St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church has developed a model of ministry and leadership in which service is provided by lay people and clergy, paid people and volunteers—a model that reflects “the priesthood of all believers.”

Our lay leaders are our Vestry and Wardens, who are elected by the congregation. Our clergy are a team is lead by our Senior Priest, elected by the Vestry with the consent of the Bishop, and other priests, who make their livings in other ways. Primary leadership of the congregation is shared by the Senior Priest, the Senior Warden, and the Parish Director of Operations, under the continuing oversight of the Bishop. This is a different model from most Episcopal churches, where a priest with the title of Rector holds almost all authority.

Our Vestry

The Wardens and Vestry have ultimate authority and responsibility for the governance of the church, including the responsibility for parish property and financial affairs.  In collaboration with the Senior Priest, the Wardens and Vestry are responsible for developing and executing policies that promote the church’s mission through worship, education, social action and service.

The Vestry’s Responsibilities

  • Leadership: primary responsibility for finance, the building, outreach, and parish life. While mission, outreach, evangelism, and stewardship are the responsibility of the whole congregation, it is expected that the Vestry and Senior Warden, in consultation with the Senior Priest, will guide and coordinate the congregation’s efforts in these areas.
  • Finances: Responsible for the financial affairs of the Parish. Approve annual budget and monitor its implementation.
  • Responsible for the property of the Parish.

The Senior Warden’s Responsibilities

  • Leadership: With Senior Priest and Vestry guidance, collaborate to set clear vision with short-term and long-term goals for ministry and witness.
  • Vestry: Set annual calendar for vestry meetings and retreat. Set agenda for each meeting in consultation with the Senior Priest. Chair meetings. Communicate vestry decisions to the parish.
  • Finance: Appoint Treasurer and others as needed. With others, plan and implement fiscal planning and fundraising. With Parish Director of Operations, establish budget-building process. Nominate Stewardship chair.

Our Clergy Team

Senior Priest

Sam- Dessordi-Peres-LeiteSt. Stephen’s clergy team is led by The Rev. Sam Dessórdi Leité our Senior Priest.

The Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb

Kathy-GriebThe Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb was born in the Diocese of Easton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church as a child. While a student at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, she became excited about biblical studies, theology, and “the movement church,” the part of the church that is committed to working for peace, civil rights, and economic justice for all. A philosophy and religion major in college, she also learned how to do community organizing around race and poverty, gained experience in innercity ministries, and served as president of the peace organization.

After college, she attended Columbus School of Law at Catholic University. She was admitted to the bar associations of Maryland and Washington, DC, but practiced law only briefly before entering the Virginia Theological Seminary. She had been attending St. Stephen’s during law school, attracted by its hands-on ministries to the poor, especially Loaves and Fishes, its commitment to women’s leadership in the church, and its version of post-Vatican II liturgical renewal. St. Stephen’s was her sponsoring parish through the ordination process in the Diocese of Washington.

Following graduation from Virginia Seminary, she was ordained by Bishop John Walker and served for the next ten years in the Diocese of Maine. During that time, she earned her Ph.D. from Yale University and taught for two years at Bangor Theological Seminary, before returning to teach at the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1994. She also teaches regularly at the Servant Leadership School associated with the Church of the Savior. She has published a book on Romans and is presently writing one on Hebrews.

The Rev. Linda Kaufman

LindaKaufmanThe Rev. Linda Kaufman is from Seattle, but her family moved a few times, ending up in northern Virginia, where Linda attended high school and her father raised beef cattle on a farm in Round Hill. Her religious background is Lutheran and Evangelical Charismatic Episcopal. After attending George Mason and majoring in Elementary Education, she landed a very good job as a consultant in performance problem solving. At thirty, she had what she thought would take her until she was sixty to accomplish. She should have been content, even happy. But something was missing.

Linda went to church one Sunday, and it changed her life. In the Fall of 1977 she committed herself to Christ and soon entered seminary. At first she only meant to get a Ph.D. and teach, but some of her professors suggested ordination. So she attended Virginia Theological Seminary for her last two years. It was there that she met Jack Woodard, former Rector of St. Stephen’s and an adjunct professor, who told his students that they were too pietistically insular, too set apart from the real world. The next weekend, Linda spent the night in a woman’s shelter in Washington. She realized two things: that she had been called to preach, and that she had been called to be out on the streets. She was soon ordained.

