Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna inducts ten

The Affirmative Aging Commission of the Diocese of Southern Ohio celebrated the induction of ten new members into the Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna with a Eucharist and luncheon on May 21.

Nominated from their respective deaneries, Jon Boss of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming; Lelia Davis of Trinity, Hamilton; Jerry Eichert of St. Timothy’s, Anderson Twp.; Betty and Jim Heathcote of St. Mary’s, Hillsboro; Celeste and James Parsons of Epiphany, Nelsonville; Joy Sargent of St. Mark’s, Columbus; Audrey Scott of Calvary, Clifton; and Jack Seipel of Christ Church, Springfield, were honored and recognized for a lifetime of exemplary Christian ministry and as positive role models for aging in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal reflected on the gift of aging in his sermon at the Eucharist. “I always thought growing older would mean being afraid of less,” he said. “In some ways that is true: we can risk more and act more boldly, the less our personal future is at stake. But for many the approach to old age re-exposes us to old anxieties about the significance of our lives and the ultimate meaning of things. It’s as if we become teenagers once again: less able, perhaps, to stay up all night discussing eternity, but just as prone to philosophize.”

“Then again, with wisdom and experience comes a load of fears we might not have imagined in our youth. The older we are, the more obligations we take on – adult children, young grandchildren, frail parents, beloved institutions. We fear for them all, and sometimes we just fear for the world in general. What can counterbalance these fears? The long experience of a life we can look back on as a life blessed in so many ways not evident at the time, and the humility to see life now as a life utterly dependent on a loving and trustworthy God.”

The Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna was created in the diocese in the mid-1990s as a way to honor the elders of our community. The first awards were presented in 1995 and are given annually to persons who are at least 60 years of age and Episcopalians for 15 or more years. Nominations can be made by anyone and sent to their deanery for consideration. Each deanery then sends on one nomination to the Society. You can learn more at the diocesan website: http://www.diosohio.org/simeon-and-anna-awards.html.

You may download individual photos from the gallery at https://picasaweb.google.com/107846331365526337345.

Meet the inductees

(Bios adapted from their nomination information)

Jon Boss
Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming

Jon draws on Jesus’ example in the Gospel time and time again to commit to difficult and important tasks including full inclusion for gay people in the church and supporting the Millennium Development Goals. He has been one of the most effective and dedicated volunteers for our diocese for over forty years.

Starting in 1972, he served as a trustee of St. Edmund’s Conference Center and went on to be a lay leader in the council of ERSO, the diocese’s Greater Cincinnati region. He chaired the diocese’s Budget Committee and served as Treasurer of the diocese from 1985-86.

While devoting his professional skills full-time as Director of Administration for the diocese from 1987 till 2000, Jon continued to volunteer, serving four times as a deputy to General Convention, and twice as chair of Southern Ohio’s deputation. Jon served three terms on the crucial Program, Budget and Finance Committee of the Episcopal Church. He is an incredible source of historic knowledge and insight about the policies and programs of the Episcopal Church, and has done a superb job educating other deputies and the wider diocese about the decisions adopted by General Convention.

Jon served six years on the Standing Committee of the diocese and is now in his second term as a Trustee of the Diocese. In addition, he served with great dedication from 2000 to 2013 as Episcopal Relief and Development coordinator for our diocese. He worked tirelessly with fellow members of the National and World Mission Commission to raise awareness of ERD’s crucial work, especially the Millennium Development Goals and the quest to aid the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti to rebuild after the earthquake.

Jon is a faithful participant in Sunday worship at A & HT, inspiring his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren to join him every week. Jon shapes his heart and ministry to the compassion of Christ. He has a lifelong vocation to ministry as a layman. He is a shining example to other laypeople throughout our diocese on the joy and fulfillment of using one’s talents and expertise full time to serve God and neighbor.

 

Lelia (Lee) Davis
Trinity, Hamilton

Lee has a great passion for ministry to those in need. Through the Daughters of the King, she began Trinity’s Master’s Closet, a clothing free store for the community. She also began Trinity’s involvement in the community meal served out of the First Methodist Church every Saturday; under Lee’s leadership, Trinity prepares the meals for about 150 community members and serves these meals on one Saturday of each month. Lee is significantly involved in Trinity’s ‘Terrific Thursday’ mentoring program which helps grade-schoolers in the neighborhood with their homework and reading and math skills, and provides them with an evening meal; she especially provides a pastoral heart and prayerful presence for the Terrific Thursday children and their families and a strong witness to the Christian faith.

