Springfield pastor looks to expand ministry, create jobs

Pastor Dewitt Means. Michael Tyler, II/Staff

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Pastor Dewitt Means. Michael Tyler, II/Staff

Springfield takes pride in its nurturing and development of home grown talent, but in the case of Pastor Dewitt Means, relocating to Springfield and expanding his calling in the ministry has been the recipe for success for Springfield as well as with his own personal growth.

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“My role in ministry is to pastor to the spiritual needs, said Means. It’s not what you can give, but what I can contribute to your life.”

Means grew up in Letohatchee, Ala., a small rural town roughly 20 miles southwest of Montgomery. Growing up near the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, Means’ parents shielded him from the brunt of conflict, but instilled in him the lessons of never being inferior. It was those lessons that would define his call into ministry.

“Through the circumstances, I had a great childhood,” Means said. However, growing up in the South was a painful reminder that certain people couldn’t do what they wanted, even with the protection of law.”

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It was not ministry that drew Means to Ohio, but his career in retail and manufacturing, holding positions at Elder Beerman and Honda. At the same time, Means created relationships with several pastors throughout Springfield, Clark County, and the Miami Valley. Those relationships were pivotal to Means, as he was able to understand the needs of Springfield from an outreach ministry perspective.

In 1999, Means would become interim Pastor of Greater First Baptist Church after the passing of Pastor James Jones Soon. The church body elected him senior pastor, a position he still holds today.

Greater First Baptist Church was founded in 1930, then known as First Colored Church.

Immediately after becoming pastor, Means looked at transforming the church into a viable ministry throughout Springfield. The first step came as the church relocated to its current location on Upper Valley Pike.

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“We are a ministry of empowerment,” Means said. “We do not want to just give, but also build up people within Springfield

While the church has relocated to 1175 Upper Valley Pike, Means has a greater vision, to expand the church even further. They plan to build a church campus on land they’ve purchased on Burnett Avenue.

Plans call for the campus to serve as the central worpship location, and include a family life center and a multi-purpose facility, which will be used for community events, conference space, and other ministry-related events. The multi-purpose facility plans also include a dormitory, which will provide low-cost lodging for individuals traveling to the church.

Through this expansion, the church will be able to create jobs and encourage people to stay or to relocate to Springfield, according to Means. He sees job creation as one of the church’s ways to give back to the community.

“This plan may not come within the next couple years, but anything is possible through God,” Means said.

With the various missions of the church, Means wants to transform the view people have of church, in both spirituality and as a whole.

My goal is to make sure people know that church is a place to come for healing,” Means said.

About this series

This story begins an occasional series focusing on local pastors throughout Clark and Champaign counties.

To nominate a pastor or minister for recognition in this series, contact Michael Tyler II at michael.tyler@coxinc.com or by phone at 937-328-0278.

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