July Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Anderson Enjoys Ministry and Home on the Range
Nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn National Forest and the Bighorn Mountains lies an old Western town that is rich with culture and history. When you think about dude ranches, rodeos, horses, and all those games of cowboys and Indians you played when you were younger, you’ve essentially described the heritage of Sheridan, Wyoming—home of Pastor Stephen Anderson for the last 38 years.
Pastor Anderson grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa, and graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College in 1975 and Faith Baptist Theological Seminary in 1976. He and his wife, Donna (McMillen ’74), were married in May of 1974, and have been in ministry together for 44 years. Donna graduated from Faith the same year as her father, Donald McMillen, who was also preparing for ministry.
“When I first met Donna I realized very soon that the Lord was bringing us together and that she would be my perfect helpmeet in the ministry,” said Pastor Anderson. “The Lord blessed us with four children who have also attended Faith and are actively serving the Lord with their spouse and children in their local church. The Lord has given us twelve grandchildren, and our oldest granddaughter will be attending Faith this fall.”
Pastor Anderson’s decision to attend Faith was an easy one. He felt the Lord leading him to a life of pastoral ministry in high school, and his pastor, Ron Abbas, along with his parents, all encouraged him to enroll at Faith.
“While I did greatly appreciate the academic and Biblical studies in the classroom, I would probably say I thoroughly enjoyed the Christian service and practical training of doing the ministry in the local church,” said Anderson.
Practical training, academics, and extracurricular activities (like Student Preacher’s Fellowship), all helped prepare Pastor Anderson for his call to pastoral ministry. Every student that attends Faith is blessed with the opportunity to serve in area churches, which was an opportunity he took full advantage of. Those experiences gave Pastor Anderson even more confidence to fulfill his ultimate calling.
“My pastor actively worked with me and gave me opportunities to preach and do the work of the ministry. My calling into the ministry became stronger and stronger during my years at Faith, and the Lord gave me a yearning to go west.”
And “go west” is exactly what he and Donna did.
Following graduation, he and Donna moved to Cody, Wyoming, where he served under Harvey Seidel as an assistant pastor for two years. After a four-year stretch of ministry in the state of Washington, Pastor Anderson was contacted by three families from Sheridan, Wyoming, who wanted to start a new Baptist church in their city, so the Andersons made the 1,000 mile move back to Wyoming to the touristy town of Sheridan, located four hours east of Yellowstone National Park and four hours west of Mount Rushmore.
One look at a promotional website for the area, and it is easy to understand why it’s such an attractive destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of life:
“Born from an equestrian way of life, in a community that sprang up along the Bozeman Trail, the Sheridan Lifestyle is like no other. It has retained the sophistication of the early remittance men who first settled here while maintaining the priceless simplicity and friendliness of neighbors helping neighbors in a rural setting. It’s a lifestyle that reduces stress and increases quality of life.” (Land.com)
The Andersons have made the most of their “Macedonian Call” to Sheridan, now approaching 40 years of ministry as pastor of Grace Baptist Church.
“The Lord has blessed the ministry,” said Pastor Anderson. “There have been two building programs, a Christian school established, and many people have been saved and baptized and are serving the Lord. The time has seemed to go by very quickly, but we are still serving in Sheridan after 38 years.”
As Pastor Anderson reflects on a lifetime of faithful service, he says his greatest joy has been watching the Lord work in people’s lives and watching as He molds and “perfect them throughout the years.”
Pastor Anderson’s advice to students preparing for ministry is to “love and serve the Lord faithfully with all your heart, love your people, and look forward to a lengthy ministry in the place where God has led you.”