The Very Rev. Thomas Purdy
Tom began serving with Christ Church in May, 2013, after serving parishes in Poolesville, MD and Lancaster, PA. Tom is blessed to be the husband of Donna, and father of Eva and Calleigh, who make his life rich and beautiful. Together they enjoy exploring the southeast and getting outside as often as possible. Tom likes playing in the dirt, losing golf balls, taking journeys, and enjoying good food.
Tom graduated from Millersville University with a BA in Philosophy and Psychology, and The School of Theology at The University of the South at Sewanee with an M.Div. His vision for his ministry is to help people deepen their relationship with God and Christ and to equip people for their unique calling. He fancies himself a humorous guy, but most people try not to encourage him, especially his puns.
The Rev. Ashton Williston
The Rev. Ashton Williston graduated from the School of Theology at Sewanee in May 2017 and is a fourth generation Episcopal priest in her family. Ashton was ordained as a priest at Christ Church on August 5, 2017 and brings extensive parish ministry experience to our congregation. For the eight years before she began her studies at Sewanee, Ashton served as Director of Family Ministry at St. James Episcopal Church and School in Ormond Beach, FL. Before that she served as Director of Youth Ministry at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Melbourne, FL. She is eager to engage in pastoral care, which is one of her ministry strengths, and to engage in the many ministries we offer at Christ Church. Ashton and her husband Joseph have been married for 19 years and they have two daughters, Isabella and Abigail.
Associate for Children, Families & Youth
The Rev. Katie Knoll Lenon
Mother Katie came to Christ Church in September of 2018, having finished a year-long internship of Clinical Pastoral Education at Saint Luke’s Hospital, in Kansas City, MO. Katie is a native Kansan, born and raised in Topeka, Kansas and a Religious Studies graduate from the University of Kansas - Go Jayhawks! Katie served as Program Director for Youth and Small group ministries for nine years at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park, Kansas, before heading off to Sewanee Tennessee to attend seminary with her husband, Taylor and their 6 month old (at the time), daughter Joni. Katie was ordained into the priesthood in the Diocese of Kansas on January 6th, 2018. Katie is excited to be back in parish work full time, and to be using her spiritual gifts in working with the children, youth and families of Christ Church Frederica. Katie, Taylor, Joni and their dog Lucy are very excited to be here on Saint Simons Island, Georgia.
The Rev. Becky Rowell
A communicant at Christ Church since 1980, Mtr. Becky was ordained to the diaconate in November, 2009 and to the priesthood in April, 2015. After 13 years as a speech pathologist and 24 years of service in county government, she joined the staff of Christ Church on August 1, 2014. A life-long learner, she completed a MA in Theology in 2015 through the distance learning program at Virginia Theological Seminary. In addition to her work at Christ Church, she feels called to a ministry of reconciliation training vestries and clergy in conflict transformation skills and assisting churches in conflict. A native of Moultrie, she holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia Southern University. Mother Becky and her husband, Uli Keller, divide their time between St. Simons Island and Hickory, North Carolina.
Assisting Ecumenical Clergy
The Rev. Dr. Bob Brown (UMC)
The Rev. Dr. Robert W. “Bob” Brown is a native of Virginia but has resided in Georgia for more than 45 years. He holds a BA degree in Psychology from Emory & Henry College; a M Div. degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University; and a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Seminary at the University of Chicago. He likes to say that he is a “retired United Methodist Pastor (40 years of Service) who is now a happy Episcopalian.” He and his wife June have been an active part of Christ Church for more than seven years. He assists with worship; is a Docent; and is the facilitator and teacher for the Adult Sunday Morning Class and he occasionally preaches (his true love in ministry) at the worship services. He has also led book studies for a Sunday Evening group at CCF. Bob is married to his wife of 45 years, June and they have three sons and daughters-in-law and three grandchildren with a 4th on the way. Both Bob and June are very involved in the community through Rotary and Cassina Garden Club. They love St Simons and feel blessed by the wonderful family at Christ Church, Frederica. Bob feels that God is doing great things at CCF and he’s happy that he and June can be a part of it.
