Clergy & Staff
Meet the clergy and staff at St. Cross!
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Anne Nyback
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Anne Nyback is rector at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach. She has served St. Cross since her ordination in 2004. She was the associate for family ministry and rector-elect. She has been rector since 2010. She enjoys working with the clergy and staff to build a team that supports the many ministries of the parish they serve. St. Cross is a lay-lead parish and she sees a main focus of her ministry to be sustaining lay leadership for current ministries while encouraging new leaders and ministries when the Spirit calls forth a new ministry. She teaches through her preaching, her pastoral care and her care for the parishioners of St. Cross. She is constantly challenging her congregation about where they can be active in the wider South Bay community and not just within the parish community.
Rachel's love of ministry come from the combination of two of her passions: Jesus and people. Not matter where Rachel lands, she enjoys making new friendships, hearing peoples' stories, and sharing the love of Jesus Christ through relationship. She has lived and worshiped in Massachusetts, Paris, Kuwait and Virginia. Each parish helped form her into the priest she is today though the multicultural experiences of worship in foreign countries with many nationalities worshiping together in common prayer, and in other parts of the United States which gave perspectives very different than that of Southern California.
In the Diocese of Los Angeles Rachel has served on the Program Group on Stewardship, the Program Group on Youth (as a youth and a young adult), and on the Standing Committee, currently as the representative to the Commission on Ministry. She is active in two clergy groups and also is part of a weekly sermon workshop with four seminary classmates.
Before following her call to priesthood, Rachel was a fifth grade teacher in Southern California public schools and in Kuwait. She received her MDiv from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2004 and her DMin from VTS in 2015. She benefited greatly in her first years of ordination as a participant in the Lily Foundation First Three Years program, which seeks to form newly ordained priests in healthy practices that will sustain them throughout the lifetime of their ministries. This program along with her passion for teaching formed her doctoral thesis on best practices for the formation of newly ordained priests. Currently, she is in charge of the supporting the mentors for the mentoring program for newly ordained priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and has served as a consultant on this topic in other dioceses.
Rachel is a child of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Born in Long Beach, baptized at St. Timothy's, Compton and raised at St. Paul's, Pomona (both congregations served by her father who is also a priest). In her free time she loves to read, cook for friends and family, embroider (which you will often see her doing at convention while listening) and go camping in the summer. She cannot decide if she loves the beach, mountains, valleys, or desert the best, as it all depends on where she is at the moment.
The Rev. Nathan Biornstad
Associate for Pastoral Care
The Rev. Nathan Biornstad joined the staff of St Cross in August of 2018. Nathan felt drawn to ministry since high school. After completing his undergraduate degree at Portland State University, where he double majored in business management and marketing, he moved to California and attended Fuller Theological Seminary. While studying for his Master’s in Divinity, a friend invited him to a Taize service at Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel. This service sparked his curiosity about liturgy and the Episcopal Church. A couple of years later, Nathan joined Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Covina where he became actively involved, and eventually Holy Trinity became his sponsoring parish for the priesthood. During his ordination process, Nathan was the Youth Director at Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights and Adult Education Coordinator at St. Mark’s Upland. In May 2014, he completed his degree in Anglican Studies at Bloy House, and in January 2016, Nathan was ordained to priestly orders. Until being called to St. Cross, Nathan served as a bi-vocational associate priest at two parishes (St. Luke’s Monrovia and Church of the Transfiguration in Arcadia) while working a full time secular job.
Nathan is passionate about utilizing the deep and meaningful rituals of our church for the next generation. “As we, the church community, continue to seek out God, both within ourselves and in the world, we will find deeper layers of God’s unmerited love and unfailing grace in unexpected ways.”
The Rev. Stephen Smith
Associate Rector for Formation
St. Cross is excited to announce the hiring of the Rev. Stephen Smith as Associate Rector for Formation! Stephen's first day at St. Cross will be August 11. He comes to us from St. Simon's in Arlington Heights, IL. He received his Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis. Prior to seminary he worked for the Young Adult Service Corps, a mission branch of the Episcopal Church, and was stationed in Grahamstown, South Africa for two years.
We'll have a more extensive bio for you soon, but for now we bring you the famous five questions:
1) What excites you about coming to St. Cross to work?
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the community at St. Cross from Rev. Rachel and others associated with the parish. I think the people in our lives and the communities to which we belong make a profound impact on how we come to know and experience God -- so I’m excited to work with and meet the people at St. Cross! Being just a few blocks from the beach might be pretty sweet too.
2) What is your favorite book of the Bible and why?
Wow, good question! I’m really into John’s Gospel at the moment. Preaching on John has made me aware of how the author weaves various themes and images throughout his narrative in a way that expresses deep truths that are often difficult to capture in words. I’ve enjoyed wrestling with the complexity and beauty of the author’s writing.
3) What is one of your early memories of church?
