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.
- 2022 Annual Parish Meeting
Sunday, Jan. 30, 10:15 a.m. Crail Hall
The parish of St. David’s Episcopal Church gathered online and onsite for the annual meeting. At the meeting, parishioners learned about our ministries, outreach, and financial report for 2021 and plans for 2022. New vestry members and Diocesan Council delegates were elected.
St. David’s Vestry Members
My name is Britton, and I’m a huge nerd – no surprise, as I’m a former engineer. Currently, I’m the principal of a financial planning and investment management firm, which has allowed me to channel my nerdiness into something that tangibly helps people in their daily lives. If you’ve got questions about money, spreadsheets, or tech, I’m happy to nerd out with you.
At St. David’s, I’m on the vestry and finance committee, I sang in the choir for many years, and my son Peter and my daughter Elissa geek out in EYC on a regular basis; I even had the opportunity to run a Narnia-themed Dungeons and Dragons adventure at a middle-school lock-in. We love to watch anime in the evenings, whether it’s Miyazaki or Shonen Jump; we can’t tell you who won the most recent Oklahoma-UT game, but we’ll talk your ear off about One Piece or Fullmetal Alchemist.
All that aside, as an EFM (Education for Ministry) graduate, I’m even happier to nerd out about spiritual formation, theological reflection, Bible study, church giving, or any other related topic you’re interested in. I’m a firm believer that our church lives should greatly inform our daily lives, and the best way for that to happen is for us to talk about it. So come to the Middle Place, or let’s chat on Sundays!
Rex Hunt – Sr. Warden
St. David’s Episcopal Church has been part of my life since I was born in 1953: baptized and confirmed here. 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.
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; a 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.
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. Rex was elected to the Vestry as Sr. Warden in 2022.
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 – Clerk
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.
Billy K Thomson – Jr. Warden
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.
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.
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.
Alison Riemersma – Treasurer
Alison is involved primarily in Community Engagement and Outreach, serving on the former Bridge Builders Committee and now the Outreach Taskforce. She also 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 25+ years at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 18 of which as Executive Assistant to the Academic Dean. Alison enjoys camping on the Llano River, puttering around the house, watching movies, and spoiling cats. Alison has been a member of St. David’s since 1996. Alison served on the Vestry 2012-14 and again in 2021-23. She was elected as Treasurer for 2022.
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.
Merrelle 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.
Sandi and her husband Art regularly attend the 9 a.m. service in Historic Church. After moving closer to town they transferred to St. David’s from St. Lukes on the Lake, where Sandi was baptized as an adult. Though not a native Austinite, her three children and two of her grandchildren were born here. Like many, she came to Austin to go to school and never left. After graduating from Stanford, Sandi enrolled at UT law school, then practiced with a large firm and at the Texas Railroad Commission. After leaving the practice of law, she was a very active volunteer and supporter of St. Francis School and owned a cookie bouquet business for several years. Sandi has advocated for children in the foster care system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and mentored at Helping Hand Home. At St. David’s, she regularly participates in formation offerings large and small, enjoys the fellowship of the Women’s group, and was part of the Bedtime Story Brigade, and Kids Hope tutoring program. Sandi was a member of the Capital Campaign Committee, a member, then chair of the Stewardship Committee, and a member of the finance committee. Sandi was elected to the vestry in 202
Bess Cooper Carsner
St. David’s has been a part of Bess’s life since 1973. She attended the 9 a.m. service and participated in children and youth activities growing up. Bess and Clay were married at St. David’s and continue to worship and serve here with their children. She has been a member of the Altar Guild, the Stewardship Committee, the Capital Campaign Committee, discernment committees, and various search committees. She was an elementary school teacher and continued her love of working with children by teaching Catechesis of the Good Sheperd for over ten years. Bess has been on the childcare committee, St. David’s Day School Board, and St. Matthew’s Day School Board. She mentored in St. David’s public school program, Kid’s Hope. She is a founding board member of Magdalene House of Austin, a non-profit residential program for adult women who have survived trafficking. Bess was elected to the vestry in 2022.
Gay has been a member of St. David’s parish for 41 years. She founded Gay Gillen Travel in 1974 and planned adventures for 52 years. Gay regularly attends the Wednesday Night Bible Study group, served on Altar Guild for 32 years, volunteered at Trinity Center, supported the Flower Delivery Ministry, and volunteered to travel to Matamoros to support the refugees at the border. Gay participated in Open Forum a study club made up of women who are academicians and leaders in the community and served on the Seton Foundation Board. Gay was elected to the vestry in 2022.
