Luther Wallace Hatfield, known as Buck Hatfield (June 25, 1929 – February 14, 1995), was an Independent Baptist pastor who in 1969 founded Faith Baptist Church in Snyder, the seat of government of Scurry County in West Texas. In his preaching, Hatfield used the traditional King James Version of the Bible and was known for his humor and theatrics in the pulpit as well as his biblically-based optimistic spirit. He was often called to lead denominational revival services throughout West Texas and in other states.
...one thing you really have to watch is how the preacher spends the money. Some pastors with good intentions can bankrupt a church. And the church has to have responsible members in place to keep those kinds of preachers in line... - Buck Hatfield
Hatfield was born on a farm near Anson in Jones County, Texas, to Luther H. "Dukes" Hatfield (1902-1978) and the former Lema Goza (1906-2002), a native of Madison County, Texas. Hatfield had a sister, the late Doris Montag, and two brothers, Bruce M. Hatfield (born c. 1937) of Big Spring, Texas, and Jerry Weldon Hatfield (born 1939) of Snyder. His father nicknamed him "Buster", which was shortened to "Buck". Hatfield attended Noodle High School (named for the community of Noodle) near Merkel in Taylor County, Texas, but did not graduate.
Hatfield subsequently enrolled for the 1967-1968 academic year at Trinity Valley Baptist Seminary and College, which had been established in 1960 in Kennedale in Tarrant County near Fort Worth in what the institution calls the "cradle of fundamentalism." He graduated from the seminary, with much of his work done by correspondence. On its website, the seminary described itself as "Independent, Fundamental, King James Only."
Faith Baptist Church
After seminary, Hatfield and his immediate family lived for a time in Sweetwater in Nolan County, where they opened another restaurant. Hatfield's business experience proved particularly helpful to those in his congregation who were in the food-service business. Deborah Leigh Alexander, a member of one of his congregations, recalled that "It was a great blessing to have a preacher who could relate to things we went through as restaurant owners. He gave us insight in dealing with employees in a Christian manner. And he talked frankly about the everyday frustrations and responsibilities we were living through. He knew how to pray for our specific needs, and this was a special gift we appreciated."
He returned to Snyder and was associate pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church there. In December 1969, with some twenty-two believers, many being family members, Hatfield, then forty years of age, started Faith Church, which initially convened in a few meeting rooms of the Scurry County Coliseum in Snyder. The original church building began with barracks procured from the former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, temporary quarters which have since been expanded, updated, and consolidated at the original location, 208 37th Street in Snyder. In 1991, Jason Rogers, later a missionary in South America, succeeded Hatfield as pastor.
In 1984, Faith Baptist under Hatfield hosted the fundamentalist pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001) of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana in suburban Chicago, for a one-night revival meeting in the Scurry Coliseum. Independent Baptist churches from throughout the region, such as Ross Spencer of Bethany Baptist Church in Lubbock, sent members by bus to hear the nationally known Hyles, a native of Ellis County, Texas. Hatfield himself also preached at Hyles's church in Hammond. Faith's website proclaims that the church "believes in old-fashioned preaching, King James Bible, door-to-door visitation, and loving the brothers and sisters in Christ!"
After his twenty-one years at Faith Baptist, Hatfield entered the field of evangelism for three years and pastored Grace Baptist Church in Early in Brown County in Central Texas until his retirement in 1994.
Hatfield once said that a church could be permanently split over the selection of the color of the carpet in the sanctuary, but "one thing you really have to watch is how the preacher spends the money. Some pastors with good intentions can bankrupt a church. And the church has to have responsible members in place to keep those kinds of preachers in line because they have no concept of handling money."
On March 31, 1952, Hatfield married the former Shirley Faye Webb (born 1934) in Sweetwater in Nolan County in West Texas. A native of Merkle, she has resided in Midland since 1999. Both generations of Hatfields moved to Snyder in 1953 to operate a restaurant, the Sweet's Shop Drive-in. Hatfield's mother worked in the business for more than forty years. The Sweet's Shop remained in family hands until 2007, when Jerry Hatfield sold it.
The Hatfields had three sons and a daughter: Larry Don Hatfield (born 1953) of Midland, Robert "Bob" Hatfield (born 1958) of San Angelo, Texas, Shari Faye Hatfield (born 1962) of Hobbs, New Mexico, and Ronnie Keith Hatfield (born 1964) of Sweetwater.
Hatfield died at Cogdell Memorial Hospital in Snyder some three months after the diagnosis of cancer of his adrenal glands. Services were held at Faith Baptist Church with the Reverend Jason Rogers officiating. Interment was at Hillside Memorial Gardens north of Snyder.
- Social Security Death Index. ssdi.rootsweb.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2009.
- History of Faith Baptist Church, Snyder, Texas, Texas. freewebs.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2009.
- Obituary of Lema G. Hatfield, March 22, 2002. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on September 23, 2009.
- Statement of Shirley Hatfield, widow of Luther Wallace Hatfield, Midland, Texas, to historian Billy Hathorn, March 8, 2008
- Deborah Leigh Alexander (2011). A Wounded Daughter's Survival: A Damaged Life Healed by Hope and Truth. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 317. ISBN 978-1-46203302-7. Retrieved on June 22, 2014.
- Staff of Faith Baptist Church. freewebs.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2009.
- L.W. "Buck" Hatfield obituary, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, February 15, 1995
- Sweet's Shop of Snyder, Texas. urbanspoon.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2009.