MEET THE TEAM

2020 CHRIST CHURCH VESTRY

 

Front Row (left to right)

Garry Edwards; Eleanor Dixon, Senior Warden; Judi O'Steen;

Carol Haight-Liebler, Secretary; John Hurst; Sheryl Vittitoe, Treasurer

Back Row (left to right)

Dave Pearson, Junior Warden; Earle Boyter; Mickey Conway;

The Rev. Canon Keith Allen, Rector; Bob Casper

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The Rev. Canon Keith Allen, Rector

Prior to coming to Christ Church, Fr. Allen was the Rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Madison, Miss. His Anglican ministry began in 2004 as the Church Planter and Vicar for Church of the Holy Spirit – The River in Blacksburg, Va. He later served as Executive and Teaching Pastor for Church of the Holy Spirit, Roanoke, Va. Brought up as a Southern Baptist, Fr. Keith began his Christian ministry in 1990, working in various staff positions in Southern Baptist churches throughout the Carolinas.

Currently, Fr. Keith Allen is working on a Doctor of Ministry degree in Organizational Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary. He holds a Master’s degree in Global Studies from Liberty University School of Divinity and a B.A. in Biblical Studies with Language from Southeastern Baptist Theological College.

Since 2017, Fr. Keith Allen has served as the Anglican Church in North America’s (ACNA) Provincial Canon for Myanmar. In addition, he was Dean for the Mid-South Anglican Convocation (ADOTS) 2012 to 2016, Chairman of the Board for Rwanda Ministry Partners in 2016, and a Board Member for Anglicans for Life, 2011 to 2014.

 

The Rev. Kim Allen, Deacon

Raised in Jacksonville, Fla., by Christian parents, I came to know Jesus at a young age. Active ministry and attending church have always been a core part of my life, primarily assisting my mom in children’s ministry and participating in our church choir and orchestra.

My academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Liberty University, and Anglican Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. Keith and I met in a College & Career Sunday School class, married in 1989, and have served in ministry together ever since.

I have two adult children, Kat and John. Before moving to Vero Beach, I worked as a school counselor and middle school teacher at Hartfield Academy in Mississippi.

Hearing God’s call to ordained ministry in 2017, I pursued diaconate training in the Anglican Diocese of the South and was ordained a Deacon on March 8, 2020 to serve in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. My heart’s delight is discipling and mentoring women and using my gifts of singing and songwriting to praise my Lord and Savior.

Debra Gordon, Director of Children's and Family Ministries

My spiritual formation began in childhood with activities and relationships interwoven within a faithful, Christian community. After receiving a degree from the University of Florida in Communications & Education, I worked in various marketing and public relations positions before changing course to open a private music studio for piano instruction, as well as advisory and accompanist support.

God’s plan for me to lead Children’s Ministry was a surprise until I recognized how He had been training me for 10 years through many unique volunteer experiences in educational systems and classrooms as well as nearly all aspects of children’s ministry programming while my own children were infants through 5th grade.

Romans 12:12 says to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” and is a keystone of my personal journey and ministry. We aim to develop a spiritual faith foundation in kids and shape their hearts to love Jesus; it’s not always easy, but is always worth the effort.

Ever ready for a travel adventure, I enjoy spending free time with my husband, Matt, and our two teenagers, Andrew and Gracie.

Brady Johnson, Choirmaster and Organist

I had the blessing of participating in an Anglican church with a strong, community-based choir for boys and learned about Jesus and music, but it wasn't until I had the opportunity of attending a fine arts boarding school that I encountered the living Jesus.

At home for Christmas during my freshman year, I gave my life to Christ while listening to a Billy Graham broadcast and, after returning to school, experienced a dynamic immersion of God's power through the Holy Spirit. God has blessed me by combining my relationship with Him and my talents, ministering here at Christ Church.

I have been married to Bobbi for almost 30 years and we have two daughters: Emma (25) and Lydia (20). I received two music degrees from the University of Michigan and have served churches in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

My favorite Bible verse is one of the best-known and well-loved: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In this one verse, the entire message of the Bible is summarized.

