MANATEE -- The Rev. Glenn Buzbee took his first trip to Bradenton 20 years ago.
He was living and working in Kentucky at the time, and a member of his congregation invited him and his family to stay at their home on Anna Maria Island during a trip to Disney World.
While here, Buzbee and wife Chris thought it was a beautiful area; at one point Buzbee turned to her and said he hoped one day he would be called to serve in Florida.
Years later, that happened.
“God called me, not once but twice, to serve here,” Buzbee said.
The New Orleans native has been living in Bradenton since 2006 when he moved from Atlanta to become pastor of Palma Sola Presbyterian Church.
In October he started his new role as the pastor at Braden River Presbyterian Church.
“I love it here, these are wonderful people,” Buzbee said. “Everyone is friendly, I can’t say enough good things.”
The church serves about 100 people.
“My first goal is to develop connections with the people here,” said Buzbee. “I want them to see me as approachable.”
Buzbee, who has worked in both large and small churches, said he enjoys serving his current church because of its size.
“I can see everyone,” he said. “If someone is not there on a Sunday I can call them and ask if everything is OK.”
One tradition the church has that Buzbee plans to continue: giving to charity.
Members are holding a food and Christmas toy drive and plan on more outreaches in the coming months.
“We like to give back. Community is important to me and Chris,” said Buzbee.
They have taken mission trips to Kenya and to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
“We enjoy helping if we know there is a need,” said Chris Buzbee, a guidance counselor at Palmetto High School.
The couple, who have been married for 39 years, first met at a church camp, and have three children.
They are expecting their first grandchild next year.
“He’s very caring about people. He does a lot of research for his sermons and people usually tell him they like it,” Chris Buzbee said. “I didn’t marry a minister. He didn’t go to seminary school until we were married for 10 years.”
After serving as a minister for 24 years, Buzbee said he remains passionate about his calling.
He said he often pulls from current events as topics for his services.
“With the election coming up I’ll probably pull from that,” said Buzbee, who majored in political science at Louisiana State University in New Orleans.
Buzbee invites the community to come to his church and to take part in either contemporary service at 9:30 a.m. Sundays or traditional service at 10:30 a.m.
Paradise Afshar, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024.