When you’re greeted with laughter at the start of a conversation, you know things will be fine. When that laughter follows with the peace of the Lord, you know things are as they should be. Laughter erupted when the email was first read, “He’s not the typical…” And later, when confronted on the phone, that laughter came in full force in agreement.
Their age is the first thing you wonder about as Josh and his wife Leah Howington are now 24 with a one-year-old son named Judah. Josh is the pastor of Faith Bible Church. Josh said with a laugh, “It happens all the time when people see me at the church door and ask where the pastor is – their eyebrows definitely raise when they realize they’re looking at him.”
Pastor Josh was born and raised in Livingston, Louisiana. “Leah’s father, Rusty Silvertooth, was the pastor of the church we attended. Leah and I met when we were 4 years old and never had any other girlfriend/boyfriend interests besides each other. When I was asked at the age of 12 who I was thinking of getting married to, I answered without a doubt, Leah. True childhood sweethearts, and I love to say it – we got married when we were 20.
“My mum, Ceil (Jordan) Silvertooth and my dad grew up around Kilgore, and we have a lot of family roots,” Leah said. “My grandfather, JW, worked in the oilfield all his life and my grandmother Lois worked in the finance department at Kilgore College from 1991 to 2009. Dad was a pastor and took us to Louisiana, where he grazed for 40 years.
Both were saved at Faith Bible Church in Louisiana.
“What’s cool since he retired, he came back to Kilgore, and it’s ironic that he now attends the church that I pastor,” Josh said. “The circle is complete in many ways.”
Josh actually holds a business degree from LSU and became an assistant pastor four years out of high school when he confesses that “the Lord got a hold of me.”
“We started praying about where we needed to go. I also teach music and we received 10 offers across the states for the position of Minister of Music. Then we got a call about a vacancy for a pastor in Kilgore.
“The irony of this made us laugh at first, but we were asked to come preach, sing and meet others, which we did. At that point the interviews became more serious and they offered me the job. We kept praying about it, and then we just knew we weren’t trying to force the door open; we weren’t looking for the job when it was offered to us, and peace just settled around us. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, clear direction was placed before us and the next thing we knew we were in Kilgore. It was in May 2021.”
He further explained that seminary is not a necessity for this particular denomination, but you must be ordained by other pastors and counselors and must know basic fundamental beliefs as well as the Bible. Josh had been in some form of ministry for 11 years before accepting the post of pastor at Kilgore.
In July of that year the former Stoneridge Baptist Church was purchased by Faith Bible Church and the congregation moved to the new location in August. The congregation has nearly tripled since their arrival, and a recent revival brought eight new families and one family last week who traveled from Tyler to attend. The new church location is now located at 4100 Stone Road, about 1.5 miles east of the old one. Hours of service are Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The office phone is (903) 983-5829.
Josh continues to give piano lessons Tuesday through Friday at Kilgore Mercantile & Music and online lessons with former Louisiana students, and Leah works Wednesdays at Downtown D’lites.
Typical, they are not. Sometimes it takes a youthful posture to transcend tradition. His Bible is open on his desk and the door is open for discussion at any time. Firm in their convictions, their youth brought exuberance to Kilgore and Kilgore Bible Church.
May his love and laughter fill your hearts and homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we can be reached at [email protected] or (903) 984-2593.