Jamestown's newest pastor, the Rev. Steve Davenport, from Lincoln, Neb., has 25 years of experience as a pastor, 21 years of powerlifting experience, and two world championships from the International Powerlifting Federation.
Davenport, who also sports five gold medals for the U.S. national powerlifting team, came to Jamestown for the opportunity to pastor at Temple Baptist Church.
“We have answered the call of God to come here and serve the people of this community,” Davenport said. “My wife (Terry) and I and the church are here to serve the people of this community and the people of God ... and all the people we come into contact with along the way.”
The pastor grew up in Georgia, where a high school football coach first introduced him to weightlifting. He earned a bachelor's degree from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville and his Master of Divinity from Luther Rice University in Atlanta.
Powerlifting is competitive weightlifting where athletes compete to lift the most weight using three different exercises: the bench-press, the squat and the deadlift.
Davenport, who is training for a meet in October in Indianapolis to qualify for nationals, said this was the best move for him and his family. He believes his powerlifting background gives him a unique advantage in lifting and in ministry.
“The two never conflict because powerlifting is a hobby,” Davenport said. “I think of it like hunting or fishing. It’s given me opportunities in life other pastors will never have.”
The pastor has represented the United States many times in his power-lifting career, and this allows his platform to expand where others cannot.
“I can spark conversations with people from other countries where there is little to no Christian influence," he said. "The opportunities it has afforded me, I couldn’t have gotten them any other way.”
Davenport has won four gold medals for deadlifting out of four attempts and has won gold medals for all three lifts three times. He lifted 733 pounds for the squat and 683 pounds for the deadlift, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
On a missionary trip in Nicaragua years back, Davenport was followed by several locals in a market. He asked the interpreter what they wanted from him, and the translator replied, “They want your autograph.”
Davenport later found out the group thought he was Stone Cold Steve Austin, a former American professional wrestler, and realized their confusion after he’d signed his own name. This mix-up has only happened to him one other time, at a Texas Roadhouse in Lincoln.
“I take it as a compliment when it happens,” he said.
The Davenports have two children, Nathan and Daniel.
Temple Baptist Church has worship services at 10 a.m. on Sundays and prayer meetings at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.