Georgia pastor Steve McEntyre makes career shift, but still rescuing the perishing


MARIETTA, GA – Steve McEntyre has had two careers that have called for him to rescue the perishing, first as a firefighter and now as a minister.

McEntyre, pastor of Cheatham Hills Baptist Church in Marietta, served 21 years as a firefighter in Cherokee County.

“Pastors and firefighters are all about rescuing the perishing,” he said. “It takes passion and an unquenchable resolve to rescue people from burning buildings. And it takes the same kind of driving force and sense of calling to seek to rescue people from the fires of eternal retribution."

McEntyre started his career as a firefighter in 2001 when he was 30, eagerly taking on the rigors of training.

“On our backs we had to wear protective equipment and a self-contained breathing apparatus, weighing seventy pounds in all,” McEntyre said. “Our training including exercises in working simulated fires, wrecked cars, injured people, and a variety of emergency situations.”

McEntyre continued, “The six months of instruction included three months of fire training and three months of schooling as Emergency Medical Technicians. I did some additional training to become a paramedic which provided special skills in advanced life support. The knowledge this additional training provided me the ability to resuscitate people and bring them back to life.”

The heartbreak of McEntyre’s role as a firefighter was seeing many children and families die because of fires that had already engulfed the occupants’ residences.

However, he also had some admirable rescues. One one occasion a gentleman was burning a candle, went to sleep and the candle fell and set his bedroom on fire. To escape the burning inferno, he fell down the stairs, and was knocked unconscious. McEntyre and another firefighter pulled him out of the house, handed him to a police officer who put him on a stretcher. He survived the smoke inhalation and lived. McEntyre sighed, “Unfortunately those stories of survival are too few and far between.”

The former Cherokee County firefighter encountered fires, wrecks, shootings, stabbings, and cardiac arrests in the course of his duties; and he hailed the fire department he worked for as the most progressive in the state of Georgia. “They have started a SWAT Medical Team,” McEntyre added, “and they train with the police and respond with them on calls. This is particularly important in situations where officers face the risk of serious injury..”

The Cheatham Hill pastor is beginning to see his church grow and his vision for the church is clear and will assuredly produce good fruit.

“In the firehouse you have a variety of personalities and lifestyles, and you must learn how to relate to the diverse and disparate people with whom you work,” he said. “It is the same way in the church. Keeping harmony in the fellowship of believers is of paramount importance. Churches must be known as a community of love and compassion.

McEntyre said firefighters and pastors must learn to look beyond their fellow workers or church members and build good relationships in their communities.

“As firefighters, we tried to build good relationships with the public,” he said. “We would go to schools and try to win the favor of the children, tell them not to be afraid of us, and not to play with fire. In the church we try to win the favor of the community and give them all the attention and love possible. We also try to teach them to avoid the things that would hurt them and look to the One who can save them and give them hope.

McEntyre said both firefighters and pastors also are often called upon to help people deal with grief.

“Mothers and fathers are grief stricken when they have a child who died in a fire, and since firefighters are first responders and the first to encounter grieving parents, they must learn how to comfort those who are in emotional trauma,” he said. “Similarly, pastors must help sorrowing people cope with the traumas that invade their lives.”