Introducing Reverend Cori


Rev. Cori’s family helps her connect and help with students at SSES.

Gavin Conner, Staff Writer

As you may know, our school chaplain, Reverend Rich, retired last year. While we all miss Reverend Rich, this year we are fortunate to welcome a new school chaplain Reverend Cori Rigney, who has proven to be very committed to our school.

A school chaplain’s core job is to be there for the students and staff, especially when we’re challenged morally or spiritually. After sitting down to talk with Reverend Cori, it became clear to me that her story makes her the right person for the role, especially if you just need someone to talk to or brighten your day.

For Reverend Cori, Bradenton is her hometown, the place where she’s lived all her life. Two of her children, Ben and Noah, go to Saint Stephen’s. Ben attends 7th grade and her other son Noah is in 6th grade. She also has a daughter, Emma, who is a freshman at Manatee High School.

The Rigney’s are an adventurous family, and they enjoy camping and spending time on the water. One of their favorite activities to do together is Geocaching. For people (and there will be many of us) who don’t know what Geocaching is, it’s a global treasure hunt where families or groups to go out and find “caches” or treasures (stuff placed there by the company or gameplayers) in unique places in your community or abroad.

One of the best things about Geocaching is that you are traveling, you can scavenge for caches at places that you would have never visited.

Revered Cori said that Geocaching “has been a big hobby of ours for about 10 years.” She reported that over the years, their family “kept running into an opponent family” and after a couple of run-ins, it started to be like a game. They were always trying to get to the geocache first.

Revard Cori has an interesting story on how she decided to make the life choice of becoming a reverend. She found SSES through English teacher Mr. Johnson. When Reverend Cori was in high school, she met Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, who were youth leaders at a local parish church. This was her first exposure to the path of being a youth pastor, and the experience inspired her to start looking at pastoral jobs and having a relationship with young people.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, she made the big decision to become a reverend for a Christian church.

After college, She became involved with some churches like Pine Shores Presbyterian and Peace Presbyterian Church. Reverend Cori was very clear about what she thought her focus as a minister was going to be.  She said, “I truly think my call is children’s youth ministry.”

Another step in her journey was through volunteering at Young Life. Young Life is a religious organization that the Johnsons were involved in. After high school, she would volunteer at various times as a youth leader for middle school.

Cori believed that it was her “dream job to work with students and families and also with faculty and staff.”

After she had her son Noah, the church that they were worshiping at asked her to be a youth leader, and she said yes right away. She explained “this was the first time where she felt called.”

It would be wrong not to mention that Reverend Cori is our first female priest here at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal school.  After Dr. Pullen talked to a handful of candidates, she knew Reverend Cori was the perfect match.  Dr. Pullen reported that Reverend Cori “was a perfect fit.”

Student chaplain Jake Conner had positive thoughts to share on Reverend Cori as well.  Conner noted, “Reverend Cori has done a great job instilling religious values with our school community while relating with the students.”