Clergy & Staff

The Reverend Elizabeth Marie Melchionna, Rector

ElizabethMarieMelchionnaThe Rev. Elizabeth Marie Melchionna was called as the rector of the Chapel of the Cross in July of 2016.  The Rev. Melchionna (pronounced mel-SHO-na) is a native of Roanoke, Virginia.  She  holds degrees from Davidson College and Yale Divinity School.  Prior to joining the Chapel of the Cross, she was 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.

The Rev. Melchionna is married to North Carolinian Will Roberts. They have two sons, Liam and Edward. 


The Reverend Noah Van Niel, Associate Rector

Noah comes to us as a life-long Episcopalian having grown up in Newton, MA. He graduated from Harvard College where he played fullback on the Crimson’s Ivy League champion football team and received his Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Before pursuing his call to ordained ministry, he trained and worked as an opera singer in Philadelphia.

Previously Assistant Rector at the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, MA, Noah has also worked at Old North Church in Boston’s historic North End; St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge; the Church of the Good Shepherd in Newton; and the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Philadelphia. He also spent a summer working as a chaplain at Massachusetts General Hospital. His writing has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Boston Globe, and The Covenant weblog of The Living Church.

Noah and his wife Melinda, have two sons, Vincent and Arthur.


The Rev. Mary Catherine Young, Associate Rector for University Ministry

Mary Cat’s previous role was Chaplain to Canterbury Downtown, serving students from NYU and surrounding campuses in Lower Manhattan (where she was named Chaplain of the Year). She organized city-wide 20’s-30’s events as the Coordinator of the Young Adult Network.  Before moving to New York with her husband Chad (UNC ‘96), Mary Cat was a priest on staff at Church of Our Saviour in Rock Hill, SC for five years where she served as youth minister and founding chaplain of WELCM: Winthrop Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministry.

The Young’s have a daughter named Dorothy Sue, and a mini-schnauzer named “The Enforcer”.


The Reverend Scott Balderson, Deacon

Scott Balderson came to the area after completing his training as a Physician Assistant to join the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Duke University in 1998.  His specialty is minimally invasive thoracic surgery in patients with lung cancer, esophageal cancer and other malignancies of the chest.

Scott, while active as a parishioner, spent a long time in discernment before entering the deacon formation process 4 years ago.  His work with oncology patients is also very much part of his diaconal ministry to serve with one foot in the Church and one foot in the world.

Scott and his wife Christina are both natives of Virginia Beach, Virginia having grown up together attending the same Episcopal Church.  They started dating in high school and  have been married since 1992.  They have two high schoolers, Carter and Isabel. 


The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop-in-Residence

The Right Rev. Peter James Lee has served the church for more than 50 years in positions both domestic and foreign.  And he and his wife Kristy are well-known and beloved parishioners at the Chapel of the Cross. 

At the end of June 2017, Bishop Lee retired from serving as the Assisting Bishop of North Carolina and we are lucky to welcome him back to the Chapel of the Cross as our Bishop-in-Residence! 

This is a non-stipendiary position in which Bishop Lee is volunteering his time. In this one year appointment Bishop Lee will be present among us in the pews.  You also might encounter him celebrating or preaching on a Sunday, celebrating Eucharist on a Thursday afternoon, teaching an occasional adult forum, or in a pastoral visit at the parish. 


The Rev. Jim Tucker, Priest Associate

The Rev. James Thomas Tucker (Jim), the oldest of 8 children, grew up in Liberia, Africa, where his father was an Episcopal priest and his mother an educator.  The family moved back to Texas when he was 6 years old. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1974 and from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1981. He has worked in a variety of churches in the Houston area. Jim started his career as assistant rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Texas and as associate rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, prior to moving to the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, where he was rector for 17 years.  Jim retired in 2013 to move to Chapel Hill with his wife, Ginny, when she relocated here for work. Ginny sings in the choir here at the parish.  Jim and Ginny have two grown sons, John and David, each of whom (with their respective wives) has produced an adorable granddaughter: Tyla  and Maddie.


Nolan Kurtz, Intern

Nolan is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and is currently a dual-degree student at Duke Divinity School and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. He works as the assistant campus minister of the Episcopal Center at Duke and as an assistant case manager at DukeReach, a resource center for students in need.  Nolan hopes to support religious folks in changing the narrative around bodies and sexuality as both an ordained minister and a certified sex therapist. In his free time, Nolan enjoys writing and recording music, discussing personality types, and eating gluten-free Chinese food.



Damon Williams, Intern

Damon is from Evansville, Indiana. He graduated from Duke Divinity School with a Master in Theological Studies degree in May of this year. Before graduate school, he worked for several years in bilingual education in Rockford, Illinois at the early childhood and early elementary levels. He and his wife of five years, Jessica, welcomed a daughter, Eden, in February. Damon is currently caring for her while pursuing the discernment process for ordination to the priesthood. His beloved sponsoring parish is the Episcopal Church of the Advocate.



Program Staff

Joe Causby, Director of Music and Organist

Joe Causby, a native of North Carolina is a highly talented musician who believes in the power of collaboration and inclusivity. Joe built one of the most active music programs in the country at St. Mark’s, San Antonio, working with the Choral Society of San Antonio, the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, Trinity University, and Montessori Schools.

