The vestry is the church’s “Board of Directors” and includes a Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, and Clerk. There are 15 parishioners on the Vestry, each serving staggered three-year terms. Five new members are elected at the Annual Parish Meeting each January. Vestry candidates must be at least 18 years of age and enrolled confirmed communicants in good standing of the parish.
The Annual Parish Meeting will take place virtually, via Zoom, on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021 at 10:15 a.m. At the meeting, we will elect five Vestry members for three-year terms. In addition, we will elect one Diocesan Council representative for a four-year term.
Please consider nominees for these important positions and encourage others to submit their names. Self-nominations are also encouraged.
Doug has been a member of St. David’s since 1991. He is a life-long Episcopalian. He served 2 vestry terms at St. Mark’s in San Antonio. He was a member of the St. David’s vestry in the mid-1990s. This is his fourth time to serve on a vestry. Doug’s passion is outreach. He has been credited with being the founder of Trinity Center. His occupation has always been civil engineering for municipal and industrial projects. He has 52 years of experience as an engineer. Currently, he is semi-retired serving as a consultant for construction lawsuits. That gives him plenty of time to volunteer for work at St. David’s. He also is a member of the Stewardship Committee.
Christine Burdell – Clerk
Christine first came to St. David’s in the fall of 2015 and found it to be such a welcoming and active community that she soon became involved with the Women’s Group, the Bedtime Story Brigade, Foyers, the Day of Service Project, Journey Groups, and the Crossings group (now The Middle Place). Christine joined the communications committee for the Women’s Group and greatly enjoyed sharing information and encouraging other women to join in fellowship and learning. Christine attends the 9 a.m. Historic service and adult formation classes afterward.
Christine served in marketing positions at publisher Atlantic Information Services and National Geographic Television. She worked at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin since January 2005, serving in a series of marketing and event planning roles and earning a Master of Arts degree in Human Dimensions of Organizations from UT in 2014. In 2016, she became the business school Director of Alumni and Donor Services and oversees a number of alumni relations initiatives for the Development and External Relations Office and the Dean’s Office including reunions, conferences, boards, committees, mentorship activities, and the annual Hall of Fame Gala.
Christine felt called by God to serve on the Vestry in 2018 because, “St. David’s has become my most meaningful connection to fellowship, spiritual formation, and worship.”
Linda Gebhard – Jr. Warden
Linda has been a member of St. David’s most of her life. Linda has served in several ministries including Warm Heart International (as a board member), Stewardship Committee, Altar Guild, Trinity Center, Outreach committee for Simple Gifts, Habitat for Humanity builds, the Young Adult Program, and EYC. Linda regularly attends St. David’s groups such as Foyers, Adult Formation, and Crossings (now The Middle Place). Linda has brought her skills working for Apple, Inc. in service to St. David’s as a member of the vestry since 2018.
My name is Britton Gregory, from choir and EFM to Wisdom Ways and EYC and other activities, I feel that St. David’s has given an incredible amount to me and my children. I’ve endeavored to give back over the years, by service on the stewardship committee, giving presentations on personal finance, etc., but every year my response to a call to the Vestry has been, “maybe next year; next year will be a good year, when I’ll have free time”. And yes, I know I’m late to learn what you doubtless already know — there is no “good year” — and so: here I am.
In the community, I’ve worn two very different hats: from graduation until a few years ago, I worked as an engineer (and engineering manager), after which I switched careers to become a financial advisor. Both jobs have involved walking a “via media” that always appealed to me as an Anglican — on the one hand, using the analytical gifts God gave me to come up with logical solutions to problems, but on the other never forgetting the human and spiritual elements that are, ultimately, the whole point of solving the problems in the first place! In fact, that’s why I finally made the move to be a financial advisor: while engineering has always been fulfilling, in the end I wanted to help people in a more impactful, personal way. So again: here I am.
On the Vestry, I hope to continue to meld number-crunching analysis with theological reflection as taught through EFM and Wisdom Ways. I’ve learned at St. David’s that there is a rarely a simple answer to a question, and that good theology rests on a tripod of reason, scripture, and tradition; it’s my hope to put what you have all taught me to good use in serving our church. Thank you; “here I am; send me.”
