Our Leadership

We are a church of the great commandment, the great commision, and the Great Tradition.

Christ Church is a member of the Diocese of Fort Worth, under the authority of Bishop Ryan Reed, within the Anglican Church in North America.

We are pleased to announce that we have a new incoming rector, Father Nicholas Chandler Athanaelos! Click here for more information.

Father Nicholas Chandler Athanaelos, SSC

Rector

Biography

Fr. Nick grew up in Augusta, Georgia, where he embraced Our Lord and the Faith at an early age through the example of godly parents and devout Catholic educators.

Following graduation from Georgia Military College and the regional police academy with a degree in Criminal Justice, Fr. Nick worked for the Augusta Police/Richmond County Sheriff’s Office as a street officer, training officer, and detective in the Vice and Narcotics division.

Father would eventually leave law enforcement to fulfill a life-long call to ministry in the Roman Catholic Church graduating Cum Laude from Loyola University in Chicago with an MA in Theology and The Catholic University of America (John Paul II Institute) with an STL in Theology of the Family with additional coursework taken at Mount Saint Mary’s, Emmitsburg.

Ultimately deciding not to remain in the Roman Church and after much prayer and discernment, Fr. Nick joined the Anglican Catholic Church where he was ordained a deacon and later priest by The Most Rev. Mark Haverland in 1999.

While in the Anglican continuum, Fr. Nick served as rector of St. Bartholomew’s, New Bern, NC, St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland, Alexandria, Va., and St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral in Athens, Georgia, where he served as Dean and Archdeacon for The Diocese of the South (ACC). Father also served as a chaplain to the Athens-Clarke Police Department.

Father is a member of The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC), a fraternity of Anglo- Catholic priests from around the world, and currently serves as Provincial Secretary of the Our Lady of Sorrows Province.

Father Nick is a lover of All Creatures Great and Small and enjoys spending time with his elderly Terriers, “Popsicle” and “Matilda” Hobbies include swimming, travel, local history, target shooting, and working in the yard.

Fr. Nick accepted a call as rector of Christ Church in January of 2024 and was made canonically resident in the diocese by Bishop Ryan Reed in March 2024.

Fr. Jonathan Kanary, Ph.D.

Associate Priest and Scholar in Residence for Brazos Fellows

Biography

Father Jonathan first learned to love Jesus and His Church as a Methodist preacher’s kid in small-town Oklahoma. He studied literature at Patrick Henry College, where his desire for a more historically rooted and sacramental faith led him into the Anglican tradition. He eventually discerned a call to the priesthood and attended Nashotah House Theological Seminary, where he earned the Master of Divinity, and later a Master of Sacred Theology. After serving for several years as a full-time priest at Saint Columba Church in Fresno, CA, he came to Waco in 2015 to pursue doctoral studies. In 2021, he completed a PhD in English with a concentration in Religion and Literature at Baylor University, where he continues to teach part-time.

Father Jonathan is passionate about seeing people grow and thrive in their journey with Jesus. His ministry at Christ Church over the years has included a special emphasis on spiritual direction and confession. He also regularly preaches and serves at the altar, seeking always to help the whole body of Christ’s people “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” As a member of the Liturgy Task Force for the Anglican Church in North America, he contributed significantly to the Book of Common Prayer 2019. And he has been involved with Brazos Fellows since its founding, as a guest lecturer, tutor, spiritual director, and (since 2021) Scholar in Residence.

All of this keeps him pretty busy, but Father Jonathan still finds time for hobbies: gathering around a dinner-table with friends, reading children’s books aloud (mostly to adults), strumming a guitar, or cultivating his swing-dancing skills.

If you ever wonder whether Fr. Jonathan wants a hug or a cup of hot tea, the answer is almost certainly “yes.”

Brandi Guel

Children’s Catechist

Biography

Brandi grew up in the fourth most populous city in America: Houston, TX. After high school, she moved to Waco to attend Baylor University majoring in Special Education. While at Baylor as an undergraduate, she realized how much spiritual formation she received during her childhood catechesis in both the Episcopal and Lutheran church.

Waco grew on her and she and her husband put down roots, adding seven children along the way. After 18 years at a non-denominational church, her family felt a pull to something different. They visited Christ Church in August of 2016 and she immediately felt at home, once again worshipping with the liturgy almost identical to what she grew up with.

Brandi recently finished her Masters of Science in Eduction degree in Educational Psychology in order to use Applied Behavior Analysis to teach children with disabilities. She loves working with children, and takes joy in the fact that even little ones can drink deeply from the wells of theological truth, and that we don’t need to resort to entertaining children in order to keep their attention.

Brandi lives in the peaceful countryside just north of Waco with her husband, Eric, seven children, and roughly 40 chickens.

Paul and Paige Gutacker

Brazos Fellows, Director and Assistant Director

Biography

In 2014, Paul and Paige moved to Waco where Paul is a full-time lecturer at Baylor University in History.

Paul’s current research explores the cultural and political importance of nineteenth-century American interpretations of church history. He has published articles and book reviews in Crux, Fides et Historia, the Journal of Religious History, and the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Both his scholarship and his teaching are driven by a desire to see the church recover her historical memory. In his spare time, Paul enjoys reading fiction, running the Waco Riverwalk, cooking, and cheering on the Buffalo Bills.

Paige is passionate about people development and started her own life coaching business, Crossroads Coaching, in 2017. Paige previously worked in the non-profit sector and, together with Paul, co-authored an instructional text on mentoring for Christian educators. In addition to participating in a Spiritual Direction Training Program at Truett Seminary, she currently spends much of her time caring for their three children, James, Marianne, & Matthew.

Jeff Fish

Director of Music

Biography

Jeff’s earliest memories are of making music with family.  They would sing for hours when they took trips, and sing at home too. His experience of the love and goodness of God was shaped by that singing, and by singing in choirs.  Mrs. Gattis and Mrs. Bunch, his early piano teachers, differed vastly.  On the one hand Mrs. Gattis fostered his ability to play music by ear. On the other hand, Mrs. Bunch had a zero-tolerance policy for ear-playing.  Jeff began playing the classical guitar as a freshman in high school, studying under Oscar Valdez. Guitar became his chief passion, the object of hours of concentration every day.  To his perfectionistic mind, mistakes in a piano recital meant that the piano could never be his primary instrument.

Although he planned to study jazz at the University of North Texas, to his own surprise he instead followed his older siblings to Baylor. There was no classical guitar major at Baylor, and so he decided not to major in music, but he kept playing the piano in worship services, and playing the guitar at every opportunity.

The notion of learning and teaching the history and literature of the Greek and Roman worlds (now his day job) captured his imagination. It was his ‘Roman Empire’, one might say. Before he knew it, he was carried away in the torrent of graduate studies. He kept making music along the way, however, and sometimes singing.

As Director of Music, Jeff’s hope is that every person at Christ Church will sing heartfully to the Lord, and not just on Sunday, but during the week too.  He has been helping to lead musical worship at Christ Church since its beginnings.  His greatest earthly treasures are his wife Holly and his two daughters, Margot and Stella. 

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