Reverend Dion Jamar Watkins
2013 - Present
Reverend Dion Jamar Watkins is a native of Lackawanna, New York, a man of God who was led at an early age to motivate and inspire generations of people. He accepted Christ at the age of 16, and was a faithful member of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in the City of Lackawanna where he was very active in many ministry activities while growing up in Mount Olive.
Reverend Watkins graduated from Lackawanna Senior High School in 1997. He then continued his education at Canisius College where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2001. He also obtained a Master’s of Science Degree with a concentration in Reading Education in 2003 from Canisius. He returned to school to receive his Master’s of Divinity Degree in December 2007 from Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, New York. With his strong belief of scholastic achievement, Reverend Watkins achieved each degree with honors.
In 1997, at the age of 17, Reverend Watkins was called into the ministry. On April 29, 2001 at the age of 21, Reverend Watkins was installed as the Pastor of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lackawanna, NY. He became the first associate minister to become pastor of his home church. During his leadership, at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, the membership grew considerably. As a result of this increase, in June 2011, Rev. Watkins and the church added an 8:00 a.m. worship service at Revelation Baptist Church of Buffalo, New York. Mount Olive Missionary Baptist became one church in two cities.
Reverend Watkins is no stranger to public service. In the summer of 2011, Rev. Watkins ran a great campaign for Mayor of the City of Lackawanna. After a marginal loss (14 votes) in the primaries, he promoted a write-in campaign. Although he did not win this seat, he offered hope to residents and encouraged many to vote who had never voted in their lifetime.
Reverend Watkins was employed by Lackawanna City School District as a sixth grade teacher from 2001 through 2014. On December 31, 2013 he took a leave of absence from the school district to pursue full-time ministry. His friendly disposition and understanding of others allowed him to be effective in the classroom, as well as, beloved by his students and peers. Because of his efforts, in June, 2010, the Lackawanna City School District honored Reverend Watkins by inducting him into its prestigious High School Wall of Fame.
In 2013, the Holy Spirit would speak to Pastor Watkins, thus, redirecting his footsteps to Hartford, Connecticut. On October 13, 2013 at the 97th Church Anniversary, Pastor Watkins preached his first sermon at the historical Mount Olive Church Ministries, Hartford, Connecticut. He then humbly accepted the call as Pastor-Elect. He transitioned from Lackawanna, New York to Bloomfield, CT where he preached a dynamic sermon on December 31, 2013.
Pastor Watkins was installed as the fifth pastor on March 24, 2014. In a short period of time, he impacted the community greatly. Mount Olive Church Ministries has grown tremendously, receiving over 500 souls to the ministry in the first year of his pastoring. Under Pastor Watkins leadership, several new ministries were implemented: Psalms of Worship Youth & Young Adult Choir (POW), Media, Seniors on the Move, Marketing, Drama, as well as reconnected the Pastor’s Aide, Hospitality Ministry, and the Minister’s Institute Classes.
Through Pastor Watkins’ vision of taking ministry beyond the four walls, the church established the Holiday Food Give-away, and successfully fed over 200 families in the North End of Hartford. He instituted Mount Olive’s Annual Block Party, which fed over 2,000 people in the first year; donated over 300 book bags filled with school supplies and accessories for students within the Greater Hartford area. He initiates miraculous services for diversified groups such as “Daddy and His Daughter’s”, a deliverance service for women; Youth Shut-In to address the values and assert education for the youth; “Midnight Rumble” that challenges and strengthens the man’s role in society; and Empowerment Seminars for the spiritual growth and education of the members.
Pastor Watkins has aligned himself with the community, because of his compassion to change the lives of wayward, homeless and lost souls that find their way to the doors of Mount Olive Church Ministries. Many prominent political leaders have found him a respected source of reasoning. Pastor Watkins was awarded the “2015 Religious Leader” by the Greater Hartford Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Inc. for his enthusiastic involvement in the community.
In April of 2014, Pastor Watkins, a man of vision, implemented the Vision 220 Plan to pay off the church mortgage within two and half years instead of the previously proposed five year plan. Successfully, it was paid off in less time than originally expected. On April 24, 2016, Mount Olive Church Ministries held its Mortgage Burning Celebration Service for the completion of this vision.
Pastor Watkins also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mount Olive Child Development Center, Inc. Taking the helm, Pastor Watkins guided the program through some major changes that has put the program on a steady path of success. He increased enrollment, stimulated staff morale, as well as rekindled the parent’s security in the education of children.
As dreams, hopes, and aspirations of God’s children were our foundation in 1917, so today dreams, hopes, and aspirations are being reintroduced under this great man of God. Pastor Watkins continues to be an asset to the Greater Hartford Community and its’ the surrounding areas. He is influencing change and bringing hope to the lives of those he comes in contact with daily. He will tell you, “God did not call me to be ordinary!” Pastor Dion Jamar Watkins is teaching and preaching salvation, walking in humility and operating under the grace of our Father in Heaven.