Wesleyan Woman of Distinction: Laura (Sparks) Vincent ’04

B.A., History and Secondary Education, Kentucky Wesleyan College
M.A., Christian Ministries, Asbury Theological Seminary
Currently pursuing a master of divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary

Married to Jeremy Vincent ’03
One son – Lincoln (4)

Executive Pastor of Operations
Broadway United Methodist Church, Bowling Green, Ky.

Why did you choose Wesleyan?
“I had not seriously considered Kentucky Wesleyan, but tagged along for a campus visit with some of my friends. I fell in love with the campus and the people I met that day. In the end, I chose Wesleyan because it was close to home and had a strong education program. I appreciated the smaller class sizes and was excited about cheering on the strong basketball program.”

What are special memories of your years at Wesleyan?
“Teaching is the Sparks family trade, so I came to Kentucky Wesleyan with the intention of following in the footsteps of my parents and extended family. However, by my junior year, I knew it was unlikely I would actually end up going down that familiar path of teaching (at least in a classroom).

“My involvement in Campus Ministries reawakened a calling I had ignored for some time in my life. As I grew in my faith and had the opportunity to serve others in the name of Christ, I began to sense that God was calling me to full-time vocational ministry. As a result, I accepted an internship with Kentucky Wesleyan Campus Ministries following graduation rather that pursuing a teaching position that fall. That year-long internship confirmed my sense of call to guide others to come fully alive through a relationship with Christ. My husband, Jeremy, and I served as missionaries in Poland the following year and then returned home to begin seminary.”

Who influenced your life and helped prepared you for your career in ministry during your Wesleyan years?
“I will always treasure my time at Kentucky Wesleyan College. Those four years were perhaps the most transformative in my entire life.

“Dr. Yvonne Taylor embodied what a great teacher looks like – loving and challenging her students with equal intensity.

“Dr. Bill Conroy taught me how to think critically, modeling dialogue and what it looks like to respectfully consider the perspectives of others that might be different from mine.

“Outside the formal classroom, Campus Ministers Adam Shourds ’99, Kent Lewis ’98 and Cindy Pelphrey guided me to explore my faith, to serve others in meaningful ways, and to wrestle with my calling to ministry. They gave me the opportunity to lead, to discover my strengths and to learn from my mistakes.

“I had the chance to not just attend worship services and Bible studies that were incredibly formative for me, but to also lead them. I had the opportunity to go on mission trips across our nation and around the world to extend the love of Christ in very practical and tangible ways. Through these experiences, my passion for guiding others to grow in their love for God and others was fanned into flame.”

Tell us about your career path prior to your current position at Broadway UMC?
“I worked in collegiate ministries for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and then accepted the position of minister of spiritual formation at Broadway United Methodist Church where I have now served for 10 years, along with my former Wesleyan Campus Minister Adam Shourds ’99, in various positions.

“I earned my masters of arts in Christian ministries from Asbury Theological Seminary with the goal of seeking ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. I thought my path would be one of working more behind the scenes in Christian education, creating opportunities for people to grow in their love for God and love for others.

“I never dreamed I would pastor or preach. In fact, I had grown up in a tradition in which these were roles were reserved exclusively for men. However, after serving as the minister of spiritual formation at Broadway United Methodist Church for some time, I was offered the opportunity to serve as the campus pastor at our multisite. Much to my surprise, I loved serving in this way and found that it is the place where my greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need. Because of this experience, I have now returned to Asbury Theological Seminary to pursue a master of divinity in order to seek ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church. I will graduate this spring.”

What are your responsibilities as executive pastor of operations?
“I oversee the big picture of Broadway’s ministry. I work with our amazing staff and tremendous leaders to coordinate the details and resources needed to make our mission of INVITE, GROW and SERVE possible. I also preach at both of our campuses on occasion throughout the year.”

Tell us about your family.
“Jeremy serves on staff with me at Broadway UMC as the worship leader at our Greenwood Campus. Our son, Lincoln, dreams of being a super hero when he grows up. Does Wesleyan have a degree program for that?

“My parents have encouraged me and cheered me on, and modeled what it looks like to passionately love and serve others in whatever you do.”

“I love to read and to run. I ran my first marathon last year and am training for the Savannah Rock-n-Roll Marathon this fall.”

What books have influenced you?
“So, so many! I love reading anything written by N.T. Wright – ‘Surprised by Hope’ was particularly powerful for me – and Brene Brown. I love all her books and am currently re-reading ‘Daring Greatly.’ ‘The Anatomy of Peace’ by the Arbinger Institute has also been very influential in my life.”

Is there anything else you think our readers would find interesting about you and your life?
“I am passionate about making more room at the table for women to answer the call to ministry. I am living out my calling today because others created space for me to explore, grow, and lead, and I want to spend the rest of my life giving other women that same opportunity. This summer I started a blog – makingroomatthetable.com – with the hope of encouraging and empowering women to boldly live out their callings. I dream of facilitating mentorships and providing internships for women who are exploring a sense of call to vocational ministry. Furthermore, I dream of providing scholarships for women to attend seminary.

“This summer I wrote my first check to start saving toward this dream and plan to invite other women to contribute as well. In the end, it may only be enough to pay for one woman’s books each semester, but beyond this financial investment, my intent is that every recipient will know there are women who are praying for her, supporting her, and cheering her on.”