The Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2008 after being inspired by Roman Catholic priests in Nigeria teaching human rights law to their congregations. She went from the field of Human Rights based in Washington, D.C. to faith-based community organizing in South Texas before attending divinity school in her hometown of Austin. Carissa has built her family with her wife, Pam McGinnis. They are the proud parents of three profound and powerful children.
Carissa loves contemplative prayer, funk music, and a good dance party. She serves on the boards of St. Francis Ministries in Salina, Kansas and the Episcopal Foundation of Texas in Houston. She is the current president of the alumni steering committee for the Seminary of the Southwest.
Before being commissioned to start Northside Episcopal Church, Carissa served Episcopal congregations in Houston and Los Angeles with a consistent focus on spirituality and social justice.
“I was not born to plant a church. But in 2019 I was called. I have come to understand that this was a sacred opportunity to explore an unsatisfied vocational hunger while attempting to meet the spiritual needs of my non-traditional family; all the while attempting to help realize a vision for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. I had been healed in some ways by my time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. So, where else but Northside to pursue authenticity and future church?”
Shawn Welling leads our worship each Sunday morning. Following a career in the Nashville music industry, Shawn has led music in churches for more than 15 years while also co-creating liturgies with other worship leaders, leading workshops, and working as a spiritual director and pastor. He is the founder of Colectio, a consulting group which supports church musicians in their spiritual lives and vocations.
Shawn earned certificates in Spiritual Direction and Youth Ministry from SMU | Perkins School of Theology, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Practice at Duke Divinity School. Shawn finds that the best part of life is being a husband, father, and grandfather. He and his wife, Demi, live in Houston.
Our Youth Coach: heart, mind, soul, strength
Bianca Hernanez is a born-and-raised Houstonian, blessed mother of two, and a wife to the most amazing person God could have put in her path. Currently enrolled at University of Houston Downtown majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology, she has a passion for youth, particularly youth from hard places. In her spare time she goes from binge watching Disney/Pixar and Harry Potter movies to outdoor activities like camping with the family, time at the shooting range, or practicing her violin. Bianca and her family enjoy the Japanese world of Cosplay and Anime. And if you are treating her, please go with M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. She is a strong advocate for engaging kids in their interests and in innovation. She combines an earnest, kind, and positive style with diligence, excellence, and the pursuit of challenge which make her the perfect person to grow and nurture a youth community at Northside Episcopal Church.