Walter and Beverly Dimmitt are founders and co-pastors of Abundant Life Ministries of Paseo del Norte. As the “Paseo del Norte” of local history illustrates, we often traverse challenging terrain to reach God’s intended destination for our lives. The circuitous route God prophesied about their lives together was fulfilled in the miraculous way He opened doors for them, and removed obstacles from their path; anchoring their hearts to the Lord, and each another. His path led them from Missouri to Texas, and across international waters to live for three years in the United Arab Emirates. On return to the U.S. in January, 2001, they lived in Port Huron, Michigan, where Beverly became a registered nurse.
Walt and Beverly share a mutual love for the Lord, and a meaningful history of God’s loving intervention in their lives and family. They have learned the joy of laboring together with the Holy Spirit, and know that God lovingly intersected their lives many years ago for His purposes: to impact the world they live in for Christ. He opened doors once more in 2009, as Walt and Beverly felt led to accept a dental practice opportunity in El Paso with a longtime professional acquaintance and friend.
Abundant Life Ministries of Paseo del Norte was birthed in Beverly’s heart in the fall of 2012. Together, they contracted a building lease at 5003 Alabama in June of 2013, and held their first church service there on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Since the inception of Abundant Life Ministries, their message of an abundant life in Christ is balanced with the prerequisite of a life committed to Christ above all else. It is for our freedom that Christ died on the cross: freedom from enslavement to this present evil world system, the bondages of our fallen nature, and the evil intentions of the demonic realm—a freedom that enables us to lay our lives aside and walk in self-sacrificial love for Jesus and others, and experience, in this life, the victory He purchased.
Beverly was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to A. W. (Will) and Patricia Phillips. As a child in rural Muncie, Kansas, she lived just up the street from her grandpa, Raymond Phillips, who had pioneered several Assembly of God churches in his lifetime, and had retired to his Muncie farm. Pat attended Stony Point Christian Church, with Beverly and her siblings in tow.
Throughout her childhood, Beverly’s father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. When she was ready to enter third grade, their lives together as a family were dramatically impacted by a string of events seemingly orchestrated by God: her father was made Trainmaster over the Kansas-Missouri rail yards, at which time the family moved from rural Muncie to the Missouri side of the greater Kansas City metroplex. More importantly, though, Pat responded to an invitation to visit the Liberty Assembly of God Church pastored by Will’s brother Herschel—a change that ultimately resulted in their entire family’s acceptance of salvation. A year or so later, Will felt the call of God on his life to become a pastor, and enrolled in Central Bible College just before Beverly’s freshman year of high school.
Beverly’s patriarchal upbringing didn’t encourage or cultivate career aspirations; all hopes, dreams, and aspirations were funneled into one chief purpose in life: to have a Christian man propose marriage in affirmation of her worth—what proved to be an elusive goal that she eventually abandoned. Because these beliefs had been presented as God’s plan and purpose for her life, and God’s “flow of authority” within His Church, she did not question the indirect relationship with God that those beliefs had fostered.
Beverly moved back to Kansas City in 1975. It would be many years before she would question the validity of the patriarchal mindset she had embraced as “God’s design”—unavoidable questions that resulted from His still small voice within her, beckoning her: “I have ministry for you but I can’t tell you what it is because you’re prejudiced [against women in ministry].” This encounter took place in late 1981, when most theologians still taught that the notion of a female pastor was unscriptural; yet God seemed unmoved by man’s opinion, as if it were His prerogative to call and anoint whomever He chose. As Beverly set herself to study the Bible more thoroughly and seek out Christian authors who had written on the subject in confirmation of God’s words to her, He gently reproved her once more: “It has to be enough [for you] that I’ve said it—that I’ve called you.” In His mercy, He was insulating her from the opinions of others, and instead anchoring her heart to His voice, His words to her personally, and the inner witness of His Holy Spirit.
In 1983, a friend of Beverly’s parents flew them to see her at a Kansas City hospital where she was suffering from a life-threatening illness. Although Walt didn’t go with them to the hospital that day, this was the event that first intersected Beverly’s life with that of kindred spirit, Dr. Walter Dimmitt; an elder and member of the Springfield church board that would later ordain her.
