Joyful, engaging, loving. Devoted, grace-filled, caring and compassionate. Kind, humble, sincere, responsible. Faithful, fearless, zealous and dedicated. Devout, tireless, welcoming, willing. All of these are adjectives you might use to describe Jesus, and you would be right. They are also just some of the ways that the newest members of the Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna have been described as how they have, and continue to, carry out their ministries in their faith communities and beyond.

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. The Class of 2017 was inducted at a special Eucharist and luncheon at the Procter Center May 10.

Nominations to the society can be made by anyone in the diocese on behalf of individuals who fit the criteria. The nominations are sent to the Affirmative Aging Commission for consideration for the honor. The ten individuals honored this year are:

Anita Beardsell, Christ Church, Springfield
Stuart Collins, St. Patrick’s, Dublin
Betty Crichton, St. Christopher’s, Fairborn
Mary Deisman, Trinity, Troy
Phyllis Donohoe, Trinity, Troy
Sally Johnson, Epiphany, Urbana
Hayward and Telesa Learn, St. Christopher’s, Fairborn
Diane Roberts, All Saints, New Albany
The Rev. Diana Shirley, All Saints, New Albany

Here are some excerpts from their nominations. All of the honorees are loving, caring leaders among us, even though they are, you might say, a little more seasoned. And that is good news for everyone.

~ Julie Murray

Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna Class of 2017


Anita Beardsell, center, enjoys the luncheon

“Anita displays at all times a willingness to serve Christ in all persons,” says her nominator, Doris Holmes. “She is an example to everyone at Christ Church.”

Anita served as parish administrator for 22 years at Christ Church, Springfield. She also served as secretary to the vestry for every meeting during that time. Anita has also headed up the Prayer Chain, delivered soup and bread to sick parishioners, takes yarn to shut-in knitters and parishioners to doctor appointments. She started and maintains a group for single people of the parish called the Lunch Bunch, handling all the details, from choosing the restaurant, making reservations and notifying people of time and place, as well as offering rides to whoever may need it. Anita has served on vestry, and volunteers at the food pantry. She’s a long-time member of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and the Altar Guild, dressing the chapel altar each week. She is also a member of the Peace and Patches quilting group at Christ Church.

In the community, Anita is a long-time member of Young Women’s Mission in Springfield; volunteers weekly in the Nearly New shop (part of YWM); volunteers weekly at the Heritage House; ushers at the Kuss Auditorium; and has sung in two Boar’s Head Festivals.


Stuart Collins, center, attended the ceremony with the Rev. Stephen Smith and Julie Righter, from St. Patrick’s, Dublin

People are drawn to Stu Collins’ caring countenance and sly wit, says his nominator, but no one should overlook his depth of shareable knowledge as he participates in conversations, such as the Group Spiritual Direction group at St. Patrick’s, Dublin.

Stuart was confirmed into the Episcopal Church in 1962. He and his wife Jill became parishioners at St. Patrick’s early on, and were a major supporter and contributor of time, talent and treasure in the early days of St. Pat’s. They sang in the choir for many years, and Stu continues as a Lay Reader. He co-led the Alpha program at St. Pat’s and served on several Faith Alive weekends.

Stu made a Cum Christo weekend in 1976. (Cum Christo is a Columbus-area ecumenical version of Cursillo). He was also on the team for the first Southern Ohio Episcopal Cursillo. Since then, he has met weekly with a group to share prayer, study and action. He is also an active participant in the weekly and monthly prayer chain at St. Pat’s.

Stu’s dedication to Kairos Prison Ministry began in 1997. He has served on 18 weekends at five different prisons, plus the follow up meetings for a year after each weekend. He has also served six years on the Advisory Committee for Kairos at Marion Correctional Institute. Since 2012 he also has been involved in the Embark Program for prisoners who are within a year of their release.

Now a retired physicist, Stu was part of the Fellowship of Christian Faculty and Staff at Ohio State University from 1994 to 2017. As part of that group, he participated in a two-week trip to St. Petersburg in Russia to spread the faith and help with Campus Crusade for Christ in colleges there.


Betty Crichton

“If a picture of a woman of grace would be displayed in a dictionary, the picture would be that of Betty,” says her nominator, the Rev. Ruth Paulus. “Betty is the consummate lady, caring, kind, compassionate, and incredibly humble. Betty will not understand how she could be the recipient of this award. To those of us who know and love her, there is no better person to receive this honor!”

