Annual Meeting of the Parish

Vestry Nominees 2021

Annual Meeting of the Parish
Sunday, December 6 
9:15-10:15 a.m. VIRTUAL and 
Vestry Class of 2023 Elections
Nominees & Bios below and in this pdf.

All members and newcomers are asked to attend the virtual Annual Meeting of the Parish on Sunday, December 6, 9:15-10:15 a.m. following a special video and music to begin at 9:00 a.m. A small group will be gathered in Trezevant Hall to conduct the meeting and engage remote participation. (Virtual access and vestry election details will be released in the coming weeks.)

This significant occasion will undertake key business matters relevant to all GSL households including the election of the Vestry Class of 2023 (nominee information provided in this publication). The one-hour meeting will feature clergy, warden, and highlights on parish life ministry since the November 24, 2019 meeting, greetings from the clergy-staff team, a 2021 stewardship campaign update, treasurer overview of the 2020 and draft of a 2021 operating budget, and a state-of-the-parish remarks by the rector. 

In accordance with parish by-laws, the Vestry Nominating Committee is composed of members who will rotate off the vestry as the Class of 2020: Jimpsie Ayres, Nina Callan, Jim Greer, Stinson Liles, and Simon Wadsworth. In conversation with the Rev. Ollie V. Rencher, Rector, the committee arrived at a slate of ten candidates for the five-person Class of 2023 through recommendations and self-nominations. In addition to the candidates presented by the committee, the parish by-laws provide for nominations to be made from the floor at the annual meeting. If you wish to nominate a member to serve, you must receive his/her permission before nominating, and the nominee should be present at the meeting. To serve on the vestry, one must be a confirmed Communicant in Good Standing, as defined by Title I, Canon 17 of the Episcopal Church, who in the preceding year has received communion at least three times and been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God. In addition, one must be a member of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, eighteen years of age, a giver of record, and not employed by the Parish, Diocese, or Grace- St. Luke’s Episcopal School. Five members will be elected at the annual meeting on November 18 to serve on your vestry for a three-year term. The five (5) persons receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected; provided however, that if there is a tie vote for the fifth (5th) position, on a second vote the person receiving the most votes is declared the winner. (GSL By-laws Article II, Section 3.) At the end of the three-year term for which elected, an incumbent shall become ineligible for re-election for three (3) years; provided however, said ineligibility in excess of one (1) year may be waived by a majority vote at the Annual Meeting of the Parish, and if for less than one (1) year, in addition to a majority vote at the Annual Meeting, a waiver from the Bishop must be obtained. (GSL By-laws Article II, Section 3)

Mark your calendar for this big event and thank you for your support of life at Grace-St. Luke’s. Our 2021 stewardship campaign, Resilience and Connection by Giving, continues to seek 100% participation. For more information and to pledge, visit www.gracestlukes.org/pledge. 

The Mission of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, according to our Catechism, is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The Vision of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is to be a thriving community of hope, belonging, and healing through worship, parish life, and service, and who rejoices in the love of Jesus to transform the world.

George Johnson

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? Yes and as senior warden when David Fikea was rector

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 45

Name(s) of Household Members: Betty Johnson

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: Raised in the Southern Baptist Church

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: Pre-COVID-19 the 5:30 almost weekly

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: Currently watch online the 10:30 service and some of the Formation programs. Also several times, in this period, I have tuned onto the Compline programs.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: Formerly senior warden, Prior Sunday school teacher, Member of Board of Trustee at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, with three years as treasurer, Treasurer of the Diocese of West Tennessee, Member of the University of Memphis Board of Visitors, Past president of the University of Memphis Foundation, Summit member of The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, University of Memphis Athletic Ambassador, A fund raising volunteer for the Church Heath Center.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? The Episcopal Church and Grace-St. Luke’s and its members specifically helped me to understand that God was love, by sending his son and not a God of punishment. God loves us regardless of our weaknesses and differences. If the membership of GSL has faith that I might be of service to GSL, then I hope I’m like the first son in the parable of the father asking the two sons to go out and work. My hope and plan is that I’m like the first son that said no first—but then went later, changed his mind, obeyed his father, and went and worked in the vineyard.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? With my professional and prior volunteerism experience being in more the business and financial areas, I would think that this would be my primary area of service and hopefully beneficial in this period of economic recession and uncertainty.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I was certainly blessed to have become associated with a group of people that now covers almost a 50-year period where we continue to run a small family office, after operating nursing homes and assisted living facilities, for years. 