During her hospital stay, Beverly’s husband received a promotion to his employer’s home office in Bedford, New Jersey. Beverly and children accompanied him there shortly thereafter. Her first steps in ministry were taken in Somerset, New Jersey in 1984, as she discipled those God brought her in the establishment of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and how to hear and obey His voice. By that point, her husband professed to a personal relationship with God, but it hadn’t inspired the same devotion within him. Once more God spoke, underscoring the price tag of following His voice: “With a heart that’s breaking in two: that’s the posture from which you will fulfill your ministry.” This didn’t sound like a very enviable assignment but she counted it an honor to be given any part in His plans. She flew to Springfield in October, 1985, to be ordained at the non-denominational church her parents had co-founded.
While living in New Jersey, opposition to Beverly’s ministry came in an unexpected form as her husband repeatedly proved to be unfaithful to his marriage vows. Although the church was poised for official incorporation, Beverly felt she must focus all attentions on her failing marriage. In 1986, the couple moved back to Missouri where Beverly accepted a full-time position as Associate Pastor to her father and her husband was afforded one last opportunity for a change of heart. This change was not forthcoming and they legally divorced after a two-year separation.
Once again Beverly’s life intersected with Walt’s in 1988 when, needing to support herself and her children, she reluctantly accepted full-time employment in his dental practice as an office manager. This was a dark time for her as she struggled with the spiritual implications of leaving full-time ministry. Her heart longed to pursue her calling—something she viewed as impossible as a single mother of three. She often lamented to the Lord: “I just need one genuine Christian man who will love me and be faithful to me—who will match me in my calling and pursue it with me. I know that, even if You have to search this whole world over, You can provide me with a trustworthy mate.” Little did she know, God had already been working on an answer to her prayers. On December 15, 1990, Walt and Beverly were married; companions in life and ministry.
Walt was born in Quincy, Illinois, to Lester and Thelma Dimmitt, and grew up in the northeast Missouri town of Canton. Les had been a professional jazz musician in his young adult life, playing trumpet with such Big Band Era greats as Tommy Dorsey and the Joe Haymes orchestra. Often the only white man in the nightclub, Les played music referred to at the time as “race” records, alongside black artists such as jazz saxophone great, Lester Young. By the time Walt was born, Les had earned a Master’s degree in Journalism and owned two local newspapers that promoted his staunchly Democratic views. Walt’s early years were spent in the gentle hands of his black nanny “Dot;” formative years that shaped his views on racial equality and ultimately prepared his heart to rightly receive Beverly’s interracial children as his own many years later.
As a child, Walt attended the local Disciples of Christ Church, and felt a tenderness toward God and the things of God. At the ripe old age of twelve, he realized from conversations with his dad that he needed to be forward thinking and choose a career path for himself; that’s when he decided to become a dentist—but he struggled with a lingering tug on his heart to become a pastor. Immediately out of high school, Walt went on to attend Culver-Stockton, a Disciples of Christ private college. Still feeling a tenderness toward the Lord and working a summer job in Massachusetts, Walt responded to a salvation message at a local Baptist church.
During his junior year of dental school, he married a professed Christian girl, and looked forward to the prospects of raising a family. Walt was accepted directly into the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Graduate Periodontics Residency Program from dental school. Upon completion of this specialty program, he and his wife chose the budding southwestern Missouri community of Springfield to start a solo dental specialty practice, and led to his election as President of the Missouri Society of Periodontists. He and his wife also gave birth to three children during those years who were his heart’s delight.
But something still seemed missing in Walt’s seemingly picture-perfect world. It was around this time in his life that he met the late A. Wilson Phillips who would later become his pastor and closest friend. While attending the Assembly of God Church led by Pastor Phillips, Walt learned about the secondary experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit, and set his heart to receive it. Soon he felt like a whole new realm of the Spirit had opened up to him, and he heard the distinct call of God on his life for ministry that filled the nagging void he had felt in his heart for so many years. Yet none of this was enough to spare him the heartbreak of what had always been a rocky marriage that was now ending in divorce. Being accustomed to a life of one success after another, divorce came as a devastating reality.
Walt first fell in love with Beverly’s heart for the Lord and His people while sitting under her ministry and serving as an elder in the same church where she was Associate Pastor. He served on the Board of seven elders who ordained her, after a history of proven ministry in New Jersey under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Walt and Beverly were married several years later on December 15, 1990, and celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary in 2015.