The annual Parish Meeting took place on Sunday, January 27, at 10:15 a.m. in Crail Hall. We elected six Vestry members: five for 3-year terms, and one for a 1-year unexpired term. We also elected a Diocesan Council representative for a 4-year term.
Congratulations to our newly-elected Vestry members: Martha Newton, Doug Bell, Sarah Kapostasy, Lee Parker, Joy Harris Philpott, Jennifer Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, and our new Diocesan Council representative Erin McClure!
Read the 2018 Annual Report.
Mission and Outreach ministries are my passion. In the 1970s my wife and I brought bags of groceries to the poor neighborhoods in Kingsville. In the 1980s we fed the homeless out the back door of our large downtown Episcopal church in San Antonio, and I worked in the overnight homeless shelter. In the 1990s my wife and I led a group of volunteers to address a problem of what to do about the homeless around St. David’s. The members of our parish were from the suburbs, and they were afraid of the homeless people. The homeless people felt disrespected by the suburbanites. Yet there we were together on the sidewalks of downtown. Our solution was to start Trinity Center to invite the homeless neighbors into our community. Hospitality was the key ingredient that we provided. Today we serve over 100 people per day in a welcoming environment full of love and understanding. We were successful because St. David’s is a stable,yet dynamic force for good in downtown. Based on the love of Jesus Christ we can bring more of the Kingdom of God to our neighborhood. Now, as many diverse people are moving into downtown high rises, we need to bring them into our loving environment using welcoming hospitality.
My life-long membership in the Episcopal church has brought me joy and challenges in many ways. Over the years I have served for a total of 8 years on vestries in San Antonio and Austin. One year I was the senior warden at St. Mark’s in San Antonio. I have served as a eucharistic minister at Trinity Center, a chalice bearer, a lay reader, and a delegate to diocesan councils in the dioceses of Texas and West Texas. I have volunteered to help the EYC when my daughters were teenagers. Currently my activities include fund raising for the capital campaign, volunteering at Trinity Center, Education for Ministry and enjoying fellowship with the men’s group.
We joined St. David’s in 1991. We have always been active members who attended services regularly. From 2010 – 2014 we took a sabbatical to develop outreach ministries at St. James’ Episcopal Church in east Austin. I was the leader who developed an outreach ministry with a food bank, a mental health clinic, and a summer reading program for disadvantaged children. I raised large sums for these endeavors. After 5 years my wife and I returned to St. David’s which has always been our home in Austin.
In March 2018 my wife passed away, and I am now a widower. I moved to Buda, but I still attend St. David’s. My years of experience at St. David’s can be applied to leadership in mission and outreach programs over the next 3 years.
I graduated from UT Austin in the dark ages with a degree in engineering. My occupation has been civil engineering for the past 50 years. I belong to several engineering professional organizations, and I have experience lobbying the Legislature on engineering issues and church issues. My vocation has been volunteering for service to the Episcopal Churches that I have attended. I feel that I was called by God to love my neighbors – all of them. I am now mostly retired with time available to serve.
My name is Jennifer Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, and I am submitting my nomination to serve as a Vestry member at St. David’s. I have attended St. David’s since 2014, when my family moved to Austin from Berkeley, California. We primarily attend the 9:00 am service in the historic church, although we occasionally join the 9:15 Bethell service as well. I sing with the St. David’s Singers, and I am a Safeguarding God’s People trainer for St. David’s. My involvement at St. David’s has also largely been with my children, so I am always at church on Wednesday nights for children’s choir and Middle School EYC.
I have a Master of Divinity, although I chose not to pursue ordination, and I have always had an interest in the theology and history behind decisions about worship and other aspects of church life. I currently work as Office Administrator at St. George’s Episcopal Church, so I’m familiar with some of the day-to-day work involved in running a church (albeit a much smaller one!) I believe that my educational and occupational experience with churches will be an asset in serving on the Vestry.
