When Adam Dooley’s 6-year-old son Carson completed his last round of treatment in February after a three-year battle with leukemia, their family sensed a longing for a fresh start, a new beginning.
Little did the Dooleys realize at the time that God was loosening the soil around the roots of their lives in order to transplant them nearly 600 miles from their home in Mobile, Ala., where Adam Dooley served as pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church, to Sunnyvale, Texas, where the congregation of Sunnyvale First Baptist Church called Dooley as their pastor June 29.
Naturally then, the title of his first sermon series at Sunnyvale First Baptist—New Beginnings—captured a theme for his family as well as the church.
“Our arrival here at Sunnyvale First Baptist today is much more than a new journey between a pastor and a congregation. It really feels like a new beginning; it feels like we have been given a new life.”
“Our arrival here at Sunnyvale First Baptist today is much more than a new journey between a pastor and a congregation,” Dooley told the congregation during his first sermon Aug 24. “It really feels like a new beginning; it feels like we have been given a new life.”
While it’s a new season for the Dooleys and the church, Dooley gives a great deal of credit to his predecessor, Charles Wilson, who served as pastor of Sunnyvale First Baptist for more than 25 years.
“The church I have inherited is, humanly speaking, in large part due to Charles Wilson,” Dooley told the TEXAN in an interview. “I’m really thankful for the years he invested here. You can walk around our buildings, and you can see his fingerprints everywhere. I want to honor him and what he did here and try to build on that in the future.”
Dooley also follows in the footsteps of Criswell College President Barry Creamer, who served as interim pastor at Sunnyvale First Baptist during the 13-month transition between Wilson and Dooley.
“(Creamer), in my opinion, is the best interim pastor I’ve ever followed,” Dooley said. “I walk in, and he has the staff in great shape, the morale and direction of the church is in great shape; it’s been the smoothest transition that I’ve ever experienced at a church, and that’s in large part due to Barry.”
Creamer enjoyed his time at Sunnyvale and has great hopes for the church under Dooley’s leadership.
“Dr. Adam Dooley has a rock-solid commitment to studying and preaching Scripture, both of which he does with aplomb,” Creamer told the TEXAN.
“He has a vision for the church and the leadership to see it fulfilled. And, most importantly, the church loves him and will fit his leadership style and desire for evangelism and discipleship perfectly. I cannot imagine a church better positioned for growth and impact than Sunnyvale FBC with Pastor Adam Dooley.”
Recognizing the church’s conservative theology and commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, Creamer led the church to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and the church then decided to affiliate with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in July.
“I was thrilled to learn that the church had affiliated with (SBTC),” Dooley said. “I was thrilled that Barry led the church to do that, and that relationship is only going to grow with me here. I’m very anxious to get involved and have felt so welcomed by (SBTC Executive Director) Jim Richards and other pastors who are part of the convention.”
Dooley has a long history of denominational leadership during his previous pastorates in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. He served as first vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention from 2004-05, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Committees in 2004 and 2009, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference in 2010, and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s Pastors Conference in 2014.
Dooley earned his Bachelor of Arts in Ministry from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky., as well as a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in preaching, evangelism and theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Prior to serving at Dauphin Way in Mobile, he pastored churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. He has also taught preaching and pastoral ministry at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga and Boyce College and Southern Seminary in Louisville.
As he starts his new beginning at Sunnyvale First Baptist, Dooley desires the church to be guided by the Great Commission—built on evangelism and discipleship.
“The community of Sunnyvale is one of the best-kept secrets of Dallas County. It has a very small community feel to it, and yet in the immediate surrounding area of Sunnyvale there are over 1 million people,” Dooley said.
“What excites me is renewing our passion to reach the lost. Sunnyvale First Baptist has a great history of that, and I’m anxious to refocus the church in that direction.
“Something I really want to emphasize is personal discipleship. I don’t mean a discipleship program, but I mean small groups of three to five men or three to five women who are meeting to memorize the Word, understand the Word, and be accountable to the Word and to one another.
“Christ did not tell us to make converts; our goal is to make disciples. I’m anxious to lead the church to fulfill that part of the Great Commission. Churches in general have stopped short of the Great Commission in that regard.”
With these goals in view, Dooley is enthusiastic about the days ahead.
“We have a church body that’s hungry to reach the lost and to impact its community. It’s a real joy to be here.”