By: Dezaray Barr
Steven Colter is the Pastor of Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry and in 1993 with his master’s in Christian Ministry.
Colter said that IWU had a profound influence on his life and thinking. “As an older commuter student, I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the campus lifestyle and didn’t have the opportunity to build many close relationships except with classmates,” Colter shared. “Dr. David Smith was a favorite professor. He would never tell us what to believe about Theology, except he would present all of the options and then say, ‘Pay your money, take your choice!'”
Colter did not choose to become a pastor. “I grew up in church and saw that most pastors were not treated very well by the parishioners,” he explained. “Poverty seemed to be the means of keeping them humble, at least in the minds of the church leaders. I was involved in every aspect of church life as a layman: Sunday School teacher, youth leader, trustee, bus driver, board member, visitation committee or whatever there was that needed to be done. I just never felt a call to ministry.”
In 1982, Colter picked up the teens of his congregation from a retreat they were on at the Island Wide Youth Collaborative (IWYC) in Champaigne Urbana, Illinois. “At the last rally, Dr. John Maxwell gave an invitation to all who were open to ministry to come forward. I was only there to pick up our teens, but I prayed a very simple prayer and told God that I was available. Nine months later, after the birth of our third child, my wife and I attended a couples retreat. Dr. Paul Mills was the speaker, and though I don’t remember now what he was talking about, he said, ‘God doesn’t want your abilities, He want’s your availability!’ At that moment God spoke to my heart and asked, ‘Steve, are you still available?’ It was as though I was taken back to that arena where I had prayed many months before telling God I was available! That moment is still as clear to me as on the day it happened. No, I didn’t choose ministry, but God chose me!” Colter said.
Colter began as the Pastor at Chapel Pike in 1992. “I had been a youth pastor for just three years and had no experience as a pastor,” Colter said. “I guess they were desperate, and they invited me to come anyway. It has been a long journey of seeing several different congregations come and go. Most of those who were here originally have passed on to glory or have moved elsewhere. However, one of the joys of staying in one place for a long period of time is the privilege of watching the children grow up, marry and begin bringing their own children to church. I have been able to dedicate several of our children to Christ, officiate at their weddings and watch them use their talents to serve the Lord.”
Colter married his high school sweetheart, Cheri Hiatt. They have been married for almost 43 years and have been blessed with four children, three of whom graduated from IWU. They have nine grandchildren, ranging from 19-years-old to just five-months-old.
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.