By Susan Motander
“God gave me the greatest gift when he created the Bishop Dillard,” said Betty Dillard, the Bishop’s wife of more than 45 years. She is not the only one who feels that the Bishop’s presence in their lives has been a gift. For the last 45 years he has been the pastor of the historic Second Baptist Church in Monrovia and he has touched countless lives in those years.
Monrovia’s Mayor Tom Adams summed up the feelings of many in the community when he wrote the following:
“It is bitter sweet that Bishop Dillard is retiring. After serving Monrovia with distinction for 45 years, we will see the Bishop move on. I have often felt that a good church is more important than any business. The Bishop has ministered to the spiritual needs of a community for so long and so well that it will be a difficult change. At the same time we look forward to seeing Pastor Bourne in action. One of our own sons, Pastor Bourne will have very big shoes to fill yet we know he will do well with the support of the community.
“I know we all wish Bishop Dillard safe travels as he moves into retirement and can only hope that he comes back home from time to time, perhaps to give Pastor Bourne a break!
“Bishop Dillard, THANK YOU from a very thankful community!”
The accolades to the Bishop did not end there. Council Member Larry Spicer, who is also a member of Second Baptist Church added his thoughts writing:
“Bishop Dillard and [I] share many things, all linked to love of
- Jesus Christ.
- Our family.
- Our church – Second Baptist.
- Our home – Monrovia, California.
- Our service to our country – United States Military.”
Terrence Williams, a member of the Monrovia Arcadia Duarte Town Council (representing the unincorporated areas south of those cities) and the Clerk of the Second Baptist Church added his own thoughts: “As his Church Clerk for over 15 years, the main reasons why I respect Bishop so much is because of his longevity and his commitment and leadership to the Christian community of Monrovia and Second Baptist Church for 45 years. His way of dealing with and meeting the spiritual needs of individuals exactly where they are in their Christian walk and faith. What makes him special to me as a member for 25 years is his integrity witnessed along with his candor, and understanding of God’s word, the many weddings, funerals, and baby dedications that dictate his legacy as a pillar to the entire community.”
The Bishop’s journey through life began long before his arrival in Monrovia. He is a native of Suffolk, Va. and attended public schools there and in Brooklyn, N. Y. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1954 and served for over six years. Even before leaving the Air Force, he felt his call to the ministry preaching his first sermon on Feb. 18, 1957. He was licensed in 1959 and ordained a Baptist minister in 1965 by the late Dr. Edward Victor Hill Sr.
Bishop Dillard has doctorate degrees in both theology and human behavior. His first assignment in the church was as the under-shepherd at Faith Mission Church in Portsmouth, N. H. He then served in two parishes in Southern California. As a press release from the church states, “Bishop Dillard was divinely assigned to the historic Second Baptist Church in Monrovia, Calif. on Jan. 1, 1974 where he has been the senior pastor of the evangelical, orthodox communion for the last 45 years.”