Name: Andy Stevens
Age: 47-years- old
Educational background: 1987 graduate of Winslow High School, Bachelors in business administration, received pastoral credentials in 1995 after an internship program with the Church of God.
Occupation: Pastor of Milford Church of God, small-medium business consultant.
Hometown: “I’m going to call this [Milford] my hometown. I was born in Manassas, Va. and raised predominantly in Maine. I spent a couple of years in Towson and we moved to Milford in November of 2007.”
Tell us about your family?
“My wife’s name is Jennifer. We’ve been married for 21 years. She actually is from the shore, born in Salisbury. For a short period of time, she even went to this church [Milford Church of God] while her dad was a pastor here. Some of the people we serve with now who are adults she was here with as kids. She’s what I call a from here, I’m a come here. I’m really successful because of her. She’s our worship leader. She’s an outstanding mom. She’s my tennis partner. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She’s an amazing vocalist.
“Micah is our son; he’s 13-yearsold. He’s a straight-A student. He’s good looking and smart. He’s probably got it all from mom. I had to work so hard, and this kid… it just comes easy. But, he’s my little mini me. Really, going home is the easiest thing I do. Being a husband, being a dad… by far the easiest thing.”
Tell us about your hobbies?
“I love to ride my Harley Davidson motorcycle. I could put my son or my wife on the back seat and just cruise. I love the people that I meet; I meet people from every walk of life. I also really like Caesar salad and cream of crab soup. My motto is simple: Live to ride, ride to eat. I’m just glad to be in Milford. If the Lord will answer my prayer, this will be the last church that I pastor.”
What did you do before becoming a pastor?
“Well, my first sermon was in 1994. Before becoming a minister, I worked in sales and marketing for seven years. My mom and dad do business, so I just grew up with a lot of business around the breakfast table. It’s kind of part of my DNA.”
What’s your favorite part of being a pastor?
“My favorite part would be the rare moments when you can see the tangible fruit of your labor. Because so much of what is accomplished is intangible: positive behavior changes, people reaching their goals… There’s so much that I’m never going to be aware of. But when they communicate them with me, and now to see the transformations they’ve made or the joy they’re now living in, that’s got to be the greatest reward. Preaching is fun, too. That’s a blast.
“I also love leadership development. I love pouring into our staff and our senior leaders. Right now, I’m mentoring another pastor in Northeast Maryland. When I get to pour into someone like him or our young staff or leaders and teach them leadership principals, watch them grow, watch them handle something way better than they did years ago, well that’s like air to me. That wakes me up in the morning.”
What’s your least favorite part?
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. My least favorite thing is watching somebody go through something and come to you for guidance, no matter what it is in life, and then watching them implement some of or none of the things that they’ve been taught and needlessly suffer because they refuse to make a change. It’s completely unnecessary. But I can’t make people do things. We all have a free will. That’s really frustrating.”
Tell us about business consulting?
“Business isn’t really that difficult. It’s reminding people that profit isn’t a dirty word. You’re in business to make money and help people; you can’t do that without being profitable.”
“It gives me an outlet for my appetite. As a pastor, you can’t isolate yourself. For me, the chamber gave me a way to connect to the community.”
Why did you join the Economic Development Commission?
“As Dave Hitchens was talking about it during a luncheon, I was captivated by his vision. You know what he said? The difference between a commission and a committee is that a commission engages the community to make things happen and get things done while a committee researches rules and guidelines. When he said that in a room full of business leaders, politicians, I just thought that was so bold.
“So I asked if he had a nonprofit representative and he said, ‘Yea.’ So I asked if he’d like another. He told me to come up with two proposals for the commission and bring them to him for consideration, and so I did.”
How did you become its chairperson?
“I’ve had different mentors come in and out of my life and I thought he [Mr. Hitchens] was an extraordinary leader, so I had asked him to be my mentor at this stage in life. I was very, very disappointed when he passed away. Our friendship was just in its infancy. He’s got so much knowledge, wisdom, and I thought: I want to learn from this guy.
“After he passed away, Jo Schmeiser at the chamber called to ask if I might be interested in the role because I seemed so interested in the commission and Dave’s vision. I’m honored now to be a facilitator to a great group of people.”
As the chair of the EDC, what are your hopes and goals?
“That we will fulfill the vision that Dave Hitchens outlined: to engage the community (that means as we gather information to go in and actively sit down with business owners and CEOs and share what we’re learning and inspire them to take the content of what we’re learning and take action for the purpose of economic development…) and of course that gets things done. It’s about empowering people. And sometimes it’s getting people together who wouldn’t ordinarily get together.
“And then you step back and you celebrate them because in the end what do you get? A better place to start a business, better place to move a business to, better schools… that’s the vision.”
Where does Milford need help?
“I think our greatest natural resource that is not being tapped and used enough is our semi and fully retired community members. For example, we have a guy in church who moved here from another state. He works with unions at a national level and gets them to get along. We’ve got a lot of people with an incredible amount of knowledge and background that we’re not tapping. I want to utilize their expertise to help grow Milford, new businesses, etc….. Right now, a new entrepreneur doesn’t know those people. If we introduce them, there’s a relationship that’s built. There’s a sense of ownership and a greater buy-in for those needs.”
Where do you see Milford headed?
“In a very good direction. We’ve got the new Bayhealth coming. It’s going to be a world- class facility. The city is very willing to work on infrastructure for that. I see us going nowhere but somewhere positive in the future. Someone asked me one time, ‘Why should someone consider a business in Milford or move to Milford?’ And my answer was: ‘With everything we have going for us, why shouldn’t they?’
Jennifer Antonik can be reached at email@example.com