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.
RHODA AND SPENCER ALLEN, TRINITY, COLUMBUS
Described 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.
HAZEL BOETTCHER, ST. LUKE’S, MARIETTA
Hazel 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.
JUDY COOK, ST. PAUL’S, DAYTON
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.
TONI OLGEATY, ST. CHRISTOPHER’S, FAIRBORN
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.
RUTH VANCE, EPIPHANY, URBANA
Ruth 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.
GERRIE ZUST, ST. MATTHEW’S, WESTERVILLE
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.
Connections editor Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.