A leader is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as

A person or thing that holds a dominant or superior position within its field, and is able to exercise a high degree of control or influence over others.

I prefer the definition found in Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary:

1. Someone or something that leads others: such as someone who guides other people


2. A powerful person who controls or influences what other people do: a person who leads a group, organization, country, etc.

Guidance and influence sound so much friendlier than dominance, superiority and control, and yet, all of them fundamentally contribute to the ability to get people to do things that are beyond themselves. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to get done because he wants to do it.” I would add that if you want to get someone to want to do what you want done, caring and guidance will probably get you a lot further than dominance and control.

We have leaders among us who have demonstrated that caring guidance well into their golden years. The Diocese of Southern Ohio recognizes the leadership and ministry of our elder members yearly with inductions into the Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna. The Society was created by the Affirmative Aging Commission in the mid-1990s as a way to recognize, honor and celebrate the wisdom, experience, maturity and achievements of older persons in our faith communities.

Simeon and Anna are two individuals noted in the story of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in the Gospel of Luke, who in addition to being described as devout and righteous were also described as old. Not quite Methuselah old, but pretty old – Simeon clocking in at over 200 years old, and Anna somewhere around 105. Simeon, also called Simeon the God-Receiver, had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And so for many years, with patience and faithful determination Simeon waited and watched and remained observant and open to receive that word. Anna the Prophetess was a widow who had lived and worshipped in the Temple and prophesied about the coming of Jesus for eighty-something years.

Even at their advanced ages, Simeon and Anna were great models of leadership in their communities, but with very different styles – Simeon modeling leadership by showing the importance of waiting and listening for the Holy Spirit even in adversity, while Anna modeled it by guiding and preparing the community for the arrival of the Savior.

Twelve new members of the Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna were honored at a luncheon at the Procter Center following their induction on April 27. Below, meet these leaders and learn a little about how they have modeled loving, caring, leadership for many years in their communities by waiting, watching, guiding, preparing, and sometimes even taking control. I think we would all do well to follow in their footsteps.

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AllenDescribed as a true “team,” Rhoda and Spencer Allen, communicants of Trinity Church, Capitol Square, Columbus, for some 12 years, complement one another in obvious and subtle ways. He is expansive, provocative, original, and boldly familiar with strangers to the congregation; she is calming, gracious, other-directed and warm to all. Both have served terms on Trinity’s vestry; Rhoda is the current Junior Warden. Rhoda has been director of the Altar Guild for some seven years and assists in Trinity’s wedding ministry. Her careful attention to detail and order is complemented by her respect for every human being who comes through the doors. Rhoda also works closely with the Parish Life Ministry Team, and she and Spencer have participated in Columbus’ faith-based community organization known as B.R.E.A.D. Spencer is an active and energetic participant in the Adult Formation classes on Sunday mornings, and his comments and stories enliven every discussion. He encourages fellow parishioners to step outside their comfort zones and talk to people they might ordinarily avoid. His example of personal assistance to people in need, just through his own goodness, inspires others to do more.

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Bob Beiring at the luncheon with Christ Church Cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Gail Greenwell.

Bob Beiring at the luncheon with Christ Church Cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Gail Greenwell.

Robert (Bob) Beiring has been an active member of Christ Church for more than 40 years. He is a man of great humility but with great passion for living the gospel day by day. Many families and individuals at Christ Church came because of Bob’s incredible hospitality and welcome. He knows the power of Christian community to transform a life. For 38 years Bob has served as the director of the Boar’s Head Yule Log Festival, the cathedral’s annual gift to the City of Cincinnati. Not only does he direct a breathtaking series of performances but he also embraces and welcomes hundreds of cast members, musicians and singers from around the city, young and old, Episcopalians and many others. Bob and Boar’s Head have been responsible for bringing countless scores of people into the Episcopal Church and to a relationship with Christ. Bob creates an esprit de corps that brings both cast members and audiences back year after year. Additionally, Bob serves as a cook and greeter for more than 200 guests who attend the cathedral’s weekly dinner on Tuesday evenings, known as the 5000 Club. Bob sees Christ in each person and treats everyone as a gift from God. People feel blessed to be in his presence.[/su_box]


