- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (AP) - A popular of a church in Homewood has decided to retire after years of service.

Rev. Gary Fenton, 69, said his last day preaching will be Aug. 28, Al.com (http://bit.ly/29a5G55) reported. He’s the senior pastor of the 7,800-member Dawson Memorial Baptist Church and broadcast his services on WIAT-TV Channel 42.

Fenton announced his retirement Thursday. He made the announcement in a letter to church members. He and his wife, Alta Faye, will continue to live in the Birmingham area.

Fenton became pastor at Dawson in March 1991. He had previously been senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.

Fenton oversaw growth in members and facilities during his tenure, including a recreation center that is open to the community.

“It is not our goal to be the biggest or best church,” Fenton told The Birmingham News several years ago. “Our goal is to be faithful to what we are called to do.”

He oversaw the construction of a new four-level, $8 million children’s education building that opened in 2012.

The children’s center, with 27 classrooms for preschool through high school, was named the Edgar M. Arendall Building in honor of the church’s pastor from 1948 to ‘84

During Fenton’s tenure, he stressed a worldwide missions outreach. Over the past year, the church sent out more than 600 people as part of 46 mission teams sent locally, to other states and to 10 countries around the globe.

In the past year, the church has contributed more than $3 million to missions causes.

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