Lead Pastor

Richard "Buck" Wheat

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Buck was born in Dallas, Texas and has been in West Texas/Southeast New Mexico for over 24 years. He loves being in the area and now thinks of West Texas as home.

He has been in full-time, vocational ministry for over 27 years and served in several churches, part-time, while he was in college and seminary.

Buck graduated from Baylor University in Waco, TX in 1987 and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX in 1992.

Buck met his best friend and wife, Melinda, while they were students at Southwestern. They have different stories surrounding how they met, but they have no doubt that God has called them to be family. Buck and Melinda married in 1991 and have been blessed with two incredible children; Micah and Graci-Mei.

Buck enjoys several outdoor activities; Backpacking, Snow Skiing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Running, and working in the yard just to name a few. He also enjoys playing games with others; 42, Hearts, Spades, and his favorite game is Pit. Buck believes that playing games and praying together are great ways to get to develop deep, lasting relationships.

Buck’s favorite ice cream is Jamocha Almond Fudge and has been known to drive out of his way to secure a large, Jamocha Almond Fudge shake.

Buck’s life verse is:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loves me and gave Himself for me.” - Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Buck has a servant’s heart and counts himself blessed to be at South Seminole Baptist Church. His greatest desire is to know Christ intimately and make much of His glory to the ends of the earth and to walk with others so they too may know and passionately pursue Him as Lord of their lives.

Student/Family Pastor

Gary Early

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Gary was born in Midland, Texas and moved to North Texas when he was four years old and later moved to Northeast Texas when he was in high school. 


Gary married his wife, Mindy on August 31st 1991. 


Mindy graduated from Redwater High School and got her Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from Baylor. 


Gary and Mindy have two children. A daughter, Carson, who is a freshman at Hardin-Simmons University, and a son, Greer, who is in 7th Grade. 


Gary graduated high school from Pleasant Grove in Texarkana, and got a bachelors degree in communications from Stephen F. Austin, and a Masters in Christian Education with a youth emphasis from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He has been in the ministry for over 18 years, serving in churches in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.  


Gary enjoys all kinds of sports, but mainly football.  His two favorite teams are the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys! Gary foresees two championships coming this year. Gary also loves hunting, fishing and just being outside. 


“We are so glad to be a part of South Seminole.  God’s going to do some awesome things through this church and we get to be a part of it!”

-Gary Early

Certified Ministerial Assistant

Peggy Whitaker

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Peggy has been an invaluable part of the ministry team at South Seminole since 2003.  She has been married to Lynn Whitaker since 1977 and has five children and seven granchildren.  Peggy handles the financial aspects and is the staff ministry assistant. 



Helen Klassen