Laura McDaniel came to her faith and ordination far into adulthood while a Washington DC corporate attorney. She has been the Network Catalyst (pretty cool title, right?) for the Spence Network since 2013. She was the Executive Director of the Women’s Missionary Union of Virginia for five years prior. You might also find it interesting to hear her tell the story of when God repeatedly asked her “What color am I?” (No, it isn’t white.) For the full explanation you can listen to the short interview hosted by Kendall Ratliffe.
The interviewer, Kendall, is a delightful friend and colleague. Kendall was a previous Coffeepot Fellowship interviewee so you can listen to more of her story by listening to her episode. She had arrived at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond ahead of me and we would end up being housemates at The Farley House. The Farley House is a home owned by Ginter Park Baptist Church which was shared graciously with four seminary students at a time. I’m very grateful to Ginter Park Baptist Church for the enormous ways they supported Kendall and myself toward answering our callings in the world. And I am grateful to Kendall for who she is and the integrity with which she wrestles meaningfully with faith issues (as we all should, right?). I’m also grateful for our friendship. Nothing can strain (nor grow) a friendship like shared living. To know one another well and continue to extend remarkable grace is evidence of the divine within humanity. Thank you, Kendall Ratliffe.
Today guest, Rev. Laura McDaniel, together with her colleague Dr. Jim Baucom, Jr., are beginning to get results back from the beta launch of NEXUS, a unique process by which leaders can explore the intersections of both their personal, professional and faith lives. I have heard this discussed in multiple arenas recently, including this interview, as “faith and the workplace” and “marketplace ministry.”
Laura’s research and development focuses on leadership and congregational life. Yet that research and development necessarily recognizes the changing landscape of the sacred in the world, the movement of sacred being spread into all areas of people’s lives. While the Church may at first lament that more people are not centering their faith journeys within a church it is not without its advantages. It may even be part of a maturing faith world.
Our ministries at United Faith Leaders owns the changed landscape. It is not that UFL is without fear because the fear encourages a level of caution, which I believe is important to keep our minds fully engaged. The caution, however, is not – cannot be – a paralyzing factor. Like Laura McDaniel, John Chandler, Jim Baucom and their other colleagues at the Spence Network, we have processed our thoughts and prayed through our discernment with utmost courage. And we are going forward to extend the love that we know in God. I am proud of all these leaders for their discernment and their healthy risk-taking.
Laura is married to Henry McDaniel, an on-site project manager with English Construction in the highway division. She is also the mother of two wonderful sons: Patrick, a senior at James Madison University studying Engineering and German, and Cyrus, a ‘4 legged fur baby’ Doberman. She will tell you that she is also the mother of Benjamin and Rebecca, two 10 year old orphans at Source of Light Center, Haiti.
Laura and Henry currently live in Lynchburg and are building a home on farmland in Amherst County, where they will eventually live out their dream of ministry based on “farm livin’”. Laura travels to Haiti twice a year to spend time with Benjamin and Rebecca, and the other 34 resident orphans at Source of Light Center, where she loves and is loved, teaches and is taught. To relax, Laura writes poetry, draws and paints. She is also learning to play the banjo.
The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch