Meet our Directors

Meet our Directors

Jessica Gazzola

12002804_10156096302220305_532862323929076212_nIn 2007 I was ordained a priest in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, though I feel more comfortable in yoga pants and a sweatshirt than vestments.  Nevertheless, my priesthood is a part of me however I’m dressed and wherever I go – into nature, my kitchen, my neighborhood, and into the depths of my own inner life.  I believe everyone is a priest at the altar of their own life.

I have three kids.  They keep me busy.  They remind me what it means to be human, though they convince me we are all spiritual beings from birth.14480640_1189934767729526_6169177608916630078_o

I grew up in the Roman Catholic church where the Sacraments and various strains of mysticism formed early faith formation.  I attended Marquette University and there the Jesuits helped to ground my faith in reason and social justice.  I received my Masters of Divinity at an ecumenical seminary, Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, where the wider world of Christianity opened up to me.  After Seminary I served the wonderful community of Sts. Clare & Francis as their Associate Pastor for seven years.  In 2014, expecting my third child, I decided to take a break from parish ministry and sink into parenthood and the sacred ordinary.

Though I  pulled back from my busy church life, the prayers still come and ritual infuses my days.  My blog, The Altar of Her Life, gives me space to share my priesthood with spiritual travelers of all walks.  I also write poetry and prayer for individuals and churches.  If that interests you, visit me at Stories and Seasons sometime.

Collaborating with Zion United Church of Christ to direct Peace Tree Spirituality Center in 2017 unfolded in such a joyful and surprising way.  Peace Tree and its prayer garden opened its stone threshold and green armed branches  to me and echoed “home.”  The place is thick with life and prayer.  I merely inquired if the center was still being used after the previous director left.  That set the water wheel of God’s life spinning and brought Anne Knight and me together to offer our services as co-directors.  I stand in this role in awe of the mysterious ways Life unfolds around me!

Anne Knight

Ever since I was a young girl, born and raised in the St. Louis area, I have sought to find the truth of the Holy One. I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition but have broadened my spiritual search to include many other Christian and non-Christian traditions.  I have traveled extensively all over the world but have come to appreciate the presence and nourishment of the divine right outside my back door.

I have three grown children, each with a family of their own. I enjoy the gift of grand-parenting, reveling in the mystical wisdom of the young.  I am a Spiritual Director, receiving a certificate from Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis in 2006. I have recently retired and enjoy journeying with others to find their own way to the Holy One in ordinary life.

I find the sacred space at Peace Tree able to remove the barriers that keep us from knowing how deeply connected and embraced we are in the ocean of the divine.  Collaborating with Jessica Gazzola and the wonderful congregation at Zion UCC is a not only a joy but a unique opportunity to offer this spiritual jewel to the people of St. Louis.