School of Christian studies

One Degree, Double Benefit: Mark Willard

Claire WoodAlumni, ASOTA, Christian Studies, News

One Degree, Double Benefit: Mark Willard

Mark Willard 
Worship Pastor
Englewood Baptist Church
Master of Arts in Worship Leadership & Theology ‘20

I’m grateful for my University of Mobile degree. It was challenging but rewarding. I am a better leader as a result, and I find uses for the things I studied in every aspect of my weekly job.
-Mark Willard ’20

At the age of 16, Mark Willard felt the Lord calling him to a career in ministry. Following that call eventually led Willard to further his education at the University of Mobile where he pursued a Master of Arts in Worship Leadership & Theology

This unique master’s degree offers students the double benefit of serious theological study through the School of Christian Studies and practical, hands-on training in the arts, technology and ministry leadership through the Alabama School of the Arts.

Through this program, Willard was able to combine his passion for teaching theology and leading worship while diving deeper into both areas. As a result, he says, the deepened theological understanding gained during his time at UM has better equipped him to lead those he is serving. 

Willard recently began a new chapter as worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, after serving 21 years at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Since starting his new role in June of 2021, Englewood has already released an EP of original worship music titled “Worthy Is Your Name.” 

Through his obedience in following the Lord’s call for his life, Willard has not only been able to serve within the local church in a musical capacity, but he has also had the opportunity to use his passion to develop the next generation of worship leaders through collaboration and mentorship. 

One Degree, Double Benefit
Q. What are some of your job responsibilities?

A. I oversee all aspects of worship leadership at Englewood. I manage, mentor and encourage the worship staff for the Highland and North campuses. I direct the choir, plan Sunday services and coordinate the training of interns and next-gen worship leaders. I also serve on the executive staff team for the church.

Q. Why was your graduate degree from UM helpful in preparing you for this role?

A. I’m very grateful for the graduate degree I received from UM because it really focused in on the things I’m passionate about as a leader…understanding and teaching theology and becoming a better leader in the organization.

Q. What are some of the most important things you gained from your UM experience? 

A.  I was able to take a deeper dive into systematic theology. I gained academic understanding of many of the facets of faith in Christ that help to shape the way we think as Christians. This, in turn, has deepened my abilities as a worship leader to speak and exhort the congregation or my ministry volunteers to be more like Christ is tangible ways. I have a deeper appreciation for the Bible and feel better equipped to communicate weightier principles.

Q. Along with directing music in a worship setting, you also are responsible for training interns and next-generation worship leaders. Why is this an important part of your job?

A. There are more and more open positions for worship leaders, and churches are struggling to fill them with skillful candidates. It is a passion of mine to help encourage young men to sing and praise the Lord through worship ministry. Seeking out and finding young Davids is very gratifying work.

In addition to mentoring students in worship leadership, I feel called to mentor college students, especially those who are called into music ministry. Teaching them how to build inclusive, yet relevant bands, praise teams, choirs and orchestras is what truly drives me.

They will carry the church into the next generation, and I want to make a mark on those young pioneers.