By Sherrie Norris
Following a year-long intensive search for a new leader, Mount Vernon Baptist Church of Boone has welcomed Todd Houston as its new senior pastor. Houston and his family moved to Boone earlier this month where he preached his first official sermon on July 14.
A native of Sevierville, Tenn., Houston came to Boone after having served as pastor of Beach Road Baptist Church in Southport since 2012. He and his wife, Allsha, have two children, a daughter, Abigail, 20, and a son, Aaron, 18.
Ordained in 1998 at Knob Creek Baptist Church in Seymour, Tenn., Houston began his ministry in the late 90s in the mountains of East Tennessee. Since then, he has pastored churches in Michigan, Texas and North Carolina.
Houston holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and three advanced degrees including a Doctorate of Ministry and a Master of Divinity Degree in Expositional Preaching and Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2010, he was invited and participated in the Traveling Scholars Program at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Houston has also participated in two separate field studies in Israel in 2004 and 2005, and has since led over a dozen tours to Israel and Jordan.
Houston is well known and highly respected within the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond. On numerous occasions, he has been recognized, individually and with his churches, having received the Giving Award from the Cooperative Program in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the Todd Brooks Riza Award from Southwestern Seminary for Preaching & Evangelism in 2011. While in Michigan, his church led the state in annual baptisms three years in a row (2006-2008).
Houston currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Board of Directors of the Biblical Recorder in Cary.
It was with heavy hearts that he and his family left Beach Road Baptist, Houston said, but there was no question in his heart and mind that God ordained the move to Boone. “One of the toughest decisions Alisha and I have made in the last 21 years of marriage and ministry was leaving Beach Road. Beach Road was much more than just a church to us. That was our family, and we will forever see them in that way, family. But that speaks to the clarity and confidence God gave us in coming here to Mount Vernon, as well as the tremendous potential we see here. You don’t leave those you love on a whim. God called us here, and we could not be more excited to see what He is going to do in the days ahead.”
It was with much prayer, “a clear leading of the Holy Spirit,” and a unanimous agreement, that the pastor search committee told Mount Vernon that they believed Houston to be the man God desired as its next pastor — to carry out the Great Commission as a true Acts 1:8 church. “Our desire is for this church to reach the lost with Pastor Todd as our next senior pastor.”
On behalf of the search committee, Scott Townsend shared, “The committee was routinely impressed with Pastor Todd’s character and his compassion for people, especially those who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We found him to be a scholar of the Bible with strong interpersonal relationship skills. He and his family are authentic and walk out their faith in every way. Since Pastor Todd’s inaugural Sunday, we been continually reaffirmed of God’s faithfulness in the process and his drawing of the Houston’s to Mount Vernon. To God Be the Glory!”
Townsend explained the lengthy and in-depth search process, including how the guidance of intentional interim pastor, Dr. John Ewart assisted them through their journey. In addition to Townsend, assistant chair, Logan Hallock, and secretary Diane Poovey, the team members included Peggy Eller, Priscilla Porterfield, Jamey Hodges, Barry Smith and Hamilton Castle.
From the beginning, Townsend said, it was important to know the desires of the church, itself. As the team took shape, one of its initial tasks was to conduct a church-wide survey to identify the needs of the church and the characteristics it deemed vital for the man God was calling to Mount Vernon. With that information, the committee moved forward with posting the vacancy, and the recruitment began. Over several months — and with prayerful consideration of a large number of candidates who expressed interest in the position —it eventually became clear to the committee that God was leading them to one specific candidate.
Mount Vernon as a whole was introduced to Houston and his family in late May, heard him speak in two trial sermons in early June, and approved him as the church’s senior pastor with a near 100% unanimous vote.
After leading a pre-planned trip to Israel for 10 days, Houston started his pastoral role in Boone on July 14.
“Our church family is very excited, as we believe that Pastor Todd and his wife, Alisha, have been called to serve here,” said Associate Pastor Bud Russell, who has served at Mount Vernon for 30-plus years. “There are too many things to confirm this to mention, but we do believe that God has brought him to serve with our church in this community. I am of the belief that God calls a person to a community as much as He does to a specific church. I say this as God sees the needs of the area, as well as the issues within a local church body. Likewise, we know that God has given him a special love for our church as he has known of us for some time. Pastor Todd knows a former pastor of ours, Allan Blume, well, and he has known our potential, too. I’m quite thankful for the things God did in our church during a season of transition. Yet, I told our church family on his first Sunday here, that if anyone was more excited to have Pastor Todd here than me, that they’re pretty happy!”
In recommending Houston to Mount Vernon, Blume shared, “Todd Houston has as track record of relational, Biblical leadership as a pastor. I appreciate his commitment to scripture, love for our Lord’s church and healthy vision for obeying the Great Commission. These values are woven into his whole family’s commitment to glorify God.”
Milton Hollifield, Executive Director and Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, recently said, “Pastor Houston has a clear and definitive call of God upon his life — and fulfilling that call is the priority of his life. He is disciplined and consistent in spending time with God in prayer and Bible study. He is a very effective preacher and a successful, caring visionary pastor, strongly committed to evangelism and missions. Because of his intellect, wisdom and dependability, Todd is asked to serve in significant leadership roles with Southern Baptist boards and committees. Todd is also a great role model for men in how to love your wife and lead your family.”
Pastor Houston invites those in the community who may be looking for a church family to join him at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, located at 3505 Bamboo Road in Boone. For more information, visit mtvernonchurch.org or call (828) 266-9700.