Springfield pastor wants to transform city through outreach

Springfield Pastors Series

One Springfield pastor wants to position his church to be a central part of the revitalization of Springfield, including downtown renewal and the re-purposing of historic buildings.

Faith United Methodist Church, 102 W. High St. in downtown Springfield, was formed from the 2009 merger of three Methodist churches. The combined congregations have been a source of renewed healing in Springfield, Rev. Kyle Kirchner said, including their support of the Open Hands Free Store in the Southern Village Shopping Center, as well as providing meeting space for Narcotics Anonymous.

Kirchner, a Piqua native, took over as pastor in 2014.

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He received his call to the ministry at 15 years old, but didn’t pursue it initially. After leaving the area, as well as the church, Kirchner came back to the area and the church, and that’s when his calling returned.

“I was leading a men’s group and I shared my call to ministry to the group,” Kirchner said.

From that small conversation, it was asked if Kirchner wanted to preach a sermon in the pastor’s absence and he agreed.

“That call to ministry came back stronger than before,” he said.

Kirchner would go on to receive his pastoral license and in 2014, he became the leader at Faith.

Currently, Faith has a partnership with Lagonda Elementary School where the church sends volunteers to assist the school in needed areas. Faith also hosts free meals for those in need every Tuesday evening. The program, Rainbow Table, prepares more than 100 meals each Tuesday.

Faith plans to begin an outreach program called Pub Theology in January 2017. Kirchner wants this to be an open forum discussion at Mother Stewart’s Brewery to talk about issues within the community.

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“Some people have issues of spirituality, but do not have the desire to come or return to church. This is an opportunity for me to go into the community and have those difficult conversations in an environment where someone may be more comfortable to speak their thoughts,” Kirchner said.

One of Kirchner’s goals is to help Springfield by using Faith as a mission hub for the city.

“I would love for this church to be a major mission hub for the city,” Kirchner said. “I would love for us to use this building for more than Sunday services, but as a way to help the city grow out of poverty.”

One of the major programs in discussion focuses on life skills. The program would revamp their older after-school program to include not only teens, but adults as well. The program would include teaching individuals skills such as financial education, resume building, interview techniques, job-searching assistance and job-training skills.

Kirchner’s vision is for the program to partner with local businesses, creating a potential pipeline for hiring local individuals.

Another goal is the creation of a food pantry at the church. The food pantry would include nutritional classes for individuals to learn how to cook meals using ingredients received at the food pantry.

Kirchner is also looking at renovating the fellowship area to include a space for local artists and musicians to hone their craft for open mic nights, providing family friendly entertainment for the community.

He said he wants Faith to be a place that reaches community needs, as well as builds and rebuilds trust relationships between individuals and the church.

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