United Methodist Church of Mt. Pleasant welcomes new pastor
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Rev. Randy Landman has either led or helped to lead church congregations from sunny Los Angeles, Calif., to the Mon Valley.
Each stop has left him with a lasting impression of the people he has met, he said.
Until now, Landman said he hasn't encountered people as friendly as those he has met in Mt. Pleasant.
“More than any place I've ever lived, there's a real sense of community here,” said Landman, who was recently appointed pastor of United Methodist Church of Mt. Pleasant. “This church has a very loving congregation ... very kind-hearted and very stable.”
The place worship along Main Street in the borough is casually referred to by many town folk as “Town Clock Church.”
“People living here feel truly blessed to live here,” he said.
Landman — a native of Uniontown and a 1977 Laurel Highlands graduate — earned a degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981 before graduating in 1984 from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.
That year, he was appointed pastor of the Jeannette Free Methodist Church, located in Harrison City, where he stayed until 1987.
At that time, Landman sought to minister out-of-state in keeping with an untapped wanderlust and, at least in part, an aversion to the region's cold winters, he said.
That led him to the Golden State.
“I was at a point in my life where I wanted to be in a bigger city. Also, I hate to admit this, but the weather was nicer,” he said with a laugh.
While living in Los Angeles, Landman served as youth pastor of Downey Free Methodist Church from summer of 1987 to summer of 1988 and as senior pastor of Sylmar Free Methodist Church, located in city limits, from 1988 to 1991.
Over the next decade, Landman eventually returned east. He noted that the starkest difference he found in living in California when contrasted with life locally involves how people interact.
“Nobody there knew their neighbors; you could live next to someone for five years, and you wouldn't know who lived next to you,” he said.
In 2001, he began leading the Sampson Union Church near Charleroi.
In April of 2004, he left that post to become assistant pastor of Grace United Methodist Church of Coal Center in Washington County.
During his time there, Landman helped guide the church through a two periods of transition.
In 2007, that church welcomed the now-retired Rev. John Smith as pastor.
“Randy was there when I arrived, and was invaluable to me in helping me to transition to the new church,” Smith said. “He'd been there a couple years, he knew the people there well and he was highly respected, so he really helped me get familarized and let me know what the people's needs were.”
When Smith retired in July 2012, Landman similarly aided the church's current pastor, the Rev. Tim Custer.
“He really has a servant's spirit,” Smith said.
In early March, Landman met with the Town Clock Church's administrative officials.
At the time, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church was considering replacements for the church's former pastor, the Rev. J. Timothy Hoover.
Bryon Jackson, a borough resident and chairperson of the church's administrative board, is happy Landman was the selection to lead the church, he said.
“He's a very spiritual man, and he has a lot of great values,” Jackson said. “I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him in last couple of weeks, and I'm very happy with the situation we have here now.”
Landman said he hopes to minister to all ages throughout the community.
“I want to work with the children's and youth ministries, as well as with counsel of young families,” he said. “This area also has a lot of retirees, and we want to do everything we can to minister to that group, as well.”
He lives locally with his wife, Dawn, who will help with the children's ministry, and the couple's three daughters: Mollie, 12; Malorie, 6; and Mylie, 3.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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