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OUR ORIGIN STORY

Missing Voices

The Lighthouse was originally made possible by The Missing Voices Project, an ambitious effort led by Flagler College Youth Ministry, with funding from the Lilly Endowment. This project engaged 12 churches throughout the state of Florida to develop new expressions of ministry to youth on the margins – those who are not reached by traditional youth ministry programs, and who we are called to serve in the example of Jesus.

We know that LGBTQ young people are often fearful of expressing themselves in their families, schools, and social circles, and that the dangers of emotional and spiritual trauma inflicted by those communities are very real. At The Lighthouse they find love and acceptance, community, spiritual care, and support for the unique challenges they face. Our approach is wholeheartedly affirming, rooted in our belief that a person’s orientation and identity are not in conflict with their identity as a beloved child of God.

This work requires the church to live into our baptismal covenant – especially our promises to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

Through relationships built on unconditional love and a desire to understand the experiences of God’s people in all their wonderful diversity, we are drawing nearer to the abundant life that God intends for us all.

Meet the Board

Catherine Montgomery, Executive Director (she/her)
Catherine Montgomery's headshotCatherine Montgomery founded The Lighthouse when she was Director of Family Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach. She continues to lead the Ponte Vedra chapter, and work with new faith communities to establish new chapters. She is also the outreach administrator at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Outreach in Jacksonville Florida, a seminarian at The General Theological Seminary, and a candidate for Holy Orders. Catherine grew up in Orlando and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science. Before her ministry career, she was a banker for 15 years in Orlando and Birmingham. She and her husband, Eric, have two grown children – Luke and Georgia – and a hound dog named Doug.

Rev Elyse Gustafson's headshotThe Rev. Elyse Gustafson is a Priest Associate at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Jacksonville, FL. Her ministry there focuses on Sunday and Wednesday services and on providing programs for LGBTQ+ parishioners and their families. Prior to her time at Good Shepherd, Elyse spent seven years in full-time ministry, first at parishes in North Carolina and Virginia and then on active duty as a chaplain in the US Army.

Now a bi-vocational priest, Elyse works for a large financial services firm. She holds degrees from Duke Divinity School, the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and Wheaton College. She also serves on the boards of the Cathedral District Jax and JASMYN, a local non-profit supporting LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.

Rev. Sarah Locke's headshotThe Rev. Sarah is the pastor for Jacksonville Campus Ministry, which serves young adults who are seeking God here in Jacksonville. She was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and also serves as an Episcopal priest. She is passionate about good books, good music, peace, and justice. When she isn’t taking college students out to coffee, she’s spending time with her neighbors and kids or going to the theater with her husband. 

Rev. Rachael McNealRachael is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine. It is her job to provide a welcoming community that supports youth on their journeys and inspires them to be Christ’s light to others. Rachael has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and is a graduate of Flagler college where she studied Religion/Philosophy and Youth Ministry. Rachael loves to make pottery, read novels, and spend time with her husband Kevin, two kids, and their dog.

Emily Rokosch's headshot

Brooks Slater's headshotBrooks was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and is currently a teacher at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. He worked in youth ministry for 12 years to help create safe and inclusive spaces for youth to explore their faith, and helped to create the Lighthouse’s Ponte Vedra chapter during his time as Christ Church’s Director of Youth Ministries. He received his Master’s Degree in Youth and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, playing tennis, and spending time with his family and friends.

Rev Beth's headshotMother Beth is the vicar of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Outreach in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Canon for Urban Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. Mother Beth has a passion for training and supporting those who are eager to engage in active ministry with those in their midst.  She founded Church Without Walls, the diocese’s street ministry, in 2012.

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