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.

Melanie Ventura | Parish Administrator

Originally from Maine, Melanie grew up in Newport and Middletown, where she still loves to explore with her son. Melanie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Rhode Island with a background in copy editing and page designing. She came to Emmanuel Church in September 2017 and is excited to be a part of the welcoming Emmanuel Church community.


Jordan Sleeper | Wedding Coordinator

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.


Marie Birch | Co-Director / Education Coordinator of Emmanuel Day School

Marie is thrilled and honored to be sharing the administrative duties this year with Mother Anita at Emmanuel Day School. She is a retired administrator and teacher who has been working in the field of education/youth development for over 29 years. It is her goal to work collaboratively with teachers, parents, staff, parishioners and the community to continue cultivating a positive, fun, nurturing environment that supports and fosters growth in all areas of the children’s development. Marie is a certified Early Childhood Director and teacher. In addition, she is acertified trainer for the R.I. Department of Education in the R.I. Early Learning Standards. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Family & Consumer Sciences Education with a concentration in Early Childhood. Marie recently served as Director for St. David’s Preschool. As of 2014, she is retired from the Cranston Public School System, where she taught Parenting and Early Childhood Education. In addition, she has served as State Director for a youth leadership association, held leadership roles in other youth and professional organizations as well as owned her own retail business. She lives in Cranston with her husband, Bill, and their two cats. They have one son and two beautiful grandsons who reside in Seattle.

Carissa M. Perkowski |Consultant for 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! Miss Carissa will not be on campus for the 2017-2018 school year.


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.