Much of my career has been spent in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault, particularly in doing education with churches and other community organizations. I believe that my experience with the issue of violence against women gives me insight into issues of power and control which can arise in a wide variety of other settings, including churches. I hope to be able to bring this insight, and a willingness to name and, if necessary, challenge existing power structures in my work with the Vestry.
I feel incredibly lucky to have found St. David’s while “church shopping” as a newcomer to Austin in 2006. Participating in journey groups, connecting with members of the GLEE fellowship and young adult ministry, and worshipping in the Historic Sanctuary all made me know I had found a spiritual home. My life has been greatly enriched by giving back to this community at various points in time as part of the newcomer’s ministry, a member of the GLEE steering committee, trainer for Safeguarding God’s People, volunteer assistant with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and as a journey group leader. I recently received training in Living Compass, a program developed by an Episcopal Priest to promote mental health and wellness. I will be leading a short series for parents using this model in 2019.
I graduated from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest with a Master of Arts in Counseling and I’m currently a licensed professional counselor in Texas. I serve as the Clinical Director of Out Youth, an organization dedicated to the promoting the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ folks in Central Texas. As director I’ve found creative ways to increase our capacity to serve more individuals and promote hospitality to all who seek our support. I would apply these same skills to the St. David’s community should I be elected to Vestry.
I’ve felt a quiet call to pursue a place on the Vestry for some time now, and this call has become louder as I’ve reflected upon all this community has given to me. My favorite photograph of all time is standing with my partner, Mel, in Grace Chapel and getting legally married in 2015 with our daughter Hadley by our side. People in this community have witnessed Hadley grow from an infant receiving baptism to an active presence in Bethel Hall. I would be honored to give back to St. David’s as a member of the Vestry, to foster the same growth this community has fostered and witnessed for me and our family.
My name is Martha Newton, and I would be honored to serve on the St. David’s vestry. I am a life-long Episcopalian, and I have been a member of St. David’s since 2008. In the last ten years, I have participated in many journey groups, volunteered at the Trinity Center, and served on committees supporting the church’s stewardship efforts. As a long-time and committed downtown resident, I feel called to support St. David’s mission of being the face of Christ in downtown Austin.
I work as an attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas, which is Texas’s court of last resort for civil cases. I work directly for the Chief Justice, who serves as the head of the State’s judicial system. I am involved in both the law side—drafting legal opinions—and the administrative or policy side of the Court’s work. On the administrative and policy side, I have been involved in the Court’s projects to make the rules that govern lawyers and legal practice, as well as the Court’s projects to improve access to the judicial system for all Texans, particularly the poor. I interact daily with elected officials and have broad public-speaking experience. If my professional skills can be of some use to the vestry, then I would be honored to serve.
The other hat I wear is that of an athlete. I am an ultramarathon-distance trail runner who enjoys racing both locally and internationally. If I’m not working or churching, chances are high that I am running, eating, or sleeping! I also have four nieces under the age of four that I delight in spending time with.
My name is Lee Parker and I am submitting myself for a position on the Vestry. My family and I moved to Austin in June of 2007 and joined St. David’s later that summer. We were drawn to the parish by the sense of mission we felt here. Since that time, I have participated in a number of journey groups including leading one of the Lenten groups we did as an entire parish on spiritual disciplines. I also served as an adult counselor on the many Youth mission trips to New Orleans. For the past 5 years I have been a co-chair and member of the Stewardship Committee. One of my favorite activities recently has been participating in the ramp building projects the church has been sponsoring. Outside of the church, I am a member of the Austin Rowing Club, father of an active teen, and participant in Austin’s active running community.
I received a B.A. in Religious Studies from Centenary College of Louisiana in 2001 and a Masters of Divinity with a focus on Anglican Studies from Iliff School of Theology in 2005. During my years in school and immediately following my graduate program, I worked in the IT profession as a network and systems administrator. Since moving to Austin, I have been working as a software engineer for a company that began as a small startup and has now grown well beyond that title. My work has taught me to look at the big picture of how lots of complex parts work together to form a cohesive system.
