Holy Innocents is a place to gather, pray, celebrate, mourn, talk, laugh, reflect, learn, teach, and share our faith in God. Whether this is your first experience with a church or you are a longtime member, we strive to be a community that follows Christ in loving one another. We orient all we do in the gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where we discover that we are all beloved children of God. With our hearts full of God’s love, we work to listen, learn, and grow with one another. We are not a community concerned with having all the answers. We are comfortable with the mystery of the Holy Spirit, alive and active in the world. We seek to hear God’s call in our lives and the world. We are a church with open minds and full hearts.
In 1872 the Rev. W.B. Elliott designated St. Philip’s Episcopal Church’s Easter offering to found a mission Sunday school for “the poor of the northern suburb.” With the help of a gift of land by Richard Peters and building funds by Mrs. George Walker, the little Mission of Holy Innocents had its beginning. The driving force for this community was the daughter of Richard Peters, Mary Ellen “Nellie” Peters Black. Over the next 70 years, the church called many buildings home, finally settling in a chapel in Midtown. In 1954, the mission closed its doors; it stood directly in the path of a new expressway. On All Saints Sunday of that same year, Holy Innocents began her current mission in the newly burgeoning suburb of Sandy Springs.
In 1959, the church began a preschool and kindergarten program, drawing on the long history of education advocated by Miss Nellie. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School has grown into the largest parish-based Episcopal School in America. The church and school share the same campus and work together on many programs. Holy Innocents has continued its tradition of outreach to the local and world community: it founded a very successful English for Successful Living program, helped fund churches in Haiti, helped rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, sponsored two new parishes in the greater Atlanta community (Church of the Atonement to the southeast and St. Peter and St. Paul to the northwest), built several Habitat homes and has been a prime sponsor of the Sandy Springs Community Action Center.
Holy Innocents has built a talented group of clergy and staff dedicated to the life and community of our church. We come from all walks of life and bring our unique perspectives and God-given gifts to each aspect of our ministry. We look forward to working and growing with this community!
Holy Innocents is honored to partner with and care for the Spanish-speaking mission of the Diocese of Atlanta, Our Lady of Guadalupe. This church within our church gathers every Sunday at 5 pm to worship together. Our Lady of Guadalupe is a community that fits perfectly with Holy Innocents' and the desire to worship God with open minds and full hearts. In addition to weekly services, Our Lady of Guadalupe also hosts weddings, funerals, quinceanera, and many events large and small as a growing community.
If you want to learn more or help with this ministry, please contact Father Antonio Brito
The Rev. Dr. Bill Murray is the 8th Rector of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church where he is recognized as a skilled preacher, teacher, and writer. More often he just enjoys being part of a community where is he is recognized at all.A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Bill received his BA, magna cum laude, from The University of Memphis with majors in International Economics and English Literature in 1997. Following his undergraduate studies, he served as a full-time youth minister for five years at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. In working with youth, Bill decided he could handle general insanity and snarky commentary on his work so he pursued ordination to the priesthood. He went to Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, receiving his Master of Divinity degree with honors in 2006. He served as Rector at St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Bartlett, Tennessee. Working together with a smart, talented congregation, Bill managed to double the size of the church and build a new space for the congregation adjacent to the diocesan conference center. He then worked in Dallas at Saint Michael and All Angels, one of the largest and therefore most chaotic Episcopal churches in America. He directed a staff of 56 hardworking souls and helped minister to the needs of Saint Michael Episcopal School and their 200 preschool children. A glutton for academic punishment, Bill completed his Doctor of Ministry at Sewanee – The University of the South in May 2017. His thesis was focused on René Girard, non-sacrificial atonement theory, and the Eucharist. Only ask him about it if you want a long and thoroughly dull conversation.
