St. Peter's Leadership
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
The Rev. Matthew J. Lindeman
The Rev. Angela Rowley
The Rev. Julie Kelsey
Organist & Choirmaster
Infant & Toddler Care Provider
The Reverend Matt Lindeman
Matt has a strong passion for formation for all people, and has an extensive background in working with children and youth. Since being ordained in 2015 Matt has served in the capacity of Assistant and Associate Rector at Trinity Southport. In the past five years Matt has had an energetic and successful ministry in Southport and is delighted to join us and serve as our pastor, priest, and teacher. Matt seeks to create communities of faith for all people where the love of God is expressed through prayer, study, and action. To get connected, don't hesitate to reach out!
Matt graduated with a BA in psychology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. At Earlham he met his soon-to-be wife, Anna Einstein. After being married for a year, Matt and Anna served as Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador for two years, where Matt felt called to pursue theological training at Yale Divinity School. In 2009, they returned to Connecticut, and Anna began teaching at East Shore Middle School here in Milford.
Matt enjoys being on the water, whether surfing in Rhode Island, kayaking, or fly fishing here in Connecticut, and loves playing with his five year old son, Jonah and one year old daughter Ruth.
To connect, and for pastoral care, e-mail The Rev. Matt Lindeman, or call (203) 874-8562.
Reverend Angela H. Rowley, Assisting Priest
The QEII, The English Patient, Mitten Hill Nursery School, the Ford Motor Company. These are but a few of the subjects that develop into fascinating detours you take when walking through Angela's life history with her.
That Angela became a priest is a miracle in its own right. Or maybe her courage is the miracle. The story starts with her running a nursery school in Wilton, called Mitten Hill (named after the mitten shaped leaves of the Sassafras tree on the property). Angela established the school in 1986, and, not surprisingly it quickly attracted scores of families. In 1999, one of her students became seriously ill. Angela visited the boy frequently in hospital, and mercifully he eventually recovered. Sitting down with his seemingly stoic mother after the ordeal, Angela asked her "how she made it through." The mother broke down saying that she wished there had been someone to support her spiritually in those moments of despair at the hospital. And at that moment, Angela realized she wanted to be that person.
With no qualifications (on paper) other than being a nursery school teacher, Angela looked into hospital chaplaincy and met with a woman at Bridgeport hospital who essentially told her she was crazy, but gave her an application for a training program. Feeling called, but fraught with doubt, Angela consulted a Catholic priest friend for guidance. He pointed to the sign on his wall reading "God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called." "Now call Yale!" he told her.
It was the summer of 1999. Two Yale chaplains interviewed Angela and said the same thing everyone else had. "You have no qualifications or experience to do this." However, after an hour interview, they decided to take her on and accepted her into a nine month chaplaincy internship program. After finishing her Clinical Pastoral Education degree, her chaplain mentors prodded her to go further. "Now you are going to seminary!" She audited one class at Yale Divinity School and, sure she was getting in way over her head, announced there was no way she would do this. More prodding from another mentor, and she applied. Yale Divinity School accepted Angela with no undergraduate degree. And after three years of commuting from Wilton, she earned a Master of Divinity in 2005. Angela was ordained to the priesthood in January 2006 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Branford.
Angela initially worked at Trinity Branford. After about three years, Yale asked if she would return to the hospital in the newly created position of Yale Emergency Department Chaplain. Once again, courage transcended doubt and Angela made the move. It is a full time job, with responsibility for providing spiritual care to the patients, family and staff of the ER. The impact she is having is perhaps best exemplified by the award she just received -- the first ever Yale "Nurse's Choice Award," for the Yale staff member who has provided them with the most support in carrying out their duties.
Angela also finds the time to be an active member of the St. Andrews Society of Connecticut (serving as its chaplain), and opens and closes the group's annual fair in Goshen.
When looking for a new place to worship after having to leave Trinity Branford (when she stepped down as a minister there to work at Yale), Angela began serving as supply clergy at St. Peter's. It was the perfect fit, and Angela soon approached Andrew about both joining St. Peter's as a member, and "helping out once in a while." Andrew was delighted to have her, and Angela has contributed to the St. Peter's community beyond anyone's expectations. But the gifts go both ways. Angela expects her role at Yale to soon expand to include pediatrics (a daunting prospect), and that only increases her desire to ground herself at St. Peter's where she can both give and receive spiritual support.
Reverend Julie Kelsey, Assisting Priest
The Rev. Julie Kelsey is an Episcopal priest ordained in 1997. She has served churches in urban and suburban settings, most recently as Rector of Grace and St. Peter's Church in Hamden and currently as Associated Clergy at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church on Whitney Ave. in New Haven. From 2008 through May of 2017 she served as Assistant Dean of Students at Yale Divinity School where she is also a
lecturer in the Practices and Principles of Preaching course.
