Home E News E Heritage & Heart – Alumni Story of Shealyn Hood (Vercellono) ’19
a photo of shea, her husband, and daughter smiling and laying down on the grass in a group photo

University, California, Virginia

Imagine stepping foot onto a campus where everybody knows your family’s name – and because they know your family, they assume they know you. As a freshman moving into the dorms at the LPU campus in San Dimas, California. Shealyn would much rather have been unknown. “I grew up as a pastor’s kid, niece, and grandkid; [so many family members] attended LPU whether in California or Virginia – my grandfather, Jack Hamilton, was even the President of the school.” On move-in day at LPU, Shea again was met face-to-face with the intimidating magnitude of her family connections. “I wanted to go somewhere where I wasn’t known as the child or grandchild of someone.”

The heritage she describes is the lineage of LPU and Foursquare ‘greats’ she is a part of. Shea’s grandfather, Dr. Jack Hamilton ’65, was the 5th president of LPU (at the time called LIFE Bible College). Her mother and father, Revs. Tim and JJ Vercellono, are Foursquare pastors in Laconia, New Hamp., and JJ is an LPU alumna from the MASL program, Class of 2022 (JJ now serves on the LPU Board of Trustees). Even Shea’s uncle, Rev. Jeff Hamilton ’90 (a Foursquare pastor at Hills Church in Laguna Niguel, Calif.), has a claim to fame as one of the inductees in the LPU Athletics Hall of Fame – having been a part of the 1988 Championship Men’s Basketball team. The number of pastors, leaders, and LPU alumni in her family is many. But despite all these family connections, the thing most special about Shea is that she has come to cherish her heritage while trusting in God and not family to promote and bring her favor. “The Lord led me on the most beautiful journey in understanding the honor it is to have the heritage I do.”

jack hamilton's letterman jacketHave you been to the LPU campus in San Dimas, California lately? Check out Dr. Jack Hamilton’s letterman jacket, carefully rescued and hand-delivered to LPU Alumni Relations by granddaughter Shealyn!

Despite the gift of that heritage making her studies so meaningful, Shea remained an eager student of Scripture during her time at LPU. “There was a time my junior year when I was struggling to grasp some of the theology behind something I was learning in Romans and needed some ‘uninterrupted’ time to focus on it. My professor, Mark Duzik, was headed to chapel, noticed me, and walked right over. He asked what I was doing, and when I told him, he sat down across from me, walked me through it until I understood – and encouraged me. That’s something I’ve never forgotten, and [something] that the Lord has time and time again used to minister to me in a wonderfully transformative way.”

The transformation Shea experienced during her season as an LPU student taught her also to continue as a student – a student of life, and a student of the things of the Lord. “During my time there, I got to work for President Angie Richey in Admissions and George Bostanic in Student Life, and they both taught me more than I can say about what it looks like to not only be a leader but to be a leader who is healthy and constantly pursuing growth.” Shea’s takeaway from that formative time is a lesson for every leader: “Remaining teachable no matter how experienced I may be, how old I get, or who I’m surrounded by is something that I learned during my time at LPU, and honestly is one of the greatest things I could have ever learned to prepare me for my future.”

The future she was preparing for was even more lovely than she imagined. “[My husband and I] met in the Summer of 2020, and it was so beautiful how the Lord brought us together and intertwined our lives! Jesus had taken me on a journey that led me into full dependency on and trust in Him, and suddenly there was Sean… Life has been so much more abundant and full of color since then.” Shea and Sean recently welcomed a daughter into their world, and raising her has given Shea a newly vivid picture of God’s love: “The fraction of understanding that I’ve gotten [of] how deeply the Father loves us is incredible. So selflessly, patiently, kindly, unconditionally. It’s truly amazing and gives me such a fresh perspective!”

Shea’s current ministry role is as meaningful as her young family is sweet. “There’s a saying that if you love your job, you never work a day in your life, and that’s truly how I feel about what I get to do!” Shea’s role as the NextGen pastor at Thrive Worship Center in Concord, NC keeps her youthful excitement for Jesus alive: “There is nothing like being surrounded by the wonder, trust, and joy that kids bring when it comes to the things of God. I so love the hunger and passion that teenagers have, to know more about who the Lord is to them, the hope He brings, and all He has for their lives.” Her passion is palpable. “This generation is not next, they are right now, and they are ready for more of Jesus!”

Of her walk with Jesus, Shea holds a perspective that is grateful, joyful, humble, and sweet. “The Lord did incredible things that started two generations before me and continued in my life; I truly could never have anticipated all He would do in and through me. One of the greatest decisions of my life was choosing to go to LPU!” Shea’s story illustrates what beautiful things result from a life given over to the Lord – she chose to let go of her way of doing things and let God shape in her a character that is humble, teachable, and trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God.