At 26, some people may think Stevie Lockman is too young to lead a church.
But the Seymour resident has experienced more trials and tribulations in his young life than most. And when it comes to passion for the Lord’s work and bringing people to God, he knows he has found his place.
On May 19, Lockman was installed as the new head pastor of The Alley in Seymour, a nontraditional church that ministers to all in need of spiritual guidance, especially those who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, who are hungry, homeless or just down on their luck.
The Alley was started in 2010 by Pastor Rick Wilson, who announced in February his plans to move to Florida next year. Wilson was going to expand The Alley ministry to Panama City Beach but later decided to retire.
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Originally, Lockman was going to do an internship this summer at The Alley alongside Wilson as part of his graduation requirements from Cincinnati Christian University. He graduated in May.
With Wilson leaving, The Alley found itself in immediate need of new leadership, so they asked Lockman if he would be interested and willing to “do it all,” Lockman said.
“I was shocked, but I knew God wouldn’t call me to do anything he wouldn’t prepare me for or he didn’t think I was up to,” Lockman said. “I was unsure about what I was going to do after my internship, but with God, everything kind of fell into place.”
Instead of shying away from his past, which includes heroin addiction and time in the Monroe County and Jackson County jails and a one-year stint in prison, Lockman said he uses his experiences to relate to and help people who may be struggling with similar issues.
“I’ve always had a heart for this kind of ministry,” he said. “I’ve been through it all.”
Lockman first met Wilson, also a recovering addict, while serving time in the Jackson County Jail.
“Rick came to the jail to minister to inmates and talked to me, and that’s really the first time I had heard about The Alley,” Lockman said.
As part of an alternative sentence, Lockman did a 12-month faith-based recovery program called Teen Challenge in Terre Haute.
“It changed my life,” he said. “See, I grew up knowing about God and church, but when I went to Teen Challenge, I went from knowing about God to actually knowing him personally, and once I stepped into that relationship with God, my whole life changed.”
Once he completed the Teen Challenge program, he felt he owed a debt.
“I knew had it not been for God in my life, I would either be dead and in hell or back in prison,” he said. “So I knew I owed my life to him, and I knew I wanted to do ministry.”
He feels The Alley is a good fit for him, a place where he can make a difference in the community and in people’s lives.
“I never knew what I would do afterwards, but I knew in some way, in some form, I would be working with people who are like me,” he said.
Stepping up to serve God and the community in such a capacity is a daunting challenge, but it’s in his blood, Lockman said
“I’m a fourth generation preacher,” he said.
On June 18, he was ordained at Seymour Christian Church, where his father, Bill Lockman, is the head pastor and his mother, Love, is the children’s pastor. His grandfather, Elvin Gray, and his great-grandfather, Harley Hackler, also were ordained ministers.
“It was really special,” Stevie Lockman said. “I’m so blessed and thankful for the support I have from my family and everyone at Seymour Christian Church.”
One of Lockmans’s first goals for The Alley is to try to change its image from being a “church for those who don’t like church” to a church for everyone.
“I think people for the longest time have wanted to get behind The Alley, and now, they feel like they finally can,” he said. “I think there were some necessary changes that needed to be made, and I’m so excited to see what God has in store for us because there is such a need in our community and in these people’s lives.”
And there are ways for everyone to help and get involved, he said.
Currently, The Alley Kitchen is serving a hot meal to 100 to 150 people from 4:30 to 6 p.m. daily and also operates a pantry twice a month, providing groceries to people to take with them.
Celebrate Recovery classes are at 7 p.m. every Wednesday for those battling any kind of addiction.
One new outreach service Lockman has started at the church is helping people with criminal records and felony convictions find jobs.
“We partnered with SMX Staffing and Anchor Staffing, and in two weeks, we’ve got 11 people jobs,” he said. “And good jobs.”
At 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, the staffing agencies set up at The Alley and conduct interviews.
In August, the church is planning to start a free after-school tutoring program, where kids of all ages can come get help with schoolwork and where high school-aged students can volunteer.
Stevie also is working to restart The Alley’s jail ministry to minister to inmates.
The Alley also has volunteered to provide free transportation to local veterans who want to attend the South Central Indiana Stand Down resource event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 7 at Donner Park in Columbus.
And Sept. 9, The Alley again will put on the Thousand Ten Project, where volunteers pool their money and go out into the community to help people.
Just recently, the church members came together to do a free car wash in the parking lot of Save-A-Lot in Seymour as a way to let people know how The Alley can help.
“We washed around 80 cars,” Lockman said. “We didn’t do it for money, but it was a way to get our name out there and to let people know we are trying to do good stuff.”
Every month, the church is planning to do a different community project. Next month, they are going to be building wheelchair ramps for elderly and disabled residents.
When asked about where the church stands financially, Lockman said he’s not going to hide the fact that there is little money to operate on and the church’s lease at its current building is up at the end of the year.
“When I came into here, The Alley didn’t have the money,” he said. “They were in a tight spot, and they were thinking about closing down. I just knew that God wasn’t finished with The Alley.”
Although the church is in need of money, Lockman said the best way to raise it is not going out and asking for donations.
“It’s for us to serve and give our everything we have into helping other people, and God will bless us,” he said. “If we do that, there’s no way God is going to sit back and watch us fail. He is going to figure it out.”
In the past, The Alley hasn’t done enough to create partnerships with other churches, Stevie said.
“I think there’s no reason that every church in town can’t be involved with The Alley,” he said.
Lockman preaches every Friday night but said he is working to get other ministers to come in and preach on Friday’s, too, and is encouraging those at The Alley to attend different churches on Sundays.
“We want our people to be involved in church on Sunday, too,” he said. “Instead of focusing on our differences, we need to focus on our common ground, and that is God. I mean, we are the body of Christ.”
Attendance for Friday night services has increased, he said.
“We’re at about 110 right now, and we’ve seen our offerings double in the last month,” he said. “You can already see God is blessing us.”
He also wants The Alley to be a resource for parents and family members who don’t know how to help loved ones who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
“I want to be that place,” he said. “If you’re struggling or you know someone who is struggling or you just need support or need someone to pray for you or you need someone who has been in your shoes before.”
Lockman’s first sermon revolved around changing the culture of churches from “we should” or “we shouldn’t” to “me, too.”
“You’re going through some stuff. Me, too. You’re struggling. Me, too. Everybody’s got problems,” he said. “No matter what you’re going through, we’re all going through some stuff, too.”
The main mission of The Alley may be the same, but there are a lot of changes taking place for the better, he said.
“Anyone who has been to The Alley before, I would encourage them to try it again,” he said.
Where: 416 E. Second St., Seymour
The Alley Kitchen serves meals from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Volunteers and donations are needed.
Celebrate Recovery classes for those battling any kind of addiction are at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Weekly worship services are at 7 p.m. every Friday.
For more information: Call Pastor Stevie Lockman at 812-498-5505.