Jim has attended St. David’s since 2015 and was confirmed in The Episcopal Church in 2018. He participated in journey groups, Education for Ministry, as well as a Discovery Retreat at Camp Allen. He is active in The Fellowship ministry and a member of St. David’s LGBTQIA+ fellowship. Jim works as an attorney at the State Bar of Texas. He spent four years on the parish council (i.e., the vestry) of Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Austin. Jim spends time with his three kids, and with his social running group. Jim was elected to the vestry in 2022.
Anne Claire Woods
Anne Claire Woods and her husband started The Middle Place group at St. David’s 3 years ago with the hope to create a spiritual community for people with shared life experiences. Anne Claire has volunteered with several church service projects, attended multiple journey groups, and was a part of the young adult community. Anne Claire is a Child Life Specialist, first working in pediatric healthcare, now as an adjunct instructor at Tarleton State University. She served as the Patient and Family Services Manager at a clinic for children with medical complexity that she helped start in 2012. The focus of her community activities has been with the Association for Child Life Professionals where Anne Claire completed two terms on the Board of Directors, the second being on the Executive Committee. Anne Claire has a Masters of Arts in counseling from Seminary of the Southwest and now owns a private psychotherapy practice, AHW Counseling and Consulting. Anne Claire feels called to the Vestry first in order to serve and support the mission of St. David’s and second in order to bring a unique perspective as a leader of The Middle Place community representing this growing community’s needs. Anne Claire was elected to the vestry in 2022.
Diocesan Council Delegates
I first became a member of St. David’s in the early 2000s, when I was a member of the choir. My husband and I were
married at St. David’s in 2004, before leaving Austin for graduate school in 2005. After two cross-country moves, in 2017, we returned to Austin and to St. David’s, with our two children (Clara, 10, and Jack, almost 7). Our children have been involved in Junior Journeys and I hope to rejoin the choir when COVID permits. During COVID, we’ve attended services and formation virtually, and I attended a small Communion group while those were being held. I served as an alternate delegate to Council for the last two years, and have enjoyed the opportunity to become more involved in the parish and
diocese – I grew up actively involved in the Diocese of West Texas and have missed that engagement. I am also currently a Diocesan Trustee at Sewanee. I am a transactional and regulatory attorney and much of my practice involves thoughtful and strategic business counseling for entities at all stages, from startups to established companies. I also serve as the Secretary and a board member for the Tony Foundation, a local non-profit that provides direct assistance to families whose primary breadwinner is unable to work
due to cancer.
I’m a cradle Episcopalian, mom, and an attorney. We’ve attended St. David’s for 16 years. I’ve served on Vestry, Finance Committee, Personnel Policy Committee, Diocesan Council, and as a lay Eucharistic minister. We support Trinity Center financially as well as volunteering for cold weather shelter. In the Diocese of Texas, I serve on the board and chair the governance committee for El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission and was appointed by the Bishop to serve on the Unity in Mission Task Force. Nationally, I attended the last five General Conventions, the triennial national meeting of the Episcopal Church, and was elected an alternate deputy from the Diocese of Texas. Internationally, my family and I were Canterbury pilgrims last summer. For St. David’s, my short-term goal is to assist the new Rector as he becomes acquainted with us and long term, my goal is to increase St. David’s focus on evangelism and outreach particularly in downtown Austin.
Currently, I attend Warm Heart International, Inc., Men’s Group, and other offerings. My past duties have included: Chair, St. David’s Foundation, 2011; Treasurer, St. David’s Foundation, 2007-2010; Treasurer, Warm Heart International, Inc., 2006-2012; Junior Warden, 2002-2003; Vestry 2001-2003; Lay Delegate to Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes, 2004-2011; Delegate and Alternate to Diocesan Council, 1994-2011; Diocese of Texas World Mission Board, 2006-Present; and Capital Campaigns, 1996-2000. I was an usher and intercessor for over 20 years. Having represented St. David’s as Diocesan Delegate under three Bishops, I offer experience and understanding of church governance gained while working with diocesan personnel and bishops. My occupation as a consulting civil engineer on water resource projects for over 40 years has enabled me to use my international experience in project and facilities management to assist in the development of project management programs in Malawi, as part of the diocesan companion relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi.
I am excited at the prospect of continuing my journey of serving St. David’s by standing for a position as a delegate to the Diocesan Council. 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, and as a journey group leader. I’m currently completing my third year on the Vestry and was honored to serve as Sr. Warden this past year. I have also participated at the Diocesan level by serving as a consultant for the Safeguarding God’s People program on issues related to gender and sexuality and recently presented about these topics at Clergy Conference. 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 director, I’ve found creative ways to motivate others, communicate clearly, and collaborate effectively. I would apply these same skills to proudly represent the St. David’s community should I be elected to serve at Diocesan Council. I would be honored to continue to give back to St. David’s in this role. While I will miss my time as Sr. Warden and as a member of the Vestry, I’m
excited to pursue God’s call to this new opportunity.