Meet a true-life ghost hunter

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Founder of Christian Center for Paranormal Research Foundation

By Brent Schanding

When there’s something strange in the neighborhood, forget about calling Ghostbusters. Contact the Rev. Michael MacGowan, a plumber-turned-paranormal investigator, who’s on a real-life mission to bust ghosts.


About three years ago, MacGowan — who relocated to the Ovesen Heights area of LaRue County from Oklahoma — believes he saw the spirit of his mother at her own graveside service. She appeared younger, with her arms folded, he said, and stood beside her grave before her body was buried. 

“She shook her head and smiled, and then she was gone,” MacGowan said. “Since that time I haven’t seen her. But I believe, we may, at death, have a brief time to say good-bye.”

MacGowan started studying the paranormal at age 10, after his aunt died in a car accident.

“I thought I heard her voice calling my name,” he said.

His parents dismissed the occurrence—even after MacGowan claims he captured a ghost-like voice on a reel-to-reel recording device, saying “hey, hey.”

“It left a question in my mind,” MacGowan said.

So he delved into paranormal research—reading books and watching movies about supernatural phenomena.

“I studied all through my youth and adulthood,” he said.

In 1977, he founded the Christian Center for Paranormal Research Foundation, integrating scientific and technical research methods after he became an ordained minister in 1982.

“We focus our ministry the same way as any other ministry that is devoted to showing salvation, resurrection and the deity of Christ,” he said. “However, we also realize that there is a phenomenon known as the paranormal, or widely known as the supernatural.”

In addition to providing counseling services and lectures on paranormal activity, MacGowan, 50, leads a team of two other ministers and three highly-trained paranormal investigators, who probe hauntings, demon possessions and conduct excorcisms.

They also perform “house cleansings” for those who believe their home could be inhabited by spirits, he said.

“People that try to connect with spirits are asking the dark side to mimic a loved one,” he said. “But the enemy likes to masquerade himself.”

MacGowan said he’s actively pursued two out-of-state cases where demons have tried to possess small children. Only trained professionals should deal with spirits, he said.

MacGowan cited statistics, which suggest 90 percent of Americans believe in paranormal activity.

“I think there’s a growing populous of people who realize we are not alone,” he said.

A number of paranormal enthusiasts discuss ghosts on Internet message boards. And   popularity of shows and films about ghosts and paranormal activity has surged in the last few years.

A one-hour reality show debuted on the cable SyFy channel this year that documents a group of true-life paranormal researchers as they investigate alleged hauntings. The group — made up of office managers, factory workers, teachers and even psychic-hotline gurus — aim to understand seemingly unexplainable disturbances.

The CBS show, “Ghost Whisperer” stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as a spiritual mediator, charged with persuading “lost souls” to head towards the light.

Paramount Pictures released the scary psychological thriller, “Paranormal Activity,” just in time for the Halloween season. The movie is about a young, suburban couple terrorized by what they believe is a demon.

While MacGowan admits most shows and movies about spirits are well researched, he believes Hollywood tends to sensationalize some.

“There is power in the dark side. But it’s not the only power,” he said. “And there’s really no need to fear the idea of ghosts.”

That’s because there’s an ultimate good that can overcome evil spirits, MacGowan said.

“And his name is Jesus Christ.”