Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Episcopal Church »  |  The Diocese of Virginia
 

Staff

The Reverend Jon StrandThe Reverend Jon C. Strand, Rector

In Christ there is no male nor female, nor Jew nor Greek, nor slave nor free, by all are one in Christ Jesus

Jon’s ministry is focused on the Resurrection, a vision of the restored life God has given to us in Christ. This vision is one that is given to all of us uniquely. “Without each of us that vision is incomplete and our view of heaven, is incomplete. As the former Archbishop of Canturbury has said 'It won’t really feel like heaven unless we are all there together.' What is your unique vision of a restored world? Please tell me, and let us work together in the church, achieving it!”

When he is not in his servant-leader/spiritual director role as priest and Rector, Jon will often find himself running on trails while listening to audiobooks, practicing contemplative prayer, being a dad to his three children and a husband to his wife Beth, an oncology nurse practitioner. He also enjoys working on improving a telescope design, paddling a kayak on the ocean, or on his kayak-erg in the garage or hosting guests in the backyard. A semi-professional trumpeter, Jon occasionally performs in the area when practice time allows. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Jon has served at Holy Comforter as Rector since the spring of 2018. All the congregations where he has served, have experienced growth in numbers and ministry. He is committed to strengthening the ministry of Holy Comforter’s incredibly thoughtful, compassionate and dynamic community.

Jon has ministered in a variety of contexts from youth ministry and street ministry to interfaith organizing and growing communities of faith. Invite him for a walk, run or a hike!

He can’t decide if his favorite passage of scripture is when Jesus proclaims “Peace” to the disciples who failed him; or if its from Paul’s letters, “In Christ there is no male nor female, nor Jew nor Greek, nor slave nor free, by all are one in Christ Jesus.” Both are compelling visions of resurrection life.


The Reverend Ann GillespieThe Reverend Ann Gillespie, Senior Associate Rector and Director of the Center for Wellness and Spirituality

Live light. Travel light. Follow the light. Spread the light. Help others to find their own light. Grow in the Light. Hold all in the Light. Be the light.

The Rev. Ann Gillespie arrived June 1, 2019 to serve as our Senior Associate Rector and the Director of the Center for Spirituality and Wellness. Ann brings to parish ministry a 23-year career as an actress in television and theater and 18 years as a yoga teacher. Ann’s acting career included many guest-starring roles. Some may remember her recurring characters as “Kelly’s mom” on Beverly Hills, 90210 and the second iteration in the 2000’s called ‘90201’and Nurse Jabara on Star Trek’s Deep Space 9.  Eventually the call to the altar and the pulpit won out.

After graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2007, she served as Senior Associate Rector for 11 years at Christ Church, in Alexandria. During that time she also got an MFA in Creative Writing through Seattle Pacific University’s low residency program. She is passionate about the ways her work as priest combines the ritual and pageantry of theater with the healing and transformation of yoga. She designed her own brand of yoga, meditation and God, called Finding God in Your Body that has been offered in multiple church and diocesan settings.

Just before coming to Holy Comforter, she spent a year as Consultant for Ministry and the Arts at VTS and continues to help them with special projects. She believes art and God are inextricably entwined.


The Reverend Jacqueline ThomsonThe Reverend Jacqueline C. Thomson, Pastoral Associate

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2). As we seek and serve the Christ in those we meet, our call is to practice radical hospitality, to recognize the Christ in each person, to welcome them into our community just as they are. As community, our call is to care for one another and to travel towards wholeness together on this journey of faith.

Drawn out of retirement to come “home,” The Rev. Jackie Thomson returned to Holy Comforter in October, 2018. “It was in this community that my adult faith was formed. It was largely through my thirteen-year ministry here as Director of Christian Education that my call to ordained ministry emerged. It’s really good to be home.”

After nearly 25 years as a parishioner, Jackie left Holy Comforter in 1995 to attend seminary. Following graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1998, she served as Curate at St. Alban’s in Annandale for two years and then as Senior Associate Rector for Pastoral Care and Adult Formation at St. Anne’s in Reston for thirteen years. In the Diocese she served as President of the Standing Committee and as Chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct. In retirement Jackie has lived out her priestly call serving as chaplain at INOVA Fairfax Hospital and as nave chaplain at Washington National Cathedral.

“As preacher, I love combining my background as a teacher (of high school English, Sunday school, and swimming) with my passion for the Biblical text to help the story come alive. As pastor, I value time spent with people during good times as well as challenging times. Creating a sense of welcome for everyone, just as they are, continues to be a ministry priority.”

Longtime residents of Vienna, Jackie and her husband Barney enjoy visiting their four adult children who grew up at Holy Comforter where they benefitted from the acolyte, youth and formation programs. Jackie and Barney delight in sharing all things Washington and (fun!) with their twelve grandchildren who look forward to being spoiled at Camp Grammie.


 

Dr. David KelleyDr. David Kelley, Minister of Music

David Kelley has worked as Minister of Music at Church of the Holy Comforter since May 2011. David has broad classical training, including a Doctorate in Organ Performance from Peabody Conservatory, as well as degrees in Music Theory, Composition, and Liturgical Music.

His work in the church utilizes all of these skills, from composing pieces for the choir and congregation to sing, to creating colorful improvisations that enhance weekly worship. David uses his experience with vocal pedagogy and the Royal School of Church Music curriculum to train Holy Comforter’s volunteer choir members of all ages.