Julie has been a mentor with the Annand Program and a spiritual director for years. She has a special interest in translating psychological language into theological language, and connecting Sunday worship with daily life. Julie is one of the originators of Chapel on the Green in New Haven, a ministry designed especially for those who are temporarily displaced and/or without a job or home. She has led bereavement groups for adults and for children ages 6-12. She is a mother and grandmother who loves hiking, reading, writing, theatre and music.
Julie joins our community with her husband David, the Luther Weigle Professor Emeritus of Theology at Yale Divinity School.
Matthew Babcock, Seminarian
Matt was raised in central Louisiana, and graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 2007, achieving a BS in Agricultural Business. Following college, Matt moved to North Carolina, where he was introduced to the Episcopal Church. While an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina, Matt served in several lay leadership positions. He was elected to the vestry, serving as chair of the financial management committee and Junior Warden. Matt looks back on a rewarding career in commodities trading, risk management, finance, and banking. While serving alongside the parishioners at St. Paul’s, Matt saw the fruits of a community with a shared vision to live the gospel. With the help and guidance of many, what began as volunteer service in a food pantry, Matt began rediscover the presence of God, and began to explore his call to foster communities of love as he discerned his call to ordained ministry.
Matt moved to New Haven in 2016 to begin his studies at Yale Divinity School, where he is a third-year Master of Divinity candidate and member of the Berkeley Divinity School. Matt, and his fiancé Joel, live in New Haven. He is a candidate for ordination from the Diocese of East Carolina, discerning ordination to the priesthood. Matt served as a seminarian intern at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, New Haven during the 2017-2018 academic year.
He has a passion for pastoral care and visitation, and sees this ministry as central to wholeness and healing. As part of his ongoing discernment, Matt served as an intern chaplain at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2017 and 2018, and plans to pursue a residency in hospital chaplaincy. He holds a certification in mental health first aid, and plans to pursue board certification in hospital chaplaincy.
Matt loves the outdoors, especially hiking. In addition to exploring the trails around New Haven, Matt is passionate about cooking for friends and family.
Matt’s presence among us continues a legacy of St. Peter’s serving not just our own community, but also the wider church by providing seminarians with opportunities to worship and serve among us.
Kathleen Blixt, Parish Administrator
Kathleen, a native Long Islander, has been a resident of Connecticut since 2011, following six years in Boston. She was on the Voice and Choral Conducting faculty at Hofstra University for over 25 years, as well as the Music Faculty of Long Island University at CW Post, and on the teaching and conducting staff of the Boston City Singers. As a professional singer and conductor she has performed nationally, internationally, and on several recordings. Kathleen is also the founder and director of Voci da Camera, a professional chamber choir based on Long Island.
In her capacity as director of various music ensembles, and director of several church and professional organizations, she administered those programs, chaired several University and church committees, and was responsible for a number of recruitment programs. She also arranged and organized all details and procedures for three international choir tours, and the production of two CD’s.
She is married to Fred Backhaus, and together they have five grown children and four delightful grandchildren, whom they are fortunate to see frequently.
Frederick Backhaus, Organist & Choirmaster
Fred came to St. Peter’s in August of 2016 after a 30-year career as a full-time Organist & Choirmaster in the Episcopal Church. He has served major parishes in the Northeast including five years as Organist & Master of Choristers at the Parish of All Saints, Ashmont (Boston), and sixteen years as Director of Music at Christ Church, Oyster Bay, Long Island. He has held faculty positions at Hofstra University, and at the George Mercer School Of Theology, where he taught courses in choral rehearsal techniques for church musicians. In the summer of 2004, he was a guest lecturer for the Hutton House Lectures at C.W. Post, Long Island University.
He graduated with Distinction in Performance from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, and earned a Masters of Music in Organ Performance and the coveted Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with David Craighead. He has performed in the United States, Great Britain, and Eastern Europe, and is a past Dean of the Nassau (Long Island) chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
As the Assistant Director and Organist of the Long Island professional vocal ensemble Voci da Camera from 1999 to 2014, he accompanied them on tours of Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom, and served as organist when they spent a week as choir-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral.
Mr. Backhaus appears on several recordings, including In Time of Softest Snow, They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships, A Voci Christmas, Reincarnations, and The Church of Music of William Byrd.
He is married to Kathleen Blixt, who for twenty-five years was on the Vocal and Choral Conducting faculty of Hofstra University. They have five grown children and four grandchildren.
Click on the links below to listen to some of Fred’s work.
Amy Chiarelli, Sunday School Childcare Supervisor
Amy has been employed by St. Peter's since October 2017, watching over the little ones on Sunday morning during the 10:00 a.m. service. Amy grew up here in Milford and attended Pumpkin Delight elementary school , West Shore middle school, Jonathan Law high school and now attends Gateway Community College with plans to continue on through a masters degree but hasn’t chosen the next school yet! She studies early childhood education and may study special education as well!
Amy has four years experience in a daycare and many more years of babysitting. She is the middle child in a family with five children. Amy currently works at Cooperative Educational Services as a paraprofessional. Amy loves arts like drawing and painting, spending time with family and listening to records like the Beatles and Paul Simon!
Andy Thomas, Sexton