Lawyer led to ministry in Waynesville

Jul 03, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone TEACHING THE WORD OF GOD — Jim Dean, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Waynesville, stands on a podium in his sanctuary that a member of his congregation made for him.

Jim Dean was a successful lawyer in Florida for nearly 20 years when he answered God’s call to ministry.

He is now the pastor of Calvary Chapel, located on Depot Street in downtown Waynesville. Jim and Betty Dean, his wife of 27 years, said they had felt the call to do more for some time, but it wasn’t until a visit to Waynesville in the spring of 2010 that they knew they had found the door that God opened for them.

“We were feeling a desire for a while to step out into some type of ministry, but we weren’t sure what kind of arena,” Betty said.

Both worked full time in Tallahassee — Jim as a litigator for a major law firm and Betty in real estate. But they had been preparing for a big change and were preparing to sell their home.

“The Lord really started working in our hearts,” Jim said. They had been active leaders in the Calvary Chapel in Tallahassee for years and wanted to do more. “I loved being involved in the church, but the law practice limited that.”

The Deans were staying at their cabin in Balsam and went to church service at Calvary Chapel in May 2010 when it was located on Asheville Highway. They arrived to the church only to find out that the congregation hadn’t had a pastor in eight months. It was the opportunity God had wanted them to prepare for.

They returned home and everything fell into place. Jim met with his law partners, who agreed to let him work on cases remotely from North Carolina. His clients agreed to continue using his firm, and they sold the house within five weeks.

While switching from litigation to being the pastor of a church may seem like a long leap, Betty said Jim’s skills as a lawyer were very beneficial at the pulpit.

“Being a lawyer, he knows how to pull out the meaning of the text because of his academics,” she said.

Jim was valedictorian of his graduating class at the University of South Florida in Tampa and third in his class at Florida State University Law School.

Betty and Jim met in college while active in a Baptist campus ministry. They both grew up Southern Baptist, but they started attending Calvary Chapel in 1995.

“The first time I stepped into this particular church, there were two things that made a big impression,” he said. “The pastor started to pray as if he was speaking to his best friend standing there. It was so authentic and genuine and the contemporary worship music — the leader had a big smile on his face and he was not performing, he was worshiping and enjoying it. Betty and I just felt at home.”

Calvary Chapel is a nondenominational church that is different from other traditional churches because the pastor teaches through the Bible as opposed to choosing a topic or theme for a sermon. Pastor Chuck Smith founded the church during the 1960s “Jesus Movement” with an emphasis on teaching the word of God.

“Their Bible teaching is verse by verse – dress casual, casual worship,” Jim said. “It’s good for someone who really wants to learn more about teaching ministry not preaching — although there’s a little bit of both.”

The Waynesville location is now right off Main Street, 41 Depot Street. The small setting is modern with café tables and coffee in the front and a small sanctuary in the back. Upstairs has rooms for Sunday school and other church activities. Right now the Deans are trying to grow the church and want to invite everyone to come see it for themselves. They even welcome people in during downtown festivals for cool air, a bathroom and a cold cup of water.

“We want to be a church that’s inclusive and diverse. If you’re looking for a church you’re welcome to attend,” Betty said.

In addition to Sunday worship, the church has a men’s’ group that meets Thursdays and a women’s ministry. On July 21, Calvary Chapel is hosting a Messianic worship artist, Joshua Aaron, at the Foundation for Evangelism Building at Lake Junaluska.

For more information about the church, visit

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