The Rev. Michael A. Bird, Rector
Father Bird grew up in the city of Philadelphia and moved to Jacksonville, Florida as a teenager. He attended Swarthmore College where he studied History with a concentration in education. He taught history and coached three varsity sports for five years before attending General Theological Seminary in New York City. His first position after ordination was at St. Mark’s, New Canaan CT where he began as the Associate Rector for Youth and Family Ministry. Father Bird has been the rector of Christ Church since 2004. He says what’s special about this church is its deep commitment to building community, responsibility and a sense of God’s presence through music, liturgy and mission. Father Bird maintains an active presence in the community by serving as an advisor to many organizations and as an avid supporter of the arts and athletics. His next “big thing” will be working to improve youth ministry across the Diocese of New York, the Episcopal Church and hopefully across the larger Church as well.
The Rev. Jennifer Brown Lanier, Assistant to the Rector
Mother Brown, who proudly describes herself as a “Cradle Episcopalian,” grew up in the Bronx and attended Syracuse University where she majored in Psychology. She then worked as a social worker with the Board of Education for over twenty years before attending seminary. She came to Christ Church Bronxville as a seminarian in 2007, and stayed on after her graduation in 2009 because “CCBNY is a place that allows me to live into my baptismal and ordination vows, and where I am able to see the face and heart and love of God in the people I’m called to serve.” She is married to James Lanier, a Baptist pastor, and has two daughters – one is a lawyer in Washington D.C. and the other is pursuing a PHD in psychology in London. She says Christ Church Bronxville is “made even more special by our parents’ commitment to raising their children in the great tradition of the church through biblical literacy, great fellowship, and the beautiful liturgy of our Episcopal tradition. I’m especially excited about the energy we have around taking the message of God’s peace and love into the community and sharing it with others.”
Philip Stopford, Director of Music
Philip Stopford (b.1977) began his musical career as a Chorister (aged 8) at Westminster Abbey, London, singing under the direction of Simon Preston and Martin Neary. After being awarded a major music scholarship to Bedford School, he was appointed Organ Scholar at Truro Cathedral, Cornwall before reading music at Keble College, Oxford where he was also Organ Scholar. Philip then moved to be Organ Scholar at Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, before moving to Chester Cathedral to be Assistant Organist. In 2003, Philip was appointed Director of Music at Belfast Cathedral, Northern Ireland, becoming the youngest Cathedral Organist in the country at that time, aged just 25.
With this extensive background in choral music, Philip has becoming a respected choir trainer and composer of church music, selling half a million copies of music. He is published by US companies Hal Leonard and MorningStar Music (75 titles so far), and other pieces are self-published at www.ecclesium.co.uk.
Philip recorded a first CD of his own choral music with Ecclesium at Keble College, Oxford. The disc was named Editor’s Choice by Organists’ Review, August 2006. Philip directed this CD and four consecutive CDs of his own music; Creation (2006), Love Never Ends (2007), A Christmas Blessing (2008), Te Deum, Benedicite and Music for the Liturgy (2012). In 2012, Truro Cathedral Choir recorded a complete Stopford CD, Do not be afraid which made the Specialist Classical Music Chart. In 2013, Philip’s Lully Lulla Lullay entered the Classic FM Hall of Fame for the first time at number 248. In 2014, it climbed 152 places become the year’s highest climber of the entire chart.
In September 2015, Philip was appointed Composer in Residence at Christ Church, Bronxville, just outside New York City. A temporary post of four months has become a full time job, and Philip is now Director of Music at the church, working with the Church Choir and Young At Arts children’s choral and theatrical programme. Philip will also continue to offer workshop and concert performances, and periodically accepts new commissions from choirs across the globe.
Commissions in 2016 include The Chorister Prayer (Llandaff Cathedral), Bring Us O Lord God (Friends of Cathedral Music Diamond Fund Concert at St Paul’s Cathedral, London), Ave Maris Stella (Voces8), Durham Jubilate (Durham Cathedral) and Jesus Christ Is Lord (Bronxville).
