Meet Dutilh’s Newest Youth Minister, Bud Fickley
Fun Facts You May Not Know About Bud Fickley:
He loves music—especially country and contemporary Christian.
Bud and Grace are fans of PBS’s entire Masterpiece Collection, and of the show Victoria in particular.
Bud’s given name is George Fickley. He is the fifth “George” in his family, and his son Tripp is the sixth. Before Tripp, the previous four Georges all share the nickname “Bud.”
The last movie he saw was Disney’s Coco.
Bud Fickley did not set out to be a youth minister. Throughout his college career, Bud planned on becoming a mechanical engineer—and in fact, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in that field. But God had other plans for this Pittsburgh native who joined the Dutilh community in January.
Born and raised in the Westwood neighborhood near Greentree, Bud graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 2005 and spent the next four years studying engineering at Grove City College. During that time, God planted a number of seeds that only came to fruition later in Bud’s life.
Grove City is where Bud first met his future wife, Grace—though they were just friends for years before dating and eventually marrying. It’s where Bud, who grew up Presbyterian, first encountered the United Methodist Church. And it’s where Bud first realized the Lord might be calling him toward something other than mechanical engineering.
Bud’s journey to youth ministry actually started in high school. As a teen, Fickely was involved with Walk to Emmaus, a Christian spiritual renewal group. During an Emmaus walk in college, Bud encountered a married couple who served as worship leaders at Slippery Rock United Methodist Church (SRUMC). Because of them, Bud decided to check out the faith community at SRUMC. There, he found a spiritual home.
Throughout his sophomore, junior, and senior years in college, Bud grew increasingly involved at SRUMC. He graduated with his mechanical engineering degree in 2009—in the middle of a recession.
“God used that as my Jonah and the Whale moment,” Bud recalled, explaining that though he was trying to head in one direction, God was sending him in another. “No one was hiring. And right about that time, my pastor approached me and said, ‘You have a call to ministry.’”
SRUMC was hiring a new student minister, and the pastor offered Bud the job. He spent the next two years as director of youth and children’s ministries at SRUMC.
In 2011, just as Bud was starting to contemplate whether it might be time to move on from his role at SRUMC, he found himself on another Emmaus Walk—and at another crossroads. Once again, unbidden, someone approached Bud to suggest that he might be the perfect fit for an open position at First United Methodist Church in Murrysville.
“It was a God thing,” Bud said. “It was so random. I had just started thinking it might be a good time to leave and this opportunity appeared.” Bud moved to Murrysville and spent the next seven years as director of youth and program ministries. During that time, he married Grace and they welcomed their son Tripp to the family. And Bud found that ministry is indeed his calling.
“Teens are going through such profound life changes,” Bud said. “Being there as they go through these revelations about God, love, the people in their lives—it’s great.” He particularly enjoys his ministry with young people. “Teens are easy to work with because I expect them to do stupid things sometimes,” he said. “When they do stupid things, we work through it together and move on.”
The best part of his job at Dutilh Church, Bud said, is that he gets to focus just on teens rather than the various auxiliary roles of worship leader, assistant pastor, and program coordinator that accompanied his previous jobs.
Despite the long hours inherent in student ministry work, the role has definite perks. “Every time a kid has that eye-opening moment where they realize, This is who Jesus is!—and that moment looks different for every kid—it’s the best part of my job,” he said. “The first time I get to have a conversation with him or her after that moment, you can see the difference in them, that realization.”