Name: Pastor J. Dale Hardy
Church: Sonshine Baptist Church
Location 23105 Veterans Blvd., Port Charlotte
Service Times: 9 a.m. Traditional Sunday Service, 10:15 a.m. Sunday School, 11:15 a.m. Modern service
How did you get your start as a pastor?
“I did not grow up in the church. My grandmother made me go to church occasionally.
“After graduating high school, I went into the Air Force. I had gone to church about three times while in the Air Force for weddings, which were all done in Korean. When I returned home, my father asked me to watch him get baptized and I did. There was something that kept drawing me to this particular church that my father had went to.
“In March of 1981, I received Christ as my savior. After that I kind of drifted in and out of the church. I had developed a five-year goal plan which the church was not a part of. But God had a plan for me, and in 1985 I went to Bible college thinking I would be involved in the missionary.
“I had met my wife in Bible college and we then had three children. As we grew as a family, I helped start a church in Gainseville than went to Arkansas to run a Christian school. In 1999, I came here to Sonshine as Associate Youth Pastor. And then in 2008, we were called to pastor at another church and returned to Sonshine in 2014. After Pastor Bill Bales retired, I took over the position.”
What makes your church or congregation unique?
“We are a very outwardly focused church community that participates and partners with community programs like schools, law enforcement, the Homeless Coalition, to name a few. We do a lot of training and building people up. We are a friendly, warm and giving congregation.”
What is the most challenging thing about what you do?
“To continually see our community through the eyes of Jesus. To not let the ways of the world and wisdom effect how we minister to the community.”