HAZEL BOETTCHERHazel Boettcher first encountered St. Luke’s Church and the Episcopal Church as a newly arrived student from New Jersey at Marietta College in the 1960s, and has remained an active member ever since. She currently serves as Treasurer of the parish. During the past fifty-odd years Hazel has served on almost every board and service project of the parish. She has been a member of the vestry, Senior Warden, a member of the ECW and its president (as well as treasurer). She also has taken an active role in the social outreach of the parish (e. g. our Free Community meal and Holy Moly reading program). For many years, Hazel served as Postmaster of the Reno office of the USPS, so she knows and is known by a great many community leaders. She has served for several years as both a state and national officer for the retired Postmasters association. Hazel also has given much time and expertise in the service of community organizations in the Marietta area, especially the Red Cross. She has accomplished all this while rearing five children and attending to several grandchildren.


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CAROL CISLERA native of Marietta, Carol Cisler arrived at St. Luke’s in 2001 as a result of a “Take a Friend to Church” Sunday. Three months after her arrival she was asked to chair the Fellowship Committee. Since then she has filled almost every position in the parish. Carol has served as a member of the vestry for several terms and as Senior Warden. She has been a faithful member of the Altar Guild, Outreach Committee, and ECW (as president and as treasurer). She has served as volunteer secretary/receptionist one day a week for quite some time. These days, Carol is responsible for issuing a weekly electronic “Friday Updates” newsletter to the parish.

After working for a law firm in town for two years, Carol married her husband, Bill, and began a family, which grew to three children. She spent their early years as a homemaker, and developed a life-long interest in horses that led her to enroll in riding lessons, and eventually to being involved in teaching, showing, training and boarding them. She spent several years involved in 4-H projects demonstrating training and riding techniques and judging at horse shows. She offered classes in riding disciplines and horsemanship at Marietta College. She has received a number of honors for her knowledge of horsemanship, animal sciences, and animal health care. Carol has also served the community as a dispatcher with the local Fire Department and Chief of the EMT Squad. She has been active in her local American Legion chapter. Since the early 90s, Carol has spent much of her time tending to her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Carol is herself a woman of deep faith, who is confident that it was the prayers of the parish community that helped her endure the loss of her husband in 2004 and her daughter in 2011. She is generally known about the parish to be a woman of insight who speaks her mind, and always in a loving way. She is just the kind of person that every parish relies on. [/su_box]


Judy Cook enjoys the celebratory luncheon with guest Larry Welsh

Judy Cook enjoys the celebratory luncheon with guest Larry Welsh

Judy Cook exemplifies Christian ministry, both in regard to her invaluable work at St. Paul’s and in her extensive community leadership.

As Senior Warden at St. Paul’s, Judy led the congregation through a difficult time of transition. She addressed conflicts through empathic listening, accepting differences and seeking understanding and resolution of divergent views when possible. Prayer and a deep religious faith provided Judy with God’s guidance and consolation during those challenging times.

In addition to serving as Senior Warden, Judy was a Sunday School teacher for 15 years, past director of the Altar Guild, EMC Co-Chair, and both an alternate and delegate to diocesan conventions. She served on the Rector Search Committee, the Finance Committee and was chair of St. Paul’s Nominating Committee.

Christian values also undergirded Judy’s work as Mayor of the City of Oakwood for eight years. She threw much of her energy into an aggressive effort to build a diverse community, encouraging the integration of families of all ethnic and religious backgrounds into Oakwood, essentially an upscale community. Her efforts were successful since Oakwood now counts among its citizens African-Americans, Muslims and many Jewish people who add vitality to the community and enrichment to the schools.

Judy’s community work was recognized by the Dayton Daily News as one of Dayton’s Ten Top Women in 2005. She is a mentor to many younger women, encouraging them by example to challenge themselves and become actively involved in the church and community.

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The Rev. Abby Flemister receives her award from event host, the Rev. Nancy Hardin.

The Rev. Abby Flemister receives her award from event host, the Rev. Nancy Hardin.