Stephanie Toperzer, Parish Secretary

I was born and raised in Southwest Pennsylvania, the fifth of seven children. Although we didn’t attend church on a regular basis, there was always a deep faith among all of us.

I was baptized in a small Methodist Church and my mother made sure that we always attended Vacation Bible School. In 1977, I moved to Northwest Pennsylvania where I met my husband, Ron. We were married in 1981 and I “inherited” three stepchildren whom I love as if they were my own biological children.

Ron and I are also the parents of a son, Ron (though not a junior). My three stepchildren are all married with wonderful life partners and have blessed Ron and I with five grandchildren.

Our son, Ron, has just become engaged to a wonderful young lady, Rachel.

One of my favorite Scriptures is from John 14:2, “In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” These Scriptures have strengthened my faith as our Lord promises that we will all be together again one day with Him and those that we have loved along our journey.

Bruce Gammell, Director of Children's and Family Ministries

I was born in Rhode Island and attended Christian schools kindergarten through high school. After graduating from the Univ. of Massachusetts, I worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers Baseball organizations in advertising sales and business operations, which led me to Vero Beach during Spring Training season. I eventually found my way back to Rhode Island to serve as Director of Athletics at St. Raphael Academy, a De La Salle prep high school, and taught in the school’s Theology and Social Studies departments for ten years.

I am married to Carrie, a Florida native, who does not share my appreciation for long, cold New England winters. This led to our relocation to Vero Beach where we continued our teaching careers and where we love our three children, Juliana (5), and two-year-old twin boys Andrew and Owen.

One of my favorite Scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” For me, this Scripture serves as a reminder that even during life’s most difficult trials, God gives us hope that things will improve as we look to Him for guidance

Lois Okaily, Parish Receptionist

I am very happy to be serving the Lord at our church with the gracious and loving people on the staff.  This was an answer to prayer as I recently retired from a part-time position at the Vero Beach Outlets. I love music and enjoy singing with the Christ Church Vero Beach Choir under the direction of Brady Johnson. One of my favorite hymns is “More About Jesus.”

 

More about Jesus would I know,

More of His grace to others show

More of His saving fullness see,

More of His love who died for me.

 

My love of music stems from childhood. I was born into a loving Christian home located in Northeast Philadelphia. My mother and father loved the Lord and loved to study the Bible.  My two brothers and I learned about Jesus at an early age while reading Bible stories. 

Mom played the piano and we sang hymns from an old hymn book. The words to the hymns were very meaningful to me.  Through prayer with my mother, I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of seven.  As a family we went to Sunday School and Bible Study every Sunday morning.

After high school, I attended the Philadelphia School of Office Training and Bucks County Community College. My career of 22 years was an Executive Assistant for the V.P. of the International Division at a company in Trevose, PA. After I was married, my husband Lee and I moved from Philadelphia to Bucks County where we raised two sons. We moved to Vero Beach in 2007.

One of my favorite Bible verses is "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

 

Mike Pitman, Sexton

I was raised in a Protestant Church, but during my teen years I felt that I knew how to live better and I walked away from God to follow my own desires.This led me to a path of depression and substance abuse.

I struggled for years with a void feeling in my soul that was left from not having Jesus in my life, but all the while my family prayed for me. At age 35, the Lord answered their prayers and spoke to me: I was to become the man that God wished of me, and that meant I had many changes to make.

Thanks to Jesus, I put down the drugs and began to read the Bible. After some time and prayer, God brought me to this Church to see you, and your bright, smiling faces. Over the years I have looked toward our example in Jesus, and worked to grow in a personal relationship with God.

As a co-leader with Pastor Richard, I lead our Road to Recovery program, a Christian-based, 12-step program and look to give back to others what Jesus has freely given me.

My favorite Bible passage is, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

I reside in Sebastian with my lovely 16-year-old daughter, Maizi, and attend Christ Church Vero Beach with my parents. My oldest brother lives in Amesbury, MA and my sister lives in Weston, FL.

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