Steve Boven, pastor at Chapel Hill Wesleyan Church in Pisgah Heights, has a saying: “Ministry is in the marketplace.”
And for Steve, a 1966 McBain graduate, that’s been his life experience.
Whether it was during his time with the Michigan State Police, or while he was the Chief of Police in Wilmore, Kentucky; Perhaps during his time working with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or out on the family farm in Falmouth, or while substitute teaching. The ministry is something he’s taken with him, day in and day out. Every day, all day long.
He’s been in the “marketplace” his entire life, and has lived with many titles: Police Chief, Trooper, Investigator, Teacher, Farmer, Hospital Chaplain, Pastor, Husband, Father…
But the title that probably describes him best: faithful, humble servant.
And while Steve has been a lot of places, and worked a lot of jobs, there’s no place he’d rather be on a Sunday Morning than in Pisgah Heights, at Chapel Hill Wesleyan.
We caught up with Steve recently and learned a little bit about his story. We learned that Steve Boven is certainly more than just another face in the crowd.
Marion Press: Where were you born and raised?
Steve: I was born in the hospital in Cadillac, and I went directly to the farm and spent my first 18 years there, up in Missaukee County – 4 miles northwest of “beautiful” downtown Falmouth, on Vandermullen Road. It’s a dairy farm – I’m putting together an application for a centennial farm – my grandparents bought the first part of it in 1915.
MP: Did you go to school in McBain?
Steve: I went to Falmouth Elementary, graduated from the eighth grade and then transferred to McBain. Graduated from McBain in ’66. I went to Ferris [State College, at the time] for a couple of years, and then I went to Central [Michigan University] and got my degree there – an education degree: sociology and psychology.
My goal was to get into the Michigan State Police. So I finished classes at Central on a Friday, and I entered the Michigan State Police Recruit School on a Monday – you can’t plan it that way, it just happened that way!
MP: Why an education degree?
Steve: I went to school preparing to get into the state police. A house mother [at Ferris] said to me one time, “Steve what are you going to get your degree in?” And I said, “Well, I’d like to go to Michigan State for Police Administration.”
She said, “Have you ever considered getting your degree in something else, in case you can’t get in for some reason? Or if you get in and don’t like it, you’ll have something to fall back on…”
I thought those were some good questions, so that’s what I did. I got my education degree, so just in case, I had my backup plan; plan B.
MP: So you spent some time in law enforcement…
Steve: I retired from the state police, I left early [after 15 years], and I was hired by Blue Cross/Blue Shield to do fraud and financial investigations; I did some work for them while I was with the state police. I spent six years with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and then I felt called to go into the ministry – and that’s what brought me to Kentucky [Asbury Theological Seminary].
MP: Oh, wow, Kentucky?
Steve: I went to Kentucky, never thinking that I’d ever be back in police work, but in 1990 I was hired by the Wilmore Police Department in Wilmore, Kentucky – it’s about 15 miles southwest of Lexington. They hired me, and I started classes [at seminary] in January of ’91. I was going the opposite of what I had wanted to do; I was going to school part-time, and working full-time.
I was teaching the DARE program, I was working full-time, going to school. It took me 7 years before I graduated from seminary. I worked 4 years as a patrolman, and then our chief died. And our mayor asked if I’d serve as chief, so I spent the next 17 years as the chief of police in Wilmore.
MP: So you spent most of your career in law enforcement, what made you want to get into that?
Steve: My dad had a cousin who was in the state police, and he came to visit. And I remember being out in the barn, and dad said, “You ever thought about going into the state police?” It sparked an interest, and it just took off from there.
MP: And now, the ministry is a big part of your life. Has that always been the case?
Steve: Early on, in probably my early teens, I felt called to go into the ministry. I went to the Little Nazarene Church in Falmouth. I didn’t know what to make of it, and then I got interested in the state police, and I went into the state police. In 1988, I felt a direct call to go into the ministry, and that’s what brought me down to Kentucky, searching for a seminary. I had my bachelor’s, but I wanted more training.
MP: Were you raised in the church?
Steve: We were in church every Sunday, and early! My dad always had a sport coat and a tie, and we always sat in the same pew.
MP: Tell us a little bit about your family.
Steve: I have 4 children: A son, Micheal, he lives here in Michigan; 3 daughters – Joy lives in Nashville, Tennessee; Anne lives in Maine; and Stephanie lives in Northern Ireland. They’re spread all over, and it’s nice to go see them. I have 7 grandkids, and Pauline and I have been married for 21 years.
MP: How long have you been the pastor here at Chapel Hill Wesleyan?
Steve: 10 years this past June. The first day I preached was on my wife’s birthday.
MP: A good day! Tell us a little bit about Chapel Hill Wesleyan.
Steve: I love it here. I absolutely love it. They’re such good people. It’s just incredible for me. I love walking in the church on Sunday mornings – I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
MP: What could people expect if they were to come here for church?
Steve: We have a part in our service where we break, and we greet one another – they love that. We could go for another 10 or 15 minutes because they go around, and they see everyone. It’s a very friendly, very welcoming church. It’s a good little friendly church. People are faithful here, and that’s why I love it so much. They’re faithful, they’re friendly, and they haven’t told me that I have to leave yet!
MP: What have you enjoyed the most about being a pastor here?
Steve: I thought I would be a better pastor than I would a preacher, but I enjoy delivering the message on Sunday morning. I love the interaction with folks, in and out of church. The men meet a couple times a week for breakfast; I enjoy that. I enjoy visiting with people. But I really like delivering the sermons on Sunday morning. And we have a great group of people up front.
One thing that I like to do is major on the major thing – everything else is minor. Jesus Christ came down from heaven. He lived here for 33 years. He died on the cross for our sins. He was buried, and three days later he rose from the grave. And 40 days after that, he ascended into heaven. That’s the major thing. Once saved, always saved. We can grow the Lord by learning more about him.
I love that little church. It’s nice to see people come in from the community, new people. And probably every preacher would say that. But when they come, they’re welcomed. And sometimes, not only do we treat this as a worship atmosphere, or a worship service, but it’s a spiritual hospital too. People come here hurting, rejected, and you see that. Hopefully, they come here, and we can accept them, and encourage them, to where they’ll be better off as a result of that. Hopefully, we can point them, to where they’ll turn to God, and seek his help – every day, all day long.
MP: You’ve lived an extraordinary life. What’s the best advice that you’ve been given? What’s worked for you to get to this point in your life?
Steve: I think, growing up on the farm, and developing the work ethic that happens on a farm – where you work, a lot – I think I’ve taken that work ethic, and applied it to every position I’ve ever had. When I was a trooper, I worked hard – had a lot of fun – but I worked hard. When I was a detective, I worked extremely hard. Maybe didn’t have as much fun as working the road, but still, it was a lot of fun. I guess, just that work ethic.
And when that house mother said, “What are you going to get your degree in?” That set me in a direction that served me well. I think looking back at that, what that house mother said at Ferris, that was good advice, and I took it, and it served me so well.