In some ways, Sunday, June 16, 2019, will be like so many others for The Rev. Dan Powell, Wittenberg class of 1975. He will lead a congregation in worship, just as he has for more than 40 years, and just as his paternal grandfather, father, uncle, and oldest brother (Rick, a 1968 Wittenberg graduate) have done so many times as well.
However, this particular Sunday will not be just another morning of worship for Powell. He describes his anticipation of the day, which will mark his retirement after 32 years as pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ohio, as “both a high and a low in my ministry.”
“In the words of the great Rev. Billy Graham: ‘I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future’,” Powell said. “The days gone by have been fulfilling beyond my grasp of the English vocabulary to express, and I have every reason to believe our Lord is not finished with me yet.”
Powell, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, says he is grateful for his Wittenberg experience. He made the most of his time on campus, earning four varsity letters as a member of the Tiger men’s tennis team, including two years as a team captain, and he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, among other campus activities.
“I did not likely appear the ‘model’ Religion major on campus, which makes my almost 32 years of serving nearby Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ohio, all the more remarkable,” Powell joked. “I guess God has a sense of humor!”
After graduating from Wittenberg, Powell spent two summers as a tennis professional at Northwood Hills Country Club in Springfield, and he coached four seasons of boys tennis and three seasons of girls tennis at Springfield North High School. Despite these pursuits, Powell remained drawn to the family business, and on June 3, 1979, he graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.
Powell’s first pastoral call was at Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hilliard, Ohio. After eight years he returned to his adopted hometown by accepting a call to Grace, which he guided through numerous transitions, including construction of a new facility that opened in 1999 and a significant expansion that debuted in 2015.
“Both congregations grew in many definitions of this word, and both were/are faithful to God’s Word as ‘inspired’ and normative for faith and life,” he said. “Multiple building or facility expansions have occurred within these two congregations during my ministry – again, a humbling and affirming reality.”
Powell and his wife Jill have two children: Hannah, Wittenberg class of 2003 and the 21st member of the Powell family to graduate from the university, and Jordan, and they have four grandchildren. He says Springfield has been a great place to call home, describing it as a “wonderful community in which to raise and educate our children within the Springfield City Schools and the many athletic and extracurricular opportunities afforded them.”
By serving a congregation located less than two miles from his alma mater, Powell has remained connected to Wittenberg. Numerous students, faculty, and staff members have attended Grace over the last 32 years, and he proudly keeps his Lifetime Admission Card handy for times when he attends Wittenberg sporting events.