Vestry

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.

Vestry Minutes

Annual Reports

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Diocesan Council Delegates

2021 Vestry

Doug Bell

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.

Jennifer Bennett Scariano

Jennifer and her family have been members of St. David’s since 2007. Jennifer and her husband and have two teenaged sons and are small business owners in downtown Austin. She previously served on the vestry from 2012-2014, and was a member of the Rector search committee in 2015. Jennifer has served as a lay Eucharistic minister, taught Sunday school and VBS, and been a member of both the outreach and finance committees. She is currently a lay leader in the small communion groups as well as coordinating the Communion Group program during the 2021 search for a new Assistant Rector. In May 2020 Jennifer graduated from the Seminary of the Southwest with a master’s degree in chaplaincy and pastoral care. She has a professional background in human resources. She is also the vice president of the board of Magdalene House of Austin, a non-profit based on the Thistle Farms model which provides long-term, holistic care for adult survivors of sex trafficking. For the last three years Jennifer has served as a volunteer chaplain and librarian to our neighbors at Trinity Center and joined Trinity’s
board in 2021.

Britton Gregory

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.”

Rex Hunt – Jr. Warden

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.

Ann Jinkins

Ann Jinkins, and partner/wife, Staci, and two children began their membership in 1997. Ann served
on the small altar guild team, as greeters/ushers, and altar guild. Ann and family volunteered with the hospitality team supporting SXSW and serving for fund raising events. Ann retired in 2019 and joined Chef Ray’s Monday morning prep team, until the Covid closure. She is also a Communion Group host. Ann was a career special educator working as a teacher for 28 years, a special education coordinator, assistant director, and director in large and small districts for 15 years, and finally a special education consultant/specialist supporting districts and charter schools across the region for 6 years. Ann is a CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteer. Ann joined the Vestry in 2021.

Jennifer Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

Jennifer Joslyn-Siemiakoski

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.

Sarah Kapostasy – Sr. Warden

Sarah Kapastasy

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.

Martha Newton – Clerk

Martha Newton

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.

Phillip Owen

Phillip regularly attends 8:30 a.m. meditation with Gustavo Hernandez, the 9am service, Wisdom Ways, and, the “Rule of Benedict” reading group through The Abbey. He has participated in Men’s Retreat, Men’s Group, Parish Choir, Laundry Love, and the Bethell musicians with Mark Wischkaemper. Phillip’s profession is as a college instructor at Texas State University, teaching sound design in the theatre department. He also freelances regionally as a theatrical sound designer. Within the community, he is involved with Leadership Austin, Fusebox Festival, and Yale Day of Service. Phillip joined the vestry in 2021.

Lee Parker – Treasurer

Lee Parker

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

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.

Alison Riemersma

Alison has been a member of St. David’s since 1996. In
the before-times, regularly attended the 9:00 a.m. service and I continue to do so at home. Alison is involved primarily in outreach, serving on the Bridge Builders Committee, and co-organizing the Simple Gifts Advent alternative giving program with friend Sharon Becca. She currently serves on the Building Committee. In the past, she has served on the Stewardship Committee, Greeters, Ushers, Intercessory Prayer, and several ad hoc committees. Alison is largely responsible for the planning of the annual Day of Service. She has worked closely with our Curates as someone with institutional knowledge of outreach. Alison has served the past 24 years at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 17 of which as Executive Assistant to the Academic Dean. Alison served on the Vestry in 2010 before she was elected to the Vestry again in 2021.

Merrell Ann Shearer

Merrell Anne grew up in Austin and has been an active member since the early 1990s. Merrell Ann and her husband Art were married by Jim Bethell in 1996. They have three sons, Kent, Graham, and Stephen. Over the years, she has been involved in many areas of the church including foyers groups, service activities, and children’s and youth programs. As a volunteer at Trinity Center for several years, serving at Women to Women, she also served as a Board Member. Over the years she has attended many classes/programs, and the Beloved Community Healing Circles. She has worked as a residential real estate broker for the past 20 plus years. She volunteers at Trinity Center weekly and serves on the Bishop Quinn Foundation and the Strategic Mission Grants Committee at the Diocese of Texas. In the past, she served on the Board of El Buen Samaritano and has been involved in many community organizations as a volunteer and in leadership roles. She has a BA from the University of Texas in Plan II and Spanish. As a parishioner, I love the diversity and community involvement of the St. David’s community and am now called to serve the church on a deeper level. Merrell Anne was elected to the vestry in 2021.

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.