New pastor has historic callingPublished 6:50pm Friday, July 5, 2013
Although he is only 27 years old, the youngest pastor to serve at the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, the Rev. Dion Culliver has been preaching and spreading the word of Christ from an early age.
Growing up in Monroeville, Ala., Culliver said he would preach to his neighbors across the street before he even reached four feet tall.
“For some reason, I just loved preaching — even from a very young age,” Cullliver admitted. “I used to preach in my room and line up my teddy bears, pretending they were a congregation.”
The youngest of eight children, Culliver said it was his father who instilled in him a passion for spreading the Word, as he was also a preacher.
However, it wasn’t until he completed his college years that Culliver said he truly recognized his calling.
“My first couple years of college I went to Alabama Southern Community College and played basketball. I knew my future wasn’t in sports though, so I decided to go to Troy University,” Culliver said.
After receiving his bachelors in psychology and business administration from Troy, Culliver announced his decision to attend seminary at Samford University. It was a decision, he said, that had been heavy on his heart for a long time.
“It was only after I graduated from Troy that I acknowledged my call to ministry publically,” he said. “I remember telling my dad about it on Father’s Day.”
And although Culliver may seem young, Tabernacle Baptist Church is not his first church to pastor. While at Samford, Culliver served at Morning Star Baptist Church in Beatrice, Ala. While there, he increased Sunday attendance from an average of 25 to about 150.
“It was a great place to learn and I had a wonderful experience there,” Culliver said of his time at Morning Star. “It wasn’t until I did a series of lectures at Selma University that I felt the call to serve at Tabernacle.”
While driving through Selma last October, about to speak at Selma University, Culliver said he was in awe at what he saw on Broad Street as he passed Tabernacle Baptist Church.
“I passed by the church and it was lit up and it just looked absolutely beautiful,” Culliver said of Tabernacle, which was having a revival at the time.
While at Selma University, a professor approached Culliver about the opportunity open at Tabernacle. After several nights of prayer and planning, Culliver said he felt the call to come to Selma.
“The Lord just placed in my heart that this is where I need to be,” he recalled. “I want to engage the Selma community with a ministry that meets the needs of its people while bring glory to God.”
And since delivering his first sermon on Father’s Day, Culliver said he has embraced the community and is excited to see what the Lord has planned for Tabernacle.
“I want to move us forward. I want a ministry that does three things — shows the love of Christ, edifies the body of Christ and glorifies the name of Jesus Christ,” he said.