On Faith: Newport Man’s Journey from Businessman to Co-Pastor

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“It has been an exciting year, full of twists and turns, but God has been faithful through it all,” explained Bucky Dennis, co-Pastor of Watermark Church. “We just celebrated our first year in September. When you step out in faith and are involved in planting a church, or merging churches, there is incredible risk, but God does His best work when we are at the edge of our faith. It’s an adventure!”

“When you see people give of their money and their time, and they desire to love God more, you see people at their best. It changes you. God has grown me so much as a result of having to depend on Him. I am a different person.”

Bucky and his wife Kathleen raised their family and have lived in Newport for 27 years.  Bucky worked in business until he felt God call him out of it 20 years ago. For the next 15 years he was the Pastor of Families at Mariners, and then left to plant Pathways Church.

“Mariners helped me start Pathways, where I was the pastor for five years,” Bucky explained. “As a church planter, I realized I had to partner with other churches for support, understanding and help. That’s where I met John Blue, and that began a five-year journey, which became a friendship. We realized we were better together and merged our two churches; we serve as co-Pastors at Watermark, each with our own strengths.”

“That is something very distinct about Watermark,” he continued. “Half the time John works outside the church, like a missionary to other churches in Orange County. He uses his talents to help churches collaborate and use their resources to be more effective in reaching their cities. My role is inside the church, in management. I use my UCLA MBA training, to develop and disciple people.”

“John and Bucky are a great team; their different teaching styles really compliment one another.” said Nancy Fichtner, Newport resident. “Jeff and I have known Bucky since Mariners, and always appreciated how authentic and humble he is. We attended Pathways before Pathways and Pacific Point merged, so we’ve been at Watermark from the beginning.”

“Watermark feels like family,” Nancy continued. “John and Bucky go out of their way getting to know people. We often have lunch together as a church family, which gives people an opportunity to hang out together. I like the mix of ages, from young families to seniors, and I love that we pray for other churches in the area. We talk about being ‘one church’ all the time.”

Bucky said statistics state that 8 to 12 percent of the people in Orange County attend church, so more churches are needed, as is a new understanding of success.

“Success isn’t about how many people come, but how many people we equip and send out to live as missionaries in Orange County,” Bucky said. “Our culture has shifted and is now post-Christian; people are not accustomed to going to church anymore, so we have to go to them. At Watermark, we say that church begins when the service ends; this is just the pre-game meeting. What matters is living like Jesus in the community, being His hands and feet.”

Bucky explained that the name came from a church member. It was chosen because a watermark is used as a mark of authenticity, showing that something is real. He said it fits with the mission of the church: “Developing disciples who reflect the image of Christ.”

Watermark meets on Pullman Avenue, and is launching it’s a second site next month in Santa Ana. It will be a bi-lingual service. For further information, visit watermarkoc.org.

Cindy can be reached at [email protected].


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