Clergy & Staff

The Rev’d Dr. Anita Louise Schell | Rector

Anita began her tenure as the 18th rector of Emmanuel Church on Mother’s Day 2010. She is native to Lancaster, PA and holds degrees in music, English literature, and world religions from Brown University, General Seminary and most recently, the Episcopal Divinity School, where she wrote her doctorate thesis on the topic of environmental justice. As a shepherd of the flock at Emmanuel she endeavors to proclaim through teaching, preaching, service and sacrament the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. Following our Baptismal Covenant, she seeks to serve Christ in all persons, striving for justice and peace for God’s entire created world. Working with the Vestry and congregation, Mother Anita aims to be a compassionate enthusiastic leader with energy and vision, celebrating the commitment of this congregation and gifts we share in the community of Newport and the state of Rhode Island. She is the President of RI Interfaith Power & Light. She serves as a member of the the Cathedral Chapter of the Music & Liturgy Commission, the Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Rhode Island and is a board member of the RI State Council of Churches. She is the mother of Theo and Rachel and grandmother to Crosby and Quentin. She is married to Stephen MacAusland. Mother Anita is avid about classical, particularly vocal, music, yoga, and being a vegetarian.


Jordan Sleeper | Wedding Coordinator & Godly Play Leader

Jordan began working at Emmanuel in September 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from URI and a master’s degree in American History from Southern New Hampshire University. Originally from Portsmouth, Jordan currently lives in Newport.

Godly Play

The result of a lifetime of research and practice by theologian, author and educator the Rev’d Dr. Jerome Berryman, the Godly Play® method is a curriculum of spiritual practice exploring the mystery of God’s presence in our lives. The Godly Play curriculum engages what is most exciting about religious education: God inviting us into – and pursuing us in the midst of – Scripture and spiritual experience. Godly Play is a creative, imaginative approach to Christian formation and spiritual guidance. Godly Play has a Montessori foundation with 40-plus years of research and practice.   Godly Play is led by Miss Jordan Sleeper.

Carissa M. Perkowski |Co-Director of Emmanuel Day School

A native of Litchfield, CT, Carissa is thrilled to be a consultant for the Emmanuel Day School. She is a certified Early Childhood Educator with a Master’s of Education from Post University. A graduate of Salve Regina University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, her most recent position was as director of Emmanuel Day School. It is her goal to work collaboratively with teachers, parents and the staff and congregation of Emmanuel Church to foster a learning environment that excites the imagination, inspires creativity and instills a lifelong passion for learning. She lives with her husband and dog in Middletown. This year, Miss Carissa and her husband are welcoming their first child!

Edith Anne Sherman (Annie)| Parish Administrator

Anne ShermanEdith Anne Sherman (Annie) was born in Newport, and was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Church. In her younger years, she operated an infant and toddler day-care licensed under what is now DCYF. In 1979 she discovered what she believes to be her ministry when she became Parish Administrator at St. Columba’s Chapel in Middletown.  After a hiatus from parish ministry, Annie returned to serving in the church. In 1994 she became Parish Administrator at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Newport, a position she still holds in addition to being Parish Administrator at Emmanuel Church since February 2018.

Josie Sleeper | Housekeeper


Waylon Whitley | Organist/Choirmaster


Waylon Whitley is organist and choirmaster at Emmanuel Church, where he conducts the Emmanuel Choir and the Emmanuel Angel Choir, a collaboration of Emmanuel Church, the Choir School of Newport County, and Emmanuel Day School. An enthusiastic supporter of early music learning, he studied music education with a direct pupil of Edwin Gordon, a pioneer in music education who developed the first theory of how we learn music. Waylon is a published composer and a former national board member of the Royal School of Church Music in America. He holds degrees in music and journalism from Rhode Island College and the University of Georgia.


Xander Wilkinson | Resident Oboist

xanderAlexander (Xander) Wilkinson first came to Emmanuel Church in late 1990. When he joined the Emmanuel family, he was in the Men and Boy’s Choir under the direction of Winfred Johnston. In 1992, he began playing flute with Linda Bertrand, who served as Handbell Choir Director at Emmanuel. In 1994, Xander decided that he wanted to begin playing oboe and studied with Jane Murray. In 1995, Xander became the first boy to become a full member of the handbell choir while also singing with the Men and Boy’s choir. In 1997, Xander became co-director of the handbell choir and then took on the responsibility solely in 1998. He held this position until he left the church to attend college where he studied music education with applied studies of oboe and English horn. In addition to sharing his musical talents during our Sunday services, Xander can be seen playing oboe and English horn with the Newport Community Band and the Newport Community Orchestra, both at Salve Regina University, as well as his woodwind trio FocalWinds. He holds an Associates of Applied Science from The Community College of Rhode Island in Clinical Laboratory Technology, and is also a board certified Medical Laboratory Technician by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.