I also serve as an advisor to the Athletic Director and The President of the University of Memphis. 

Betty and I spearheaded the Creation of The Senior Class Gift to encourage outgoing seniors to contribute to a fund, matched dollar for dollar by us, so that scholarships can be given to need-based incoming freshmen. We work through the year with volunteers to encourage participation and reward by sponsoring a senior class luncheon. I love our lake house on the Tennessee River where I can still experience the quiet beauty of God’s Creation with eagles, deer, turkeys, crows, foxes, lizards and spiders. I love to read American history, particularly the founding fathers, with a concentration upon Aaron Burr. 

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? At this time in our country where differences seem to be less acceptable and people more isolated, in part by only wanting to be with people that have shared beliefs, I think GSL has the responsibility and opportunity to help change this pattern and help us all understand that others may be different and think different due to past social and economic injustices, but they are God’s children as well. I think we at GSL are doing that. The great homily recently of “we have made progress, but we’re not there yet” is right on point. GSL reminds me of my blessings and then my duties to make life better for others and I have more work to do in that regard.

Jim McCall

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? No

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 20

Name(s) of Household Members: Janette

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: St. Mary’s Cathedral Memphis

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 10:30 a.m. average attendance bi-monthly (pre-COVID)

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I have ushered at the 10:30 service for many years and my wife sings in the choir.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: I attended Camp Coast Care twice; CCC was set up by the Episcopal Church in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area to offer aid and service to hurricane victims after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I went on the mission trip to Haiti with several fellow parishioners from GSL as well as parishioners from other area churches. I volunteered for overnight shifts at Calvary’s Room at the Inn, a place for the homeless to sleep and get a warm breakfast during cold weather months. I was also active with Memphis Heritage, Inc.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? I have been a member of Grace-St. Luke’s for 20 years and my daughter Joanna attended GSL School from pre-k through 8th grade. My wife, Janette, has sung in the choir since we joined the parish and Joanna was an acolyte for many years until she went off to college. GSL has been a very important part of our life and our neighborhood (we live across the street) so I would like the chance to serve on the vestry as my way of giving back to the church.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? I have been a small business owner for many years in the home improvement industry. I am hopeful that some of my experiences over the years will be beneficial to the vestry.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) When I’m not swinging a hammer for a living I enjoy spending time outdoors hunting, fishing and boating at Pickwick Lake with my family and friends. Also, as a life long Memphian, I am interested in Memphis history. My favorite hobby though is fooling with vintage automobiles. If you see an old car parked on Peabody across from Miss Lee’s pre-school, it is most likely one of mine.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? As church services in general have become more casual over the last couple of decades, I have always enjoyed the traditional service at GSL. Every time that I enter our beautiful building, I can feel the presence of God. In fact, when I stand on my front porch and look down the street at the church, I feel His presence and the presence of my church family, right here in the neighborhood. That is very gratifying.

Andy Nix

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? I served on the GSL Vestry from 2007–2010

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 20

Name(s) of Household Members: Nicki Soule, Gray Nix, & Mary Gara Nix

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: I grew up attending Episcopal schools and attending Episcopal churches when we went to church.

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: My family regularly attends 10:30 a.m. services. We have missed attending these in person for the last several months, but enjoy the virtual services weekly.

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: Prior to COVID I regularly attended and enjoyed Parish Hall Forums.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: While a parishioner at Grace-St. Luke’s I have served on the Vestry, School Board, Finance, Human Resources/Personnel, Stewardship, and Mens Retreat Committees, as well as being a proud member of the mighty McCalla Cook Team for nearly 20 years.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? For the last 20 years Grace-St. Luke’s has been a constant in my life: my twins were baptized here, they went to school and played sports here, many of our best friends are fellow parishioners (including my mother), and my wife has served on Search Committees and as Senior Warden. Grace-St. Luke’s is simply part of where I come from and who I strive to be. I have had the honor of serving in leadership positions at GSL during good times as well as tough times. I was asked by the Nominations Committee to serve at this time and the only answer for me is “if I can help, of course.”

