Clergy

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Noelle York-Simmons

Rector

The Rev. Dr. Noelle York-Simmons joins Christ Church after serving the last 12 years at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in midtown Atlanta – as Senior Associate Rector and Associate Rector. Most recently, she was responsible for congregational development and worship groups. She was the Dean of the Mid-Atlanta Convocation, one of 10 regional convocations of churches and communities in the Diocese of Atlanta.

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Ann Gillespie

Senior Associate Rector

Ann is Senior Associate Rector. Ann brings to parish ministry a 20-year career as an actress in television and theater and 12 years as a yoga teacher.

Although currently an Episcopal priest with a passion for pastoral care, Ann Gillespie has had a long career in film, television and theater. Most notably, she appeared throughout the ‘90’s as Jackie Taylor, Kelly’s mom, on the hit television show, Beverly Hills, 90210. After becoming a priest, she reprised her role as Jackie on the new 90210 series.

Theater has always been her first love, but Star Trek fans may remember her recurring roles on Deep Space 9, and The Next Generation. She also guest starred on series such as Gilmore Girls, Judging Amy, and ER. She appeared as Fonzie’s girlfriend on the last season of Happy Days as well as starred in the TV movies, Living Proof about Country Western singer Hank Williams, and Kent State, the Emmy-winning miniseries about the 1970 shootings.

In the new millennium, Ann embarked on a new calling and in 2004, she and her family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, for her to attend seminary at Virginia Theological Seminary. She graduated with an M. Div. in 2007. She has been an Associate Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria since 2007.

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Heather VanDeventer

Associate Rector

Heather is the Associate Rector. Previously, she served three years as Assistant Chaplain and Teacher of Religion at Episcopal High School, Alexandria where she taught Biblical Theology to tenth graders, regularly led and preached in chapel services, and co-led the Girls Christian Fellowship. Prior to EHS, she was priest associate at St. Paul's, San Rafael, California and St. Mark's, Berkeley, California while being a stay-at-home-mom for her daughters.

During this time, she trained in church planting and redevelopment, and conducted community study to test feasibility for starting a new church. Heather began her ordained ministry as Associate Rector of St. Augustine's, Wilmette, Illinois where for six years, she shared leadership across areas of ministry, directed Christian formation for children and youth (including children's chapel and Journey to Adulthood), and fostered and expanded the parish's community-based social action. Heather began her journey toward ordained ministry during college. She has served as a diocesan camp counselor, a homeless shelter volunteer, a hospital on-call chaplain, a coordinator and liaison for community social justice initiatives, and an insurance legal/compliance assistant.

Heather graduated from Yale University with a BA in history (focus in medieval history) and received her M. Div. from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

She is married to the Rev. Dr. David Gortner, Director of the Doctor of Ministry programs and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary. She serves that community as chaplain to the spouses and partners of seminary students. Heather and David have two daughters, Cassie and Miriam, both attending Douglas MacArthur Elementary. Heather is a self-professed Sci-Fi junkie. She enjoys baking and cooking, watering and working (but not weeding!) in the community garden hosted in their front yard, learning to play the piano along with the girls, and getting to the mountains when she can.

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Diane Murphy

Priest Associate

Diane serves in a variety of roles—celebrant, officiant, preacher, lecturer and pastoral care provider—upon request. As a bi-vocational individual, she is also a corporate business owner and lecturer.

Diane has been a Priest Associate at Christ Church since 2005. She was received into the Episcopal Church at Christ Church in 1992 and quickly became instrumental in the formation of a Pastoral Care Ministry. She served as a longtime member of the Christ Church stewardship committee and often was called upon as a real estate advisor to both the parish and the Diocese of Virginia.

Diane holds a BA in English from Gannon University, a Master’s and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland and a Masters in Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. After two full blown careers in education and real estate brokerage, she was called to the priesthood and ordained in 2003.

In addition to her work at Christ Church, she works full time in real estate and teaching. Writing prayers and reflective essays are two of her passions. She also loves studying American culture, working in the garden, restoring homes and furniture, and being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

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