The Rev. Melana Nelson-Amaker grew up in a family of educators in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and was baptized at a young age in the Episcopal Church. The first decades of her life included a lot of poetry, dance and theater. She has a degree in Professional Writing from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Masters of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and was ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. She has served churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. She also worked for the African-American Episcopal Historical at Virginia Theological Seminary and has served as a spiritual director and congregational development consultant.
Rev. Nelson-Amaker loves worship, and calls prayer the heart of her life. When asked about what’s central to her vocation she says ”helping Christians of all ages and stages of faith to grow; and reminding people to pray about anything and everything”.
Pastor Melana is very glad for the call of God to St. Christopher’s Church. It is a particularly good match in terms of cultural diversity; vibrancy of worship; room to build up the life of the congregation; the large contingent of youth; and fresh outreach opportunities.
Profoundly grateful for her loving nuclear family: her husband Derek, and her adult son, daughter, and son-in-law; and for Christian friends and prayer partners she’s had for many years, she prays that that love will “spill over into the lives of others”.
Pastor Melana likes world travel and has visited Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Canada, England, Uganda, Kenya, France, South Africa, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tanzania and Jamaica.
PASTOR MELANA AT A GLANCE
Favorite books: The Bible, The Count of Monte Cristo; Toni Morrison novels; Peace Like a River
Favorite food: whole grain pasta with spinach and chicken
Biggest challenge: trying to be neat; constructively engaging criticism
Greatest excitement: watching God work; being part of it
Frequent pleasures: time spent with my husband; family dinners with our son, daughter and son-in-law; talking and praying with my closest circle of friends
Favorite music: contemporary praise, worship and gospel; full band R&B; some traditional spirituals and hymns
Favorite Bible stories: Elijah on Mount Carmel; disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus
Passions: growing in God; healthy families; respecting the dignity of all human beings
Go-to relaxation: reading fiction
Things I wish I did more of: dancing, putting things away, riding my bike, scholarly reading
Much of my non-work time is spent: talking to my spouse, praying; reading the Washington Post online
Impact God has had on me: helping me to forgive myself and others; making me a loving person; healing my soul’s wounds; giving me strength and peace; equipping me for ministry
Pastimes: collecting artwork, travel, baking, organic gardening
Howard Nelson-Williams was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone where he grew up. He discovered his love for music as a child. He started studying the piano under Raymond Wright and later continued his piano studies at the Ballanta Academy of Music, Freetown, Sierra Leone. He was a member of the Academy’s choir - Music Makers - as well as the choir of Wesley Methodist Church, where he also served as Assistant Choirmaster and Senior Assistant Organist for many years. As Music Director of the Wesley Youth Fellowship, Howard produced original musical compositions that became an integral part of annual musical performances. He has previously been a tenor soloist and conductor for several musical productions including Joshua and Handel’s Messiah. In the U.S., Howard has been a guest organist in several churches in Maryland and will be completing his third year as Music Minister at St. Christopher’s in December 2018.
Dr. Nelson-Williams is bi-vocational. He is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences. After practicing medicine briefly in Sierra Leone, he pursued graduate training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he obtained a Master of Public Health Degree. Over the years, he has been actively involved in community service and leadership for which he has received international recognition, including an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in June 2016. At Johns-Hopkins, Howard has been involved in designing and executing global health projects. He remains committed to promoting public health, strengthening health systems and developing sustainable human resources for healthcare particularly in low and middle income countries.
The Reverend Elliott M. Waters was born, baptized and raised in Crisfield located on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. He received a B.S. degree from Morgan State University. After graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army where he served on active duty with distinction for over 20 years. While serving, he, received leadership and management training at various military schools and earned an M.S. from the University of Southern California. After retirement from the military, he served as a business consultant until responding to a call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church.
Upon graduation from Virginial Theological Seminary (VTS) in May 2001, Elliott served briefly as a transitional deacon prior to being ordained as a priest in December 2001 from the Diocese of Virginia. He has served in parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. In 2018 he retired from the priesthood. He has elected to continue to fulfill his priestly vows as he is able and where he is invited. He is canonically resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and is licensed to serve in the Diocese of Virginia and Washington DC.
Elliott delights in serving God’s people in God’s church and the world. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he strives to proclaim the good news of the gospel in the way of love according the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to all. Elliott and his wife (Barbara) live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two adult children.
The Rev. Dr. Melissa J. Sites grew up on a farm in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. Her grandmother and great-grandmother were church musicians, and her sister and mom are/were school teachers. Raised Presbyterian, she worshipped at St. John’s Zion Parish, Beltsville from 1994-2021. Her formal studies have included English literature, music, poetry, and women’s studies. She completed the 4-year EfM course in 2018, and was ordained a deacon November 12, 2022. Deacon Melissa earned a certificate in Contemplation and Creation Care from Sewanee in 2021, and serves as co-chair of the Creation Care Task Force for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Deacon Melissa lives in Greenbelt with her husband, Ian Blackwell Rogers, a classical stage actor and early childhood educator. Their son, Jamie Rogers-Sites, is a musician and visual artist. Melissa is the Executive Director of College Park Arts Exchange, where she is dedicated to building community through the arts. Some of her other ministries include performing, teaching music, and writing. Hobbies include walking her dog every day, writing a daily poem (often based on nature observed during the walk), living the Reduce/Upcycle lifestyle, practicing different musical instruments and writing songs, and learning Biblical Hebrew.
The Vestry- our governing board
The Vestry Prayer:
May all that we do
Build up your Church,
Benefit your People
and Glorify your Name. AMEN.