In the fall of 1997 she attended St. Stephen’s at the urging of Bishop Jane Dixon. She and Liane Rozzell had a commitment ceremony in 1998. Linda and Liane are parents to Ryan and Jamal.

The Rev. Joan Shelton

Joan-SheltonThe Rev. Joan Shelton was born and raised in Roosevelt’s Depression America. Before marriage she worked in art museums; after marriage she had two daughters and stayed home until her bishop, Lloyd Gressle of Bethlehem, a very courageous man, approached her with a project to raise up “worker priests” for his diocese. Joan was the only woman. After a year of study she would be welcomed to an unpaid ministry limited to that Diocese. Her husband, of course, had to give his permission and gave it enthusiastically. However, her husband was subject to transfer, and outside of Bethlehem her ministry wouldn’t be accepted. So Joan completed the 3-year seminary course needed to fully qualify for ministry anywhere. Meanwhile the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women in 1976, and Joan was ordained in March of 1977.

For the first five years she was of course un-hireable in nearby Episcopal Dioceses—wrong gender—so she volunteered as chaplain for local institutions, until finally Bishop Gressle arranged for her to study for Episcopalian interim ministries. A parish which wouldn’t consider a woman for a full-time post might consider one for a short-term adventure. Such calls alternated with teaching freshman English in local colleges until she got her first full-time position in Rhode Island in 1985. While in Rhode Island Joan’s husband died of cancer in 1986. Since then, Joan served in two parishes in Central New York, first as an interim and next as rector of a middle-sized parish in a Syracuse suburb. In 1995 a changed family situation enabled her finally to answer a call to mission in Haiti, where she taught for two years in the Episcopal Seminary while traveling about as the first woman priest licensed in that diocese. Her students are today leading parishes, battling the horrible poverty and general misery of Haiti, and helping direct the work of the Diocese.

On returning home she lived in New York for 2 years and then moved to Washington D.C. where her elder daughter and grandchildren live.

The Rev. Susan K. Walker, Deacon

Susan-WalkerThe Rev. Susan K. Walker, Deacon, grew up in Nashville, TN, attending the Episcopal Church.  She studied English and prepared to teach by earning a Master’s degree at George Peabody College.  Since 1976, she has lived Alexandria, VA where she raised two children, and since, 2008, has lived with husband Carl Scheffey.  Her work in the church began as a volunteer before taking a staff position as Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Evangelism at Christ Church, Alexandria.  She worked for several years in geriatric mental health services and was trained in chaplaincy at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.  Both environments gave Susan direct experience with the poor.  She reentered parish ministry, but in an urban setting, Epiphany, downtown Washington, where the Sunday breakfast program offered more relational work with the city’s marginalized and underserved.

Susan graduated from the Washington Theological Union with a Master of Theological Studies and a certificate in Spiritual Direction Studies.  She offers spiritual direction at Virginia Theological Seminary.  A 30-day Ignatian retreat was a life changing experience which ultimately led to ordination as a vocational deacon in 2012.  In 2013, she completed a certificate program on the Process of Aging at the Washington School of Psychiatry.

During the week, Susan works as Resident Services Director and Leasing Agent at St. Mary’s Court, an apartment community for low-income seniors.  On Sundays she serves as deacon at St. Stephen’s 8am liturgy, where husband Carl and dog, Harriett are in attendance.  Although Harriet may benefit from the sermons, it’s mostly all the back scratching she receives that keeps her coming back.  After the 8am liturgy, Susan can be found downstairs with guests at Loaves and Fishes, passing out the day’s gospel passage and chatting with anyone who looks interested.  Being at St. Stephen’s is learning what it means to be a deacon, that is, learning to be a bridge between the church and the world.  Loaves and Fishes is a great place for that.  Susan welcomes others to join her.

Parish Director of Operations

Mike-RitoniaMike has been St. Stephen’s Director of Operations since April 2016. He is a former Marine Corps Infantry Officer who has earned a BS in Engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and an MBA from The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Previously Mike has owned his own Management Consulting business, was President of two software start-up companies and was an Executive with AOL from 1996 to 2003.

Mike believes his widely diverse set of experiences, ability to prioritize and “calm under pressure” will prove to be his best contribution to the success of the church.