Heatherwood pastor wears a black belt

alt

Sensei Joel Dover illustrates a move in a Yoshukai karate sequence in the gymnasium at Heatherwood Baptist, where Dover also is the senior pastor.

By ED CROUSE
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
Pastor Joel Dover, senior minister at Heatherwood Baptist Church, took up the study of karate when he was in elementary school.
“I was the second smallest kid in school, so it was get tough or get bullied.” By his late teens, the pastor had earned black belts in Carucado Karate and Tae Kwon Do.
More than the belts, however, was the deep appreciation he gained for the real merits of karate: self confidence, personal discipline, fitness and respect for others, among other qualities.
Then came a 15-year hiatus from karate while Dover attended seminary, earned a doctorate of ministry, crusaded in preaching/evangelism ministries, founded or served several churches and, most importantly, pursued and married wife Kimberly, now mother of their two children, Megan and Jake.
While serving as senior pastor for Central Baptist Church in Athens, he became interested in Yoshukai Karate, a discipline that expresses traditional Japanese style that traces its roots to the founders of karate in Okinawa more than 300 years ago.
With characteristic determination, the pastor dusted off his Gi (uniform) – and in three years earned his third black belt. And, of late, he has undertaken instruction in Yoshukai, offering classes to youngsters ages 8-14 and adults ages 16 and up in Heatherwood’s expansive gymnasium.

Classes, taught free as a ministry of the church, are open to the community as spaces become available.

Sensei Dover is quick to explain the short step he recognizes between the martial arts and Christian religions.

“Remember that karate was developed in Japan centuries ago – mainly for training the military. But it was taught by priests and elders of their religions, men of peace who also recognized the inevitability of war. Both in the martial arts and Christianity,” he continued, “you find the fostering of high moral standards, learning, respect, discipline, honesty and a spirit that avoids confrontation wherever possible.”

Before and after every class, Sensai Dover has prayer with students, a brief devotion that reflects on a variety of Christian beliefs: to love thy neighbor, bless those that curse you, turn the other cheek and set a good Christ-like example for others.

“As this is the way of the Gospel, so is it the way of karate.”

The symbol on the back of the Gi is the Michi, which translates in Japanese to “The Way.” Although karate is the way to many desirable personal qualities, it is not the way to all things.

So Pastor Dover reminds his students, “Jesus is The Way to the Father in Heaven. As the apostle Paul admonishes us, be all things to all people so that we may win some to Christ.”



More Local

GOP voters in Ga. to decide Senate nominee

ATLANTA (AP) — After a bruising nine-week runoff campaign, Georgia Republicans will finally have their Senate nominee who will compete ... Read More


10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. ISRAELI DEFENSE SOURCE: ONE SOLDI ... Read More


Senoia wall could be up for years

Seven households in Senoia may be behind a wall for years to come. Monday night, representatives from Stalwart Films and Raleigh Studios re ... Read More


Work begins on Hood Road

Hood Road was being closed beginning Monday, July 21, for culvert replacement, according to Coweta County officials. Public notification sig ... Read More


Paper's Phone System Down

We are experiencing problems with our phone system at this time and are unable to make or receive calls. We hope to have this resolved by th ... Read More

Ga. national parks see 7 million visitors in 2013

ATLANTA (AP) — National Park Service officials say more than 7 million people visited Georgia parks in 2013 and had an economic benefi ... Read More