LEESBURG — Husband, father, pastor of two churches, artist, songwriter, musician and singer, Leesburg resident Mike Beezley is always on the go.
Beezley is the “Beez” half of the acoustic duo, Beez and the Rocker. They perform at local venues, providing a unique blend of rock and roll on covers and original songs. “The Rocker,” Scott Hardy, plays bass guitar and does backup vocals. Beezley writes the original songs they perform, sings lead vocals and plays the ukulele, an instrument he picked up and started playing after a 2012 trip to Hawaii.
Beezley grew up in the North Webster area. He and his wife, Hope, met when they both attended North Webster Junior High. Hope teaches Bible journaling classes and does jail ministry. Their daughter, Ella, is a freshman and honor roll student at Wawasee High School.
Beezley’s artistic talent became apparent at a young age. “I’m told it started at age 3, but I don’t recall that far back,” he laughs. “I spent a lot of time drawing the characters I watched on Saturday morning cartoons. I did win a bicycle in an art contest as a young kid, it was a Dallas Cowboys theme.”
“I would forego just about everything to create art growing up,” said Beezley. “I won several art awards in school, and in high school I joined newspaper staff and drew editorial cartoons and comic strips.”
Beezley won a statewide journalism award for editorial cartooning. In college he studied graphic design and created cartoons for college newspapers at both Ball State and IPFW. While in college, Beezley worked part-time at Bart’s Water Sports in North Webster, joining the art department as a designer, where he created ads, designed their mail order catalog and created graphics for products. He eventually became their art director, until he left to enter into full-time ministry.
Beezley is the pastor of Clunette United Methodist Church, Clunette, and Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Atwood. While Beezley was serving Clunette UMC in a part-time capacity, the church continued to grow, with Sunday attendance up from approximately 20 people to around 80. As Beezley began sensing a calling to go into full-time ministry, a nearby church, Aldersgate, was in need of a pastor. Beezley became appointed as pastor to both churches, creating a full-time appointment between the two.
When asked how he made the decision to become a pastor, Beezley responded, “I like to say God decided for me. I felt Him calling me to service when I was attending Celebration UMC, around 2005.” Beezley stated that is where he began getting serious about practicing his faith. A growing interest in Scripture led to Beezley taking a class at church aimed at preaching from Scripture.
“I had previously been very nervous to speak in front of others, but I felt God move in me and this gave me a sense of total peace when I stood up that first time to preach,” said Beezley. “That led to a building hunger to preach the Word,.” He began filling in when his pastor was out of town.
“Our district superintendant in the Warsaw area of the Indiana Conference of the UMC attended a service I was preaching, and afterward asked me to pray about taking on a small church in Talma,” Beezley recalled. “That was my first appointment. In 2007, I was reappointed to a church closer to my home in Leesburg – Clunette UMC, which I have pastored ever since.”
Beezley’s singing talent was first noticed in music class at North Webster Elementary.
“I remember being chosen by my music teacher to sing a solo at a choir concert, but I was so nervous that I made myself sick and didn’t go,” said Beezley. “It wasn’t until many years later when I attended Warsaw Celebration UMC that I started playing bass guitar in the praise band and started to sing a bit.”
This led to Beezley singing karaoke, most often at Barbee Hotel. He won an award there in a singing competition, then went on to win other competitions. Beezley started a band with his brother-in-law, Hardy, called United. The band played together for five years.
Dressed in blue jeans, and sporting long hair, Beezley’s appearance is not that of a stereotypical pastor – a fact that has been brought to his attention more than once.
“I realize not everyone agrees with how I go about life and ministry,” Beezley acknowledges. “For me, life and ministry are interwoven. I don’t believe in going to church and being one way on Sunday, and then going back to regular life and being a different person the rest of the week.”
“Yes, I have long hair – I just like it that way,” said Beezley. “I wear blue jeans to church every Sunday – not to look cool, but because I’m comfortable in them, and I know many people don’t have nice dress clothes, and I don’t ever want anyone to feel they need to dress up to impress me or anyone else in the churches I pastor – and I sure don’t think it impresses the Lord.”
“I see what I do as a gift from God,” said Beezley. “Art, music, singing, preaching – and I want to use all of these gifts to reach people and share the love of Jesus.”