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  • Writer's pictureSandee Caviness

4th of July Grand Marshals, Sara & Steve Bowyer

Open ‘6 Front Doors’ to Unity & Community Spirit

Sara & Steve Bowyer  | Photo by Barbara Sherman
Sara & Steve Bowyer | Photo by Barbara Sherman

In selecting a Grand Marshal, we honor those who embody the heart of our community—individuals who exemplify what it means to be a good neighbor and rolling up their sleeves to support those around them. This year, Pastor Steve Bowyer and his wife Sara epitomize this spirit, and thus chosen as Grand Marshals for their unwavering dedication to our community.

When Steve and Sara arrived in Munds Park in 2015, they aimed to go beyond their roles as pastor and pastor’s wife. They wanted to actively engage with the community, warmly welcoming everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Steve and Sara immersed themselves in volunteerism, becoming integral members of various community organizations. They are both active members of the Pinewood Fire Auxiliary, where Sara previously served as Vice President, and Steve currently serves as President of the Board. Their dedication to this role reflects their belief in the Auxiliary’s essential support for our Fire Department and the broader community.

Further, Steve serves as Chaplain for the Pinewood Fire Department, attending all District Board Meetings and providing support during challenging times. He is also a member of the Munds Park Business Alliance, where he fosters growth and mutual support among local business owners.

In addition to their community service, Steve and Sara fostered inclusivity within the church, organizing gatherings that welcome everyone in Munds Park, regardless of church affiliation. Their events start with a lively LUAU each summer, featuring good food, games, and a warm atmosphere of friendship.

They host two movie nights each summer—one under the stars in July and another indoors in August—offering popcorn and water, while guests bring their own chairs and blankets. Another enjoyable activity is the Rough Riders Club, a group of locals who explore Coconino forest trails in their side-by-sides, enjoying the ride and connection and of course, all are welcome.

A standout event is the annual Soup’er Bowl, held on the eve of the Super Bowl, where neighbors come together to savor and vote on an array of homemade soups. Categories for the winning soups include the spiciest, heartiest, most likely to pack on pounds, and more.

They also host a Thanksgiving feast complete with all the trimmings, warmly welcoming those in the Park who may find themselves alone during the holiday or simply wish to give thanks in the company of friends.

As the season winds down, Oktoberfest brings together residents for brats, sauerkraut, fire pits, s’mores, and celebrating the season.

Every event organized by the Munds Park Community Church is a gift to the community, made possible by the church and its generous supporters.

Naturally, the church offers enriching experiences tailored to its congregation, including Bible Studies, fellowship gatherings for both men and women, Vacation bible school for the kids, and church services that resonate with today’s seekers.

The church doubles as a Red Cross shelter, offering warmth during severe snowstorms and a place to charge devices during extended power outages. Steve highlights the shelter as a testament to the importance of community involvement. “During a severe snowstorm, how do we notify people that we’re open?” Steve poses. “Friends call friends,” he explains. “Community events are crucial—not just for the church but the entire community. When someone faces hardship, they won’t reach out to a stranger. So, when the power goes out in winter, the snow piles up, and it gets bitterly cold indoors, it’s friends who check in on each other.” These community events aim to foster relationships and build friendships, creating bonds between neighbors. Steve believes this is essential for a strong and healthy community.

Sara highlighted that the Munds Park Community Church embraced Steve’s unique approach, which he calls the ‘6 front doors’. This philosophy reflects Steve’s belief that community begins at one’s doorstep and extends to the neighbors around you.

Steve strives to be a pastor who leads by example with integrity and a genuine desire to connect people to Jesus and each other. While skilled in guiding Christians on a deeper spiritual journey, he pondered how to foster connections with those who did not share his faith. Surrounded by Christians—family, friends, and church members—he sought to form genuine friendships outside his circle of believers.

During his time in Granger, Indiana, while contemplating Acts 17:26—”... and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”—Steve reflected on the divine purpose of his location. “God decides when and where you live; there’s meaning in your exact location,” he said. One day, while retrieving the mail, he stood at the mailbox and noticed he could see 6 front doors. This moment sparked a profound realization: each door represented a responsibility. “The first door was my own. My integrity, character, and care for my wife and children were my first responsibility. Then I saw my neighbors and the houses across the street—placed here by God for a reason, regardless of their faith.” This is where the story begins. Steve saw this as a responsibility and an opportunity to build community across religious divides. Thus began the journey of bringing neighbors together and forging bonds that strengthen communities—starting with the 6 front doors of his neighborhood.

