Dr. Dolphus Weary, 58, has devoted his life to "Christian community development" in Mississippi. He began serving as the executive director of Mission Mississippi in 1998 and was named president in 2005. Having already earned a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's degree in Christian education, an additional master's in Christian education administration, Weary recently decided to earn his doctorate at Reformed Theological Seminary. Weary, a native of Mendenhall, says his current job is "totally outside the character of what I wanted to do" as a young man.
"My heart's desire was to leave Mississippi and never come back," Weary said.
What brought him back to his home state, he said, was that "I found I was running away from the problem. God wanted me not to run away from the problems of poverty, racism and injustice, but to stay and be a part of the solution." Weary even wrote a book with William Hendricks titled "I Ain't Comin Back," which talks about growing up facing racism and poverty in rural Mississippi, as well as his journey to where he is today.
A turning point in Weary's life was in 1964 when he became a Christian under the ministry of John Perkins. After attending Piney Woods Junior College and then Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary, Weary came back to Mendenhall to work with Mendenhall Ministries, which focused mainly on poverty. In 1997, as he was on the verge of leaving Mendenhall Ministries, he was asked to be executive director of Mission Mississippi.
As a leader of Mission Mississippi, Weary spends his days meeting with groups, handling an extensive speaking schedule for black and white churches, and making contacts throughout Jackson and the entire state. Shortly after becoming director, Weary organized a tour of the state called "Grace is Greater Than Race" wherein blacks and whites were gathered together for rallies.
"People are locked into their denomination," Weary said. "There is a racial, political and denominational gap. We're telling people they don't have to change their denomination, but change their attitude of separation."
"Mission Mississippi, which many see as a voice of hope, helps close that old historical racial gap," he said. "We're now doing things that we couldn't have done five to 10 years ago."