The life of the Rev. Abeoseh Flemister, fondly known to many as Mother Abby, is a faithful witness to the bountiful fruits of the Spirit. While one can think of examples of how each of the individual fruits are manifested in her life and ministry, the one with which she is most identified is JOY! The witness of Mother Abby’s life – through many different circumstances and challenges – is one of pure joy, freely shared with all. Her boundless energy is apparent in who she is and in all she does. Mother Abby is a native of Liberia, where she was called to ministry and ordained priest. Her ministry in our diocese is most closely associated with her leadership of Partners-in-Ministry-in-Liberia (PIMIL), established in 2005 at St. Matthew’s, Westerville. PIMIL brings together individuals and organizations in the United States to support the educational needs of Liberian children. Her missionary zeal and advocacy of PIMIL have contributed to the PIMIL story being told throughout the diocese. Over just the past four years, more than $80,000 has been sent to Liberia from PIMIL. Mother Abby’s witness to a life of prayer is inspirational to all who know her. Following closely the news of the world and local community, Abby is intentional about daily offering thanksgivings and raising petitions. She brings the concerns of her faith community to her prayers. Her discerning spirit and openness to those around her continually draw people who need a quiet word of encouragement. Liberia is far from the Diocese of Southern Ohio – roughly 5,000 miles. More than any other person in the diocese, Mother Abby makes the people of Liberia feel like our neighbors. While she always holds them before us in prayer and in her conversations, during the Ebola crisis she put names of family members and students on the anonymous faces of the epidemic. Her presence among us challenges and encourages us to follow Christ’s example of loving all of God’s children.[/su_box]


Toni Olgeaty is applauded by Bishop Breidenthal.

Toni Olgeaty is applauded by Bishop Breidenthal.

Toni Olgeaty is a longtime member of St. Christopher’s, where she serves as a Worship Leader, reader and healing minister. A multiple cancer survivor, she constantly proclaims the healing power of prayer. Her faith is stellar and unshakable, even in the wake of cancer recurrences. She writes an article for St. Christopher’s monthly newsletter about the healing power of prayer. Her faith and conviction is unmistakable. With God, her cup is always overflowing.

Toni has been involved in a variety of ministries. She has served multiple times on vestry. She engages in cooking for various affairs held as fundraisers for the church. She is a part of the St. Clare’s Group, which knits prayer shawls. As the head of the Worship Committee she makes sure acolytes, readers, lay leaders, chalice bearers and healing prayer people are scheduled. She oversees the Altar Guild and the Tuesday Healing Service, as well as healing prayers offered on Sunday. Toni heads up the Prayer Chain and she is a Worship Leader and prayer “cheerleader” – truly encouraging others by word and action to pray without ceasing. She has a willing ear to listen to the stories of others in need. Her compassion and love are tremendous.

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Honoree Ed Smith and wife Carole at the luncheon held at Procter Center.

Ed Smith is the true example of living out the Great Commandment with great humility. He is an “unseen” force behind a lot of what goes on at St. Christopher’s and in the community in general. Always eager and willing to lend a hand to help in any way he can, he does so not desiring any recognition. Ed has been active with the Boy Scouts for decades and is an Eagle Scout himself. Retired from the Air Force, he has worked in the community in many capacities and is a wonderful volunteer. If a neighbor needs anything, he is the first to be there to lend a hand. Ed serves the parish as a chalice bearer and acolyte. He readily fills in if someone is away or cannot fulfill their duties. Ed has served on the vestry numerous times. He and his wife Carole head up the parish Foyer groups, and they host an Annual Christmas Party at which Ed skillfully poses as Santa Claus. His daughter and her family also are faithful members of St. Christopher’s. They serve as stellar examples of generational faith in action, as well as model a wholesome Christian family life.[/su_box]


VanceRuth Vance indeed lives a compassionate and faithful life. A life-long Episcopalian, she has a deep love for the sacramental life of the church. She is fully committed to both her own family and her church family.

A woman of deep faith and prayer she is active in every facet of church life and a tireless supporter of all our activities. Indeed, when her parish (one of our cluster churches) Holy Trinity, Bellefontaine closed, Ruth and a few others didn’t miss a beat by coming the next Sunday to Epiphany.