Steve and Sara began by fostering connections—talking to neighbors over the fence, inviting them over for coffee, grilling burgers together, and simply being friendly. These acts of neighborly kindness revealed shared interests that strengthened bonds, highlighting that authentic connections are essential for nurturing strong communities.

Steve and Sara brought their ‘6 front doors’ philosophy to the church and quickly realized that Munds Park’s community was already living it. Neighbors hosted block parties, happy hours, and regular get-togethers, providing a fertile ground for Sara and Steve to expand this philosophy within their fellowship.

“Church isn’t just a building across the highway; it’s wherever people gather,” Steve emphasizes. As the church and its members became more involved in Munds Park community activities, the perception of ‘church people’ shifted—from judgmental and distant to kind and friendly—as it should be.

Sara acknowledges the challenges of their philosophy, saying, “It requires vulnerability to reach out to neighbors you don’t know. It’s easy to come home from work, close the door, and retreat into comfort. But true community involvement is messy—it means embracing relationships with all their complexities.” Steve adds, “Engaging with neighbors is both easy because they’re right there and difficult because they’re right there.” However, bringing the community together and supporting each other is a gift that knows no bounds and is well worth the effort.

Sara concludes, “Often, churches turn inward, inadvertently excluding those who seek warmth and connection. We choose to focus outward—no hidden agendas. While we hope our actions reflect Jesus’s love, our primary goal is simply friendship.”

Editor’s Note

As the editor of Pinewood News, I have the privilege of meeting with community members who share their stories. I’ve had the experience of being deeply moved by two individuals who recounted their personal hardships. Neither were church members, yet both spoke of how Steve and Sara profoundly impacted their lives. It wasn’t through church affiliation but through genuine, compassionate support during a difficult time that left a lasting impression. Today, both count themselves as part of the church community, and they are deeply thankful for Steve and Sara’s empathetic generosity.

Their heartwarming stories deepened my esteem for Sara and Steve.

I’d like to share something personal with you. As most of you know, Genna and I are gay and have been married for over 30 years. We remember a time when we couldn’t easily share this information. Today is different, but it is still a challenge because the gay community likes to push the limits of acceptance, and pastors and their wives can be extra sticky territory for us—not with Steve and Sara. They know who we are, and never once have they judged us, tried to convert us, or even bring us into the church and wash us of our sins. They simply were kind people we enjoy being around. Genna considers Sara a good friend, and Sara has helped Genna through some difficult times. When I learned I needed open-heart surgery and couldn’t travel back to Munds Park, it was Sara who dropped everything to drive Genna to Phoenix to be with me. Not only that, the church lent a financial hand, knowing we were struggling at that time—we’re not even members of the church. We are forever thankful for their help.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me that Steve is a pastor and Sara is a pastor’s wife. Those titles alone don’t guarantee genuine kindness and love—it’s their actions that truly define them. They demonstrate immense kindness and acceptance toward anyone who crosses their path. Normally, I wouldn’t share something so personal, but I believe it’s important to share the love and support Steve and Sara extend to us and those around them. We can all use a good story to uplift our spirits now and then.

One last note. As you know, Genna and I recently moved to Rimrock, and our neighbors are all new to us. We’ve connected with one couple on the block, but the guy across the road? He drinks too much, doesn’t work, and seems a bit odd. Naturally, I judged him for all these things.

I hadn’t seen him the past few weeks and wondered where he was, but I never crossed the street to check on him. However, while writing this article, I thought about my neighbor and Steve’s words. When I took a break from writing, I decided to check on him.

It turns out our neighbor is a veteran who flew cargo planes for the Air Force and is a carpenter by trade. Somewhere along his journey, he lost his way. He hasn’t been around lately because he is sick and on the verge of eviction. He lacks the resources to sell his last remaining possessions. He has a beautiful dog, loved by everyone on the block. I know this because I watch neighbors who walk by have treats at the ready just for Jazzy. He broke down in tears as he told me he would have to surrender his only companion.

As I listened to him, Sara’s words about how getting to know your neighbors can be messy ran through my mind. What a can of worms this was. I silently cursed Steve for planting this idea in my head. But when the conversation ended, my heart swelled. I went home and told Genna, “We’re up—it’s time to lend a hand.”

Love thy neighbor, 1 door at a time.


Sallie Brown
Sallie Brown
Jun 30

What a great article about the Bowyer's. Also, the editor's note was great.


Gail VanDeurzen
Gail VanDeurzen
Jun 27

Pastor Steve and Sara have a way of touching hearts.

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