St. David’s has been a meaningful part of the life of our family for the past 11 years. It has supported us, helped us to grow as people of faith, and provided opportunities for us to live out our calling to serve the world around us. I feel called to serve as a member of the Vestry to further support the ministries of this church.
Joy Harris Philpott
My name is Joy Harris Philpott. I am submitting my nomination for a seat on the St. David’s Vestry.
My current roles at Saint Davids are as lector at the 11:15 service in the Historic sanctuary and as a driver for Winn (16) and, especially, Tate (14) to youth group and choir. Because middle school youth meets on Wednesday nights, the small groups in which I’ve taken part over the past two years have also been on Wednesday nights—this includes the Lenten study group in 2017 and the Way of Discipleship group in the fall of 2018. I was also among the large contingent of St. David’s folks playing host at General Convention this past summer; in that capacity I spent several days serving as a volunteer supervisor in the House of Bishops.
Prior to my own children becoming youth, I served as a youth Sunday school teacher and as a confirmation leader. I completed all four years of Education for Ministry (EfM) and then facilitated the class for two years. I was a regular at women’s group and on women’s retreats for a few years.
My occupation is as a public school administrator. After teaching (history and English) for 13 years, I’ve served as an administrator at both campus and district levels for the last 12 years. Through this work I’ve developed skills in budgeting and in short term and long range planning. Perhaps my greatest skill lies in working with groups of people to share ideas to build plans together.
I feel that these listening, facilitation, and planning skills could be of use on the Vestry. I do believe that we’re called to use whatever skill set we have in service to God and to others, and when asked by a few folks if I’d considered running for Vestry, I thought that this might be the way for me to serve for a season. I shall leave that to the body of St. Davids to decide.
Erin Puckett McClure
My name is Erin Puckett McClure, and I’m hoping to help represent St. David’s at Diocesan Council. I’ve been a member of St. David’s off and on for most of my life. I grew up here: VBS, youth group, and the family service formed the basis of my faith, and St. David’s itself became a very real part of my identity. My husband, Jon, and I were active in EYC and diocesan youth activities together and were married here. Professionally, I have worked in youth ministry and lifelong formation both at the parish and diocesan levels. I interned in youth ministry here at St. David’s, then served as Jr. High Youth Minister at St. Martin’s, Houston. I served in the diocesan offices of both Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and Lifelong Christian Formation, where I provided resources and support to parish ministers. These days I’m home with my three kids – Cadence (8), Adelaide (6), and Ainsley (4) – and enjoy sharing life over coffee and breakfast tacos, overblown craft projects, and good Instagram captions.
When we returned to Austin seven years ago, I found deep community with the Friday Morning Moms group, and St. David’s was once again home. My older daughters attended preschool here, and are now active in Children’s Choir (the littlest is SO UPSET that she’s not old enough yet!). Some years I’ve led youth formation and confirmation classes, and I’m currently one of the rotating leaders of 9:00 Children’s Chapel. You can often find me sewing costumes for the children’s musical, or running overly ambitious art projects for VBS. In previous years I’ve helped run summer camp at Camp Allen, and I hope to be back when my kids are a bit older. I’m also involved in the newly formed Rosalums group for Camp Allen alumni. Volunteering with General Convention this summer was fascinating and fun- I even found myself there when I wasn’t volunteering, as I worked with friends on the Episcopal Herald online magazine.
When I’m not at church, I’m active in our elementary school PTA where I chair the committees for a large community event and facilitate tie-dyeing the class t-shirts. My big girls and I are active in their Daisy and Brownie Girl Scout troops. In the summers I help with costuming for a performing arts camp.
I care deeply about faith formation and building strong faith communities for our children and families. I also have a real love and appreciation for our diocese and the larger church beyond our parish. I would be honored to serve as a diocesan representative, to assist in the ongoing work of building relationships between our diverse parishes, and between the Episcopal Church and the world.