more about our pastor
Pastor Layne Sumner was born to Harvey and Clarissa Sumner in Tampa, Florida, in 1959. Shortly thereafter, Layne's father was called by God to the pastorate—a calling to which Layne's parents have been faithful to this day. Layne's childhood years revolved largely around church, sports, school, and music in the idyllic setting of small-town Appalachia, Mannington, West Virginia. The Appalachian cultural values and interests of Layne's childhood, learned from the coal miners and farmers of Calvary Baptist Church in Mannington, are evident in him even today. Layne's high school years in the Southern Tier of New York (Vestal, New York) are memories of fun, friendships, and family experienced in church, sports, work, and school. The ministries of First Baptist Church of Vestal Center, New York, afforded Layne valuable early ministry experience.
Upon graduation from Vestal Senior High School (1977), Layne attended Tennessee Temple University where he met his future wife, Jana Harrell. Jana and Layne were married on August 2, 1980 in Dallas Texas, which became their home for eight years. During these early years of marriage, God began to gradually melt Layne's resistance to the idea of vocational Christian service. While studying philosophy at a Richland College in Dallas, Texas, Layne was forced to wrestle with very fundamental issues of life for which he sought answers. Layne likes to say that he enrolled at Dallas Bible College “just to take a few theology courses, and it got out of hand.” While getting more involved at Grace Church of Richardson, Texas and continuing to enroll in biblical studies and theology classes at Dallas Bible College, God continued to impress upon Layne and Jana the idea of entering the pastorate.
After graduation from Criswell College in Dallas, Layne and Jana moved to Hammond, Indiana, to serve in the youth and music ministry of Hessville Baptist Church, where they made many good friends. A little over 3 years later, Layne was called to pastor First Baptist Church of Portage, Indiana. During their six year ministry at Portage, Emily and Mason were born to Layne and Jana. In 1997, Layne graduated from Grace Theological Seminary with his M.Div. in Pastoral Studies and became the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church of Warsaw, Indiana. Layne completed a Th.M. in New Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2006. Since 1999 Layne has taught New Testament courses at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana and at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.
Apart from the work of the pastoral and academic ministry, Pastor Layne enjoys reading, fishing, working out at the YMCA, and hanging out with his best friends, Jana, Emily, and Mason. Emily enjoys reading and music, and Mason enjoys music and the sport of the season.
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