The Rev. Don Hawkins has pastored many churches but knows he’s found his home at Crossroads Church of the Nazarene in Lenoir City.
Hawkins came to Crossroads 13 years ago as pastor. Before that, he served in East and Middle Tennessee, Alabama and central Kentucky.
Crossroads is the sixth church he’s pastored since being called to preach in 1973.
Hawkins grew up in Bristol and described his church experience as not steady until at 7 years old his family found the local Church of the Nazarene. He became a consistent churchgoer there, was converted and received a call to preach.
When God started to put ministry on Hawkins’ heart, he was already in his later years of an undergraduate degree to become a history teacher. He then went on to attend Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, where he has taken continuing education courses since graduation.
“I think it was a matter of just something that was growing on me,” Hawkins said. “It wasn’t just an all-of-a-sudden thing where God says, ‘You’re to be a preacher.’ It kind of grew on me. I think that’s what God’s will does. It grows on you until you’re ready to accept it, but I knew from then on that I would be in ministry.”
He moved to Crossroads after the district superintendent told him of the opening. The church board deliberated before hosting Hawkins to preach and offering him the position.
Hawkins married a week before moving to Lenoir City.
“We’ve enjoyed the church here and people have been great to me,” Hawkins said. “I’m 68, so I know that I’m getting near the end. I’m currently on a four-year call, and I think next August there will be a meeting between my district superintendent and the church board, and they could determine, ‘Hey, we want him to hang around for four more years.’ I’ll be pretty close to 70, so I’ll have some decisions to make, but I feel good about it.
“I love it here and we’re going I think pretty strong and have seen some good things happen,” he added. “Not enough, but I’m always thinking, ‘Well, we could’ve done a little better.’ Happy, happy in God’s will and haven’t even entertained going anywhere else since I’ve been here. I’ve had a nibble, some church was interested and I said, ‘no’.”
Hawkins believes in articulating a clear direction for the church.
“Mainly I have encouraged our people to be people-centered, to look to the needs of others instead of looking at your own needs,” Hawkins said. “We all have needs but to kind of break out of that and see there’s a community here. Some of these folks, they don’t go to church. Some of these people are not Christians, and they become our responsibility. Everything we try to do, we try make it people-friendly, people-centered. I mean from our Sunday school classes, what I preach, our programs, our children’s church, our wee church. Everything is kind of centered around people. People are fundamental. If you don’t have people you really can’t have a church.”
Jimmy Matlock, church member, believes Hawkins has made a positive impact on the congregation and community.
“What I would say about Don Hawkins,” Matlock said. “He is a wonderful preacher and even better pastor. He is someone who makes you feel really comfortable in all circumstances, but he has without question high ethics, and his reputation for our church and those he served before is of the highest regard. He is without question one of the best men I’ve ever met in any walk of life.”