Vestry Calls New Rector
The vestry of the Chapel of the Cross is pleased to announce the call of the Rev. Canon Elizabeth Marie Melchionna as rector. Her first Sunday will be August 7, when she will preach and celebrate at all three services.
Both the recommendation of the search committee and the vote of the vestry were unanimous. The Rev. Melchionna (pronounced mel-SHO-na) is a native of Roanoke, Virginia. She holds degrees from Davidson College and Yale Divinity School. She is currently Canon for Discipleship and Parish Life at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, Colorado. She was the associate rector and Davidson College Episcopal campus minister at St. Alban’s in Davidson from August 2009 through June 2013. She speaks several languages, has traveled extensively, authored numerous publications, and is in demand for her preaching and presentation skills.
“Elizabeth Marie is an extraordinary person and priest with a keen intellect, strong liturgical and musical experience and education, and a calming spiritual presence,” said search committee chair Dick Taylor. “We are thrilled that she will be leading the parish.”
The Rev. Melchionna is married to North Carolinian Will Roberts. They have a son, Liam, a rising sixth grader who loves singing in the choir. And most exciting for the parish, Elizabeth Marie is expecting a baby in mid-September! She will be with us for about six weeks prior to taking maternity leave and will return during Advent. During those first weeks, she will make arrangements for supply liturgical and teaching coverage during her maternity leave, which is subsidized by the Church Pension Group disability plan for clergy.
Elizabeth Marie had long been interested in the Chapel of the Cross. During the search process, she felt drawn to the “energy and possibility and excitement” that were an indication to her of how God might be moving at the Chapel of the Cross at this moment in time. “I knew this was the place for me when I didn’t want the interview to end!” she said.
“That the parish was open to calling a female rector who also happened to be pregnant, communicated something,” Elizabeth Marie said. “Their willingness to go in that direction while remaining authentic to their roots showed that they were asking themselves what new ministry might be emerging for the parish and how to express it.”
The call came after a 10-month search process, which included numerous meetings of the search committee, review of 27 applicants from 20 states, and intensive video and face-to-face interviews of 13 candidates. Members of the committee also visited Denver to observe Elizabeth Marie in her current position.
Dick Taylor thanked the entire parish and its leadership for their contributions to the successful search for a new rector. “The parish-wide process of defining who we are and what we want resulted in thousands of individual expressions of what was important to us,” he said. “Those thoughts were transformed by the profile writing committee, search committee and vestry into a parish profile that set forth our vision of the Chapel of the Cross going forward – focused on worship, outreach and a supportive community. An outstanding pool of candidates responded to that vision and the search committee reviewed applications, interviewed candidates, and finally the vestry has called the next rector of the Chapel of the Cross – Elizabeth Marie Melchionna.”
Senior warden and search committee member Melody Savage also noted the importance of the parish’s input into the process. “Elizabeth Marie’s calm centeredness, her intellect, and her warmth impressed everyone during her interview. Although other candidates were very impressive in many regards, we agreed unanimously that Elizabeth Marie’s skills and personality are those that will support our parish in living into the vision for The Chapel of the Cross that we articulated in that profile.”
The process was gratifying to all involved. “It was truly a spiritual discernment and we unanimously agreed that she was ‘the one’,” said search committee member Leigh Ann Dasher.
Vestry member Syd Alexander said he is quite excited. “Elizabeth Marie is academically gifted, experienced in a university setting, and passionate about her ministry,” he said.
“Elizabeth Marie has all the strengths I hoped to find in our new rector,” said search committee member Joe Ferrell, “leadership experience, pastoral sensitivity, communication skills (including preaching), and familiarity with the ethos of a university community.”
Plans are being laid for welcoming gatherings during August for attendees at all three Sunday services. There will be an installation ceremony for the new rector shortly after her arrival. We will hold a full-out celebration of new ministry upon her return from maternity leave.
The vestry wishes to extend special gratitude to associate priests Tammy Lee and Vicky Jamieson-Drake, archdeacon Bill Joyner, and interim rector Robert Davenport for their steadfast pastoral care and liturgical leadership during the transition period. Robert’s last Sunday at Chapel of the Cross is July 31, when we will hold a farewell event following the 10 am service.