McKenzie Burton, Youth Minister & Outreach Coordinator
McKenzie grew up in Bronxville and moved to Birmingham, AL with her family as a teenager. After graduating high school in Birmingham, McKenzie attended the University of Georgia to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in History and Women’s Studies. McKenzie is excited to be back in a community that she calls home. She feels privileged to be faced with unparalleled opportunity to give back to a program that meant so much to her and to share the love of Jesus Christ with a wonderful and growing community of young people - while simultaneously deepening her faith and experience of God. McKenzie is excited to back in the northeast and is always looking for recommendations for restaurants and activities around NYC. Please make sure to send your favorite suggestions along! When McKenzie is not planning youth or outreach events (or watching the Dawgs play) she enjoys co-leading the 20s/30s Fellowship Group with Katie Gojkovich.
Sharyn Pirtle, Founding Director of Young at Arts
Sharyn’s “aha!” moment began in a fantastic public performing arts school in her native Houston, Texas where children from all over the city and from different socioeconomic backgrounds came to share a common interest. Sharyn went on to study voice and opera at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University and spent summers on the shores of Cape Cod doing musical theater. As a performer, Sharyn performed both opera and musical theater – roles such as Ado Annie, Ilona, Cherubino and Despina. Her experience as a director started off by traveling with soprano Renée Fleming and sitting in rehearsals learning the craft at the greatest opera houses around the world. She assisted directors across the US, Europe and Israel and then began directing her own productions in 2000. In 2005, Sharyn, with the help of The Reverend Michael A. Bird, Rector of Christ Church Bronxville, childhood pal Camille Zamora and her husband Shawn Kaufman, founded Young at Arts, in response to the gaps in arts education in her community. At Young at Arts Sharyn has directed both opera and musical theater pieces including, Cinderella, Brundibar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Honk!, Guys and Dolls, The Little Sweep and The Wizard of Oz. Sharyn has spoken on the importance of an arts education in her community and beyond has been honored by the Mount Vernon Public Library Foundation for her dedication to the youth of Mount Vernon. Most recently, she accepted the 2013 Community Partner Award from the Junior League of Bronxville on behalf of YAA.
victoria mclaughlin, Director of Eliza Corwin Frost
Having worked with children and families for over 25 years, Vicky joins ECF from her most recent role as the Educational Director of Early Learning Foundations and York Avenue Preschool in Manhattan. While at Teachers College, Columbia University she earned both her Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (B-8) and her Masters of Education in Theoretical Foundations of Early Childhood Education. At the Rita Gold Center Lab School of Teachers College she spent more than a decade honing practical classroom experience through teaching two, three, and four year olds in a dynamic academic setting. She inspired future educators by modeling best practice, supervising student teachers, and teaching undergraduate and Master’s degree seminars.
Vicky is thrilled to be at ECF, a nursery school that strives to provide each child with a strong foundation of social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development by providing dynamic learning experiences and partnering with parents and the community.
vincent preti, communications Director
Many of you may know Vincent as he is an alumni of both EYC and Young at Arts (‘12). Vincent returns to Christ Church after graduating college and working in cultural and art institutions. He earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, honing in on Himalayan Studies and Religious Theory. To culminate his degree, Vincent completed a multimedia thesis which earned him the designation summa cum laude and placed him at the top of his class. After graduating, Vincent joined the Learning and Engagement department at the Denver Art Museum, where he helped activate museum collections through programming the museum’s Untitled: Final Fridays late night program and facilitating hands-on art making for all ages. When he’s not running around Christ Church, Vincent is probably working on one of his art pieces. Questions regarding donations, contributions, and our new database can be directed to Vincent. Feel free to drop him a line, even if it’s just to say hello!
Jose Braga, Assistant Sexton
Jose has been the go-to guy of Christ Church for 18 years. He is the proud father of three kids and grandfather of 4 kids. If you can't find Jose around CCB, you're probably at the wrong church!