Our Presbytery Welcomes Brian Lays,
Pastor of Riverside Presbyterian Church

Our presbytery welcomes the Rev. Brian Lays as Pastor of Riverside Presbyterian Church!  Brian and his wife Sunelle (pictured here) are settling into the Riverside area of Jacksonville. Brian began as pastor at Riverside Presbyterian Church on August 14. 

Brian and Sunelle Lays

Brian is transferring from the Sheppards & Lapsley Presbytery in Birmingham, Alabama where he most recently served as an Associate Pastor at Independent Presbyterian Church.  He served primarily as director of pastoral care and director of Christian education, and also provided oversight to their global mission program.

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Brian felt his call to ministry in high school, and attended Whitworth University (a PCUSA affiliated institution in Spokane, Washington) where he earned his certificate for ministry.  He later earned his Master of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2015.  Throughout seminary, Brian developed a deep love for global ministry as opportunities took him to many countries, including Costa Rica where he spent an intensive summer study program in 2014 through the World Communion of Reformed Churches.  

It was there that he met Sunelle, who was a Pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, where she had earned her Master of Divinity and later a Master of Theology in Religion, Gender, and Health.  Sunelle moved across the world to marry Brian, bringing two canine companions. In Birmingham, Sunelle completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education working as a chaplain at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, and transferred her ordination to the PCUSA. Brian and Sunelle are expecting a baby boy in the near future, which is sure to be well cared for by the Riverside Presbyterian Church family!

Brian expects to receive his Doctor of Ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary by the end of year. His study has focused on preaching difficult biblical texts. 

As Brian and Sunelle settle into the Riverside Presbyterian Church community, he has already observed that “Riverside is a vibrant congregation, situated in an amazing part of Jacksonville. I’m impressed with the heritage and tradition of our congregation, as well as the opportunities that lie before us and the eagerness of the congregation to pursue what God is calling us to next.”

Welcome to the presbytery Brian and Sunelle!