A local reverend is looking to reconnect with people he baptized or married almost 40 years ago in St. Clair.
Richard Stevens was a reverend at Apostolic Pentecostal Faith Rock Hill community church for 10 years from 1981-1991.
In addition to conducting church services on weekends, he married dozens of couples and baptized at least 50 people in the Bourbeuse River.
“I’d like to say hello to all them people I baptized out there and married,” Rev. Stevens said.
There is a graveyard located behind the one-room church, according to Rev. Stevens. In the 1990s, the church closed to the public because it has no plumbing and is far out in the country. However, the church was bequeathed to community members who currently maintain it.
Although the church is not in operation on a daily basis anymore, community members open it up for a yearly church service held on Memorial Day, according to Rev. Stevens.
He said the former church secretary, Myrtle Arban, died two years ago.
Rev. Steven’s favorite part about his church services was that “the Lord was blessing us. And sent us more people,” he said.
He remembered how crowded the church would get.
“Sometimes we’d have a service and the church wouldn’t hold (all) the people, so we raised the windows and some of them stood outside the church and listen to the message,” he said.
Rev. Stevens recalled baptizing a man who was in a wheelchair in the 1980s.
“They brought him to me in a wheelchair, and I took him and baptized him in Jesus’ name,” Rev. Stevens said.
“I see him about a week later and he didn’t need the wheelchair anymore.”
While he was working to become a reverend, Stevens noted an occurrence where a pastor at the time helped a man get home safely.
An Illinois man drove in to attend a church service, but he was not sure if he was going to make it back home due to vehicle problems.
“He said wasn’t going to make it back it to Illinois the way it was running,” Rev. Stevens said.
“So the pastor, there was a different pastor at the time ... he laid hands on the truck and that guy drove it all home to Alton, Ill., and had no trouble at all. He called back and he said ‘I made it home just fine.’ ”
Once, there was a man who came to a church service with a swollen mouth because of a toothache, according to Stevens. The man said he could not stay because of the pain.
“So, we prayed for him and the Lord stopped the pain, and he stayed for the whole service,” Rev. Stevens said.
After the man returned home, Rev. Stevens said he called the church secretary stating that the pain did not return.
“So the Lord touched his jaw,” Rev. Stevens added.
During a revival at the church in 1984, Stevens said the church looked as if it was burning on the outside.
“A lot of them may not believe it, but God put that church on fire, but it wasn’t burning nothing,” he said.
“People come run up here and see if it’s on fire. But it was the fire from God, you see.”
This particular instance was “just like in the Bible where (God) had the bush on fire and talked to Moses, but the bush wasn’t on fire,” he added.
Stevens was born June 23, 1934, in Lebanon. He grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma. While in Missouri, Stevens remembered going to church with his younger sister in High Ridge. Their father owned a farm in that area, he said.
When Rev. Stevens was older, he noted going to revivals in St. Clair with his sister.
“I had truck with a camper on it and we would load up and go to different revivals, different churches, but they don’t have them anymore,” Rev. Stevens said.
“Back then, they had a lot of revivals, all over.”
Message From God
Around the age of 46, Rev. Stevens received a message from the Almighty that he could not ignore.
“God came to me in a dream,” Stevens answered on why he decided to become a reverend.
“I was standing behind the church, and he took his hand and rolled the dirt down the hill and made a dam. And then water sprung up out of solid rock and filled this lake up.
“And then I kept looking and there was fish; hundreds of fish in there. And then down by the dam, there was a big rock …
“This one fish jumped upon that rock and stood upon his tail, started speaking to all these other fish. So I felt the call then.”
Stevens still holds his reverend’s license and married couples last year. Although he resides in Union, he attends Sunday services at Mercy Ministry Church in St. Clair.
If you would like to reconnect with Rev. Stevens, his phone number is 636-388-6350.