Statement from our Co-Founders
Spouses Rev. Amie Vanderford, MDiv and Thaddeus Shelton, Jr., MFT, CSAYC, first dreamed of starting a trauma-informed church a few years prior to the launch of The LabOratory Church in January 2020, but could not have anticipated that its start would coincide with a massive global pandemic, a time of great grief and trauma. They saw the need for this type of church because of their own personal and systemic traumatic experiences, and were blessed to find like-minded and highly gifted folks to join them on this new church formation journey with Jill Phillips and Rev. Ellen Corcella!
While there are multiple layers to the trauma in our society, this community is focused specifically on the 3rd stage of healing from trauma: relational healing. This can only be done through building safety and trust between people, and allowing space for each person to express their full humanity without shame. They believe in the importance of building healthy boundaries, as well as teaching communication and conflict resolution skills. They further believe in forgiveness and grace, and hold that accountability is a necessary part of that process. Elsewhere on our website, you may learn more about our values and what it means to be a trauma informed church.
Co-Founder & Pastor
Rev Amie Vanderford obtained her Master of Divinity at the Christian Theological Seminary (where she met Thaddeus), along with numerous master level courses in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She and Thaddeus believe that mental and emotional health are as critical to a person’s overall well-being as spiritual and physical health, and they have incorporated trauma informed care and mental health services, with a particular focus on relational and community healing, into the mission, vision, and foundation of this church. She is a co-founder of Project LEAST, serving in a variety of administrative functions from business development and fundraising to assisting with curriculum development.
Amie has had a diverse career prior to taking up her call to prophetic and pastoral ministry. In addition to working in the corporate and non-profit fields, she is an accomplished photographer with a diverse multicultural and international background, having lived all over the world since childhood. She obtained an undergraduate degree in International Relations with a focus on Peace and Conflict Resolution, and she has a strong passion for addressing systemic racial and other social injustices.
Co-Founder & Minister of Mental Health
Thaddeus Shelton, Jr. obtained his Master of Marriage and Family Therapy at the Christian Theological Seminary, and has additionally received his CSAYC (Credentialed Sexually Abusive Youth Clinician) certification. He is currently providing therapy services through a local Indianapolis agency, Family & Community Partners, and he is the founder and facilitator of the Project LEAST (Love Everyone As Self Training) mentoring program which teaches evidence-based pro-social skills in order to equip youth to navigate the world in a healthy and more communal way. He understands the complicated dynamics of systemic oppression, and uses a narrative therapeutic approach to address and help dismantle those systems.
Thaddeus has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, and has had a diverse career as an entrepreneur, project manager, and business owner, along with years of experience in the insurance industry, prior to answering his call to service.
Minister of Food Outreach
Jill Phillips comes to The Laboratory Church in support of Thaddeus and Amie's vision of an inclusive, trauma-informed, relational healing ministry. She is also the visionary and passionate supporter of the 4KEEPS Mobile Pantry's mission of bringing food aid out to the people where they are, and understands that it is essential in overcoming limited access to food resources in our community.
Jill is a retiree from AT&T and a Graduate Gemologist. Retirement plans have included service to others through work with the ICAN Food Pantry and The Laboratory Church's 4KEEPS Mobile Pantry. She also enjoys travel with her husband Mike, and musical pursuits with her band and a local performing arts ministry.