Clergy, Staff & Leadership

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Clergy, Staff & Vestry

The Rev. Bruce Birdsey

Interim Rector

The Rev. Bruce Birdsey is a husband, father, grandfather and native Georgian as well as a priest. Bruce and his wife Brenda have two sons and four grandchildren. 

Bruce and Brenda moved to Richmond in 2006 when I was called by the Church of the Holy Comforter to be their interim rector. Since then, he has served congregations all over the Richmond metro area, with brief forays to churches in the Shenandoah Valley and in metro Washington. Bruce says, “Interim ministry, with its changing locations, challenging variety, and new parishioners keeps me fresh and engaged as a priest.” 

Bruce was ordained in the Diocese of Atlanta and received interim training in 2005 while serving a church in North Carolina



Trudy Bavolack

Parish Administrator

Trudy Bavolack has been employed by Emmanuel Church since June 2001, first as a part time Financial Coordinator, and now as a full-time Parish Administrator. She has an associate’s degree (cum laude) in Business from J. Sargeant Reynolds as well as a  B.S. in Business Administration and Management and an M.B.A., both from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives in Goochland County on the family farm. She and her husband Danny have two daughters – Jessica, who lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Matt, and Maggie, who lives in Richmond.  Trudy enjoys reading and watching British television.


Tammy Shackelford


Tammy is a cradle Episcopalian who currently serves the Diocese of Virginia as the assistant to Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff. Tammy has enjoyed serving several Episcopal parishes in the Richmond community in the areas of stewardship, Christian education and parish life ministries as well as leading retreats at Shrine Mont and Roslyn Retreat Center. Tammy is working on her Masters of Christian Ministry at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond with an emphasis in Christian Formation. When not working or going to school, Tammy enjoys spending time with her husband and their 4 children, 2 dogs and 1 c

Mark Koontz

Interim, Dir. of Music

Mark Koontz has spent many years as a church musician, most recently serving as an interim music director at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Theatre and majored in church music as Azusa Pacific University in California. Mark and his wife Joyce live in Henrico County, and have three grown sons. 

Lin Tyler


Lin Tyler joined our staff in September 2017 as Sexton. She is retired from the Richmond Police Department as a Sergeant after 28 years and professes to have a love for cleaning. Lin lives happily on a small farm in Hanover with an array of animals which include donkeys, goats, pigs, dogs, cats and birds. She spends most of her time tending the animals and raising specialty breed chickens.  

Jerome Johnson

Sunday Sexton

Jerome Johnson is a published author of his first book titled “Nightman” and owns his own janitorial service. He has been the Sexton at Emmanuel for over 20 yeras, and recently entered partial retirement. He and his wife Sharon live in Sandston. 

Salima Bangura

Nursery Attendant

Salima is currently enrolled at VCU and pursuing my degree in Biology. Salima loves being able to work with kids and is excited to be able to make a positive impact on their lives. Salima has three younger sisters and is the eldest of 29 grandchildren – giving Salima the chance to learn the best ways to enjoy time with them while also teaching them life lessons. She has volunteered in her church’s children’s ministry for many years before moving to Richmond for college. In her free time, Salima loves listening to music, watching anime, and cosplaying! 

John Mothershead

Cemetery Manager

John Mothershead was born in Richmond County on a farm in the Northern Neck.  He grew up there and left after finishing high school to come to the big city and attend the University of Richmond.  After getting his degree, he went to work for the Boys Club of Richmond for 10 years.  Leaving the Boys Club, he went to work for Henrico County Public Schools as Assistant Director of Pupil Transportation and held that position for 23 years.  Taking early retirement, he decided to drive a school bus and finally left the county after working for them for 39 years.  He has been married to his wife, Jean, for 54 years.  They have 4 children and 11 grandchildren.  In his spare time, he loves to be at his river place “Eden Breeze” on the Rappahannock River where he likes to garden, do yard work and fish.

2018-2019 Vestry

Sue Davis, Senior Warden
Hank Milligan, Junior Warden
David Bivens
Ed Dalton
Marilyn Malone
Suzanne Messerschmidt
Paul Nelson
John Weber

Financial Officers:
Lilly Weber, Treasurer
Ed Dalton, Assistant Treasurer


Emmanuel Church began in 1859 with services being held in the 1787 school/free church called “The Brook” near present day Dumbarton and Brook Roads. The Rev. Richard Hooker Wilmer held services there until the present-day church was built. John Stewart of Brook Hill donated the land, the funds to build the church and supported the minister with the help of his brother Daniel Kerr Stewart. The Right Reverend John Johns consecrated and named the Gothic Revival style church “Emmanuel,” God with Us on July 6, 1860. The 200-seat capacity church was known as The Little Church in the Pine Woods because it set back off of Brook Road in a grove of pines.

During the Civil War,  troops from both sides camped on the grounds when traveling on the Brook Turnpike. There is a Confederate Cemetery within the church graveyard. The church weathered the war with only minor vandalism occurring at the end when the northern troops were returning home.

The Joseph Bryan Building, constructed in the English Tudor style, was built on the property in 1910 to be used as a parish hall, offices and parochial school. The school remained open until 1950. In 2007 the building was refurbished and renamed the Bryan Education Center. In 1957, a new parish hall and offices were added to the left side of the church with a breezeway connecting them.