“We hope to be here for a long time”
After spending the last two years at the First Assembly of God Church in Spencer, the Rev. William David Watson (he goes by David or Dave) arrived in Washington at the end of January and took over as the lead pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Washington at the beginning of February.
Originally from Tennessee, Watson worked as a vocal music teacher in Missouri and Tennessee schools. He had received his degree in teaching from the University of Tennessee in Martin. He coached football while teaching. He moved from teaching into pastoring. He received his credentials from the Assembly of God at the Berean School of the Bible and Global University in Springfield, Mo.
Watson moved to Iowa about 10 years ago to become an associate pastor in Algona. He then moved to Spencer to serve as a student ministries pastor.
He and his wife Elizabeth have three children — Nolan, 10; Julianna, 7; and Joel, 5.
What brings you to Washington?
I was in Spencer, Iowa and had been serving there for about four years and then I really felt that it was time to look other places. It wasn’t for anything bad that was going on in Spencer — everything was going fantastic. The congregation was growing and the church was doing well. I just felt the leading of God that it was time to look in another direction. I had been praying about that for about a year when I got a call from our district superintendent. I talked to him about what I was praying about and he asked if I considered Washington Assembly of God. I had known the previous pastor here and he had been here for 26 years. He had just retired and the church was without a pastor, so my wife and I came down in December and visited the people and the town. We pretty much fell in love with the town. The church body was just almost like family – like we had been here our whole life. We candidated, received the pastorate here, moved here the end of January and started in February.
Since you have been in Washington, what do you think?
I really love the city. I have been astounded by the friendliness of the city. Even walking on the square and going into different businesses, people have been so friendly. They are just accepting. It just really surprised me at how friendly people are here. It feels like a fantastic place. It’s a small town — it’s smaller than where I grew up. It’s smaller than where I was previously. It doesn’t feel like a small town. It has everything you need and the people are friendly. It has the benefit of a small town and the feel of a big city. We absolutely love it and we hope we will be here for a long time.
What is your favorite thing about Washington?
I think my favorite part has been the history. I really like the historical significance in the community. The surrounding areas also have so much history. I love the heritage that is here. Not just the heritage as far as early American, but also it has a very rich religious heritage here. I love being in this area and seeing all those things. We are blessed to be able to get into one of the oldest houses in Washington. Even learning the history of our home – who has lived there and what the significance of it in our town was. The first county hospital in Washington County was in our home. We look at that and we feel extremely blessed to be here.
If you could change one thing about Washington, what would it be?
I don’t know that I would really change anything about it. It has what I really like; it is difficult to pinpoint one thing to change. It would probably be finding it sooner. I had heard about it, but I hadn’t found it. Now we are here and we are glad we are here.
How did you transition from being a schoolteacher to a minister?
I’ve had a love for kids ever since I was upper high school. I started out volunteering at elementary schools when I was in high school. As I went through going into college I was going to go in and be a performance major in college. I had it all lined out what I wanted to do. I was going to go to the University of Tennessee in Martin and train there for four years, then transfer to Florida State to get my master’s degree. Then I was going to go to Italy and be an opera singer. As I got into college, I talked to an educator and she spoke to me about being a music teacher. They needed quality music teachers who love kids and love music. She actually pushed me in that direction and I am really glad she did. I went to southeast Missouri right out of college and worked with at-risk kids. I loved it, but I always found after school was done the kids were needing more. It was more than just music and a passion for music they needed. When I moved from Missouri to west Tennessee, I still saw that. I was very involved in church in lay ministry. What I noticed was when students connected with God, they made a better connection with school. I began to think about that and pray about that. What I found — God really directed me — is he really wanted me in a place where there were eternal things, not just simply grades and professions. I could make a difference as a minister, sharing my love of God and sharing my love of music. I think what really made me want the transition more was that I worked at a summer camp in my fourth year of teaching. It was a Christian summer camp. I got brought in to do camp recreation and to do some of the worship and music. As I began to work with kids at camp, I began to talk to them about God and I used music to help with that. It just hooked me. I could see there is something about that ‘a-ha’ moment in a person’s life when they make a connection of who God is and that God actually does care about them, he is concerned about them and he does have their best interest at heart. He is not just someone who is trying to kill their fun, but he does have a purpose in their life. I was able to articulate that purpose into that and I just wanted to do that my whole life. I was able to marry two great passions in my life. One was to honor God with everything I have and the other is to teach students. To connect those two was phenomenal. As I transferred from student ministries to adult ministries and pastoring, what I noticed was that everyone is still the same. The desires teens have are the same desires adults have. They want to know purpose and direction. If we can connect those, they will have a true, lasting and meaningful relationship with God. That was a turning point for me that really pushed me to know that is the Lord’s direction for my life. I haven’t looked back since. Last night I went to the all city concert at the high school and I watched as Mr. Jewell was leading choir. My wife asked if I missed that. I said I missed the interaction sometimes – the mechanics of teaching. What I really know I have done right with the Lord, is I know my purpose. Just as he felt fulfilled when they did a fantastic job with the choral concert, I feel that fulfillment when I go and talk to someone and I am able to pray with them, give them hope and help them experience the Lord. I have that same gratification in knowing what I have done has long-term results.
What are some of your hobbies?
Music is a hobby, but I like being active outside. I like nature and going hiking outside. I like martial arts. I got into that in college. I enjoyed taking self-defense. Being out in nature is my biggest hobby. I enjoy building things. I don’t know how handy I am, but I like to build things.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I still see myself here in Washington. What I see here is I see me pastoring a church that is making an impact in the community and the community recognizes Washington First Assembly is full of caring people who care about our community. I want to get into that and for the people to know we are here for them and not just for ourselves. I see our congregation being larger and I see us continuing to grow and meet the needs of people and just being an asset to the community.