Outside Holy Comforter, he has served in leadership roles in the American Guild of Organists, is active in the Association of Anglican Musicians, and has published articles and compositions. When not engaged in musical activities, David enjoys designing and building bikes that he can ride to and from the church.

On May 4, 2021, David was awarded Second Place in University of Notre Dame's Magnificat Choir Composition Commission Competition.


 

Brynn PacittiBrynn Pacitti, Director of Children's Ministries

Brynn has been working as the Interim Director of Children’s Ministries at Holy Comforter since the fall of 2018 and has been teaching children (ages 3–14) for over twenty years. She began her teaching career in Upstate NY as an elementary classroom teacher after completing her BA degree from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY in Psychology, Elementary and Special education.

After moving to Virginia, she earned a master’s degree in reading from the University of Virginia and was a classroom teacher and literacy coach to other teachers in several Fairfax County Public Schools, including two Title I schools, where she was nominated for the Fairfax County Teacher of the Year award. The real reward, she believes, was watching the incredible growth and achievement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and in coaching both teachers and parents. 

Brynn works as a consultant to parents and teachers empowering them to raise children who happily live to their God-given potential. She feels a calling to empower parents to mentor their children by fostering the development of the 7 research-based skills that lead to school and life success. (Focus and self-control, perspective taking, communicating, making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges, self-directed, engaged learning.)

The greatest inspiration comes from Brynn’s husband John and their four children ages 2–14. Together they love to play games, ski, watch the Caps, and play in the backyard!


 

Denis McMullanDenis McMullan, Director of Youth Ministries

In 2018 when Denis was considering retiring from his engineering company, God found another role for him as Director of Youth Ministries. He has created a sustainable youth program with a strong team of dedicated leaders that focuses on listening, guiding, and rejoicing with our youth as they explore and struggle with decisions that affect their heart, soul, strength, and mind. He has encouraged the teens to take responsibility for their own lives and decide for themselves the values by which they will live.

Our youth will tell you that Denis loves to tell stories of his mistakes, failures, and successes. He will throw his planned teaching lessons out the proverbial window if he senses that the teens just need to talk and be themselves. He has created a safe place where teens know they are loved by God and by us, that all are welcomed, and that we will always be there for them on this journey of faith in Christ.

Denis has completed Youth Ministry courses at the Virginia Theological Seminary and participated in numerous Youth Ministry conferences. He loves spending time with his two daughters and five grandchildren, playing golf, biking and trying to be a good husband to his wife of more than 50 years, Valerie.


 

Peggy MillerPeggy Miller, Parish Administrator and Treasurer

Peggy Miller has been a parishioner at Holy Comforter for 27 years. She has been Holy Comforter's volunteer treasurer for 18 years. Peggy joined the church office staff in 2010. Prior to working at Holy Comforter, Peggy spent 33 years in banking. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

 

 


Tom GadellTom Gadell, Facilities Manager

Tom came to Church Of The Holy Comforter from Saint Timothy Parish in Chantilly where he was the Facilities Manager of five buildings and 18 acres. He is the seventh of ten children and has lived in Vienna over 50 years. He and his wife Marty have five children and six grandchildren. Tom enjoys spending time with family, golfing, fishing, and cooking. He feels very blessed to be part of the Holy Comforter community.

 


Liz BleichLiz Bleich, Office Assistant

Liz Bleich has worked in the office of Church of the Holy Comforter since 2001. She holds a BA from Virginia Tech. She currently resides in Reston, Virginia with her husband of twenty years, Larry, and their two children, Joseph and Laura.

 

 


Elys McLeanElys A. McLean, Communications Designer, Editor

Elys Mclean joined the Holy Comforter staff in June, 2008. She began her communication career at USA TODAY where she worked for 15 years as an Illustrator and Informational Graphics Specialist. Additionally, she designs, produces, and coordinates communications and promotional products for other Episcopal churches, as well as for local and national organizations. Elys and her husband are the parents of a son and daughter—one in college and one college-bound this fall.

 


Patti BoergerPatti Boerger, Director of Childcare

Patti joined Holy Comforter in April 2019. After a rewarding career in public relations and marketing at major corporations and trade associations, she reflected on her life and knew she wanted to work with children in her next career. Children and animals have always been drawn to her and she to them. She loves laughing and talking with children and youth and to see their eyes light up when they understand what they have just learned. She wants the Holy Comforter nursery to be a safe, warming and inviting space that young children get excited to spend time at during service and other activities.

Patti has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in Public Communications from American University. As a past chairman and board member of SCAN of Northern Virginia, an organization dedicated to preventing child abuse, she worked to raise visibility about positive parenting skills as well as raise funds for the organization.

She spends her free time with her husband, a daughter who is in college and her spoiled dog.


Linda MeyersLinda Meyers, Director of Holy Comforter Episcopal Preschool

Linda Meyers was born and raised in Stockton, California, and has her Multi-disciplinary studies teaching credential, administrative credential, and a Masters in Educational Leadership. She began teaching at Holy Comforter Preschool and Kindergarten in 2006 where she taught the Threes, Pre-K classes and Kindergarten and now is in her third year as director of HCEP&K.

Linda values being a part of Holy Comforter as it is a place of love, worship, and joy for her on a daily basis. Every day with the children is a blessing and one she treasures and thanks God! As HCEP&K celebrates its 25th anniversary this school year, she is looking forward to enveloping more children into the sanctuary of HCEP&K. Linda has been supported and married to her wonderful husband, Chip Meyers for over 30 years and they have three beautiful daughters.


Victor HernandesVictor Hernandes, Sexton