Melissa Florer-Bixler was called to be pastor of Raleigh Mennonite Church in 2016.
Melissa is a “convinced” Mennonite. As an adult she found herself drawn to Anabaptism’s emphasis on consensus decision-making, the priesthood of all believers, peace building, and potlucks. She is a sucker for four-part harmony.
Her formal education occurred at Gordon College, Duke University, and Princeton Theological Seminary. She was nurtured into pastoral ministry over the past decade by the spacious welcome of Portland Mennonite, Oxford Circle Mennonite, and Chapel Hill Mennonite. She was the recipient of the gentleness and shared life of L’Arche Portland (OR) and works to extend that beloved community as a board member of Friends of L’Arche North Carolina.
With her time she defends her snap peas from insects, attends to the words of Elena Ferrante, Karl Barth, and Li-Young Lee, and cultivates the will to learn Spanish by listening to Ana Tijoux. Sometimes she writes things that other people read in Anabaptist World and Christian Century. She expends the most time, energy, tears, laughter, fear and patience co-parenting her three children with her spouse, Jacob.
Melissa Rogati stepped into the role of Children and Youth Ministry Coordinator in the fall of 2023. Prior to that she spent nearly two decades working for Young Life in the Caribbean and also served as Sunday School Coordinator for St Thomas Reformed Church in the US Virgin Islands. While living in Asia for her spouse’s job, Melissa and her family planned a month-long backpacking trip for the 2020 Lunar New Year break, but the pandemic sparked a shift in plans two weeks into the trip. What they thought would be a a few unplanned weeks “vacationing” with friends in California turned into an unexpectedly permanent move to the US, which is how they found their way to Durham, NC.
Melissa was raised outside of Atlanta, Georgia and studied child/human development at the University of Georgia. (Go Dawgs!) Although she grew up in the United Methodist tradition, her faith life outside of the US also brought her into the congregations of Anglican, Reformed, and Congregational churches. She found her way to Anabaptist traditions, and specifically Raleigh Mennonite, in a search for traditions that emphasized non-violent atonement theologies, which are directly linked to her approach toward children and youth within the Christian faith.
In her spare time, Melissa continues to de-lawn their home in Durham, claiming as much of it for garden space as her landlord will allow. She’s an avid reader and enjoys painting and writing, with the hopes of one day publishing middle grade novels. And despite a complete lack of childhood athleticism on her own part, she has become an accidental sports mom to two daughters, spending weeknights and Saturdays watching soccer, gymnastics, horseback riding, and swimming.