Eli Buckley Continues Family Legacy with Ordination

When Eli Buckley was ordained into the gospel ministry on March 17 at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Pauline, he also was extending a family legacy of ministry.

A graduate of North Greenville University with a degree in health sciences, who earned a master’s in kinesiology from the University of Alabama, Eli served as a youth minister last summer at the Spartanburg County church, where he began to sense God tugging at his heart.

“I always saw myself serving and helping others through physical therapy,” Eli said. “However, God stirred my heart in the time I was interning at Philadelphia that I could have an impact through serving in full-time student ministry. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

An All-American track star, Eli was considering a vocation in physical therapy. After undergoing nine surgeries, he had experienced the ministry side of therapy through having a Christian therapist.

That experience “softened his heart for meeting people who were in a moment of crisis,” his father, Seth Buckley, told The Baptist Courier. Eli saw how he could “help them discover hope once again — but little did he know that God was just simply using that to shape his heart for eternal hope, not just physical hope,” Seth explained.

The third of four sons born to Seth and Robin Buckley, Eli represents the fourth generation in his lineage to enter church ministry, attesting to the impact of leaving a godly legacy upon future generations.

Seth, a former, long-time minister of students at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, served South Carolina Baptist churches for more than 35 years and was elected as second vice president of the SCBaptist convention in 2020. He was also a member of the board of trustees for The Baptist Courier in 2011-2015. He now works with his eldest son, Jacob, founder of the Fire Pit Ranch, which provides faith-based counseling, mentorships and retreat programs, especially for boys who may be without father figures.

Eli’s grandfather, Sidney L. Buckley, who was known as the “Baritone of the South,” frequently sang in churches and conventions as a music evangelist, making appearances in at least 43 states. Sidney served on the music faculties of Furman University, Central Wesleyan College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also was a former minister of music at Easley First Baptist Church and other congregations in the state. Seth, who like his dad possesses a powerful singing voice, told The Courier, “He [Sidney] devoted his gifts and talents to lift up the name of Jesus, and he loved to see his children and grandchildren serving Jesus.”

Eli’s great-grandfather, Porter Buckley of Goss, Miss., was a bivocational preacher who worked in a sawmill on weekdays and then preached on Sundays. He surrendered to preach when his son Sidney’s life was spared after a medical emergency, and answering a calling into the ministry changed his entire family.

Participating in Eli’s ordination will be Brandon Bowers, pastor of Awaken Church in Charleston, and Jason McLeod, who starred in the recent Christian movie, “Facing the Giants.” Both Bowers and McLeod were very influential in his spiritual journey. Also participating will be Kiah Graves, pastor of Philadelphia Church.

Eli recently became engaged to Alisa Rogers of Chapin and plans on attending seminary soon.

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