Flying paper airplanes from the choir loft into the nave. I think we did it for a church school activity, and when I was young I thought that was pretty cool. The warm and welcome environment I experienced during my childhood and throughout the rest of my life had a huge impact on me and how I’ve come to love church.
4) What is one thing you want us to know about you?
My wife and I have two cats named Dr. Waffles and Dr. Donut. They have a more active Instagram account than I do.
5) St. Cross loves a good meal. What is your favorite food?
Nothing beats a carne asada burrito with lots of spicy salsa in my book.
The Rev. Patti Angelo
Patti Angelo was ordained in 2017 to the Sacred Order of Deacons. She and her family have been members of St. Cross since 1997. Following four years of Education for Ministry at St. Cross, she pursued her interest in Religious Studies at Cal State Long Beach. Patti discovered her passion for chaplaincy after serving as an intern at Long Beach Memorial/Miller’s Children’s Hospital. This led her to pursue her M.Div with an emphasis in Interfaith Chaplaincy at Claremont School of Theology, which she received in 2016, and to complete three units of Clinical Pastoral Education at different Southern California hospitals. She also studied at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological Seminary at Claremont, receiving her Certificate in Diaconal Studies in 2016. Patti’s ministry includes serving at the altar, preaching, teaching, as well as pastoral case both within and outside the church.
The Rev. Cn. Robert W. (Bob) Cornner
Priest in Residence
This is my 62nd year of my life as a Christian that started at St. Cross. I was baptized, confirmed, and sponsored for ordination from this wonderful St. Cross community and my sons were baptized and confirmed here too. I served as a public school teacher for 24 years and spent my last seven years as the principal at the same high school in which I taught.
I retired to answer the call to serve as the rector at neighboring Christ Church in Redondo Beach and after 15 years of serving there, I retired in November of 2015. I am married to Madelyn Rosen and we have three children: Ben, Matt, and Ariana. We have a Granddaughter, Alex and a soon to be born second Grandchild.
I am ever thankful to Rachel for inviting me to come back to St. Cross and to help as I can. It is very good to be back home. Thank you for your kind welcome.
The Rev. Cn. Dr. Paul D. Lawson
Cameron is a long-time member of St. Cross, and in her job as Connection Coordinator she strives to connect newcomers and established members alike with the people, ministries and activities that will help them build relationships within St. Cross and beyond. She grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She and her husband Robert have lived in the South Bay since 1990, and have three grown children; Tracy, Chris, and Hunter. Cameron enjoys singing in the Chancel Choir, and serves as co-mentor of the Education for Ministry program at St. Cross. In the past, she has served on the St. Cross Vestry (including stints as Sr. Warden, Jr. Warden and Clerk) and has been an active member of many groups around the parish including St. Clare’s Guild, Episcopal Church Women (ECW), Endowment Committee, Storytellers, Vacation Bible School, and more. She never met a party she didn’t like, and you will most likely find her helping to plan any fun festivities around the parish including the annual Mardi Gras celebration, and our participation in the Hermosa Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
A note from Cameron: If I haven’t met you yet, please introduce yourself! I love to meet new people and hear their stories. My goal is to make each and every person who visits or attends St. Cross feel as if they are welcome and appreciated, and I am so interested in finding out about you and what brings you here. I can answer all kinds of questions about St. Cross, the Episcopal Church, and the South Bay. And if I don’t know the answer, I will find out for you. Please feel free to contact me: [email protected].
Sean Coburn O'Neal
Director of Music
Sean Coburn O'Neal was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. He began musical studies with the piano at age 10, and then with the organ at age 16 – since 1993, his teacher/mentor has been James Walker. Sean has received various musical honors and awards from various musical organizations, most notably having been awarded the first-place performance prize in two regional American Guild of Organists competitions: Arizona, 1995 and Hawaii, 1997.
Sean is a frequent recitalist, both locally and around the United States, having been featured at the national AGO convention in Denver, CO. (1998); has performed in other prestigious venues around the U.S. such as St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral (Seattle, WA), Grace Episcopal Cathedral (San Francisco, CA), St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral (San Francisco, CA), First Congregational Church (Los Angeles, CA) and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles (Los Angeles, CA). In June of 2000, Sean was featured on the national public radio program "Pipe Dreams" and, in September of 2001, was the featured soloist with the Long Beach Symphony in a performance of the "Organ Symphony" by Saint-Saens. Sean has the distinction of having served as music director for the most recent consecration of Los Angeles diocese bishop John H. Taylor in July of 2018, and conducted the 80-voice choir for that service.
In addition to playing the organ, piano and choral conducting, Sean has been a pipe organ builder for nearly 20 years in the Southern California area, and is the owner of O’Neal Pipe Organ Service of Long Beach, CA. Sean formerly held the position of Director of Music & Organist/Choirmaster at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Covina, CA.