Joe grew up in Morganton and holds a bachelor of music from Appalachian and his master’s degree from Rice University.  He was the first American Organ Scholar at Durham Cathedral, in Durham, England, where he received his PhD.

Prior to his tenure at St. Mark’s, Joe served as organist and choirmaster at Trinity Church, Houston.


Joey Fala, Organ Scholar

Joey Fala is a recent graduate of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale and currently serves as organ scholar at Duke University Chapel. While pursuing his MM in organ, Joey assisted with the chorister program as organ scholar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Norwalk and also served as a teaching artist in New Haven schools as a part of the Yale Music in Schools Initiative. He previously graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he received his Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Science in Lighting degrees. Most recently, Joey accompanied the Duke Chapel Evensong Singers on their UK residency at Gloucester Cathedral. He is excited to be a part of the music ministry at Chapel of the Cross and continue to broaden his skills in his newfound interest in Anglican choral music.


Boykin Bell, Director of Christian Formation

Experience counts: Boykin Bell traces her Episcopal lineage all the way back to the 16th century.  “A Presbyterian or Baptist here or there,” she says, “but otherwise, pretty monotonous all the way back to Henry VIII.”

Boykin graduated from Wellesley in 1990 with a major in philosophy followed by a M.A. in philosophy/bioethics from the University of South Carolina. By 2006, she was home with a husband and three kids, tinkering with a thesis and some ideas for short fiction when former Chapel of the Cross Director of Christian Formation Gretchen Jordan invited her to join the staff as her part-time assistant. It was a match made in—pardon the pun—Heaven. Following Gretchen’s retirement, Boykin made the seamless transition to full-time Director of Christian Formation—a fun, creative, talented and enthusiastic advocate for Christian education and Godly Play.


Mike Peterson, Family and Youth Minister

Mike Peterson joined the staff in 2017.  He comes to us from The Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, where he was youth and family minister.  Prior to the Good Shepherd, Mike was director of youth ministries at St. Catherine’s in Marietta, Georgia. For more than 15 years, Mike has also served as a musician and group facilitator for Episcopal conferences throughout the southeast and along the eastern seaboard.

In addition to his work as a youth minister, Mike worked as assistant director of Episcopal Community Services of Louisiana, supervising construction projects for 20 simultaneous worksites in the rebuilding of houses damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  He trained crew chiefs in volunteer management and oriented volunteer crews. He met his spouse Mary Bess while working for ECSLA in New Orleans.

Originally from Greenville, NC, and a UNC undergraduate in the class of 2004, Mike was very active in Episcopal Campus Ministry and lived at COTC as a student resident.  Following graduation from UNC, Mike worked extensively with individuals with developmental disabilities at Pathways for People in Cary and at the Carolina Living and Learning Center in Pittsboro.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in religious studies.


Administrative Staff

Faith Turchi, Parish Administrator and Stewardship Manager

Faith holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in Management Information Technology and received her MBA from Brenau University.  She has spent the last two decades at Swisslog, a logistics and automated solutions company where she worked as a project manager, customer account manager, and business analyst.

Faith also brings a breadth of leadership experience in volunteer organizations including the Junior League of Gainesville, GA, the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties, and the Preschool at Chapel of the Cross.  She currently serving as a board member for the Carrboro Elementary PTA and a chair of the Community Outreach committee for the Chapel Hill Service League.


Nick Jaeger, Communications Manager

Nick conceives, designs, and produces all of our parish publications and electronic communications.  Nick graduated from Gardner Webb University with a degree in communications and design. His prior experience includes work with Image Marketing Group in Charlotte. Originally from Nevada, Nick is also a session musician and producer.


Ellen Cole, Parish Life and Worship Coordinator

Ellen ColeThrough her work in the kitchen and across the parish, Ellen focuses on fellowship and engagement.  She manages and motivates volunteers, develops fellowship opportunities, and coordinates special events.  She is a resource for newcomers who want to get involved and acts as a matchmaker between parishioners and volunteer opportunities.  She monitors the talents and interests database on COTC Connect and works with student and community groups who need volunteers or want to use church space.  In the kitchen, Ellen trains new kitchen users, orders supplies and equipment, and manages kitchen volunteers.  Her monthly Kitchen Notes column brings everyone inside the busy world of the COTC kitchen!


Kathryn Obenshain and Vivian Siripurapu, Student Residents

Kathryn hails from Hillsborough, NC. A member of the 2022 class at UNC, she studies Political Science and Environmental Studies, and is a member of the UNC Marathon Team. Prior to UNC, Kathryn lived in rural Germany as a youth ambassador with the State Department. She enjoys hiking, walking her dog (Macchiato, who lives in Hillsborough), and baking.

Vivian is from Mooresville, NC and is a member of the 2022 class at UNC. Vivian loves to read, write, study plants, and learn about diverse people and cultures. She majors in Biology and Women’s Studies at UNC and is interning at the Pauli Murray Project in Durham. Vivian loves helping others and brightening people’s days.


Nursery Staff

Paw Wah, P’Saw, and Jewellery







Playground Staff

Tha Dah and Ku Paw