Our vestry members serve 3 year terms, and we elect a new class of vestrymen and women each year. Nominations are made by a committee and by the parish at large during our annual meeting. We encourage anyone who wants to serve on the vestry to raise a hand and let us know. This is not a closed group or a club of some kind. We draw our leaders from across our parish spectrum, and we don’t want people to be shy about expressing an interest in this kind of service. The eligibility requirement for election to the Vestry is as follows:
Canon 11, Section 4.
Only lay persons, who are confirmed adult communicants in good standing of the church, as defined in General Convention Canon 1.17, shall be eligible for election as Vestry members of such church. However, regardless of eligibility of a person for election, no person shall be elected at duly convened congregational meetings to consecutive full terms on a congregation’s Vestry or Vestry Committee.
Current vestry members include Missy Roberts, Senior Warden; Wayne Dementi, Junior Warden; Joe Cheely, Treasurer; Fran Jones, Register; Jeff Allende, Jill Aveson, Ashley Barlow, Sam Bruce, Ros Bowers, Owen Conway, Linda Hyslop, Robin Lind, Jesse McCoy, and Barbara Tavenner.
Class of 2026 Vestry Members:
St. Mary’s elected four members in the Class of 2026 to the Vestry at the Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
Henly Deutsch is a self-described “Virginia girl, born and raised in Newport News” before leaving for college at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg and then Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy in Richmond. Henly has worked for VCU Health as a staff pharmacist in various capacities since 1995. For more than ten years, Henly has worked in Investigational Drug Services providing pharmacy services for clinical trials.
Henly and her husband, Mark, met in 1995, married in 1996, and joined St. Mary’s in 2000. Since then, they have been a part of St. Mary’s Supper Club, Hospitality Team, Youth Committee, Welcome Committee, Altar Guild, outreach opportunities, and Sacred Ground series. Henly and Mark have two sons, Jack, 21, and Davis, 18. Henly and Mark have seen their boys through baptisms, confirmations, acolyting, youth groups, and mission trips to South Dakota, California and Georgia. Henly shared, “I am very excited to enter this next chapter in my life as an empty nester and look forward to turning my focus onto St. Mary’s. I truly feel that the stars have aligned and God has called me to serve on the Vestry.”
Sandy and Vanna McDonald moved to Richmond in August of 2012, which was, in fact, their twelfth move together. Sandy often shares that they found their church before they found their home. Driving on River Road to look at houses and neighborhoods, Sandy and Vanna crossed into Goochland and found St. Mary’s at the top of the hill. Sandy shared, “‘Find a church‘ was immediately checked off our to-do list.”
Sandy and Vanna have been members of St. Mary’s for more than 20 years. For much of that time, Sandy traveled internationally for work. Since retirement, he and Vanna have enjoyed spending more time at St. Mary’s. Both Vanna and Sandy are members of the Pastoral Care Team 2 and volunteer as Ushers for services and funerals. Sandy is also a member of Saint Mary’s Welcoming Committee. Sandy shared that St. Mary’s has become their “spiritual home.” He and Vanna have seen two of their children married and their two grandsons baptized in the church.
Celeste and her family moved to Richmond from Raleigh, North Carolina in 2010. Celeste shared that her family “felt God’s love, presence, and joy at St. Mary’s and feel very grateful to be a part of this wonderful church.” Celeste currently volunteers in the church office and is a member of the Grief Group.
In Raleigh, Celeste was a founding member of Holy Trinity Church, where she wore various hats, including organizing bible studies and teaching youth Sunday School. Additionally, she has served on the Parents’ Committee for both the University of Virginia (Will ’18) and Sewanee (Emily ’21) when her children were students. Celeste shared, “I am beyond honored to serve the ministry of the vestry and to see God’s continuing good and holy work take place at St. Mary’s.”
