Steve Ellison grew up on the family farm in Board Camp, Arkansas and attended Board Camp Baptist Church. Steve has many fond memories from those days. Steve indicated that Pastor and Mrs. Vernual Ridgeway were instrumental in him coming to Christ and surrendering to the ministry, “Mattie was my Sunday School teacher and Brother Ridgeway was my pastor.” Pastor Ridgeway baptized Steve in Board Camp Creek when he was 13-years old. Steve graduated 3rd academically in the 1977 class of Mena High School. Steve participated in basketball and was a starter on the 1976 Arkansas State Champion Football Team from Mena. After high school, Steve earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Steve would later graduate with highest honors with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. Steve would also earn certification in Intentional Interim Ministry from the Center for Congregational Health in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He also earned certification in Basic Christian Apologetics from the Creation Apologetics Teachers College based in Idaho.
In 1984, Steve put his double majors of Physical Education and Social Studies to use as a public school teacher and coach for ten years in Gatesville, Texas. Steve also taught and coached in Cedar Hill, Texas as well as Waldron and Mena, Arkansas. Steve was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a student at Mena and in three of the schools he coached. That FCA involvement led him to raise the necessary funds to open an FCA office in Waco, Tex., where he served as that office’s first Area Representative. Steve ministered in more than two-hundred school campuses in a 12-county area around Killeen and Waco, including Baylor University. During this time, Steve was ordained to the gospel ministry by Trinity Baptist Church in Gatesville, Texas. Because of their FCA relationship, Grant Teaff preached Steve’s ordination message.
Steve served in FCA as a volunteer for many years and for nine years in a variety of paid positions. Steve explained, “Those years were a tremendous learning experience for me. I worked alongside many great and humble men, including Coach Teaff, Gene Stallings, Burton Lawless, Bobby Bowden, Cody Carlson, Tom Osborne, Spike Dykes, Tom Landry, and many others you have never heard of but who were just as awesome. During that time, I drove a church bus on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings for six years. Putting on large and small evangelistic events, teaching leadership training events, hiring staff, directing large summer camps, etc. for FCA taught me more than you could ever imagine.” Because of the FCA position, Steve began to receive requests to fill in for ill or traveling pastors. Before long, a small country church very near George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas asked Steve to be their bi-vocational pastor. He served there for four and one-half years while also continuing to serve as the Area Director for the Heart of Texas FCA. After that, Steve transitioned into a full-time pastorate in Oklahoma and later in the Hot Springs area.
While still in the Hot Springs area, in October of 2011, Steve received a call from Marvin Peters, then Associational Missionary for the Ouachita Baptist Association, asking if Steve would be interested in serving as the Manager and Administrator for the Ouachita Baptist Assembly. That presented a tough choice for Steve, “It was a chance to come home and work at a place I dearly love. However, I knew that God would have me pastor again.” Steve officially went to work for the OBA on Heath Valley Road on January 1, 2012. Within three weeks, he received a call from Horatio First Baptist Church to supply preach. That turned into a thirty-one month stint as their Interim Pastor. Very soon after finishing at Horatio FBC, Steve added Associational Missionary duties to his other OBA responsibilities. Since then, Steve has served as Interim Pastor at Mena FBC, Calvary Baptist Church, and Salem Baptist Church before being installed as permanent pastor at Salem Baptist Church. Steve has been recently selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine for 2018 and 2019.
Pastor Steve said, “Just as coming to the OBA was a difficult decision, so was the decision to leave the OBA. There are many things I will miss about leading the Assembly and Association, but I know that God has called me to pastor. Malea [his wife] and I look forward to being able to focus all my efforts on ministering in a local church, knowing that I will be remaining with that church. Malea has been by my side for all these years. She is the perfect pastor’s wife. There is not a better church pianist anywhere and we work very well together. She has been a tremendous help to me in all areas of ministry. I rely upon her for many things. I grew up four miles east of Salem. Malea grew up about six miles west of Salem. Salem seems very much like home to us. We look forward to many years of blessing here.”