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? I have experience in Human Resources, Finance, and running organizations. I also have a deep passion for this community and this place which is a source of energy that I will gladly use to support the leadership ministry team and parish at large.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I have two soon to be graduating high school seniors that my wife Nicki and I enjoy spending as much time with as we can. For work I run MyCityRides, a local non-profit helping people tackle transportation insecurity by providing them a means to get to work and a higher quality of life. As for hobbies, MyCityRides has led me to discover a real passion for all things two wheels: scooters, motorcycles, etc.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? Grace-St. Luke’s grounds me and serves as a constant. No matter how crazy things get, Grace-St. Luke’s is there as a rock both foundational and as a touchstone for hope, serving to support and remind me of who I want to be and the path forward.

Johnny Norris

Johnny Norris

Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? No

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 16

Name(s) of Household Members: Kimberly, Spencer, Preston

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: Holy Apostles

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often? 10:30 a.m. weekly

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I am an occasional participant in 9:15 a.m. Formation at GSL on Sunday mornings and a weekly participant in Wednesday morning prayer at the Barth House.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: I have been serving as the Usher Ministry Coordinator at GSL since 2017. I served on the Church’s Athletic Committee from 2013 to 2017 and coached GSL youth soccer teams from 2008 to 2017. Pre-COVID-19, Kimberly and I were frequent participants in First Friday Fellowship, our family has attended Exodus every year since it moved to Camp Bratton Green, and we have taken an active role in helping organize both events. I would welcome the opportunity to broaden the scope of my service to the Church.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? I am honored to have been asked to stand for nomination to the Vestry as GSL has been my family’s church home for generations. Kimberly and I began attending GSL in 2004. After growing up at Holy Apostles, I then became a fourth generation member of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as my great grandmother attended GSL following the merger of Grace Church and St. Luke’s in 1940. My paternal grandparents also attended the Church, my parents were married in the Sanctuary, and my mother was laid to rest in the Church Columbarium.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? If elected to the Vestry, I hope to draw upon my prior Church administrative service and my legal training to better serve GSL.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) Kimberly and I live in the Lea’s Woods neighborhood of Midtown with our two children Spencer (15) and Preston (12). Spencer graduated from GSL School and is currently a 10th grader at MUS. Preston is in 7th grade at GSL. Kimberly is a former GSL School teacher and is the founder and owner of Midtown Math, which provides math enrichment to students of all ages. I am the General Counsel at Youth Villages, which provides mental and behavioral health services to children and families. I moonlight on bass guitar in the bands Your Academy, The Love Boat, and WALRUS, which I am delighted to say, has performed in Trezevant Hall.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? Kimberly and I treasure the open, supportive, and inclusive community that is Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and we have found it to be the perfect environment for our family’s spiritual growth.

Price (Smith) Peacock

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? No

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 32 years. While I lived outside of Memphis between the ages of 18 and 30, Grace-St. Luke’s has been a part of my life since I was born. I was baptized, confirmed, and married at Grace St. Luke’s.

Name(s) of Household Members: Dan Peacock and Crosby Peacock

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: While living in Austin, Texas, my husband and I attended The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: Prior to COVID-19, I attended the 5:30 p.m. service most often. Now, I attend the 10:30 a.m. service and musical offerings online. My attendance varies with the seasons of my life. At a minimum, I strive to attend a worship service at least once a month.

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: From sitting on the Young Adult Advisory Committee, attending Public Theology events, and welcoming young adult parishioners into my home for conversation, prayer, and food, to date, I have most often participated in the Young Adult formation offerings. Since giving birth to my daughter, she and I have become active in the children’s formation offerings. We’ve been enjoying the learnings and fun activities provided in the children’s activity kits at home together with her dad and grandparents.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: Within Grace St. Luke’s, I serve as an Altar Guild member and an Outreach Committee member. Within the broader community, I give back as a Memphis River Parks Partnership Ambassador. Throughout a given year, I find other ways (e.g., volunteering at More Than A Meal and leading coding classes for grade school students) to give my time.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a second home for me. I spent the first eighteen years of my life literally and figuratively growing as a person of faith here. The people, teachings, and opportunities have contributed to who I am. I want to serve on the Grace St. Luke’s Vestry because I want to give back to the community that has meant so much to my life.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? If elected, I can share my perspective, openness, and drive to create a more equitable world for everyone. From a professional standpoint, I can share my brand, advertising, communications, project management, and event experience.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.)

• I prioritize my family, well-being, giving back, and better understanding the community in which I live.