Lay Pastoral Care Associates
Perhaps the most familiar analogy in the scriptures for the role of a pastor is that of a shepherd - and the illustration is a good one. Almost everyone can imagine the image of a shepherd caring for sheep. Beryl has a heart for caring for Jesus' flock. Beryl Blatchford has been a resident of St. Simons Island and a member of Christ Church Frederica since 2012. As a Lay Pastoral Care Associate, she has been the head of the lay pastoral care team for 10 years, however she has been an integral part of the church her entire adult life. Beryl is passionate for helping others and pastoral care is at the core of her being. As a Lay Pastoral Care Associate, Beryl is an extension of the clergy and is rewarded when sitting with and caring for other members of the congregation. One quote that is defining pastoral care for Beryl is, "To bear one another's burdens is a privilege, as long as we remember that the Lord is the final person to carry the load."
Becky Dorrell became a Lay Pastoral Care Associate in February 2022. Her work as a Lay Associate consists of helping the Clergy provide pastoral care to the greater needs of the Congregation. Becky is currently a Postulant for the Diaconate.
She enjoys, family, friends, walks, golf and pickleball.
Sexton and Cemetery Superintendent
Harrison Branch came to Christ Church August 1, 2012. He has been married to Dorriann for 36 years, and has two daughters, Laura and Jennifer and one granddaughter, Amelia. Harry enjoys cooking, fishing, and outdoor activities.
Cemetery Superintendent Emeritus
Oscar B. Covington, Jr. was born in Savannah, Georgia and attended Clemson College and Southern Tech. He served 13 years as an Artillery Officer in the Army National Guard. Oscar retired from Georgia Pacific after 38 years. Oscar is married to Zoann. They have raised their three children in Christ Church, where Oscar has served as Junior and Senior Warden (at the same time!), Sunday School teacher and Superintendent. For many years, he served as the Superintendent of the Christ Church Cemetery and Grounds and he is now the Cemetery and Grounds Superintendent Emeritus.
Julie Hancock joined our staff as Communications Associate in March of 2016. She has many years of communications experience, including working in a church setting. Most recently she served as the chief communications coordinator at Frederica Academy. At Christ Church, her work includes our weekly emails, our advertisements, collateral pieces, the website, social media platforms, and periodic brochures and mailings. She also serves as our in-house photographer. Julie and her husband, Kevin, have two adult daughters; Emily, who is married to JD, and Darcy, who is married to Curran. She is also the devoted grandmother of Alice, Emily's and JD's amazing Kindergartener, and Milo, Alice's sweet younger brother!
Judy Howard joined the staff of Christ Church in September of 2021. She is a lifelong resident of St. Simons and graduate of Glynn Academy. During her career in banking and accounting ,Judy has enjoyed various positions locally, most recently as the Club Accountant for Huizenga Holdings at Frederica Golf Club. Judy enjoys spending time with her Mother, Janette, and stays busy taking care of their one year old puppy Dexter.
Interim Organist and Choirmaster
Dr. Tess Neilsen
We are happy to welcome Dr. Tess Nielsen to the organ bench as our interim Organist and Choir Director. She will be on the organ bench and working with our choirs. Tess is a choral director and music educator. She is currently serving as the Fine Arts Director at Frederica Academy. She has previously taught at Rowan University and The College of St. Elizabeth. She has served other congregations previously, including Hope Presbyterian Church in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, and St. John's Episcopal Church in Bay Head, New Jersey.
Tess holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University, and a Master of Music from the Catholic University of America. She completed her undergraduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Tess's stage credits include classical and contemporary music performances for theaters, concert halls, cabaret, and social events. She and her husband, Jon, live on St. Simons Island and have two college-age sons.
Glenn rejoined the Christ Church team in January of 2019. He originally came to CCF in September of 2012 and served as the Parish Administrator until December of 2016. Glenn served as a Salvation Army officer for 11 years and has also worked with hospice. Glenn enjoys listening to the blues and relaxing with his family. The most important thing about Glenn is he is Hope’s husband, and Tori, Brandon, and Ava’s dad.