FIRST UNITED MEHODOGIST CHURCH OF URBANA
304 South Race Street, (Next to Lincoln Square Mall)
Vinny was born in Branford, Connecticut, but now makes his home here in the Mid-West. He lives in an old farmhouse (built in the 1890’s) on 3.3 acres of beautiful Illinois farmland. He is married to Emily and has 2 children; Bella and Vincent. He also has 6 chickens, 3 cats and one dog.
Vinny has had over two decades of ministry experience, including working in para-church ministry (Apartment Life), Christian education (Middle School and High School), leading tours through Europe, pastoring both an established church (as the Senior Pastor) and planting a open, inclusive church in Urbana. He also helped initiate the Champaign Police Dept. Chaplain Program and served as a volunteer police chaplain for the city of Champaign for 3 years.
Vinny is currently a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation at Fuller Theological Seminary in California and has both a Master’s in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary (Texas) and Bachelor’s of Science in Biblical Studies from Cairn University (Pennsylvania). He also received a 1-year Bible certification from Emmaus Bible College in 1998 and is currently a member of Spiritual Directors International and the Champaign-Urbana Inter-Faith Alliance.
As Director of Spiritual Formation and Congregational Care at First United Methodist Church of Urbana, Vinny’s main responsibility is to come alongside you and help you to develop a holistic and intentional spiritual life that encourages you to experience God’s ongoing and loving presence so that you may grow in your love for God, yourself and others in a way that brings restoration, justice, wisdom and peace into our local and global community. As Director of Spiritual Formation and Congregational Care, Vinny is also involved in teaching, preaching, discipleship, worship, community events and outreach.
Vinny is passionate about Jesus’ “good news message (gospel),” which he believes is not so much about “going to heaven after you die” as it is about “experiencing heaven while you are alive.” Since Vinny understands the gospel primarily as “life with God now,” he is passionate about helping people make touch with that life in their daily lives through discipleship to Jesus, yieldness to the Holy Spirit, the development spiritual practices and openness to God’s grace.
Some of his other passions and interests include: poetry, theology, star gazing, Christian and world mysticism, Judaic studies, social justice, creation spirituality, inter-faith & ecumenical dialogue, nature and sustainable living, anything written by Dallas Willard, Celtic spirituality, the re-contextualization of Christianity for modern times, minority studies, critical thinking, modern science and a good pub. Vinny is also an avid musician and you can sometimes catch him playing folk ’n blues on his guitar and harmonica at festivals, restaurants, winery’s and street corners around town!
Vinny plans to be ordained in the United Methodist Church as a Deacon and eventually as an Elder. He is excited to be journeying with you in the “abundant life” Jesus came to bring!