• I work at VMware, an IT company headquartered in California. I oversee VMware’s global employment brand strategy. 

• From a hobby perspective, I run and spend a lot of time outside. My husband, daughter, and I frequent the Greenbelt on the Mississippi River and Overton Park often.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? Grace St. Luke’s feeds my spiritual journey and growth by creating a safe, open, and caring space for me to celebrate.

Paula Sappington

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? Yes, GSL 2007-2010

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 19

Name(s) of Household Members: Husband Donnie; daughters Ellie (18) and Mia (15)

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s:

Calvary Episcopal

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 10:30 a.m. weekly 

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I regularly attend the Rector’s Forum / Adult Formation classes on Sunday mornings. I occasionally attend special classes, such as Anne Ayres’ reading group. Recently I was asked to be a coordinator for one of the Sacred Stories Small Groups.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: When it is able to operate, I act as coordinator of “packers” for the GSL Food Pantry. During the pandemic, I volunteered at the Idlewild Church food distribution program for MIFA. I’m a member of GSL’s “Re-entry committee” and a member of the GSL School Board. 

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? Grace St. Luke’s is our home. We have baptized and raised our children here; our son was married here; Donnie was confirmed here; my mother-in-law, through a protracted illness, was ministered to by people here. The Holy Spirit is here, in the clergy and in every parishoner, and in the glorious space to which I pray we can all return soon. I’m honored to be asked to serve on the Vestry, and would do my best to represent all parishoners and support the leadership as they do God’s work.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? Having previously served on the Vestry, I’ve seen how difficult the work of the ministry team can be. I would strive to share my knowledge about the various GSL groups I’ve been a part of, and to learn about those that I have not. At this important time in the life of the church, however, I believe we also need Vestry members who can help identify new solutions. We should listen to the needs of the parish and accommodate as much as we are able. I’ve been honored to be a part of the “re-entry team” who is attempting to find ways (for those who wish) to be together, in person, again. It’s important that we meet the needs of everyone, and find solutions that work for all. I’d like to use my research background to help us do that.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) In my role as Senior Director of Experience Design Research at Hilton, I collect customer feedback about their experiences with Hilton. Outside of work hours, I love watching our high school freshman participate in sports and theater. And I’m grateful for FaceTime, which keeps us connected to our college freshman and older son and daughter-in-law!

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? As a cradle Episcopalian, I’ve always valued the notion that faith is a journey, and I love continually learning and exploring. The clergy and lay community at Grace St. Luke’s encourage me to do that consistently, which feeds my soul.

Chilton Simmons

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? No

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 10 Years

Name(s) of Household Members: Rachael Simmons; Catesby Simmons

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: Grace Episcopal and The French Huguenot Church both in Charleston, SC

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 

10:30 service, twice a month before COVID-19

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I am proud to serve as an usher as I enjoy participating in the beautiful services GSL offers on a weekly basis. I like being part of a team and regularly volunteer to pick up shifts when able in order to help out my fellow ushers.

Recently, we formed the Thursday morning men’s fellowship group, which involves lively discussion and good company. The many diverse perspectives and mutual respect for one another is a perfect microcosm of the greater GSL community.

I attended the Episcopal Tennessee Laymen’s Conference in 2019, involving worship and community building activities.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: I was involved in helping start a More Than A Meal team which served great food to the homeless on Sunday, I am a previous youth advisor for our middle school age group, and I am a member of cook team 1—serving up some of the best Sunday breakfasts in Memphis.

Although not pure volunteerism, and it might be looked upon more as ministry, I have opened my personal homebrew up to fellow members during the pandemic in order to fill growlers, join in socially distant conversation, and promote happiness and community at a time when it’s needed most.

I am a board member of Green Dot Schools, which promotes bringing high quality education to underserved communities.

I currently serve on the GSL Finance Committee, meeting monthly.

I am a dog walker with the Memphis Shelby County Humane Society where I was walking dogs on Friday evenings for 3 hours before the pandemic occurred.

I serve on the Board of Visitors for the University of South Carolina, whose job it is to inform and guide the president and the board of trustees on matter concerning the university and the larger U of SC community.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? Grace-St. Luke’s is a wonderful worship community. It embraces diversity, openness, and acceptance, which to me are the pillars of Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. A traditional service coupled with this open view of love and community is my ideal Church home. My wife and I are blessed to have found a perfect marriage of these two elements within GSL. The environment created through the careful cadence of our clergy and the wonderful music by Dr. Scott invite my spirituality to focus on inward reflection brought about by the readings and sermon during our GSL services.

