Meet the Westgates
Chuck and Sandra Westgate have lived in Tuolumne County for 28 years. They moved to Sonora in 1990, where Chuck was pastor at Twain Harte Evangelical Free Church. They moved from Pennsylvania where Chuck had been pastor for 18 years. He resigned from Twain Harte EV Free when he was experiencing heart problems. twelve years ago , he underwent a heart transplant and has a new lease on life, along with much more energy.
One year after his transplant, Westgate began interim pastoring in Red Bluff and in Cayucos in southern California. He began attending Sierra Bible Church and was invited to conduct a Bible study, he and Sandy started JOY Club for seniors and he had the opportunity to fill in for the pastor. Westgate was asked to fill in at Heritage Christian Church in March of 2014, when their previous pastor suddenly retired. The church elders wrote out a job description and came to the conclusion that it described Rev. Westgate, whom some knew when he was pastor at Twain Harte EV Free.
“He’s just a godly man with a love for the Lord and a love for the people”, elder Alan McKay said. Pastor Westgate describes Heritage Christian as a church with 50 to 60 regular members, who are mostly seniors. “It’s a traditional church”, he said. “They sing hymns rather and older contemporary choruses. We have Communion every Sunday. To me, it’s a very warm and loving church”, he added. “The church is trying to meet the needs of people who enjoy a more traditional service, rather than a contemporary one. I’m excited about this church”, Westgate said. He never intended on becoming a pastor, but rather envisioned himself as a traveling Bible teacher and evangelist when he was young. He began preaching at 17, but didn’t formally become a pastor until 1969.
While he and his wife were traveling around East coast, preaching and recruiting students to attend William Jennings Bryan College, they found two churches in Dayton, Tn. area that needed a pastor. They had a child and it became more difficult to travel and needed to settle down. “So
it worked out for everyone”, he said. Pastor Westgate’s wife, Sandra has been vital to their ministry through Christian education and assisting in counseling, she has also been the manager of a large Christian Bookstore, worked for Standard Publishing Co. by teaching workshops on Vacation Bible School and Christian Education. The couple built up the congregations in Tennessee then went on to do the same in Pennsylvania. “It’s exciting to see the people grow in their knowledge and see the changes in their lives." Chuck was formally installed as pastor on June 1st, 2014 and continues to serve the Lord in this capacity.