A beloved pastor and his family will be departing the Elkins area this week after more than 11 years of service at the Landmark Baptist Church.
Pastor Mark Houser, his wife, Alice, and their two children, Whitney and William, came to Landmark Baptist in 1999 to serve as assistant pastor, and was later promoted to associate pastor of the church. Their connections with Landmark Baptist go back even further, however, as Pastor Houser and his family came as guest soloist beginning in 1995 for revivals and also frequently for special services such a building dedications. The Housers came often and preached while Pastor Dr. Kenneth P. Shiflet was on vacation during those years.
In 1999, Landmark Baptist Church called Houser to be on staff, but had little idea the impact this man and his family would have on the church and also the community as a whole. Houser and his wife have served with an energy, determination, perseverance, kindness, faithfulness, consistency and love that is very rare in today's time.
The community has also benefited much from the talent of Houser as he sang for the Mountain State Forest Festival coronation for many years, as well as the patriotic Fourth of July celebration in Elkins, Blue and Gray Reunion in Philippi and the MSFF Distinguished Guest Dinner, as well as playing instruments in an area orchestra.
While at Landmark Baptist, Houser directed the choir, formed an orchestra, began a "Young at Heart" ministry (ministry for older adults, but included everyone) and Young Adult Sunday School class. He also preached often at Landmark Baptist and filled the pulpit for many months during Shiflet's absence from surgery many years ago. And, when Landmark outgrew it's building, Houser formed an early morning service and did the song leading and preaching in that service as well as the song leading, choir directing, and orchestra leading in the 11 a.m. service until a larger building could be constructed. Houser was the song leader and piano player during his time of service at Landmark. He conducted weddings, funerals and was always a compassionate counselor and kind encourager to any who came to him.
Alice Houser was not only an exemplary wife and supporter of her husband, but also a leader in the women's ministry as well as a constant supporter of all the activities her husband led. Her organizational abilities, dedication, faithfulness and leadership will be missed.
The Houser children grew up in the Elkins area: William, who served four years in the U.S. Air Force, is married to Jessica and they have a 1-year-old daughter, Emily; Whitney graduated last week from Appalachian Bible College in Bradley with a degree in elementary education. She is currently looking forward to her first year of teaching this fall.
In Pastor Houser's own words: "It has been a joy to serve the Lord at Landmark Baptist Church and the community. My job has been to 'lift up the arms of the pastor and serving the Lord with a servant's heart.'"
The Housers will be sadly missed, but they know the Lord has called them to a pastorate at the Heritage Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia. With that, Landmark Baptist Church and the community will send them off with a prayer, a farewell and a thank you for everything they have done for the community, church and as individuals.