The Rev. Aaron M. G. Zimmerman
Aaron was born in Houston, but his childhood took him to Mexico City; Washington, D.C.; Stockholm, Sweden; and Los Angeles, California, before finally settling in his hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
After earning a B.A. magna cum laude in History of Science at Harvard University, Aaron spent two years with an educational non-profit in Kazakhstan. Aaron later worked at Harvard Business School and H.J. Heinz in Pittsburgh.
He received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 2008. Before coming to St. Alban's, he served churches in Pittsburgh and Houston. Aaron is a contributor to the Mockingbird blog and magazine, and is past President of the Board of Directors of Mockingbird Ministries. He is on the advisory board for StoryMakers NYC. He is a member of the Better Together BU Advisory Board and on the board of the Episcopal Foundation of Texas. He is currently the Dean for the Northwest Convocation of the Diocese of Texas. Aaron co-hosts Same Old Song, the weekly lectionary podcast of Mockingbird Ministries, with the Rev. Jacob Smith.
Aaron's wife, Andrea, is originally from Michigan, and holds two degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She has worked in church ministry, apparel design, and as a non-profit director and event planner. She currently works in elementary education in Waco ISD. Married since 2002, Aaron and Andrea are proud parents of three children.
Aaron and his family are on a sabbatical from May 17-September 14, 2021.
The Rev. Neal Scott McGowan
Neal McGowan was born in Austin, but spent most of his childhood and youth in the pastures and piney forests of East Texas.
He attended the University of Dallas where he studied English literature and minored in classical Greek. Upon graduation from college, Neal spent a year driving a tractor on a ranch in East Texas and then began to teach English and History to 9th and 10th graders at a boarding school near Tyler.
While in Tyler, Neal was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at Christ Church. During his time at Christ Church, Neal served in a variety of roles at the parish, fell in love with Anglicanism, and discerned a call to the priesthood.
Neal attended the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin for his theological training and graduated in May of 2017. He was ordained a transitional deacon at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston on June 24, 2017, and as a priest in January 2018. As Assistant Rector, Neal oversees our Christian Formation Programs, including Adult Sunday School, Wednesday Night Series, Small Groups, and retreats. He also gives pastoral oversight to our ministries to youth, children, and young families.
His wife Jennifer graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in international studies and worked for five years at Mercy Ships, a non-profit that provides medical and humanitarian aid in Africa through a hospital ship. Most recently, she worked at a boutique wine shop in downtown Austin. Neal and Jennifer have been married since 2010 and have two children.
The Rev. Alberto M. Melis
Ordained to the Diaconate in June 2015, Al serves as our Deacon, which means he assists the clergy and focuses on outreach and service. He also has a role in coordinating mission and outreach among the three Episcopal parishes in Waco. Most Sundays he is at St. Alban's, but occasionally serves Holy Spirit and St. Paul's.
He and his wife Carol have two grown children. Prior to ordination, Al had a distinguished career in law enforcement in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, and served as Waco's Chief of Police.
The Rev. Kara Leslie
Kara is a bi-vocational priest who works as a full-time hospice chaplain with Interim Hospice in Waco and at St. Alban's assists with liturgy and pastoral care. She grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and has degrees from Emory University (BA in sociology), Texas Tech University (Masters in Educational Psychology), and Candler School of Theology at Emory University (Master of Divinity).
Kara was originally a United Methodist Pastor and was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in 2006. As a priest, she was on the staff at St. Mathew’s Cathedral and Church of the Transfiguration, both in Dallas.
Kara has worked as a Board Certified Chaplain for over 15 years. She is a Certified Spiritual Director and had a private practice as a counselor in Lubbock prior to moving to Waco. If you would like to know more about her spiritual counseling practice, please go to her website Karalesliecounseling.com or Facebook page.
Kara enjoys playing tennis, dancing, and baking.
Director of Ministry to Children, Youth & Families
Stephanie Drum is originally from the Piney Woods of East Texas and grew up in the church as the daughter of a minister and a teacher. She has two older brothers both living in the Houston area, with four nieces and one nephew. She studied theology and music at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and moved to Waco in 2009 to get her MSW from Baylor and her MDiv from Truett Seminary. Before coming to St. Alban's, she worked at VOICE, a local non-profit, and served at The Well, a church in Moody, for 12 years, as a worship leader and youth minister. She likes karaoke, coffee, and traveling.
Dr. Rachel Toombs
Director of Formation and Connection
Rachel oversees and teaches in adult formation, serves as point-person for newcomers, and manages other forms of connection at St. Alban's. She holds a Ph.D. in Religion (Theology) from Baylor where she wrote her dissertation on the power of sparely-told stories to convey the possibility of grace looking specifically at the fiction of Flannery O’Connor and the biblical Hebrew narrative. She also has an M.A. in Theological Studies (Old Testament) from Regent College in British Columbia, Canada and a B.A. in Youth Ministry from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rachel is married to Lance and has two dogs, Eowyn and Rosie. In her free time she likes to bake, read fantasy, and watch her hometown baseball team, the Twins, reliably disappoint in playoff years.
If you’d like to learn more about formation opportunities or are new to St. Alban's, contact her.
Organist & Director of Music
Serving as Organist & Director of Music at St. Alban's, Eugene Lavery is highly sought-after as a conductor and organist. Recent engagements include solo recitals at St. Paul's Cathedral, London; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; and St. Philip's Cathedral, Atlanta, GA. Additionally, Eugene has served on the faculty of Royal School of Church Music courses in the United States, New Zealand, and Nigeria.
Having previously held Director of Music positions at Calvary Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY and the Cathedral Choir School of Delaware, Eugene has a passion for the Anglican choral tradition and a particular interest in the musical education of children.
Born in New Zealand, Eugene received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Auckland, and subsequently relocated to New York upon gaining admission to the prestigious Master of Music program at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Paul Jacobs.
Eugene is married to fellow Juilliard-graduate Dr. Sharon Lavery, and together they raise two boys, Ryan and Adam.
Hilary is on the front line at St. Alban's, serving as office manager, receptionist, and executive assistant to the Rector. Before coming to St. Alban's, she has worked as an editor, a teacher, and an office manager.
Hilary earned her BA and MA degrees in history. She enjoys reading books on British and American history and also loves traveling, swimming, and shopping. A native of Kansas City, Hilary has lived in San Diego, New Orleans, and now Waco for the past 20 years. She and her family are members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Her husband is a Baylor professor. They have a son who recently graduated from Baylor University.
Nancy and her husband, Ray, joined St. Alban's in 2016 after moving to Waco. She has served on our vestry and as parish treasurer. As a result, Nancy has a deep knowledge of the parish finances and facilities. Nancy's past career was as a financial executive analyst, and consultant in the health care industry, including serving as Chief Financial Officer of Memorial Hermann Health Services (Behavioral Health System) in Houston. She holds a BBA in Accounting (cum laude) from the University of Houston.
Rick Gamble joined us as our sexton in February 2017. A native of the Dallas area, Rick moved to Waco in 2015. He helps with maintenance and cleaning during the week. On Sundays, he assists with coffee and room set up.