Towne Boulevard pastor leaving: ‘It’s time to start over.’

“Today marks a new “chapter” likely a whole “new book” for me moving forward. After nearly seven years as Senior Pastor of a great church, Towne Blvd Church of God in Middletown, Ohio, I submitted my resignation.

I have sensed God leading me back home to be closer to family, help with my mom and start a new life with Tami, the sweet lady that God has brought into my life. While I am somewhat anxious not knowing for sure what the long term plan is, I am trusting God for this next year of rest, reflection and ministry.

I am also excited to be totally dependent on the Father for each and every step of the way moving forward. I am blessed to be available to consult, coach and serve pastors and churches in the Tri-State area. I want to serve and give to the Kingdom as long as I have something of value to contribute. My passion is to give it all and leave nothing on the table.

I will greatly miss the people, staff and community of Towne Ministries and the pastors, community leaders and City of Middletown and Southwest Ohio region. Thank you Towne Church, staff, and all who have supported and served along with me these last seven years! I love you all!”

— Pastor Mitchell Burch’s Facebook post

This wasn’t Pastor Mitchell Burch’s plan.

He hoped to pastor at Towne Boulevard Church of God in Middletown for another 10 years, maybe longer, then retire.

But last year, Burch’s wife of 36 years and mother-in-law were killed in an automobile accident, his father died in December, and then he met and started a relationship with Tami McNeil, “a very sweet lady,” he said.

So on Sunday, Burch, 56, announced his resignation as senior pastor at Towne Boulevard and said he plans to move back to Buffalo, W.Va. to be closer to his mother, his family and McNeil.

“It’s time to start over,” he told the Journal-News Monday afternoon. “It seems right to go back to my roots.”

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He will remain at Towne Boulevard through at least the end of February or March. He hopes the church’s next pastor will be “a next generation leader” who will “charge the hill” and continue the work he started in 2009.

When asked about his seven years at Towne Boulevard, Burch started crying. Through tears, he said he brought “a sense of excitement and hope” to the church. He also gave it leadership stability and made a connection between the church and community, he said.

Once in West Virginia, he expects to travel extensively and preach at conferences and coach young pastors. He won’t have another home church, he said.

“I need to take my direction in a different way,” he said. “I need to retool, reshape my ministry.”

Prior to coming to Middletown, before stops in West Virginia and Washington, he pastored Dayspring Church of God in Forest Park for 10 years, meaning he spent 17 of his 40-year career in southwestern Ohio. He said during that time, he has grown close to the 500 people who attend Towne Boulevard and the city.

Clark Helvey, pastor of outreach at Berachah Church in Middletown, said on the occasions he worked with Burch, he was “a positive, sweet man.”

He added that Burch brought “a very positive attitude or spirit with him.”

Burch said after his wife, Rochelle “Shelly” Burch, 54, and mother-in-law, Linda Dykstra, 77, were killed on the morning of May 13, 2015, his life and ministry never seemed the same.

“We were always together,” he said of his wife and partner in the ministry.

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