Center Grove worship pastor continues work with fine arts academy for youth
Compiled by Johnette Cruz, Rebecca Bennett and Nancy Price
Mark Landis heard a calling for music at a very young age. Today, the worship and fine arts pastor has started a nonprofit musical theater academy for local youth interested in singing, dancing and acting.
Landis started the Center Grove Fine Arts Academy, Inc. four years ago while serving as the worship and fine arts director at Center Grove Church. Recognizing that the southside did not offer the same opportunities for performing arts as areas such as Hamilton County, he used his education and experience with the Christian Youth Theater, previously located in Westfield, to create opportunities for children and teens that they would not have otherwise.
Landis was in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir as a child growing up in Fishers. “Fishers wasn’t anything like it is today –we had a rural route address because we lived out in the ‘sticks’ and the urban sprawl came running as I got older,” he said. The ICC was where he met his wife, Katie, when he was in fifth grade.
After graduating from Hamilton Southeastern High School, Landis studied music education and worship ministry for two years before transferring to Ball State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in music education. After graduation, he was an instructional assistant with Hamilton Southeastern Schools for five years. During that time, he started a youth center at Daleville Christian Church, where he served as youth director and worship leader. The center was a place for students to attend during the summer. Landis led contemporary worship services and Bible studies as well.
For the past eight years, Landis has served as worship ministry director at Center Grove Church. Next month, he will step down from his duties to focus on the Center Grove Fine Arts Academy full time with Katie. “We will continue to produce high-quality musical theater with students ages eight -18,” Landis said. “We have students who drive from as far away as Lapel, Greenfield, Avon, Zionsville, Shelbyville, Martinsville and Mooresville to participate in our productions.”
The academy recently wrapped up production of Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical. One day, Mark and Katie’s sons may be a part of the academy. Micah and Ray are currently members of ICC’s Cantate Angelis and just finished a trip with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in Washington DC. The apples clearly don’t fall far from the tree. The Landis’s also have another son, Keith.
There is no end to the passion that Landis has for fine arts and his community – he began serving on the board of directors for the Greater Greenwood Arts Council in January. ”I will continue to serve on that board to bring more arts to our community,” he said.
Getting to know Mark Landis
What do you consider your greatest virtue? Relations with other people. Truly honoring and respecting people around you.
What’s your favorite Southside eatery? Hops & Fire Craft Tap House for lunch and/or dinner and Rise ‘n Roll for breakfast. Best food in town for anyone and especially good for those with a gluten-free, vegetarian menu need.
If you had to live anywhere else in the Metro Indianapolis area, where would it be? I don’t know that I would want to. I love the schools and we’ve seen our kids grow up here. The community is friendly and we’ve always felt supported, which is why we feel like now’s the time to take the step of faith with the Fine Arts Academy and take it out on its own.
If money were no issue, how would you spend it? – I would build a space that would house the Center Grove Fine Arts Academy, Inc., much like The Palladium Center for Performing Arts in Carmel, to continue to grow the arts here on the south side.
What makes you happiest? – Seeing our kids, both at home and our “kids” in the programs we do, grow. Witnessing them take steps to become more independent in life and on the stage.
Pick three adjectives that best describe you. Energetic, passionate, creative
What do you do with idle time? This is funny… what is idle time? Well, I guess I’ve had some over the last few months, and we’ve binge-watched some Netflix.
What would you change about our culture if you could? The idea that if you hold one view and another person holds a different view you can’t choose to “agree to disagree” but you must try to get them to your view. Instead we should learn to walk alongside each other and learn how to work with each other.
How do you escape from reality? We like to sneak away to some of our favorite local wineries like Mallow Run and Oliver.
Which living person in Center Grove do you most admire? – I don’t know that I have a Center Grove resident that I most admire. I admire Ruth Dwyer and Henry Leck, who began the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and helped to form me into the musician and director that I am today.
What quality do you admire most in another person? – Authenticity, honesty and Integrity – I’d say they all go hand in hand, but I really look for those values.
What is your greatest extravagance? If we could, we’d go on a vacation with the family… if there were no worry of cost.