New First Alliance pastor reflects on travels, camaraderie in the ministry

Thursday, October 18, 2018
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Photo by Andrew Turck

Dale Bucich, pastor for First Alliance Church in Hardin, stands beside the building’s stained-glass window and cross Tuesday afternoon. He arrived to town beginning mid-June from his previous parish in Polson, Mont.

Back when Dale Bucich belonged to the Covenant Players youth group, one of its members told him he would make a good pastor. His response? “Psssh, yeah right.”

Bucich is the newest pastor at First Alliance Church along the 900 Block of 1st Street West in Hardin. He moved to town in mid-June from his previous parish in Polson, Montana with his wife, Heather-Mae, and two children. According to Bucich, he is excited to meet the people in town and “plug into the community.”

Arriving to Hardin in the summer made it difficult to meet the locals, he said, as everyone already was out and about. So far, he continued, he has learned about people in the area through enrolling his kids in school.

Originally from Alaska – a state he refers to as “the place I called home,” where he graduated high school – Bucich has since traveled to many countries across the globe.

After becoming a Christian his sophomore year of high school in 1986, Bucich said, he was invited to a youth group, which he joined.

Originally, he believed a few years of military service would give him the time, outlook and skills to figure out his identity as a person. His attempts to enlist were stopped, however, due to his struggles with epilepsy.

Needing something else to do, he got involved with youth leadership at his church in 1990. While there, he was encouraged to look beyond himself to see how he could be a help to others.

With the Covenant Players – who he calls a “seed-planting ministry” – he proceeded to spend 11 years traveling across the United States, Taiwan, China, Australia and finally Canada, where he met his wife. It was during this period that he gave a speech, causing someone to realize his potential as a pastor.

During this period, Bucich said, he felt the call to pastoral ministry. Explaining this inclination, he said he wanted to “walk with people…just as people walked with me when I was young and searching and having some tough questions.”

“I couldn’t find these answers on my own,” he noted.

Bucich spent the next five years in Alaska, studying to become a pastor and taking college courses. Later, he applied and was accepted into a seminary based in Iowa, where he finished his undergrad while Heather-Mae took classes to become a nurse.

In 2015, Bucich received a call requesting he come to Polson, Montana, where he spent the next three years helping their local church.

Though he has heard the phrase “it’s hard in Hardin” on occasion to describe his new ministry site, he believes the area has “a lot to offer” and hopes to continue helping parishioners navigate the joys and trials of life.

The church may be reached at (406) 665-1882.