Over the years, Betty has been involved in many endeavors in service to the church and wider community. She has quilted for the St. Clare’s Creatures Comfort group at St. Christopher’s, Fairborn, and is a faithful member of Altar Guild. She has been a choir member, been involved in ECW and supported any ongoing effort by the congregation. A true prayer warrior, Betty is part of the Prayer Chain, constantly praying for those who are in need or distress. And if one is sick, shut in or experiencing life challenges, you can expect to get an uplifting card from Betty to make you smile and lift your spirits.

Betty is a woman of profound faith, availing herself to education programs offered by the church; and never tires in her willingness to pray for others, read Scripture and further her understanding of her faith. Betty asks insightful questions about faith, scripture, and other topics relating to spirituality.

Although past 90, Betty continues steadfast in her execution of responsibilities with family, friends, and church. She gives selflessly without ever considering anything in exchange. Betty lives and loves life to the fullest. She sees the best in people, while realizing we all fall short of the mark. Betty offers a ready smile, a sincere hug, and a willing, open heart. She blesses young and old alike.


Mary is a behind-the-scenes person, combining her keen eye for, and attention to, detail into a ministry for others and for the church. Serving as an office volunteer many years ago at Trinity, Troy, she streamlined and computerized the mailing list for the church, and collated, folded and stamped mailings with labels she had prepared. Mary also made large print hymnals for a sight-impaired parishioner, and weekly types the music for fellow choir musicians.

Mary has sung in the choir since the first Sunday she attended Trinity in 1962. She has served as chalice bearer, lay Eucharistic Visitor, and assistant treasurer. Currently she is a Lay reader, serves on the Worship Committee, continues to volunteer in the office, and continues in her enjoyment of capturing scenes of parish life and people with her camera. Her volunteer work has

Mary Deisman and Phyllis Donohoe


included helping at VBS and the Stepping Stone program for Head Start children transitioning to kindergarten. Presently she continues to volunteer for weekend railway trips in southern Indiana. Her compassion for others and her faith that shines through prayer and “making a joyful noise to the Lord”, are visible expressions of her devotion to Trinity and the Lord.


Faith, grace, service, and hospitality fully describe Phyllis. A cradle Episcopalian, she has served Trinity, Troy, as choir member, Sunday school teacher, convention delegate, convention volunteer, on altar guild and on vestry. She is currently serving on altar guild, the Fellowship Committee, and is a regular and enthusiastic participant in the weekly Sunday Forum.

Trinity supports the local Partners in Hope program, and Phyllis has offered numerous volunteer hours participating in their Circle program as an “ally”. She also is a caregiver for a family member. With “Anna-like” humility and service, Phyllis is also the Sunday morning church opener, coffee maker, greeter, and welcomer of supply priests.

Welcoming, faithful, and extremely prayerful and devout, she is the living example of God’s desire for humanity – to do what is fair and just to our neighbor, to be compassionate and loyal in our love, and walk with humility before our God.


Sally Johnson

Sally is involved in every activity at Epiphany, Urbana. She is known as the photographic “historian” at the church, and can be found snapping away at Easter Egg hunts, swim parties and Christmas parties, as well as monthly outreach meals, all church events, youth choir rehearsals and concerts. In addition, Sally is editor, photographer, and reporter for the Cluster Chronicle, the newsletter for the churches of the Northern Miami Valley Episcopal Cluster.

Sally is a tireless and staunch supporter and board member of the Champaign County Youth Choir since its inception. Her efforts have been instrumental in finding and contacting businesses and organizations in the community as funding sources. Her community involvement is legendary, having served on the planning committee for the Arts Affair, and as a member of the Champaign County Arts Council Board for thirty years. She volunteers for many groups doing fundraising, writing press releases, recruiting materials and newsletters for non-profit organizations.

A humble woman of deep faith and prayer, Sally’s daily readings of Scripture, devotionals, and journaling are critical to her well-being.


Hayward Learn

Hayward is a very knowledgeable kid at heart, having a very childlike faith that is complex yet simple. He openly shares his love of the liturgy and the church with passion laced with a great deal of flare. He isn’t afraid to show joy in church. He is a hit with the kids and parents alike! Yet, his serious side shows a man of faith that is incredibly caring, sincere, engaged, principled and involved in the life of the church and community. A man of few words, the words he speaks are profound and thoughtful.

Hayward expends a great deal of time, talent and energy towards the youth of St. Christopher’s, Fairborn. Concerned with their spiritual formation, experientially and otherwise, he has organized trips to Mountain Top, Halloween parties, overnight lock-ins, canoe/camping trips and more. All are focused on not only fun, but how God works in and through these events. He is a ready support of the kids, but also, others in the congregation. He lends his talents in many areas to meet the many and varied needs of the community. A “Jack of all Trades” and master of many, he serves humbly and does not enjoy being in the spotlight.

