Theodore Edward Landis, 1909-1990
Upon hearing of the death of Theodore Edward Landis, I began again to think of this man who was born in Marlowe, West Virginia
November 29, 1909, the son of John D. and Eva Landis;
who attended Western Maryland College and Westminster Seminary;
who began his ministry in the Methodist Protestant Church;
who married Aseneth, and the two welcomed being the parents of Louise, and Paul,
and Ned, and grandparents of Stephen and Richard;
who served First Church, Lynchburg, and First Church, Norfolk, as superintendent of the
Charlottesville District, as pastor of
Washington Street Church, Alexandria, and Greene Memorial Church, Roanoke;
who served Ginter Park Church, Richmond, and Mt. Vernon Church, Danville, and
who was called by his bishop from retirement back into service.
Having been his associate from 1961 to 1964, I focus on three years out of his 80 years.
During those three years I saw a pastor do the expected in an exceptional way:
baptizing babies and adults, confirming teenagers,
speaking the words before a man and woman, "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
I watched him move easily in and out of hospital rooms and nursing homes, and stand before open graves saying with confidence, "I am the resurrection and the life."
During those three years I saw a pastor do the
unexpected. At the S. and W. Cafeteria, where a small
group gathered for the Greene Memorial Prayer Breakfast, he could be found
encouraging the troops,
carrying his breakfast tray,
carrying the breakfast tray of someone who walked haltingly with a cane,
arranging the dishes on the table,
praying for his brothers and sisters,
and, not infrequently, clearing the table
when the eating and the prayer were finished. I saw him as a pastor
taking his turn at the Roanoke Gospel Mission,
standing without vestments, without robe and stole,
standing as one man calling to others
about a God, who in Jesus Christ, is intent on transforming, rescuing life.
I remember his placing the direction of his
ministry on mission, on reaching out to the world God loves.
In a history of Washington Street Church, Alexandria,
there are the following words:
"Because of his [Dr. Landis') vision,
he annually recommended budgetary goals which at first
seemed insurmountable, but each year these
goals were reached which was a testimonial to Dr. Landis' faith
in the loyalty and cooperation of
(Washington Street UMC, edited by Kathryn P. Hedman, p. 76)
What a remarkable number of people -- ministers and
lay people -- have called Dr. Landis their pastor, have been
by his faith in God and his faith in them,
and have also known him as a friend.
Thanks be to God for Theodore Edward Landis.
Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
-F. Douglas Dillard. Jr.