Alumni Spotlight: Charles Houston ’90 Impacts Community Through Pastoral Care

By Christina Kohl ’21


Charles-Houston-photo.jpgThe Rev. Dr. Charles Houston ’90 embraces a life mission focused on faith, hope, encouragement and impact. 

Houston graduated from Syracuse University in 1990, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After 20 years of professional experience in the insurance industry, his purpose would turn to Christian ministry, leading him down a new path. Throughout his journey, Houston’s support of his peers, congregation, and current Syracuse University students has made him a blessing to so many others.

While working in corporate America, Houston realized his calling was to pursue divinity school and accept a call to ministry. In 2002, he obtained a master of theology, and one year later, a doctoral degree in divinity from the Christian Life School of Theology.

Houston says that the Christian values and traditions that encircled his childhood remain at the foundation of his life. His late grandmother, Eve Robinson, was his first example of Christian servitude. He seeks to honor her legacy by applying biblical principles in a manner that is humble and fruitful.

From his earliest memories as a child growing up in Brooklyn, New York, ministry has been a foundational part of Houston’s life. He served in youth ministry at Calvary Baptist Church, yet Houston realized his calling later in life after moving to Georgia.

“In 1999, when our church became a satellite campus for the Christian Life School of Theology, I knew it was God’s way of helping me learn more about his word and directing my growth as a Christian,” he says. In 2005, Houston was ordained a minister from his pastor, Bishop Dale C. Bronner.

Houston now serves as the associate pastor of counseling at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, GA, where he started in 2006. His main responsibility is to effectively guide more than 22,000 members in premarital, marriage and faith, financial, career, grief, loss and most importantly, family areas.

“In my pastoral counselling role, I am not counselling the 22,000, I am counselling one member at a time. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others,” says Houston.

His commitment to serving others led him to become the co-founder of AIM Enterprises, a nonprofit organization based on motivational speaking that specializes in personal life coaching and focuses on life improvement.

“My love for coaching was ignited by that experience and was a natural fit to the ministry I was already doing,” Houston says. “The best moments are those where a couple informs me that a class or counseling session encouraged them to fight for their marriage, or a young person tells me of how I influenced them to push past their pain when going through their struggles.”

Houston and his business partner, Richard Cox, have also written a book which encompasses some the most impactful messages and purposes of their organization. “Aim for Impact”, according to Houston, is written as a guide for individuals looking to become leaders, whether that be for a business, in a job position, a church, or any social organization that defines success through strong leadership. He hopes that the book establishes a need for passionate discipline based on key leadership principles.

Houston believes in the importance of encouraging wise counselling, as it serves as a platform for personal growth and healthier relationships.

In describing himself as a relational person, Houston measures success by strong lifelong bonds. His firm belief in this concept started back when he was a student at Syracuse University, where he met his wife of 26 years, Monica Houston ’90.

The Houston’s have met many people they consider as family; including classmates from Syracuse University. Houston captures the essence of what it means to be a Syracuse University alumnus through his appreciation for friendships. “The close SU relationships that we formed are for a lifetime, and although we are in different areas across the United States, we stay in touch and are there for each other when needed,” he says.

His memories as student have inspired him to give back to the campus community in various ways. In November 2019, Houston served as a generous and gracious host to the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble (BCCE) when they performed in Atlanta. The BCCE is an organization on campus that strives to create a welcoming environment for students from diverse backgrounds through the spirit of music.

He recalls the joy he felt upon invitation to the BCCE event. “Our pastor teaches us that as people of God we are blessed to bless, given to give, and taught to teach. I truly believe and live this principle,” he says.

Houston also follows his philanthropic calling in life through contributions to the Atlanta Alumni Club. A place where Orange spirit stays strong, the group’s mission is to integrate fellow Syracuse University alumni and work together to maintain the University’s initiatives.

His journey serves as an inspiration to whoever he meets in life. With the belief that to whom much is given, much is required, Houston has chosen to follow a path that involves blessing, giving, and teaching others. To provide for others, the Houston’s have recently committed to endowing a scholarship in support of African American and Latino students at Syracuse University.

As Monica Houston is an alumna of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and is currently a certified public accountant, the scholarship is dedicated to young professionals studying the field of accounting. Monica Houston is also a member of the Office of Multicultural Advancement Advisory Council and an active mentor to students.

Charles Houston also  believes in academia and continuing his education. In August 2020, he graduated from a four-and-a-half-year journey as a student at Richmont Graduate University with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. In addition to his full-time position at the church, Houston started private practice work as an associate marriage and family therapist in September 2020.

Houston perceives his time as a Syracuse University student as a treasure, and his faith in God’s presence continues to guide his professional career. For current students he offers words of support:

“I would tell current students to enjoy the fullness of their college experience but never lose sight of the end goal and bigger picture. Completing college will require prayer, disciplined preparation, and a resolve not to quit. Remember, it is more of a marathon than a sprint.”