Hayward proudly claims his Anglican/Episcopal roots, and meets with others for breakfast for spiritual fellowship. Truly a deep spiritual thinker, Hayward has solid insight into walking with God on a daily basis and how that informs his life interfacing with others.

Hayward engages in servant ministry in so many ways. He extends his efforts in all areas, not just that of congregational ministry. He does not meet a stranger. Others would know he is Christian by his love.


Telesa Learn receives her certificate from Bishop Breidenthal

Telesa readily shares her faith with others, and the faithfulness of God working in and through her life in its entirety. Telesa’s life has been multicultural in location and belief systems. She exhibits a lovely sensitivity and respect of various ways of looking at God and God’s activity, no matter what the prevalent culture would be. Respect and honor is front and center with Telesa, of others and self.

Telesa is a “behind the scenes” person. She is a “Martha” with a “Mary” heart. She tends to so many things around the church. She is very concerned about the welfare of others in the congregation and fearlessly stands up for social justice issues and what is right.

Telesa faithfully attends adult forums at St. Christopher’s and adds much to the discussion with insightful comments and questions. She sings in the choir and shares her talents with others through music. She often attends healing services and is a prayer warrior for those in distress or facing challenges. Over the years, she has tended to the gardens/flower beds and indoor foliage at the church with loving care. If there is a function or event going on, you can always count on Telesa to be present and helping out. Service above self is how Telesa operates. She and her husband, Hayward, are engaged in civic events and concerns, not only in the congregation but also in the community at large.


Diane Roberts receives her certificate from the Rev. Jason Prati from All Saints, New Albany

Diane is a true example of Christian witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her heart is full of compassion for the less fortunate, the disenfranchised, and the outcast. During her many years as a social worker, she fought for the rights of women and the poor. Now in her retirement, she continues this good work in bringing Christ’s love and light to the world. As a faithful and practicing Episcopalian, Diane truly lives out her Baptismal Covenant with zeal and compassion.

Diane has created a program at All Saints, New Albany, called “Seasoned Saints,” a support group for retirees and those aging. The group gathers for Eucharist, a shared meal, and some form of activity or outing to build community, engage in outreach work, and support the parish. With her artistic talents, she also helped create the large Nativity scene at All Saints alongside of her carpenter husband, Jim. As faithful office volunteers, Diane and Jim also assist in the creation of the weekly bulletins. She is an active member on the All Saints Outreach Committee.

Diane partnered with members of Temple Beth Shalom, a reformed Jewish congregation that shares parking space with All Saints, to facilitate a “Mitzvah Day” of good works, in which both congregations joined together to engage in outreach endeavors. She is currently working with nearby Noor Mosque to create a bridge to the Muslim community as well.

Diane is a faithful disciple of prayer. She attends Sunday Eucharists, the Divine Office during the week, as well as Thursday night Eucharist. Her acts of love are brought forth from the wonderful life of prayer that she has. Her relationship to Jesus is clear and evident.


The Rev. Diana Shirley listens as she is presented for induction as her husband, the Rev. Fred Shirley, looks on.

“Deacon Diana Shirley is one of the most amazing disciples of Jesus Christ that I know,” says her nominator, the Rev. Jason Prati. “Her love and zealousness to serving the Lord and His people is tremendous. Her heart for service as a Deacon is evident and powerful. Not only does she fit the model for Deacon, but her life as a Christian is amazing and beautiful.”

Deacon Diana has developed and leads the Pastoral Care Team at All Saints, New Albany. She is quick to assist when someone is in need, either physically or spiritual. Calls, visits, setting up transportation for elderly parishioners, coordinating food drop-offs, creating many prayer shawls and reaching out to family members of sick parishioners are just some of the ways in which Deacon Diana assists those in need. She also leads the Sunday school program coordinating volunteers and teachers, assisting in the redevelopment of the Sunday School curriculum, and even teaches classes herself.

As a certified spiritual director, Deacon Diana is assisting many candidates in the diocese who are discerning vocations to the diaconate or priesthood. She is a person of deep prayer. Her passion for ministry is fueled by her prayer life and relationship with Jesus Christ.

Deacon Diana never wants to be the center of attention. She quietly works in the Lord’s Vineyard in humility and kindness. She does what she does because of Christ and her love for Him and His Church.


Photos by Julie Murray/Diocese of Southern Ohio.