GSL sets a great example of how a religious organization should serve its parish and city. It is important to me to sustain this option of worship for generations of future parish family members and visitors who are looking to find a welcoming home with the Lord.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? Bringing diverse thought together to talk about challenging situations. Some of my talents are trustworthy, good humored, community builder, diverse finance experience, organizational planning, and strategic thinking.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I am currently the Director of Supply Chain Finance for Monogram Food Solutions. I support procuring our raw materials, ensuring they are transported to our plants, and delivering them to our lines on time. Once they are processed into finished goods, the team I support ensures the finished goods are brought to our warehouses, and either picked up by our customers or delivered to an outside warehouse.

My hobbies include spending time with my family and dogs, hiking in Shelby Forest or going on longer overnight hikes in the Appalachian mountains, enjoying Gamecocks athletics with my fanatical wife, playing tennis, wiffleball, & basketball. I enjoy fishing and sailing in the Atlantic ocean when I visit my parents. I have been brewing beer for about 10 years, and I enjoy gardening, and exploring and becoming the best Memphian I can, which involves smoking meats and listening to great music!

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? GSL is an open and loving worship community, inviting people from all backgrounds together to share in the love of Jesus Christ. The calming and relaxing setting during the service, encompassed by the gorgeous choral music, creates my ideal environment for worship. Clergy and lay member’s opinions and outreach have helped me grow as a Christian and as a person. We have a wonderful GSL family.

Taylor Taylor

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? No 

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 8 years

Name(s) of Household Members: Taylor and Cameron Taylor, Bruce Taylor III and Holden Taylor

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: Church of the Holy Communion 

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 10:30 a.m. service and pretty regularly pre-COVID-19

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I grew up going to “Sunday School” every Sunday. I very much enjoyed the community of friends I made through classmates and teachers. As a family, we participated regularly while the children were young but have not been as active in Sunday education over the last few years. I always enjoy the Rector’s Forum when I am able to attend. Bruce was very active in EYC until his graduation from GSL School and Holden is currently involved and attends whenever possible.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: I love being a Lector at Grace St. Luke’s and, recently / pre-COVID, I was training / serving as an Usher. I was involved with the Stewardship Committee but, at the time, had a very demanding and stressful job. I was certainly not as committed as I would have liked but I truly enjoyed my time when I was able to participate. As I get older and my children get older (one will be driving in several months) I see my time becoming more flexible and I would love to fill some of that time with service to the Church.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? Grace St. Luke’s is a special place for our family. I remember hearing my late mother-in-law, Senter Crook, preach at GSL years ago and feeling very at “home.” At the time, my husband and I were members at Holy Communion and, while not unhappy, I recall a feeling of comfort that I had not experienced elsewhere. When Bruce was in 1st grade, we moved him from PDS to GSL and began attending church more regularly at GSL than at Holy Communion. As a “school home” and a “church home,” Grace St. Luke’s has provided comfort in times of need, love in times of loneliness, and a strong sense of community when it felt like we did not “belong.” I am grateful for the “midtown” sense of community of GSL - we love to walk to church and we see love seeing others doing the same. I am willing to serve and (hopefully) give back to GSL and its parishioners some of the love and comfort, health and healing, and opportunity and acceptance that GSL has given to me/us.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? I think one of my gifts is connecting with people. I am sure that some think I “over-share” but I truly and genuinely value the relationships I am given the opportunity to develop and I believe there is always a reason when there is a true connection. My education is in Clinical Social Work and I am currently the Founder and President of G.A.M.E., Inc., a non-profit organization committed to normalizing and universalizing the negative impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences through physical activity (specifically Pickleball). We teach a social-emotional learning curriculum focused on important life-lessons such as empathy, integrity. self-awareness, communication and kindness (one of the MOST important - in my mind). I think I can bring a loving heart and hand to the ministry of health and healing / pastoral care and in outreach. I have a passion for helping others in simple ways - a smile, a note, a conversation, a fun game of Pickleball - to show love and compassion for others. I am also eager to learn and I know I would do so as a member of the Vestry.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I love to spend time with my family and friends. I am very active running my own business and adapting through what this looks like during these challenging times. I also teach Pickleball, measure, tape and paint Pickleball courts and play Pickleball competitively. You might say I am addicted to Pickleball...and you might be right ;). There is something very special about this sport but that is conversation for another time! I enjoy traveling, generating /creating awareness about ACEs and how we might mitigate some of the negative impacts both mentally and physically (it is never too late). I also very much enjoy learning new things and cherish the concept of “growth-mindset” in a world where there is so much unknown. My previous job did not allow for much flexibility - having my own business is stressful and keeps me very busy but I can, at least, manage my own time and be there for family, friends and more.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? I always want to be closer, to feel more connected, to experience God in different ways under different circumstances. I try to see how God plays a part in everything that I do and everything that happens to me and to others whom I love. I appreciate conversation and sermons and information that is relatable to my life. I want to hear something that I can connect with, relate to, take with me into my everyday life and I look for that and receive that at GSL Church. I am grateful for this home and I look forward to my continued spiritual growth and, potentially, a new journey through GSL and the Vestry. If that is not the journey meant for me at this time, I will be open to whatever else may present itself and /or other options available for me to seek. 

