J.D. Jump
Design for the Church and Theatre



My Call to Ministry

             I was born in Richmond Virginia, to parents who regularly attended Ramsey Memorial United Methodist Church.  From early on in my life I had opportunities to be an active part of a faith community through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and other church activities.  It was these activities that introduced me to Jesus Christ.  From early in my life I became aware of a feeling in my life that I could not describe.  As I grew up I went through confirmation and I entered the Youth Group when I entered Middle School.

            It was in 7th grade that I attended my first Youth retreat at Blackstone.  During that retreat I experienced God in a way that I never had before.  It was in this experience that I learned what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  It was after this experience that I realized that the feeling that I had that I could not explain was my call from God.  I realized that God was calling me to the ministry, I just was not sure exactly what that meant.

            Around this time God gave me a very special person in my life to help me discern what it meant to be called to ministry.  This man was Derrick, the new associate pastor at my church.  Derrick pushed me to develop skills that would help me to discern what type of ministry I should consider.  It was Derrick who encouraged me to preach my first sermon and to pray in public whenever I got the chance.

            On the eve of high school I was introduced to another experience that had a huge effect on my spiritual journey.  Voices of Youth (or simply Voices) is a choir tour and mission trip for high school students in the Virginia Conference.  For three weeks every summer, participants in Voices go on a mission trip then tour throughout Virginia to sing and share their mission experiences.  Voices gave me exposure to mission work and helped me develop people  and leadership skills.  I spent 4 summers traveling with Voices of Youth and was the first person ever to be selected as Youth Staff for three years.

            During my years in high school I also was heavily involved in the choirs and the theatre productions at my school.  I started acting but soon became involved in the technical side of theatre.  It was during this time that I had my first experience with lighting design.

            During high school I was also heavily involved in the Youth Group at my church.  I was a member of the Youth Council for 2 years and I helped to lead weekly youth meetings.  During my junior year I became a member of the Richmond District Youth Council where I helped to plan retreats and other District events throughout the year.

            When the time came for me to start thinking about college I had already decided that I wanted to go to seminary and that I wanted to be in full time ministry. Through some family connections I became aware of a scholarship at Randolph-Macon College called the A. Purnell Bailey Pre-ministerial Program.  In addition to a generous scholarship the Bailey Program provided mentoring and help in the discernment process.  Randolph-Macon was also a good fit for me because it had very small music and theatre programs that I could get involved with, even if I chose not to major in them. 

            Around Christmas of my senior year in high school I interviewed for the Bailey Program and after about a week I got a call saying that I had been awarded the scholarship.  This cemented my decision to go to Randolph-Macon and I have not had any regrets about my decision since.  The small school atmosphere and the personal attention I got from teachers suited me very well and I was successful academically as well as being able to step into leadership roles in choir and in theatre my first year.

            During college my academic life was centered around drama and music, but I had many opportunities to experience ministry in different forms throughout my college career.  During my sophomore year I was able to take a travel course that went on a mission trip to Brazil where I got to work with one of the Initiatives of Hope that the Virginia Conference sponsors there.  The program was the Shade and Fresh Water Project that provides supplemental programming to schoolchildren.  During college I also got to do two internships for the Bailey Program where I could explore different ministry settings.  My first internship was with Steve Kropp who was the worship and music leader for a small church plant called New Season UMC in Fredericksburg VA.  I got to work a lot with Steve on the use of sound and projection technology in their worship services. I also learned about what it meant to work with a small church plant that does not even have its own worship space.  My second Internship was with West End Assembly of God, a large church in Richmond with a thriving production ministry.  Through this internship I got to see the nuts and bolts of a large church’s worship facility as well as see the way that a large drama, music, and dance ministry runs.

            Between my experiences in drama and my internship I had developed very strong interests in the technology associated with worship and the use of theatrical technology in a worship setting.  It was during my last year at college that I became aware of the field of worship technology, incorporating theatrical style technology and design into worship services.  While it is currently found mostly in larger churches I see the potential value for churches of all sizes.

            During my last couple of years I had become sure that I wanted to go to seminary when I graduated from college, and from the beginning Duke stood out to me.  Its focus on academics and the spiritual formation program both made me believe that that Duke was a perfect fit for me.  I applied my senior year and was accepted.

            In May 2012 I graduated from Duke Divinity School and took a job at St. Christopher's School as the multimedia and technology specialist.  I will be working with lighting, sound, and AV all over campus and especially in the brand new Luck Leadership Center.  I will also be helping with Chapel at St. Christopher's and I will be working with Ampersand, the theater company at St. Christopher's and St. Catherine's Schools.

            My focus has shifted from worship technology to the broader field of "Theological Design", which is concerned with helping churches to analyze their worship and mission focuses in order to decide on the best technology to use and how to use it.  I am currently preparing to begin the ordination process to become a Deacon in the United Methodist Church and I am hoping to serve in the Virginia Conference.

Learn about my definition of Theological Design.