Wigan bishop who gave up pop career credits his religious calling to a chance encounter with Sir Tom Jones
Steven Evans, 55, of Living Faith Church in Orrell, who is originally from South Wales, went to the capital at a young age with the dream of a life on the stage.
In a whirlwind few days, he found himself performing at a famous venue and signed up to a manager, who had previously looked after one of his favourite bands.
He said: “I went to London as a 20-year-old to become a singer. My mum said I had to get a job and I didn’t fancy labouring or anything, so I thought I would be a pop star.
“I made a demo cassette and within four days of being there I was at the London Palladium, which was amazing. I just went to the stage door and did a couple of songs, that was it.
“In the space of a week there, Larry Page, who had managed The Kinks, started managing me. Not long after I started with a band called Heatwave, who had been a huge band.”
By 1996, Steven was performing at the Royal Variety Show and was being managed by Tony Calder, who had been The Beatles first publicist.
It was while talking to a Welsh music legend, he decided where his future lay.
“I was in the sound check with Tom Jones, and we went back to the dressing room for a chat and he said singing was his ‘calling,’ but I knew mine was really into the ministry.
“I had this sense of God, I’d become a Christian when I was 15. I knew it was the right decision, so even though I had gone from being with the rich and famous at VIP events I knew deep down inside I had to do it, which gave me momentum.
“I have no regrets at all. It’s interesting how these things work out.”
Despite being fully committed to his work at the Living Faith Church in Orrell, Steven occasionally still gets involved with the showbiz side of things and recently hosted a film premiere in Leeds.
He is also currently in the early stages of working on a new song, alongside ’80s singer John Parr, with one of the other churches he helps to oversee.
“I don’t chase those things, but sometimes I will do things with people in the industry.
“We’ve come up with this idea to help raise some money for charity and buy a hotel or something to give people a place to sleep instead of the freezing streets. We’re very passionate about it.
“I’m quite interested in what we can do.”
Steven can also be seen on TV on a regular basis, with his own programme on the Christian Channel.
“We started the first season last year and it ran for nine months, which was tremendous.
“I’ve interviewed some interesting guests and I teach lessons from the Bible for everyday use.
“I try to give a positive and practical message, helping people live their lives with attitudes which bring real results. If you can extend your mind to visualise things, that’s the first step to receiving them.”
Alongside his life in the church, Steven has been a Conservative councillor for Orrell since 2019.
He says he is not interested in party politics and more concerned about serving the community he represents.
“It’s about individual people. I don’t want to push party politics, especially in a church context, because it polarises people’s opinions. I want to help the people of Orrell regardless of political allegiance.
“It’s a privilege to be involved in Wigan’s political environment and meeting all the other people from other parties. We’ve had some tremendous exchanges, so it’s been a very positive experience for me.”
Steven decided to stand after a conversation with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg at the Conservative party conference.
“He said none of the bishops in his church would have attended, and I responded by saying ‘perhaps it would be better if they did and were involved, because if we’re going to be involved with people’s lives, we should be involved with all of it.’
“People need help with all the problems they are dealing with, not just the spiritual ones. The church needs to be much more practical than it has been, and politics in essence is aout the practicalities of life.
“It is an arena where we can extend our influence and is a very healthy thing for us to do.”
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