She’s served for numbers of years on vestry, altar guild, and Shrove Tuesday pancake supper chair or participant. She attends weekly Bible study, and participates in seasonal book studies and retreats. She has a prayer shawl ministry, anonymously supplying shawls for those in the parish who are ill, as well as to two extended care facilities in Logan and Champaign counties.

Ruth is extremely active in Epiphany’s outreach ministries, serving at monthly community meals and as a beloved elf – complete with curled toes – at our Well Child Christmas party. She can be seen hiding Easter eggs in the park and attending swim parties and zoo trips, also a part of our Well Child Ministry. She is a yearly enthusiastic camper at Procter’s Family Camp, and has taken one of the young campers we sponsor for family camp under her wing with great loving care and patience. She is often asked to be a baptismal or confirmation sponsor – responsibilities she takes very seriously.

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Hank Wendorf receives his certificate from Society member Michael Kilbourne.

Hank Wendorf has been a member of St. John’s, Cambridge, since 1964. Deacon Bob Howell describes him as the “EverReady bunny” of St. John’s, always answering the call to service when asked, and often stepping up without being asked because he sees something that needs to get done. Hank helps with setting up for each service, does the service programs, takes care of the accounting, does the yearly parochial reports, and has served on the Vestry for numerous terms. He and his wife regularly attend Bible study, and Hank fills in to lead Compline and Morning Prayer services at St. John’s when a supply priest is not available, usually about once a month. Hank is a resident at the ERS Cambridge Heights community and is active there as well, participating in their parish Health Ministry program. All this while also being a two-time cancer survivor and having had heart surgery and multiple joint surgeries. Hank just keeps on going, always helping, always being there to answer God’s call to service.[/su_box]


Honoree Gerrie Zust was accompanied to the luncheon by her daughter Sandy Croucher and son, Bob Zust.

Honoree Gerrie Zust was accompanied to the luncheon by her daughter Sandy Croucher and son, Bob Zust.

Long before Bishop Breidenthal encouraged members of the diocese to be “connectors”, Gerrie Zust excelled at creating events, spaces and opportunities to gather and welcome people into her home, the church, and other community organizations, and then to connect them to one another to strengthen the community and ensure that everyone felt included. She is one of St. Matthew’s parishioners who most faithfully embody the ministry of radical inclusion and hospitality.

For many years Gerrie has been the Altar Guild at St. Matthew’s, which is especially challenging as the church has been worshipping in at least six different locations, currently in a pub. No well-appointed, spacious sacristy; Gerrie operated out of the trunk of her car! She has demonstrated her gift of creativity in creating a worship space for various liturgical seasons and events in a decidedly “secular” venue.

Gerrie prays with her whole body. Often during the prayers and hymns, Gerrie prays using American Sign Language. Additionally, she is one of several “intercessors” to whom people go following the Eucharist to ask for laying on of hands and prayers for special needs. She also prays with those to whom she takes the Eucharist as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor. As part of her daily devotions, after reading the Bible and reflections each morning, she prays – for those on her own prayer list, for those on the church’s prayer list, and for the Anglican Cycle of Prayer. She also was previously the head of the prayer chain.

Gerrie, and her beloved husband of almost 50 years, Bob (now deceased), have been members of St. Matthew’s since 1969. But they were never the “sit quietly in the pew on Sunday” kinds of members. They were both integral to St. Matt’s very being – woven throughout the fabric of the church’s history, life and ministries. They reared their three children, Vicki, Bob and Sandy, in a home filled with examples of how to be a faithful follower; they must have done it well because all three are now adults who are following their parents’ example of Christian living.

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The Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna was created in mid-1990s as a way to honor the leadership of the elders in our community. The first members were inducted in 1995. Each year, congregations can nominate any person who is at least 60 years of age and an Episcopalian for 15 or more years. You can learn more about the Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna or how to nominate an individual for induction at http://diosohio.org/congregations-2/generational-ministry/affirmative-aging/[/su_note]

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Murray, Julie_bwConnections editor Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at jmurray@diosohio.org


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