Meet the Parish Leadership of St. Bride’s Church

Fr. Jesse Ray Lassiter

Fr. Jesse Ray Lassiter grew up in Ormond Beach, Florida in a Methodist household but attended the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida with his friends from time to time. In college he started singing in the choir at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Florida. Fr. Jesse was graduated  with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Economics.

Upon graduation, Fr. Jesse took a job at a ski resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and worked his way up to ski and snowboard instructor. While living in Europe, he received the call to the priesthood. Returning to Florida to start the ordination process, Fr. Jesse chose to attend Nashotah House Theological Seminary near Milwaukee because of its rich corporate prayer life. While at seminary, he sang in the choir, helped run the daily chapel services, and facilitated the Common Room (a social space for students, faculty, staff, and all their families). 

While at seminary a mutual friend introduced him to Sophia who was obtaining her Master’s in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy in Milwaukee. Within two weeks of their graduations  they moved to Vermont, where they got married in Sophia’s home church, Holy Resurrection of the Orthodox Church of America, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Fr. Jesse has served in a variety of capacities at different parishes. Most recently, Fr. Jesse was a supply priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, New Smyrna Beach, Florida where he was previously a curate. 

Fr. Jesse and Sophia enjoy cooking, hiking, rock climbing, and traveling.

Senior Warden Mary Lovell Swetnam

Mary Lovell Swetnam

As Senior Warden, Mary Lovell has served on Vestries since her early thirties. Additionally she sings with the choir, supervises the acolytes, and is a member of the Altar Guild. She recently retired from The City of Virginia Beach as Special Collections Librarian.

Junior Warden David Greenfield

David Greenfield

David and his family are long-time members of St. Bride’s. He and his wife are recently retired and are regularly busy with projects around the church. David brings his work experience in the construction, engineering and architecture industries to his work in St. Bride’s building and grounds.

Vestry Members

  • Mary Lovell Swetnam
  • David Greenfield
  • Bob Byles
  • Roy Corson
  • Walter Leonard
  • Mary Zepnikowski

Organist/Choirmaster Ralph Spoettle

Ralph Spoettle

As Organist and Choir Master at St. Bride’s, Ralph is routinely able to draw a high caliber of music from his small but enthusiastic choir. He earned a degree in Music with a Teaching Certificate from Montclair State College (now a University) in New Jersey. After graduation, Ralph taught Instrumental Music (band and orchestra), with an after-school Electronic Music Club, at Burnet Junior High School in Union, NJ.

With a major in Music Theory and Composition, Ralph has written a number of sacred and secular works for band, brass ensemble, organ, and choir. Over the years, he has served as Principal Horn with the Livingston (NJ) Symphony and the Virginia Beach Community Orchestra. As a keyboardist, he has played gigs from Top 40 to Art Rock to Country in a number of groups on the East Coast. His directing credits include Orchestra Leader for a community theatre production of Funny Girl, Conductor with the Iselin, NJ Post American Legion Band, and playing with and conducting the Hampton Roads Metro Band.

His companies, KBD SYSTEMS and SOUND/ORGAN DESIGN, focus on the repair, sales, and installation of electronic musical instruments and classic organs across a three-state area.

Secretary Geralyn Allegood

Geralyn is the first point of contact at St. Bride’s. Maintaining the Church Calendar, preparing for Vestry meetings, weekly newsletters, and replying to emails are some of her tasks. Along with those, she prepares and makes copies of the Sunday bulletins. ON her free time Geralyn loves to spend time with her grandsons, sew, crochet, and enjoys baseball.