Pastor Jonathan and Robin Tagg



Jonathan Tagg has been in full time ministry since 1989, Pastoring in Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. In 2003 Jonathan and Robin moved to NC where he worked with The Navigators on their 20something National Leadership Team. A desire to do ministry in a different way led the Taggs to purchase and manage a live music venue until 2009, when they accepted a call to Pastor The River. Jonathan earned his masters and doctorate from Trinity in Pennsylvania. He is a husband and father to five, loves sports, the outdoors, motorcycles, and hanging out with family. [Email Jonathan]

 Chris, Stephanie, and Zeke Meckley


Director of Student Ministries / Deacon

Chris and Stephanie moved from the Pittsburgh area to the New River Valley in July 2014 (two weeks after getting married) so that Chris could work with students at The River. He works with a wide range of students from middle school to graduate school. He has degrees in English (B.A.) and Religion (M.A.) from Grove City College and Trinity School for Ministry. Chris was ordainted as a deacon in the Diocese of Christ our Hope (ACNA) on October 27, 2018. Stephanie is a registered nurse in the area, and they have two sons, Ezekiel (Zeke), born in November 2015, and Asher, born in January 2018. [Email Chris]

 Worship Director - Ross, Jen, Jonah, Rainer



Ross has lived in the NRV since 1998, when he enrolled as a student at Virginia Tech. During his time there, he was active in New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) leading small groups and participating in the music team. He currently works in the IT department of a local behavioral health agency as a Trainer and System Administrator. Ross and his wife, Jennifer were married in 2006 and have two children, Jonah and Rainer. Ross’s musical journey began with piano lessons when he was around five years old. He would later learn to play the violin, which he still plays today. He also enjoys singing and playing the mandolin and acoustic guitar. Ross has been an active member of the music team at The River since the church’s beginnings in 2005, and he began his time as Worship Leader in August of 2011. He has seen his passion for music ministry grow significantly in the time since, and he’s excited about how God will continue to use music in his life to impact the lives of others. [Email Ross]

 Discipleship Directors - Chris and Claire



Chris and Claire grew up in the upstate of South Carolina, were high school sweethearts, and married after graduating from Clemson in 1987.  They have two young adult children, Laura and Wesley, who live in South Carolina. Before kids, Claire taught middle school language arts and earned an M.Ed. from USC. Chris has been a software developer his entire career (still doing that part-time) and finished his MBA at UNC. They've worked together in church throughout their marriage, first as youth ministry counselors, then for the last 20+ years in their passion: helping adults grow as disciples of Jesus through Bible studies and small groups. Before coming to The River, Claire was the Adult Education Director at Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington, SC, from 2001-2013, and Chris completed his M.Div. at Asbury Seminary in 2015. Chris was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in North America on October 27, 2018. Both are unapologetic bookworms and mountain lovers. Claire also enjoys gardening, cooking, and trail walking, while Chris can be found running 5K's, playing touch football and strumming guitar quite badly. [Email Chris or Claire]


Lucy Copeland

Children's Ministry Director

Lucy and her family have lived in the NRV for 20 years and have loved every minute of it.  Her love for children and passion to help equip families led her to her position as Children's Ministry Director at the River.  She and her husband John have two sons and a daugther as well as two beautiful daughters-in-law. Lucy loves doing anything with her family, her horse Shaggy, hiking, canoeing,etc. [Email Lucy]


Mary and Jack McDonald

Director of International Ministry / Deacons

Mary and Jack were ordained to the diaconate on March 10, 2017. The McDonalds are missionaries with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, with whom they previously served in Cochabamba, Bolivia, teaching animal husbandry and helping in micro-finance projects. In addition to their work as Deacons at The River, Mary has since developed a large-animal demonstration site at their home in Catawba where she prepares U.S. vet teams for global ministry. Mary is also overseeing goat projects as part of an evangelism and community development program in East Africa and is the Director of International Ministry at The River. [Email Mary or Jack]

ortons (2).jpg

Kate Orton

Staff Administrator

Kate and Andrew met at Cedarville University,  where Andrew studied Mechanical Engineering, and Kate received her degree in English Literature. Upon graduating, they dated long-distance while Kate taught English in South Korea and Andrew worked for a missions organization on Guam in 2014-15. They were married in 2016, moved to Cary, NC and spent their first year of marriage discerning where God was taking them and how he would use them best. They moved to Blacksburg in March 2017 to be closer to family, the mountains, and to be a part of The River. They both love serving on the worship team and Kate is grateful to be serving the staff through her administrative role. In addition, Kate works as a Third Grade teacher at Valley Classical School, a collaborative school in Blacksburg. Kate and Andrew love to spend their time hiking, taking road trips, and reading in coffee shops. [Email Kate]


Kelsa Graybill

Youth Ministry Assistant

Kelsa began working with youth at The River in September 2018. Kelsa met her husband Philip at Grove City College, where she studied English and he studied mechanical engineering.  They got married in 2016 and moved to Virginia when Philip began graduate school at Virginia Tech.  After teaching Bible at a Christian school for two years, Kelsa began a master’s from Talbot School of Theology.  The Graybills love reading, hiking mountains, traveling to new places (like the Sea of Galilee, in their picture), and sharing food and conversation with friends and family.  [Email Kelsa]