Dr. James S. “Jim” Dixon, founding pastor of Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo., passed away unexpectedly on March 23 while on a bike ride in his neighborhood in La Quinta, Calif. He was 70. The cause of death is currently unknown.
Dixon founded Cherry Hills in 1982. He served the congregation as Pastor for 31 years until his retirement in October 2013, at which time he was named Pastor Emeritus. A respected scholar and teacher, he was renowned for his knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and biblical history. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo.
While serving as Associate Pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Colo., Dixon participated in the 1980 meeting that led to the formation of the EPC in 1981. His recollections of the early years of the EPC are an important part of Don Fortson’s history of the denomination that will be released at the 2016 General Assembly.
Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, remembered Dixon’s passion for Jesus Christ and sharing the gospel in the local church. “It is remarkable to me,” he said, “that Jim’s response to being the pastor of one of the largest churches in Colorado was always, ‘My life and ministry is a celebration of God’s grace.’”
Jeremiah also noted Dixon’s leadership to the EPC. “With Sandy Willson, he co-chaired the Interim Committee on Women Teaching Elders in 2009-2010. They successfully resolved a potentially divisive problem facing the EPC at a time when explosive growth in the number of churches was occurring.”
In a March 24 email to the Cherry Hills congregation, current pastor Shane Farmer said the church will take time to honor Dixon and pray for his family in this weekend’s Easter services.
“Jim is in the very place he spent his entire life living for and looking forward to,” Farmer said. “You know, of course, he is asking all kinds of Greek questions right now! That, however, does not change the difficulty of this loss.”
He is survived by his wife, Barb; daughter and son-in-law Heather and Chris Lowe of Castle Rock, Colo.; son and daughter-in-law Drew and Rachel Dixon of Denver, Colo.; and six grandchildren.
Memorial service information is pending.