Associate Rector for Christian Community
The Rev. Kenya Thompson grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is a graduate of Howard University, BS and American University, M.Ed. Kenya worked for 20 years in college admissions and high school guidance and college counseling. Her career has taken her from Indianapolis, Indiana to Shanghai, China and many places in between. Kenya earned her Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory, with a Certificate in Anglican Studies. She served as the seminarian at Church of the Good Shepherd. In 2016, after graduation Kenya joined the staff at Emmaus House, where she led Youth on the Move and the Road Episcopal Service Corps. In December 2017, she was ordained a Transitional Deacon and served at Emmaus House Chapel. Ordained to the Priesthood in 2018, Kenya accepted her first call as Curate at Church of the Common Ground. Growing up, Kenya watched her grandparents give their time, talent and treasure to people who were in need. This greatly influenced her vocational choices. First, to be an educator and next to discern a call to the Priesthood. She has witnessed the wonderful things that can happen when communities come together in love to serve the Lord by serving others. She believes that every day we are blessed with another opportunity to share God’s love with the world! Kenya is married to Malcolm Thompson. They live in Old Fourth Ward. Kenya loves music. She enjoys going to concerts as well as collecting and listening to record albums. She likes to travel and especially enjoys the beach.
Associate for Creative Ministries
Rev. Ruth Pattison was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third of four children, to Bill and Lucille Lindberg. Although her family was raised in the Baptist church, her father was an organist and choirmaster in the Episcopal Church, which is where she discovered her love for liturgy and music. Rev. Ruth was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Atlanta in 1994 and has practiced her priesthood with great joy and devotion ever since. She most recently served at Highpoint Episcopal Community Church, using her gifts and individual perspective to help establish the Pop-up Studio for Practicing the Pastoral Arts, leading spiritual retreats and workshops through art as well as reestablish the art exhibiting Gallery 4945 as well as a fun worship practice called "Pooch on a Pew" every second Sunday. She has been married to the love of her life Benno for 9 years. They love to camp and fish, hike and bike, sing, and dance, and talk on the porch and drink coffee, and write poems and stories.
Vicar of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe)
The Rev. Antonio Brito Paquero was born in the Dominican Republic and studied philosophy and theology in Seminario Mayor Santo Tomas de Aquino in the Dominican Republic. He was ordained on June 13, 1987, and studied abroad in Germany in 1989 and Spain in 2012. Father Antonio has been in the United States since 1996, has two daughters, and is a proud grandfather of two!
Sunday Associate for Outreach
The Rev. John Porter is a retired Episcopal priest who has served Atlanta parishes for more than 35 years. Porter received his master's degree in theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and has taught theology at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N. Y., as well as the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. John Porter has visited the Republic of Haiti countless times and has assisted in raising money to build schools and churches there. He is married to Mary, and the couple have two children, Susanna Mees and Geoffrey Porter. He is a joy in every sense of the word.
Our new seminarian, Trey Davis, is a first-year student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University where he is studying justice, peacebuilding, and conflict transformation, and Episcopal/Anglican studies. He is deeply interested in liturgics, Eucharistic theology, political theology, community and global engagements, and ecumenical and interreligious dialogues. Originally from Louisiana, he attended undergraduate at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport (fun fact: it happens to be the oldest chartered liberal arts university west of the Mississippi River), where he studied history and sacred music… laissez les bon temps rouler! It was during his undergraduate career that he was introduced to the Episcopal Church by way of serving as a cantor and chorister at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. He is absolutely excited to embark on the adventure of developing a new home and new friendships here at Holy Innocents’! An avid lover of coffee, he would love to get to know parishioners over a cup on Zoom!
Hannah Kelly is a third-year student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is pursuing a certificate in Episcopal/Anglican studies and is studying chaplaincy with the hopes of becoming an Episcopal priest one day. Before seminary, Hannah attended Duke University where she studied English and Computer Science. This past summer, Hannah completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Winship Cancer Institute, where she served as a chaplain to patients and their families. Hannah is from the Atlanta area, has three siblings, and attended the Cathedral of St. Philip growing up. Hannah loves creative liturgy, spending time outside, and watching the Hawks.