St. David’s Episcopal Church has been part of my life since I was born in 1953: baptized and confirmed here, and many times dragged out during services by my Mother for various disturbances of the peace. Elaine and I were married at St. David’s in 1974. Now we have granddaughters that have been baptized here. But for a few years in Fort Worth, St. David’s has been my Church home my entire life. This place is very much my spiritual base.
Currently, Elaine and I are Sunday School Teachers for a very precocious group of 6-ish year olds. Other parish activities and small groups include bell choir member, usher, eucharistic minister, and lector; building committee member for the current campaign; and serving on the Warm Heart International Board of Directors and the water well subcommittee within Warm Heart. Several years ago, I also served on Christine Mendoza’s discernment committee and presented her at her ordination to the Priesthood.
When we lived in Fort Worth and were members of St. Andrew’s there, Elaine and I served as youth directors and Sunday School teachers; and were heavily involved in the Cursillo, Happening, and Vocare Movements, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese in north Texas. In addition, I served as a member of the Vestry at St. Andrew’s on two separate occasions and as Clerk of the Vestry during part of one term.
Civil engineering is my education and career; and I am currently a consultant with a water and wastewater engineering firm. In that capacity I am a Principal with the firm and the Water Quality / Permitting Practice Leader in the company. In addition, I serve on the Board of Directors for my company, currently as Board Secretary. Engineering, at least the way my company approaches it, is an opportunity to serve public and private clients by applying our collective expertise to make a positive difference for their water-related issues. We are a company of servant leaders. Servant leadership is what Christ expects of us and it helps me stay focused on why we are here; that is, it is a way to make a difference for others. The experience gained in my career will certainly be helpful in my duties on the St. David’s Vestry.
The Texas Ramp Project (TRP) is an organization that uses volunteers to construct residential wheelchair ramps for individuals with impaired mobility. The St. David’s team, of which I am part, works primarily within Travis County. Working with this remarkable team of men and women has been my primary community activity for the past 2 years. In that time, we have built more than 20 ramps, many exceeding 50 feet in length.
Explaining why I feel called by God to serve on Vestry is not easy. It has always been challenging to discern God’s will in my life. Serving on Vestry is a ministry in itself; but then so are all other actions needed to bring about God’s Kingdom. Thomas Merton said, “My great obligation is to obey God, and to seek His will carefully with a pure and empty heart…. This means certainly a deep consent to all that is actually and manifestly His will for me.” Deep consent means that it is enough for me to believe that God is always using me for His purposes. So, I cannot really explain the why of this calling but only say that I believe it to be true.
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.
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 let 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. The St. David’s community has witnessed important moments in the life of my family. 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 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 promoting the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ folks in Central Texas. As the director, I seek to extend hospitality to all who seek our support. This hospitality is central to my experience of St. David’s, and something I hope to extend to all who seek a spiritual home here.
I am an attorney practicing patent law at a local boutique law firm in Westlake and live close to downtown, in Travis Heights.
I moved to Austin and started attending St. David’s shortly after graduating from Baylor Law School in 2013. At St. David’s I have been active in the Sunday Men’s Bible Study Group and attended the Annual Men’s Retreat. More generally, I have been an Episcopalian my whole life. I grew up going to Holy Comforter in a small town South of Houston, called Angleton. I was an acolyte and in the EYC. I also attended summer camp at Camp Allen every summer. College brought me to Texas A&M, College Station, and St. Thomas Church, where I was confirmed. I then worked for the Dow Chemical Company for the next four years and went to St. Timothy’s in Lake Jackson where I was (somehow) regularly recruited to help with Vacation Bible School. After that, I spent a year living in downtown Houston and attending Christ Church Cathedral, where I was active in the young adults group. From there it was off to Waco for law school and St. Paul’s. At St. Paul’s I was part of the Baylor Episcopal Student Center and went on several retreats to Camp Allen. Also, I got to know Father Chuck in Waco and was delighted when I found out he was coming to Austin.
In the community, I am active in the “Friends of the House” young professionals group of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas and was selected to serve on the Friends of the House Leadership Council for 2017. I am also part of a cook team that prepares meals for guests of the Ronald Mc Donald house at Dell Children’s Hospital. Additionally, I am a member of the Lee Yeakel IP Inn of Court, the Austin Intellectual Property Law Association, and the Austin Young Lawyers group of the Austin Bar Association.
