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Meet Rev. Laney

Meet Rev. Matt Laney

On December 3, 2017, the congregation of Virginia-Highland Church voted overwhelmingly to formally call Rev. Matthew Laney to be our Senior Pastor. Rev. Laney has accepted this call.

Rev. Laney and his family will now begin the task of relocating to Atlanta. And, while his official "start date" with our church has not yet been determined, we look forward to Rev. Laney and family joining us in early 2018.

This page was originally designed to help members of our congregation learn more about Rev. Laney in anticipation of his calling. Learn more about Rev. Laney below and understand why we are so excited about this new chapter in the life of our church.

Rev. Matt Laney was born and raised in mid-coast Maine (ayuh!) and attended high school in the Philadelphia area. He’s a graduate of Kenyon College, B.A. in Religion, but Matt spent most of his time in the theater scoring the precious few roles reserved for extra tall men who can’t sing.

After college graduation in 1993, Matt joined an intentional faith community in Decatur, GA which operated CAFÉ 458, a free restaurant and drug and alcohol recovery program for people who are homeless (on Edgewood Avenue). Matt eventually became the interim director of CAFÉ 458. Only 23 at the time, Matt feared the place would not survive his tenure. But the Café is still going strong today. More evidence, he believes, that God is real.

Through this work, Matt met his future spouse, Ann Colloton, a highly decorated college athlete working at Samaritan House, a job readiness organization for people who are homeless. They got engaged at Sweetwater Park and have been married for twenty-one years.

Matt and Ann left Atlanta in 2001 so Matt could attend seminary at Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts where he was the Student Commencement Speaker and received faculty awards for New Testament Studies and Proclamation of Scripture.

Matt has served churches in Vermont, Michigan and Connecticut. He is a regular contributor to the UCC’s Daily Devotional and sits on their editorial board. Following Ann’s work with people who are homeless, she went to graduate school at Georgia State while planning conferences for health care providers who work with immigrants and refugees. Later she worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta as a legal investigator into prison conditions, guard brutality and ineffective court systems and as a community organizer and lobbyist for criminal justice reform. Since leaving Atlanta, Ann worked as an admissions officer at a graduate school, a paralegal focused on personal injury and worker’s compensation claims, and for a non-profit that works with low income homeowners and runs a summer school program for elementary age students. She is also the chief strategist and logistics manager for the Colloton-Laney household. You can see who has the more impressive resume.

Matt is the author of a soon-to-be-released fantasy trilogy, PRIDE WARS, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book “The Spinner Prince” will be released on March 9, 2018. You can pre-order on Amazon today! It’s the perfect Easter or birthday gift for all your children, nieces and nephews in the 8-13 age range.

Speaking of children, Matt and Ann have two: Halladay (Hally), 15 and Camden, 13 (well, almost). Hally is an avid competitive swimmer and social media wonk who hopes to build a robust babysitting clientele. Camden enjoys baseball, basketball, football, fishing and rock climbing.

In addition to his skills in preaching, pastoral care and faith formation, Matt has been a leader and participant in numerous justice initiatives on issues ranging from LGBTQ equality, racism, homelessness, gun violence and economic injustice. He founded the Faith Alliance in Michigan, to mobilize faith leaders for LGBTQ justice and advocacy and was part of the core team to establish a faith-based community organizing effort in Hartford, CT. In all things, Matt points to the subversive hope of the gospel as our best offense in these challenging times.

Off duty, Matt enjoys reading, writing, exercise, keeping up with his kids’ activities, contemplative prayer, theater, good conversation, good beer, and a good laugh.

He and Ann are excited about the possibility of returning to Atlanta to join in the Spirit’s work at VHC.

Learn More

These links will let you hear sermons from Rev. Laney, and read examples of written devotionals. As a progressive Christian, you will also enjoy listening to his podcast thoughts on "snowflakes."
Audio Sermons
UCC Daily Devotionals
UCC Podcast: "Snowflakes"