He is new to Liberty County, and this is his first pastorship, but he is not new to doing God’s work.
Charlotte, N.C., native Pastor Mike Buckley has served as the full-time pastor of Westside Baptist Church, 108 N. Welborn St. in Hinesville, since September 2012.
Buckley, who served as a youth pastor for 20 years in North Carolina, said his vision is to see people respond and grow closer to God. He also makes it a priority to build lasting bonds between members of the church family.
“Jesus established the church to be a community of believers, a family, to encourage each other in unity and to project His love to the world,” Buckley said. “As a family, our goal is to love each other without conditions or expectations. We confess that we are unable, on our own, to practice the unconditional love demonstrated by our Father, but we pray and desire that he empowers us to demonstrate His love to you and those around us.”
Buckley credits two of his former pastors as being instrumental in his spiritual growth and having a profound impact on his ministry.
“Pastor Bryce Augsburger was my pastor when I was a child. I grew in Christ under him, and he was also the president of the Bible college I attended,” said Buckley, who has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies and music.
“Pastor Coye Still, who was my most recent pastor, also helped me tremendously,” he added.
Buckley advises pastors to be sure they are where God wants them to be.
“It is not about the size of the congregation, or the salary you are paid,” he said. “It is not about the people’s response. It is where God wants you to be.”
Buckley and his wife, Mary, have been married for 39 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. Buckley said he and his wife used to do family research as a hobby.
Westside Baptist has services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays. The evening service also is an informal Bible study, Buckley said. Sunday school is at 9:45 a.m. Bible study is at 6 p.m. Wednesdays. The church has a soup kitchen from 5-7 p.m. Saturdays. Westside Baptist also has a 200-seat auditorium.
Buckley said membership is comprised largely of retired military, local and active-military members.
Edith Anderson is the author of “Dare to Soar” and “Lack of Knowledge.”