By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
A congregation tends to reflect the views of its pastor.
The congregation of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Commerce reflects the love Pastor Roy Lee Dittmar has shown to his congregation over the past 30 years.
“I just love to visit with people,” he said. “Regardless of what church or denomination they are, I like to visit.”
Dittmar recently announced he is stepping down from preaching at the church after 30 years in the pulpit serving the men, women and children of Mt. Zion.
Dittmar has been in the ministry for 58 years, preaching his first sermon at the young age of 17. His father was a pastor, and Dittmar said from a young age he felt a call from the Lord to serve him through the ministry.
“I just felt the Lord, when I was 13, calling me to the ministry,” he said, adding he pastored a church in Oklahoma for his first 16 years.
Dittmar married his wife, Velma in August of 1962, and the couple moved to Commerce in 1974 as he began preaching at various local churches before he began at Mt. Zion.
To his knowledge, Dittmar said he was the first pastor of Mt. Zion who lived in the area, instead of living elsewhere and driving in over the weekend to preach.
For 100 years, Mt. Zion has been a dual church, with a Presbyterian denomination meeting on the second and fourth weekends. Dittmar preached on the first and third weekends, with each denomination alternating on fifth weekends.
His 58 years in the ministry have been rewarding, and Dittmar said he made many new friends along the way.
“I’ve enjoyed it greatly,” he said.
The way the church reaches out to the community around them is something that greatly encourages Dittmar.
From crocheting caps for cancer patients and quilting prayer blankets, to cooking for and praying with people going through hard times, Dittmar said the congregation is united in love for God and people.
“It’s just a lovely congregation of people,” he said. “They are united in anything that’s going on.”
The congregation has grown in the years he was pastor, and he was involved with 12 different building projects in the 30 years of preaching.
As a way to raise funds, the church hosts a yearly bazaar that helps fund their outreach and building projects.
The congregation showed their love for Dittmar when his wife died on Aug. 21, 2006.
Velma had been an active member of the Commerce community.
“Velma had worked at Texas A&M University-Commerce for several years,” he said.
In his trying time, Dittmar said the congregation poured out nothing but love on him, supporting him as he dealt with the tragedy.
“They were there praying for us and doing whatever they could do,” he said. “They were very supportive.”
It is that kind of love which brought Dittmar to the church, and it is that kind which will keep the congregation thriving long after he steps down.
The church recently had a ceremony celebrating the 30 years of him pastoring the church.
With a congregation so loving, Dittmar said it shows what kind of people they are.
“They’re just a lovely group of people,” he said.