Geoff Simril was raised in St. Louis, Missouri in the Lutheran Church. He later graduated from UNC and Harvard Business School, and he served three years as a Naval Officer. Geoff married his wife, Patsy, in 1998, and they have three children Peter Vick, Jane Vick, and Henry Simril. They also have two grandchildren, 8-year-old Toby Vick and 4-year-old Kate Vick.
Geoff was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1999. He and Patsy joined St. Mary’s in 2016. He serves as a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and Usher. He also volunteers for Parish Breakfasts, participates in the Men’s Spiritual Practice, and leads the Men’s Meal Ministry.
Class of 2025 Vestry Members:
St. Mary’s elected four members in the Class of 2025 to the Vestry at the Annual Congregational Meeting held Sunday, January 30, 2022.
Jeff Allende, Junior Warden
Jeff’s first Episcopalian memories are participating as an acolyte and being confirmed at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beckley, WV. When he moved to Richmond after college, he attended St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church where he and his wife Page were married, and their kids, Ashe and Kaki, were baptized. When Ashe was a middle schooler, he became less eager to join the family at church and they realized that perhaps St Stephen’s had become too big a congregation for their family. The Allendes began searching for a church home where they truly felt they belonged, and, thankfully, found St. Mary’s. That was 12 years ago, and they couldn’t be happier. Both Ashe and Kaki were confirmed at St Mary’s, and Ashe and his wife, Catherine, were married by David May in April of 2021. Page’s passion for fostering newborns has led to many “baby blessing” services in Little St. Mary’s as well. Jeff has been honored to have served on the St. Mary’s Vestry previously, to have taught youth (middle school) Sunday school, participated in the Outreach and CARITAS Committees, led a pastoral care team, and to have participated in two discernments.
Over the years, St. Mary’s Church has been a part of many joyous and tragic times for Ros. He and his three sisters were baptized at St. Mary’s. In 1971, Holt Sauder, buried his father. A few years later, his mother and stepfather Armistead Talman were married at St. Mary’s. Throughout Ros’ childhood, John Miller shepherded he and his sisters through Confirmation classes and Acolyte duty. Then two of his three children were baptized at St. Mary’s and all three were confirmed and have been acolytes. He and his wife Didi have been Sunday School teachers, prayer readers, and ushers. They’ve enjoyed participating in CARITAS and other St. Mary’s outreach programs. Ros served on the vestry once before and was previously co-chair of the Annual Stewardship Campaign with Jim Crawford. In addition, he has served on the Finance Committee and is currently a member of the Legacy Committee. In 2018, his stepfather Armistead Talman was buried in the churchyard at St. Mary’s. But then in 2020, his mother Peggy and Austin Brockenbrough were married by David May at St. Mary’s in a beautiful, outdoor service in the midst of a pandemic. Ros wrote, “[this church] has been a part of many joyous and tragic times, but I am very grateful to St. Mary’s and am excited to serve on the Vestry.”
Linda is a lifelong Episcopalian, who has attended St. John’s in Hopewell, Wicomico Parish in the Northern Neck, and Hickory Neck in Toano (her grandmother’s church). She graduated from St. Mary’s College in Raleigh and Louisiana State University in New Orleans. Linda and John married after his first year of medical school at Tulane. Following that, Linda worked in IT (long before it was called IT) in New Orleans and Richmond until John completed his residency. Prior to joining St. Mary’s, they were members of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, but then became members of St. Mary’s in the mid 1990’s with four young children. Linda initially volunteered with Sunday School and later served with the Fellowship Committee, CARITAS, Altar Guild, joined a Pastoral Care Team, and became an usher. She treasures the friendships made working with these groups and is grateful for the dedicated staff and others who faithfully work to make St. Mary’s such a special place. Linda is honored to be considered to serve on the Vestry.
Barbara Tavenner is a cradle Episcopalian and was raised at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, NC. She’s been married for 31 years to Bill Tavenner, also a cradle Episcopalian, and they have three sons: Jack (27), Cab (24), and Ben (21). Barbara attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in Finance and worked as a banker for First Union Bank before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Barbara and Bill settled in his hometown of Richmond 20 years ago after six corporate moves and fully enjoy calling Virginia their home. In her free time, Barbara enjoys traveling, playing pickleball, needlepointing, volunteering, and walking their two Golden Retrievers. Currently, she co-chairs the St. Mary’s Newcomer’s Committee with Patsy Simril. Barbara also works part time with Naborforce helping senior citizens by providing social interaction, support for errands and transportation to appointments. She is honored and excited to serve St. Mary’s Church as a new vestry member!
Class of 2024 Vestry Members:
St. Mary’s elected four members in the Class of 2024 to the Vestry at the Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, February 28, 2021.
Ashley Barlow, Senior Warden
Ashley is a lifelong Episcopalian and grew up attending St. Mary’s. When she and her family moved back to Richmond in 2012, they tried out a variety of other Episcopal churches in the Richmond area, but that first Sunday back at St. Mary’s felt like coming home and they have attended St. Mary’s ever since. Ashley has been active in the St. Mary’s community by teaching Sunday School, helping to plan Vacation Bible School, and participating on the Children’s Ministry Committee. Ashley looks forward to growing in faith and God’s love by serving the St. Mary’s community in this new way.
Sam’s, along with his wife Debbie’s, search for a spiritual abode came to an end in November 1986 when Jimmy Burnham’s words filled them with joy and cemented their faith in St. Mary’s community. Jimmy said, “Welcome home.” The following October, Bishop Phillip Smith received Sam and Debbie into the arms of St. Mary’s and their new Episcopal faith. Bishop Smith wrote these words in Sam and Debbie’s Books of Common Prayer, “Welcome home!” Sam immediately began to work with our youth, serving as a Sunday school teacher, and eventually becoming Superintendent of our Sunday school. He also served on the Vestry during the construction of ‘Big’ St. Mary’s. Sam also served on the Organ Committee when St. Mary’s received the gift to install our glorious Schantz organ. Professionally, Sam is a Civil Engineer and worked for James River Corporation for most of his career. In 2007 he left the industrial world, joined the University of Richmond, and started a small consulting firm. He currently teaches career management, personality, leadership, and problem solving in the form of 6 Sigma and Lean. He is honored to serve his family’s spiritual home and looks forward to our continued journey together.
A lifelong Episcopalian, Owen became a member of St. Mary’s in 2000 when she moved to Richmond as an adult. St. Mary’s has always had a special place in Owen’s heart, as her grandparents were members, and her parents were married in Little St. Mary’s in 1963. Owen and her husband, Steve, have three children–Catherine (27), Sarah (24), and Webb (11). Their children have been baptized, confirmed, and/or married at beautiful St. Mary’s! Owen has volunteered in the nursery, taught Sunday school, and served on the Children’s Ministries Committee. She has also enjoyed participating as a greeter and a lay pastoral care team member. Owen is an attorney with Herndon Law P.C. specializing in criminal litigation and estate planning and administration.
Jesse was married to Anne at St. Mary’s and is father to Eleanor and Harry who were both baptized at St. Mary’s. Jesse’s St. Mary’s journey started with meeting with the Rev. Dr. John Miller (prior to marrying Anne) at the front of New St. Mary’s and most recently continued by serving as part of the team that transformed some t-posts, greenery, and a projection screen into a manger for the drive-through Christmas pageant. Through the years at St Mary’s, Jesse has been honored to help with Sunday School, CARITAS dinners, planning for guest speakers, Lay Eucharistic Ministry, fishing club, and helped with a handful of other “things that needed doing.” Jesse grew up on a farm in Timberville, outside Harrisonburg, but has called Richmond and St. Mary’s home for a decade and a half. Jesse is excited about being part of the Vestry based on a conversation he had with the Rev. Andrew Moore years ago that echoes anytime he thinks about volunteering at St Mary’s: “The more you give to St. Mary’s, the more it gives to you.”