Northern Stories: Sheva Stephens

Cincinnati native Sheva Stephens came to Northern Seminary after completing her master’s in accounting. She had plans for her life, but God had His. Since childhood, she’d had a gift for speaking to large groups about the Word of God. “The men didn’t know what to do with me,” she explains. “Women could teach kids or work in the kitchen.” She ended up doing the former quite frequently for the younger children at her church. Her heart for service grew by serving alongside her grandparents in the hospitality ministry. Like many young adults, Sheva eventually took a hiatus from the church as she figured her faith out for herself. “There was a hole there for me. Things weren’t bridging well in the way Christ was being presented. I didn’t have the words back then. Something just wasn’t right, and I didn’t have teachers that could help it make sense.” She began seeking truth in various churches and religions, only to be led back to Jesus. She needed to be able to relate to Him, and she found a teaching that could provide that through Northern Seminary.

Sheva will be graduating from Northern on June 10th with her 2018 New Testament Theology Cohort. She has one simple phrase for anyone considering Northern Seminary: “Do it.” She explains that Northern showed her how unifying the faith experience can be. The only black woman in her cohort, she has forged deep friendships with women of many races and ages. She considers them her sisters. “We help each other see our blind spots about our faith and challenge each other. We’ve pushed the envelope when it comes to women in leadership.” She implores students to, “Lean into the uncomfortableness of discovery. There’s something greater on the other side of it.”

Currently serving as a staff pastor at The City of Promise (a nondenominational church in Cincinnati), she spends much of her time ministering in unconventional ways. Since the pandemic, her church has been in fellowship remotely. She has sought out creative ways to meet with the spiritually curious and hungry in spaces other pastors might overlook. She ministers to the brokenhearted who have been hurt by the western idea of church many American Christians have encountered. “We’ve lost touch with the people Jesus actually came to save and heal.” Whether this means pulling up a bar stool next to someone to process some heavy questions or attending a party just to catch a few minutes with another guest who’s going through something, she makes time for others. She speaks highly of her educators at Northern. When she needed someone to patiently explain and clear up confusion, they were there. Now she has the privilege of leading others into truth and community as well.

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