Director of Music
Dr. Sean Vogt joined Holy Innocents in August as HI's Director of Music. In addition to his duties at HIEC, he also serves as Director of Choral Activities at Clayton State University, where he directs the CSU Concert Choir, Spivey Hall Masterworks Chorus, and teaches ear training and conducting. For the past six years, Dr. Sean Vogt has served as Choirmaster at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He holds a DMA in choral conducting from Michigan State University and an MM in choral conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries
Megan grew up in Marietta, GA, and graduated with a BA in Religious Studies from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. After graduation, she attended Candler School of Theology where she received her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Justice and Peace Building in 2015. Since then she has served as the Youth Director at John Wesley United Methodist Church, the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and has maintained her role as a Child Victim Advocate for the state of Georgia. Megan joined the Holy Innocents’ team in 2017 and enjoys life with her new husband whom she married at the end of October 2020.
Assistant Director of Children’s Ministries
Renee Stephens was born in Shiprock, NM on the Navajo reservation to a military family and after several moves settled in Gwinnett County. As an adult convert, Renee pursued a BA in religious studies from Regent University and an MDiv from Candler School of Theology as part of her spiritual and theological formation. During seminary she served at United Methodist Church of the Way as part of the student ministry team and creative visioning team. She also assisted in program development for underprivileged women and children in Tondo, Philippines, served as a chaplain at Gwinnett Medical and most recently served the children and youth of St. Mary and St. Martha Episcopal Church. She has a special interest in early Christian history and monastic theology. Renee and her husband Benjamin have two young children, Zechariah and Samuel.
Sally graduated with a BA in English from Wesleyan University and worked in advertising and public relations in New York and Boston before moving to Marietta in 1992. Sally taught second grade at The Walker School for ten years before joining Holy Innocents in 2013. She and her husband Scott have three adult children, as well as a son-in-law. Sally enjoys reading, running, cooking, and spending time with her family and cat.
Communications Assistant & Graphic Designer
Jessica was born in Reseda, California but considers herself to be more of a southern belle, having moved with her parents to Atlanta at the tender age of three. The city life didn't agree with the family, so they moved to Powder Springs and have lived there ever since. She studied Illustration and Graphic Design at The Portfolio Center and enjoys hiking, doodling, and daydreaming.
Office Manager and Special Events Coordinator
An Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, Bianca received her master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Development and has many years working in the nonprofit world. She has worked with many organizations in Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles since 2012. And previously worked at Camp Kudzu where she led many fundraising efforts to support the organization's scholarship program. Bianca joined the Holy Innocents staff in early 2021 as the Office and Event Coordinator and she looks forward to contributing her skills to our community.
Camille Waller was born in New Orleans, LA, but moved to New York early in her school years, where she attended school and college, married, and raised 2 daughters and a son. She now has 10 grandchildren! For many years Camille traveled for career accounting opportunities, but returned to her southern roots in 2012, moving to Atlanta to be closer to family. Camille’s accounting experience is diverse as she has worked in a variety of industries and religious organizations, among them online tech training, hydraulic and electronic, Montessori schools, health services organizations, and automotive. In her “free time” she serves as the UBER driver for her grandchildren’s appointments, after-school activities, and anywhere else they need to be; and on Sundays she can be found at the Church At Chapel Hill – Atlanta, where she is active in their hospitality ministry.
Executive Assistant for the Clergy
Melody grew up in northwest Georgia and has lived in Atlanta for nearly 40 years. She received a B.S. degree in Social Work from Brenau Women’s College in Gainesville. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, exercising, and being with her grandchildren. She and her husband, Britt, live in Marietta and are members of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
Caroline grew up in Easley, South Carolina, and received her undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a major in Economics and German. She received an MA in teaching from Emory University and an MA in Economics from Georgia State University. Caroline taught Economics, AP Economics, and History at Marist School where she also coached for 15 years. She has an 18-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son who take up her “spare time”. Caroline also enjoys traveling, reading, and exercising. At HIEC she serves as the Parish Administrator.