A minister and important voice for racial reconciliation, Dolphus Douglas Weary was born on 7 August 1946 in Sandy Hook, Mississippi, near the Louisiana border. When he was two, his family moved to the Gum Springs community outside D’Lo. In 1951 Weary’s father left his mother, Lucille, who subsequently supported her eight children by washing clothes, scrubbing floors, and sharecropping cotton. The family lived in extreme poverty, but through the guidance and discipline of Weary’s strong-willed mother and his maternal grandmother, all of the Weary children raised themselves out of poverty.
Weary graduated at the top of his class from Harper High School. He attended Prentiss Institute and Piney Woods Junior College before leaving for California and becoming one of the first two black students at Los Angeles Baptist College (now Master’s College) in the fall of 1967. He vowed never to live in Mississippi again.
Weary received a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and went on to earn a master’s degree in Christian education from Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary, working part time as a basketball coach. During the summers, Weary returned to Mendenhall, Mississippi, to work with John Perkins’s Voice of Calvary Ministries, leading vacation Bible school classes and organizing a tutoring program. During these summer breaks, Weary met Rosie Camper, whom he married in the summer of 1970.
Shortly before completing his master’s degree, Weary toured Asia with an evangelical basketball team organized by Overseas Crusade. The team’s coach urged him to consider Asian missions as a lifetime calling, but Weary felt called by God to return to Mississippi. In 1971 he moved to Mendenhall and joined the Voice of Calvary (subsequently renamed Mendenhall Ministries), becoming executive director after Perkins moved to Jackson. Weary also served as associate pastor of the Mendenhall Bible Church. In 1978 he completed a second master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 1990 Weary published an autobiography, I Ain’t Comin’ Back. Weary earned a doctor of ministry degree from Jackson’s Reformed Theological Seminary in 1997 and the following year became executive director of Mission Mississippi, a ministry dedicated to promoting racial reconciliation among Christians in Mississippi. He and his wife went on to found the REAL Christian Foundation, which works to enrich the lives of rural Mississippi’s children, youth, and families by providing resources, grants, and technical assistance to community-based Christian ministries.
- Edward Gilbreath, Christianity Today (2000)
- Wheaton College, Billy Graham Center Archives website, www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives