GREENWOOD, Ind. — David Stephenson wanted to be a farmer
from the time he was 6 years old. He remembers watching his uncle milk Holsteins
on a dairy farm and will never forget the day his uncle brought home a brand new
Allis Chalmers 190XT tractor.
It would be years later, after working and raising two sons
with his wife, Cindy, before he would retire and begin pursuing his dream of
“It’s been a big learning curve, learning the business side
of it,” said Stephenson, who has been farming for four years. “I’ve tremendously
enjoyed it. It’s something I wanted to do my whole life.
“No one in my family farmed other than my Uncle Otto. As a
young boy, I would go up and spend a few weeks in the summer with him. It was
When his uncle died milking cows in the barn a few years
later, Stephenson had no other farm experience until high school. He worked for
a farmer in Franklin and afterwards was unable to start his own farm because of
high startup costs.
“I retired from Rolls Royce and I started farming my own
ground and other people wanted me to farm their ground,” he recalled. “It just
kind of went from there.”
As much as he loves agriculture, Stephenson’s story is about
much more than becoming a farmer. He also serves as pastor of a church in
“Pastoring is first and foremost in my life,” he said. “The
church I pastor at is called the Restoration Church, and I love seeing lives
transformed, especially people who were struggling in life. To see their lives
change and be able to put the pieces back together, to be able to be productive
once again, that’s one of the things that really makes me proud.”
Stephenson also enjoys designing church buildings and loves
the construction phase. Perhaps it is the same love for growth that draws him to
His church started as a Bible study with 16 people in the
living room of his house.
“The church grew, and we asked the Lord to provide a
building,” he said. “We bought an old machine shop in Greenwood a year later.
That became our home. And then we built another brand new church four years
later and moved there.”
Stephenson estimates that the size of the congregation now
is around 130 people when everyone is there at the same time.
He feels that agriculture and religion are tied together in
an important way.
“I feel a definite connection,” he said. “While farming, you
get to see the things that God has in store for us that grow. There are
sometimes that it grows under adverse conditions, and you know only God could
allow that to happen.
“There are sometimes when I’m out in the tractor, out in the
middle of a field, and I might see a big red-tailed hawk. It takes you back to
the part of nature that you normally are not close to. I love to smell the dirt
being turned. The sky. The sun. I’ve been in the tractor when I’m seen some of
the most beautiful sunsets. You get away by yourself, and sometimes I’ve had the
Lord deal with me even in messages I speak here in church from ideas he’s given
me out in the fields.”
His four grandchildren enjoy spending time with him on the
tractors. He said that they have ridden in the combine and seen the corn come
in, and he looks forward to teaching them more about farming as they grow.
On top of being a pastor, farmer and a grandfather,
Stephenson has served on the Clark Pleasant Community School Corp. for 15 years.
He has served as president, vice president and secretary. Currently, he is a
Stephenson also hopes to get involved in 4-H by joining the
Johnson County Fair Board in the future.
He is grateful for his farmer friends who have helped him
learn the ropes. The local farming community welcomed Stephenson and encouraged
him throughout his first few years farming, he said.
“I eat lunch with my farmer buddies at McDonalds every day,”
he said. “All my farmer friends are older than me, in their 70s. They are a
great, tight-knit group of guys.
“They look out for each other and certainly looked out for
me. They didn’t have to help me, but if it hadn’t been for them, I couldn’t have
One of the best pieces of advice came from his close friend,
Howard Young: “We will plant no matter what the weather does — we will plant
when God says its time to plant.”
Today, Stephenson has an Allis Chalmers 190XT tractor, just
like his Uncle Otto did. He is working on restoring it to enjoy for many years
down the road.