Church Planter Profile: Elwood Jones

Elwood Jones is the lead pastor for the Landmark Church of Alexandria. Elwood grew up in Alexandria, VA, in the late ‘60s where he lived in a multi-racial and diverse community. His upbringing gave him a heart and a passion to see a movement that embraces all people. After graduating in from T.C. Williams High School, Elwood was employed by the Alexandria Recreation Department. He became popular in the community as a musician playing in successful bands in the Virginia and Washington DC metro areas. Elwood has maintained a reputation of success in the community, organizing music events like a 30-year reunion of the bands in 2010 where over 500 people attended. As a result of his popularity, he has gained the attention of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the local media. 

In 1984, Elwood gave his life and service to God. In 1986, he traveled to 13 countries and across the United States performing music and speaking. Two years later, he met and married the love of his life, Betty Hayden. Together they took a step of faith and moved to Minneapolis, MN. 

In Minneapolis, Elwood started a nonprofit called Urban Street Level Ministries where he trained lay ministers to effectively reach their communities. Out of Urban Street Level Ministries, he created a youth program called Friday Nite Live, a monthly gathering of students and their leaders that included music and hot topic preaching. Not only did churches from all over the Twin Cities attend Friday Nite Live, but they also came to get training on how to do relevant ministry that would help students come to know Jesus and grow in their faith.

Elwood decided that it wasn’t enough to just do ministry in an urban setting, he felt the importance of bringing ministry partners from suburban and rural area churches together. He and a team of pastors from urban and suburban churches launched HOODFEST, an annual urban festival that brought together some of the top artists in Christian music. The youth and leaders from Minneapolis and the surrounding suburban and rural areas came together in an outdoor festival for a weekend of community service, multi-cultural sensitivity training and discipleship building. 

Elwood’s path eventually led him to Prince George’s County, MD, where he served with Young Life for ten years as a county director. He was responsible for directing programs that affected students from 44 middle schools and 22 high schools. 

Since 2009, Elwood has worked alongside Pastor Matt Hall at SouthPoint Church, a growing multi-ethnic church south of the District of Columbia. He oversees the weekend worship experience as well as the outreach programs. As a worship pastor, Elwood recruits volunteers to perform weekly, providing anointed, top-notch musicians and singers.

Elwood and Betty see themselves as partners in ministry. Betty is a worship leader, having lead worship for over 20 years in Urban Street Level Ministries and in local churches. Betty’s passion is creating exciting Sunday morning experiences through the use of the arts. She has overseen the creative departments in two of the previous churches they attended. She is also a national speaker with a television show airing locally called BettyTalk.

Landmark Church will be a multi-racial church that targets unreached people in Alexandria, VA, and the Washington, DC metro area. They launched the church in early January of this year. A core group of at least 100 people actively participate in pre-service mission meetings, small group vision casting and training. They expect attendance to reach 300.