To all the Faithful at St. Bride’s Church,
It is with great joy that I write you this letter. My wife Sophia and I have finally arrived and have hit the ground running. In normal times I would be meeting you all in person as we celebrate my new ministry as your priest-in-charge. However, because we are not able to gather physically, I am writing you this letter to share some thoughts.
First, a little history. I grew up in Ormond Beach, Florida in a Methodist household but attended the Episcopal Church with my friends from time to time. In college I started singing in the Episcopal Church choir. Upon graduation, I took a job at a ski resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and worked my way up to be a ski and snowboard instructor. While living in Europe, I received the call to the priesthood. I finished out my contract and moved back to Florida to start the ordination process. I chose to attend Nashotah House Theological Seminary near Milwaukee because of its rich corporate prayer life, Anglo-Catholic practice and teaching, and to escape the heat! While at seminary, I sang in the choir, helped run our daily chapel, and facilitated the Common Room (a social space for students, faculty, staff, and all their families). It was also at seminary where I met Sophia who was obtaining her Master’s in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy in Milwaukee when a mutual friend introduced us.
We happened to be graduating within a week of each other. So within two weeks we graduated and moved to Vermont, where we got married in her home church, Holy Resurrection of the Orthodox Church of America, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Sophia grew up in New England and attended Gordon College in Boston for her undergraduate studies. She is currently directing the pre-college string program at Stetson University in Deland, FL, while also maintaining a full private studio. Due to the pandemic, Sophia is able to teach and direct remotely, so that she doesn’t need to commute to Florida. We enjoy rock climbing, hiking, cooking, and reading.
I have professional experience in mortgage underwriting and have worked at a variety of churches within the Episcopal Church both as a layperson and as a priest and deacon. My favorite aspect of ministry, after the awesome privilege of administering the sacraments, is teaching how our faith integrates the Bible, tradition, and community in order to bless the world.
My vision for St. Bride’s is two-fold: first, in the short-term, the staff, vestry, and myself are doing everything in our power to continue doing the work of the church in a way that is safe, within diocesan guidelines, and true to the Anglo-Catholic heritage of this parish. We will achieve this goal through some trial and error. My long-term vision is to shepherd the parish into a new chapter of flourishing that will ensure Hampton Roads will always have St. Bride’s Church in which to worship in the beauty of holiness.
In order to achieve these goals, the Bishop has given permission for the vestry to extend or “roll over” another year in order to make my onboarding a little easier on everyone and to give me a firmer foundation on which to start my new ministry. St Bride’s is a very special church. I am honored and humbled to be your priest.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Fr. Jesse Lassiter