Lee has been involved in many forms of leadership and ministry at Trinity. In addition to those things mentioned, Lee has served at Trinity as a Lay Eucharist Minister, a Lay Reader, a Stephen Minister, a Vacation Bible School teacher, a Vestry member and an Altar Guild member. She engages in the ministry of sending birthday cards to all parishioners. And she started the local chapter of the Daughters of the King. In all that she does, Lee is always helping Trinity Church turn its vision towards Christ.

Lee’s prayer ministry is one of her greatest gifts. She began healing prayer stations at Sunday worship services. She prays regularly and deeply for the clergy, diocese, parish and mission of the Church, as well as for individuals in need. She sends the clergy prayers from the Book of Common Prayer and passages of Scripture via email when she senses that the clergy need encouragement; her timing in this particular part of her prayer ministry is impeccable. She prays regularly for and with the Terrific Thursday children. She never shies away from praying directly with people for their needs. Parishioners know that she is the one to especially call when they need prayer. Her trust in the presence of God’s love is amazing.

Lee Davis is an 83-year-old, committed lifelong Episcopalian, with a heart that serves the Good News of the Love of God in Christ Jesus in all that she does. Her trust in and witness to the presence and grace of God’s love is amazing and is felt by many.

 

Jerry Eichert
St. Timothy’s, Anderson Twp.

Jerry has been an extraordinary servant of the Gospel of Christ since he and his wife, Jean, first came to St. Timothy’s in 1971. He has provided servant leadership for St. Timothy’s as Senior Warden, Junior Warden, and chairperson of the Finance committee. He has also served on the Endowment Fund and Development committees. He was the chairperson of the Search committee that called the Rev. Roger Greene as rector as well as the chairperson for two capital campaigns. He sang in the choir for over two decades and has been totally committed to the overall ministry of St. Timothy’s. He also coordinates Timothy’s Tables, a ministry that brings 60 to 70 people together for dinner on a monthly basis. Regardless of his official roles at St. Timothy’s, he has always been an authority in the life of the congregation. People look to him for wisdom as the parish navigates our ministry.

Beyond his institutional roles, Jerry has an extraordinary ministry to widows and those on the margins. A CPA by training, he has helped many widows and seniors with their tax returns and other financial matters. For over 20 years, he has taken a group of widows to lunch every Sunday after church. He invites widows to his home for holiday celebrations and makes sure no one is forgotten. He is the first to offer financial help and other support when someone is in need in our congregation. To support the Annual Country Store, which his wife co-leads, Jerry makes over 1000 jars of jelly for sale! He has also been very supportive of El Hogar Projects, one of St. Timothy’s most important ministries. On two occasions he has coordinated diocesan-wide fundraising dinners for El Hogar.

Jerry has been on the Board of the Clermont/Brown County Literacy Council for two decades and also served as a tutor during most of that time. He has been heavily involved with the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, overseeing the accounting of the Annual Flower Show. He also hosts visiting pianists who come to Cincinnati for annual competitions.

Jerry not only embodies Christ’s servant ministry, but also has a deep commitment to prayer and worship. He worships every week, more often than not at both main morning services. In addition to having a few odd jobs at both of these services, he enjoys connecting with the younger members at the 9 a.m. service in addition to his long-time companions at the 11:15 service. An accomplished musician in his own right, he also plays the organ at our monthly 5 p.m. Celtic service.

Jerry bears witness to the “comprehensive” Anglican spirit. Although he has very strong views on all sorts of political and theological matters, he firmly believes the Episcopal Church is a big tent, which should embrace all people. During decades when the Episcopal Church has struggled to maintain its unity, Jerry has worked to maintain the bonds of peace.

 

Betty and Jim Heathcote
St. Mary’s, Hillsboro

Betty has been a faithful member of St. Mary’s for many years. She lives her life to serve God and her church. She loves to organize and is knowledgeable about the canons of the Church and the Prayer Book. Betty spent more than 24 years as the unpaid church administrator at St. Mary’s, organizing the office files and keeping information at hand for several rectors and interim clergy. She also published a monthly newsletter and weekly bulletins for each service.

Betty, along with Jim, has been a continual prayer partner for the Soup’s On feeding program at St. Mary’s and they both help with the parish rummage sale held twice per year.

Betty is patient and efficient in all the work she does for the church. She attends church regularly and speaks to everyone. She is able to see what someone needs and is there to help. She has dedicated her life to her family and friends, and her work in the Church and in the diocese.

Jim has served as Senior Warden and various other positions on the vestry for many years at St. Mary’s. He is a licensed Worship Leader and steps in to lead Morning Prayer when the priest is away. He is dedicated to his work with the diocese as the chair of the Nominations Committee as well as his work with SOLLI (Southern Ohio Lay Leadership Initiative).

He has served as Senior Warden multiple times, always taking each decision as important as the next. He is knowledgeable in finance and serves on the Finance committee. He can be found painting, plastering and fixing anything at the church that needs it.

Jim is loved by all and lives as Jesus commanded. He served as a colonel in the Air Force and as a counselor, which has taught him to live a life worthy of God’s Word while loving his neighbor with an understanding of all that goes into being part of creation. Each fall will find Jim standing before convention reading the resolutions. He is dedicated to serve a Church that is constantly growing to keep up with a changing world.

 

Celeste and Jim Parsons
Church of the Epiphany, Nelsonville

Celeste and Jim are a team and work together on every project they take on. They not only “walk the talk” outside the walls of the church, but also “cycle the talk” as they are seen riding their tandem bicycle all over Southeastern Ohio and many parts of the U.S. during annual extended treks. Wherever they travel, they always find an Episcopal church in which to worship. They keep a daily log of their ventures and share with friends and church members via the Internet. They always find a way to share the Good News of God’s love wherever they go.

They have been actively involved in the Church of the Epiphany for over 15 years since moving to Nelsonville after Jim’s retirement from the United States Air Force. They have served on mission council in all capacities, chairman (provost) of the Hocking Valley Deanery (Jim), and have been delegates to Diocesan Convention numerous times. Celeste is a wonderfully talented musician and leads the Epiphany Singers in special music several times a year. Both serve as lectors and Celeste is a Lay Eucharistic Minister. In a small church like Epiphany, lay ministry is vital to the life of the congregation. The Parsons see a job that needs doing and they do it!

Celeste leads the Prayers of the People almost every Sunday. Often she will insert prayers and petitions she has found meaningful from other sources. She maintains the prayer concern list monthly in order to keep it current. Prayer is at the center of the Parsons’ daily lives.

The Parsons are a model Christian couple. Their love for each other and their Lord is obvious to all who meet them. They model good stewardship of God’s creation by their strong commitment to environmental consciousness. Their log home is energy efficient and features geothermal heating and cooling, as well as solar power.

The Parsons are actively involved in the community. Celeste helped start the Nelsonville Food Cupboard a number of years ago with a start-up grant from the Episcopal Community Services Foundation. It is now self-funded and serving approximately 1,500 needy persons monthly. They are both talented thespians and very involved with community theater at the Stuart Opera House in Nelsonville. Celeste personally directs several productions each year.
Joy Sargent
St. Mark’s, Upper Arlington

One word sums up Joy Sargent: DOING. Joy is a retired reading teacher who knows that God sent her forth to do what she can for her diocese. She has always been passionate about children. When Joy first came to St. Mark’s in 1967, she was determined to work with the diocese to involve youth, and she worked with the diocese and the Procter Center to ensure that the youth in the diocese had a lovely campsite where they could come together in friendship and formation.

Joy has been a part of the St. Mark’s family for 47 years. She spent five years as a youth group leader, during which time she led 42 adolescents in her youth group. She began a Vacation Bible School program, and was subsequently involved with VBS for 20 years. Joy spent many years teaching Sunday school to young children. For the past 10 years, Joy has led an outreach group who knit baptismal shawls for infants and children being baptized at St. Mark’s. Joy has also led a crusade to collect school supplies for children who belong to the Columbus Homeless Families Foundation and began a program entitled, “Winter Warmies,” which invites parishioners to donate winter accessories to help these same families.

Joy has also led the drive to collect donated shoeboxes filled with gifts for Operation Christmas Child. Joy has spent many years as a Lay Reader, a Chalice Bearer, and leading St. Mark’s parishioners in prayer during Prayers of the People at Eucharist on Sundays. Truly, Joy is an inspiration and a tremendous blessing for everyone who attends St. Mark’s, and for many families in the Columbus community.

Joy has always had an open ear and an open heart for parishioners who have called her and needed someone with whom to pray. Joy has been a model for children through her years working as a Sunday school teacher; youth minister; VBS leader and craft teacher; the countless hours she has dedicated to collecting items for the homeless; and knitting baptismal shawls for infants and children.

Joy has been an inspiration and a mentor to the younger adults with whom she has worked, and Joy enjoyed allowing God to work through her during her many years as a reading teacher. She has read to many of the children at St. Mark’s and in doing so, she has helped them become better listeners and better readers. Joy has been an excellent Christian role model for her children and grandchildren.

Joy believes in less talking and more doing. Many people will talk about their ideas and their inspirations; however, Joy believes in creating and making things happen because she believes actions are a true imitation of Christ. The images of life that are lived in imitation of Christ can be seen in all of Joy’s work, and also in the results she has obtained through her many years of dedication and service to St. Mark’s.

 

Audrey Scott
Calvary, Clifton

“Miss Audrey” began feeding folks in Avondale over 20 years ago. Twice a week she would provide lunch for anyone in the neighborhood who came by St. Michael and All Angels Church. Even during the five years after the congregation ceased to meet and during the development of Gabriel’s Place, Miss Audrey continued to offer meals and look after the property.

Her love of the space on Reading Road, and her stalwart presence during a time of transition, are an example to all of us as we live into the changes and chances of this life. Although she is no longer serving lunches, her feeding ministry was the foundation out of which Gabriel’s Place was born.

Jack Seipel
Christ Church, Springfield

Jack is an 88-year-old active member of Christ Church. He has been an Episcopalian for well over 60 years. He and his (deceased) wife Emily raised their five daughters at Christ Church. Jack and Emily were both very active at Christ Church until her death 10 years ago.

Jack’s recent (the last 12+ years) ministries have been largely in the area of outreach. He continues to work in the Christ Church Food Pantry, coming in each week to tear down boxes and straighten the pantry after the last client has been served. Jack also works at the St. Luke’s Hygiene Pantry, which has a unique ministry providing hygiene products that are not stocked at food pantries or available for purchase through SNAP. Because of the work of Jack and others, a variety of cleaning products and other necessities are available in Springfield to those who cannot afford to purchase them. Jack also works at Rainbow Table, an ecumenical project that serves a hot lunch in Springfield every Friday.

When Christ Church was a host church for Interfaith Hospitality Network, Jack was involved from the outset. As Junior Warden at Christ Church, he connected Christ Church with a program at the London prison that brought incarcerated men into the community for public service. This program was much more than a way to get walls painted and windows washed, although that happened. Jack’s wisdom in connecting the church with this program allowed us to serve folks we would never have come in contact with and connected us more deeply with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.

Over his decades of service through Christ Church, Jack has served both the church and the community in countless other ways. Jack is generous with his time, his talent and his treasure and is always willing to help in whatever way he can, often behind the scenes so that no one is aware of his gifts.

Jack is in church every Sunday and on every holy day during good times and hard times. When his wife Emily was dying, they walked that journey together, and together with the church. They were in church on Christmas Eve before she died on New Year’s Eve. His faithfulness during that most difficult time was inspiring and humbling to the rest of us as he modeled walking, one step after another, through the valley of the shadow of death. Jack has continued to be a faithful witness to the power of prayer and the power of the gathered community of faith, on both the giving and the receiving ends of that witness. Jack models a quiet, can-do, behind-thescenes faithfulness. In the words of St. Francis, we pray “For it is in giving that we receive” and Jack models that prayer.