Betsy Warren Wilson

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Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? I have served on the Vestry twice before when I was elected to three-year terms in 2000 and 2013.

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: 42

Name(s) of Household Members: Betsy and Preston Wilson

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: First United Methodist Church, Clinton, NC

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 10:30 a.m. every Sunday, except when out of town when we usually visit other Episcopal Churches.

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I do love the Sunday morning experience. I like it because of its multi-generational element that especially appeals to me. I especially like the offerings of Mitzi Minor, Otis Sanford, and anything that has to do with music. Over the years, I have been a part of two very important (to me) Sunday School classes: Tough Questions for Christians and Faith/God Stories; both of these offerings brought me face to face with some hard realities. I have also recently been interested in re-visiting, regularly, the Book of Common Prayer with attention to Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. For me the Sunday morning experience is the liturgy, the homily, the music, and most importantly, the people.

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: Vestry, Handbell choir, Bazaar, Sunday School teacher, Food Pantry, Practical Wisdom, Organizer of Tough Questions for Christians, Canterbury Festival, Parish Life Committee, Pastoral Care Committee, Finance Committee, Stewardship, Nacome, Women’s Retreat, and Third Thursday

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? When I moved to Memphis in 1978 upon my marriage to Preston Wilson, I knew no one here except for Preston and his family. We immediately began attending church weekly and joined the handbell choir; this was the beginning of my being involved in a place that has become the core of my life. I was confirmed here, my children (cradle Episcopalians) were baptized here, two of my children were married here, and three of my grandchildren have been baptized here (there is still time for the other two!). 

The community of faith has ALWAYS reached out to me when I was challenged including two very difficult pregnancies, the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, family challenges, and deaths.

The majority of my friendships and interests revolve around the corner of Peabody and Belvedere; my husband is essentially a life-long member.

Some years ago, I reached out to a friend and member who had a frightening medical diagnosis; her words: “this place supports and sustains me”—my feelings exactly. Most Sundays, I think it is the same as getting a full tank of gas.

Because of this feeling of total reliance and support, I want to be a part of working with a small group toward keeping this wonderful place our sustenance and putting it on a firm path for the future.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? I have history. I know the stories. I know the people. I keep up with folks who can longer attend services (even pre-COVID) and I love meeting and getting to know newcomers and young members and their families (I am a regular at coffee minute). I think I am a good Ambassador both in and out of the church. And right now, I have the time.

I would love to, again, be part of this solemn body and to work on the issues that need resolution and a plan for the future. I have missed being a part of the finance committee and I always enjoyed the stewardship process. Perhaps my greatest love is pastoral care. The thing that really makes me happy is that I have been here for 42 years through thick and thin and it has never once occurred to me to do anything but stay here. Again, this place is the core of my life and the members encourage me in my Christian faith.

