Yielding to the Calling
The pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Canton made the switch to ministry after years of working as an employment recruiter.
Lemora Dobbs dismissed the career tests she took in high school that pointed to a future in ministry.
The ministry score “was so much higher than everything else, I laughed it off and thought the testing battery was not valid,” said Dobbs, the pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Canton. “The next career on the test was counseling and that was what I was interested in. I just dismissed the minister thing.”
The Soperton, GA, native left her hometown to study psychology at Georgia State University, graduated in 1980 and three years later, left Georgia State with a graduate degree in education with a concentration in counseling.
In 1983, she and a friend started a staffing firm that catered to the legal profession. When they parted ways, she opened Progressive Personnel Services, which helped people find both temporary and permanent employment.
Dobbs was married, raising a family and running a successful business when she began to understand her calling to ministry. During a church retreat in 1992, she felt God speak—not in an audible voice but a stirring in her spirit.
“I kept quiet, and couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I tossed and turned and tried to bargain with God,” she said. “And now here I am, so you know who won.”
In 1995, she entered seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. At the time, her son was 19 and her daughters were 7 and 6. She kept working while she completed her master's of divinity degree in 1998. Her business provided the income needed as she transitioned into ministry.
“I closed the business two years ago because the Lord was leading me to focus on ministry,” she said. “It was a difficult decision to make because I’m not an impulsive person. I felt torn, and it took a long time to make the decision, but once I did there was no turning back.”
Dobbs describes her style of ministry as “therapeutic theology. It’s a combination of teaching and preaching, and compelling people to take action.”
And while she's changed vocations, she said she’s still in the recruiting business.
“It’s recruiting not for legal staff,” Dobbs said, “but bringing people into the kingdom of God.”
ABOUT PASTOR DOBBS
Hobbies: Dobbs enjoys reading and keeping up with current events. She’s reading John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You, and enjoys spiritual self-help books as well as mysteries, suspense, biographies and autobiographies.
Family: Lemora and Donald Dobbs have been married 30 years. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.
ABOUT ST. PAUL AME CHURCH
St. Paul AME Church is at 390 Crisler St., Canton. Sunday school begins at 9:30 a.m. and worship follows at 11. Wednesday offerings include 6 p.m. Bible study for children, 6:30 p.m. intercessory prayer and 7 p.m. adult Bible study. For more information, call 770-479-9691 or go to www.stpaulame-canton.org.