our staff

  • Larry Buckland

    Lead Pastor

    Pastor Larry has a passion for carefully unpacking the truths of Scripture. He has served at LIFE United Methodist Church since its beginning in 2013 and in one of its two joining churches since 2006. He shares his home with his wife Christi and son Trey, where they enjoy WVU sports. A graduate of WVU and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Larry was selected and participated in the first Young Pastors Network led by Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter. Larry has and continues to serve on many UMC Conference and District committees. 

    Contact: larrybuckland@gmail.com

  • Amber Baker

    student associate pastor

    Amber has served at LIFE UMC since July 2012.  She is presently the point person for LIFE Groups, CARE Groups, and Congregational Care Ministry.  Amber is currently in her second year as a seminary student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary pursuing a Masters in Divinity.  Her goal is to become an Ordained Deacon for the United Methodist Church.

    Amber is a ministry catalyst and loves learning about Christian leadership.  She is passionate about helping others find their calling within the church and equipping them to utilize their skills and take them outside the walls.

    Amber and her husband Rick have been married for 15 years and have a son named Sawyer.  In her free time she likes to watch movies, travel and hang out with good friends.

    Contact: amberbaker.life@gmail.com

  • Brandon wood

    Nexgen pastor

    Brandon serves as the NexGen Minister for LIFE. He has served in Children’s and Youth ministry for over 20 years. He has a passion to study Scripture and teach those truths to Children and Youth in age appropriate, engaging, fun, and relational ways. 


    Brandon earned his Bachelor of Science in Religion: Biblical and Theological Studies from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing an M.Div. from Eastern Mennonite Seminary. 

    Brandon and his wife, Anna, were married in 2006. They have a daughter, Penelope. 


    In his downtime, Brandon enjoys coffee, conversations around theology, sports (hockey and football), and playing music.


    Contact: brandonpaulwood@gmail.com

  • Jeremy Batten

    Creative Director

    Jeremy serves as the Creative Director for LIFE. He has been a worship leader for 17 years, and with LIFE for the last 12 years. 

    His passion is to serve the community with art that strives for excellence each and every week. He believes, as the Psalmist says, that "God is worthy of our excellence." As Howard Shultz says 'You love people by leading them to excellence.'"

    Jeremy is passionate about updating old hymns, the marriage of ancient and new Worship, and congregational singing.

    In his downtime he enjoys cooking, mountain biking, and porch sitting.

    Contact: jeremybatten08@gmail.com

  • Anne Schooley

    Pianist/Choir Director

    B.S.& M.M. Degrees in Music Education & Vocal Performance. Advanced studies in music have been done at Carnegie Mellon Univ., Aspen School of Music, Westminster Choir College, Yale Undergraduate School. Anne has been involved in Church Music since a very early age as keyboard accompanist, vocal soloist, organist, and LIFE UMC Choral Director. Aside from Church Music performance, she maintains a private vocal studio in Fairmont and is Director and Founder of the St. Paul School of Music LIFE UMC which houses the "Born to Sing Showchoir & Friends Camp" and "Guitar Camp". The School of Music also offers private music instruction year round for all ages for instruments and voice.

    Contact: anschooley@mteer.com

  • Amy Merrill

    Youth Coordinator

    Amy attended Fairmont State University where she received her BA in Elementary Education (2010) and her MA in Reading Education (2012). She is currently teaching third grade at East Dale Elementary. She also coaches a FIRST Lego League robotics team, helps with LIFE Kidz events, and works for the Marion County Boys and Girls Club during the summer.

    Amy and her husband, Dusty, were married in June 2011 and live in Fairmont. They are in the habit of rescuing animals and as a result, have three cats named Wayne, Garth, and Ace, and a 4.5 lb. chihuahua named Ellie. Amy and Dusty enjoy good coffee, traveling, Apple products, and music.

    Contact: amymerrill.life@gmail.com


    Treasurer/Office Manager

    Karen joined the LIFE staff in 2015. She has a passion for numbers and finance so her position at LIFE is a great fit. With this position, she has achieved a life-long goal of working with finances in an environment that is family oriented and faith filled!!

    She lives in Fairmont with her husband, Dwayne, and 2 sons, Jacob and Nicholas. They also have 2 furry members in the family, kitties named Mack and Milo.

    What Karen enjoys most in life is investing time in relationships with family, friends and co workers. Relationships are at the heart of a fulfilled life!! For fun, she enjoys family nights with her hubby and their boys, watching NBA games, singing with the LIFE United praise team and anything else that brings peace to her heart and spirit. Life is too short...embrace every moment!!!

    Contact: karenangelo.life@gmail.com

  • Cassie Jo Garcia

    Missional Life Coordinator

    Even though Cassie is new to the position of Missional Life Coordinator, she's excited to jump right in planning and organizing new local and global mission trips. By working closely with the local missional organizations and the General Board of Global Missions of the United Methodist Church, she will be able to provide plenty of various mission opportunities for people within our church and community.

    In the summer of 2014, Cassie served as a Global Justice Volunteer in Nicaragua, which first inspired her to bridge her love of travel and learning about other cultures with Christ's call to his followers to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned in Matthew 25.