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I am a practicing attorney concentrating in disability matters. I am a member of the Memphis Bar Association where I served as president of the social security division for over a decade. I am a past member and board member of Les Passees and the Junior League. I am a voracious reader, love exercise especially body combat (I am no threat to anyone!), and bridge. Most importantly, I am a wife, mother of three grown children (who are “near perfect”—I borrowed description from Lynda Bird Johnson Robb), and the grandmother of five granddaughters. I believe that I am a good and loyal friend.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? I think of my years at GSL as my spiritual journey. I admit that there have been times when I have been doubtful and not as attentive to this facet of my life. The church has always been there with meaningful offerings that have helped me stay focused in my Christian life. The offerings have been my compass. I have especially grown through the music ministry of Sam Batt Owens and Wesley Emerson and expect to do the same with Patrick’s music ministry. I can remember sermons that changed my life even 30 years ago and that continues. Evening Prayer has been a constant. And I have loved the intimacy in groups where we together worked on this lifetime spiritual goal including Practical Wisdom. There are many Sunday mornings that I feel truly elated by the entire experience; this may be because of the celebration of a High Holy Day or it may be a regular Sunday morning. Most importantly I am fed by the folks surrounding me: God’s unique, wonderful children who share the journey with me.

Lizzy Yatsula

Lizzy Yatsula 280x

Have you served on a Vestry before and if so, when and where? I have not

Number of Years at Grace-St. Luke’s: Two years

Name(s) of Household Members: My husband Matt and myself

Faith Community before Membership at Grace-St. Luke’s: Church of the Holy Communion, Memphis

Worship Service Regularly Attended and How Often: 10:30 a.m. on Sundays with an occasional visit to the 5:30 p.m. service, 3–4 times a month pre-COVID

Describe Participation in Formation (Education) Sunday and Weekday Offerings: I have attended Formation sporadically on Sunday in person but have enjoyed the online offerings as of late. Before COVID-19, I regularly attended noon Eucharist on Wednesdays which I loved as a midweek respite and look forward to that service resuming. 

Ministry and Volunteerism Involvement Within and Beyond Grace-St. Luke’s: While we have admittedly struggled to find our footing in the midst of the pandemic with remaining involved, my husband Matt and I are excited to get back in the swing of things with more offerings opening up. We have both enjoyed participating in offerings for young adults, and I am a Eucharistic minister and new member of the Stewardship Committee. I currently serve on the alumnae board for St. Mary’s Episcopal School and volunteer in a variety of activities for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I have been involved in a number of volunteer engagements over the last several years but over the last year have made an effort to dig deeper in fewer opportunities rather than dabble in many.

What does Grace-St. Luke’s mean to you and why are you willing to serve on the Vestry? Grace-St. Luke’s is a welcoming church community, one that I look forward to continue growing in and supporting. Upon getting married in 2017, my husband, formerly Catholic, and I sought to find a church that felt like home but also one that supported our Memphis community and welcomed diverse viewpoints, uniting as one congregation. We have found that in GSL, and for that I am very grateful. GSL offers continual growth for me in my faith, and I look forward to the opportunity to give back further. I am willing to serve on the Vestry to support the expansive work of this parish and what the next 3+ years of that work will look like as we continue to evolve in this changing world.

If elected, what gifts and talents might you share with this leadership ministry team? As an Episcopalian for many years, I feel that I have experience as a highly involved youth, a staff member, and now adult in the Episcopal Church. I attended St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville in college and worked at Church of the Holy Apostles shortly after college during which I supported a variety of youth ministry activities for this diocese. My breadth of knowledge from these experiences would contribute to informed decision making if I am to serve on the Vestry. Outside of church related experience, I feel that I can bring organizational skills, fundraising experience, technology savvy, and the perspective of a young professional. I care deeply about the future of the church and would look forward to bringing that passion to the Vestry if elected. 

When you are not at Grace-St. Luke’s, briefly describe or list how you spend your time? (Include current or recent former work/profession, priorities, any hobbies, etc.) I work for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, on the Patient Family Outreach team and love that it is both my job and vocation. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my husband, our puppy, Judy, and my family and friends. We love Memphis and its many offerings that I look forward to upon their return, like music at the Levitt Shell. I also enjoy exercise and have participated in the St. Jude December half marathon for many years.

How does life at Grace-St. Luke’s feed your spiritual journey and growth? Life at GSL feeds my spiritual growth in many ways, presently and in the past and future. I look forward to resuming in-person fellowship activities which may feed my soul, but I am grateful for the continuous ministry provided during the pandemic that has fed my soul at home. I am constantly challenged to grow, think differently, and enhance my prayer life through what I learn through GSL. Our transition to Grace-St. Luke’s and time spent since has taught me to lean in to change and to what God is calling me to do, and I look forward to seeing where He will guide me as I continue my spiritual journey at GSL.

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