After settling in Austin, I felt called to serve on the vestry. As a somewhat young professional I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the vestry and I am excited about getting more involved in St. David’s and the work of the church.
Eric P. Malnassy – Sr. Warden
Eric has been a member of St. David’s for over 20 years. Eric and his wife Misty were married at St. David’s in 2004. They have both served as ushers at the 11:15 service in the Historic Church. Eric served as a Eucharistic Minister and Lector. Eric has assisted with multiple annual Stewardship campaigns. Eric was a member of the Young Adult Leadership Team. He currently enjoy regular fellowship with the monthly Men’s Dinner.
Eric received a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2001, he has worked for HCA, which is the parent company that owns the St. David’s Healthcare Partnership hospitals here in Austin in the Process Improvement Division.
Eric and Misty have voluneteered for Trinity Streets and El Buen Samaritano. Eric served as a volunteer on the non-profit board for Six One Seven Foundation, which provides services and regular meeting spaces to Austin’s addiction recovery community.
Eric believes his spiritual growth here at St. David’s has led him to this calling of service to our parish and has served on the St. David’s vestry since 2018.
Martha Newton – Clerk
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.
Lee Parker – Treasurer
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 current roles at Saint David’s are as a 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 the 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.
Mary R. Rose
My name is Mary Rose, and I have been a member of the St. David’s community since 2005. I am a cradle Episcopalian – child of two(!) clergy parents – and raised in the Diocese of Los Angeles. I followed (what I think is) the not uncommon route of dropping out of religious life in my early twenties, only to come racing back when I had children of my own, having learned that there is no other entity in modern life that stands for all the good that our church stands for. I wanted my kids to bask in that goodness, to hear these messages from someone – many people – besides myself. St. David’s has been a phenomenal place to “come home” to, to raise my two children (Marielle, 14, and Marsden, 9), and to assist me in figuring out the right ways to serve our community and our city. I am delighted to offer my service on our Vestry.
While at St. David’s, my primary community has been the 9:15 Bethell service. There I have been, since about 2012, a “verger,” which is the word we use to describe the people who pinch-hit for pretty much any role needed in Bethell, be it set-up, ushering, offering, EM, or lector. For several years I was also a happy member of, and then co-led, the “Parenting in Connection” group as an adult formation option, and I have volunteered with children’s ministry. Less often I have led a session in Crail or slept overnight in Trinity’s cold weather shelter.
What do I bring to this opportunity? I hope the Vestry would help me discern the skills that would be most helpful to it and to St. David’s. I know that I bring these to the table: I have a PhD in Social Psychology and do research and teaching at UT Austin’s Department of Sociology. My specialty is the intersection between social science and the legal system, and I study juries and jury decision making in particular. I therefore spend a lot of time thinking about how groups function well (or not) and about meeting one’s obligations to serve, even when one might not want to. On the more practical side, I can write surveys, tell you what is wrong with other people’s surveys and studies, analyze data, and participate in report writing. As with most universities, UT has given me a plethora of committees on which to serve, and I consider myself a pro on that score. In general, I am what is commonly called a “lifelong learner,” and I look forward to embracing all that the Vestry and St. David’s has to teach me.
Martha has been an active member of St. David’s Church now for over twenty years. Through the years she has participated in small groups, programs, and activities. Martha has planned the Women’s Retreat, led Altar guild teams, sung in the choir, participated in the Days of Service, and experience spiritual formation in journey groups, pastoral care, and regular worship.
Martha is active in Women’s Group, Altar guild, St. Agnes guild, foyer’s, St. David’s singers, HOMiES, and Kid’s Hope USA mentoring at Travis Heights Elementary School.
Martha has served on the St. David’s vestry, in the finance committee, and acted as a liaison to the grants committee.
Billy K. Thomson
My name is William King Thomson, and I go by “Billy K”. I usually attend the 9 a.m. Historic Church service. I have previously served on the Vestry and was Treasurer. I have also served on the St. David’s Foundation, where I was chairperson. I have served the parish as an intercessor for 10+ years and as an usher for 40+ years. I owned and operated a successful dental practice for 46 years, and I am now retired. I was actively involved in local and state dental associations throughout my career. I have been a faithful, pledging member of St. David’s since 1976 and participated in three previous capital campaigns. Being retired, I now have the time to commit to service for St. David’s. I feel I would be most effective in serving as a vestry member.