Faces in Focus: Ministry team reflects on 25 years

The ministry of Reverends Rob and Dixie Jennings-Teats has a fascinating history covering 25 years. Their ministry has been shared worldwide.

The couple met while attending San Francisco Theological Seminary. In 1977, the year of their graduation, they completed three impressive and equally important steps in their lives -- June 11, graduation; June 12, marriage, and June 19, ordination.

"After graduation, we wanted to follow Jesus' strategy of how he empowered the poor," said Rob. "So we went off to work with the poor. We felt we needed to address this with our ministry."

Their work with the poor began in Serusup, Malaysia. Dixie tells a story of a man who went to work at a fish farm in the tiny community. His hard work along with others helped the community tremendously, and it prospered.

"We lived with the poorest of the poor," said Dixie, who is now writing about her experiences. "We wanted to open people's minds by sharing."

They spent about five years in Bubun, Indonesia, then went to Brussels, Belgium, for one year before heading to London for two years.

"At the same time, we trained volunteers to do the same work we had been doing in the villages," said Dixie.

"After getting to Europe, our primary concern was with the famine in Africa," said Rob. "There was lots of starvation. And the question was, who would solve the crisis?

"We wanted to support the grassroots efforts in Africa and I helped by developing sponsorship for economic development of the communities in Africa. It was a way for the wealthy, or prospering, people of Europe to help communities in Africa build schools and clinics and other particular needs. It was basically a way for the wealthy to help the poor."

Rob won an international award for his development plan.

"Our ministry has been a balancing act of empowering the poor and encouraging the rich to be involved," said Rob.

After returning to the United States in 1986, the couple's son Martin was born. Martin is entering his junior year at Carson High School.

After several appointments by the Methodist Church, prior to coming to Carson City, Rob and Dixie were pastors at Paradise United Methodist Church in Paradise, Calif. It was there Dixie developed the Center for Tolerance and Non-Violence.

Rob, 50, and Dixie, 51, still look at each other with a gleam in their eyes and a loving smile.

Dixie said what works for them and their ministry as a team is they are never stepping on each other. It's a shared package.

"Rob likes to work with large systems," said Dixie. "I like to do a lot of small groups with spiritual growth and workshops."

"Dixie has brought several of the skills she learned in Asia to our ministry," said Rob.

"Like the Japanese tea ceremony, she teaches Tai chi, and knows about meditation and contemplation techniques."

"Our goal is to offer various styles of worship."

Rob and Dixie recently shared their years of ministry with their congregation, who then held a buffet dinner for them complete with authentic dishes from their past travels.

"I don't know if the people know how happy that made us," said Dixie.

"But it was just wonderful, wonderful."

Dixie said she doesn't have an image of retirement because Methodist pastors are appointed duties.

"It used to be Methodist ministers moved around a lot because people moved around a lot," said Dixie. "It's not so much like that anymore."

"I think we could stay here for a while," Rob added with a smile.


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