The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Smyrna saw the ending of an era Sunday as it was Rev. Walter Dixon's last sermon. He is retiring after 53 years as a preacher, 19 of which were spent at Bethel A.M.E.

Even though he's retiring, which he's required to do by the church at age 75, there are no plans for Rev. Dixon to slow down.

"I'll still be active and maybe do something with Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Hartly. That is my hometown," Dixon said.

Dixon has even been asked to work for Delaware Hospice. He said they'd like him to go and talk to the chronically ill. He said he's also willing to fill in at churches should the need arise.

Rev. Dixon was converted in 1959 and began preaching in 1960. He became an ordained Deacon in 1966 and an Elder in 1970. Over the years he has worked at several churches in Delaware including Macedonia A.M.E. in Seaford and Pisgah A.M.E. in Laurel.

Dixon has also found ways to give back through the community such as the Smyrna/Clayton Ministerium and as a board member at the Greater Smyrna/Clayton Boys & Girls Club.

While working as a preacher wasn't in his original plans, Dixon said he believes it is something a person is called to do. It's not always an easy job especially when people are sick and going through hard times, but there are good moments, too.

"It is a joy to be able to help people," Dixon said.

He often relies on humor to brighten people's spirits and is known as quite the jokester.

And with his time working in Smyrna over, Dixon said he's going to miss the community.

"I love Smyrna. It's a good place to be," Dixon said. "I do love all the helpful people."

With Sunday being his last sermon, Dixon was told there was sure to be quite a few tears shed. However, he said there will also be a time to celebrate his retirement, as Bethel A.M.E. Church will hold a retirement gala to honor him on Saturday, May 4.

Along with filling in at local churches and working with the Delaware Hospice, Dixon also plans to travel and see his kids now that he's in retirement.

"One thing's for sure, I'm not just going to sit around," Dixon said.

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