for a little over two months. His wife is also active at the church, where she serves as a deaconess.
Dicks enjoys the community at First Baptist Church. He says, “Every church has several people who just make things happen.”
He adds that he enjoys being a pastor, too.
“I just like people. I rejoice with them, and I have empathy with them,” Dicks concludes.