Message from Fr. Paul

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  -  Eleanor Roosevelt

Most of our normal practices have been disrupted over the past year.  This is true at church, in reality, it is true in almost every aspect of life.  The initial disruption was very abrupt, which made adaption more challenging.  As we anticipate the emergence from the pandemic, we may find that we don't want everything to revert to the way it was.  

Don't be mistaken, I urge each of us to remain vigilant in our COVID prevention practices.  It is essential as we care for ourselves and one another.  But I hope we can also dream together of those things to which we may return, as well as what may emerge as our common life and ministry grow.

I hope that our annual meeting on Sunday will help us reflect together about the last year.  I hope also that it serves as a spark for us to imagine our future.  Please plan to attend the meeting, preparing with the material provided.  Please hold this time in prayer before and following, that God's spirit may lead us and unite us now and always.

Ascension - Annual Parish Report (2 opti

Our Newest Vestry Members

Andrew Bolt

Member Since 2007

Education: BS Communications Southern Illinois University

Occupation: Digital Marketing Employer: Frontier Communications Work and Leadership

Experience: Departmental Director | Lead corporate teams | Project manage initiatives | Manage vendor relationships

Prior Vestry Experience: None

 

Prior Convention Delegate Experience: None

Leadership and participation in Parish Ministries & Activities:  Men’s Group, Finance Committee, Church clean-up, barbeque-parish picnics, Nativity, cooking for outreach, etc.

Community Activities & Organizations (not for profit or civic): Volunteer at children’s school

 

What drew you to consider Vestry leadership at this time? After years of being a parishioner, I would like to help the mission of The Church of the Ascension in any way I can.

 

In addition to your professional expertise, what unique gifts, talents, and experience would you bring to the Vestry?  I enjoy working collaboratively with others and consider myself very service-oriented. In terms of skills, I have a background in marketing and video.

 

What do you hope for Ascension over the next 3-5 years? I hope to see the church grow and prosper, and see future members deepen their relationship with Christ and the church as our family has.

 

If selected for this role, what activities, ministries, or areas of parish life would you like to be involved in?

I would be open to serving in any way I can, but I think I could be helpful in promoting Ascension through video and online platforms.

 

How has Ascension continued to form and inspire your faith? I have been extremely fortunate to participate in and benefit from many church activities. However, the men’s group has been especially helpful in my faith journey. I’ll always be grateful to Doug Taber for recruiting me some years ago. Between the books we’ve read, deep discussions we’ve had, and the friendships and activities that have grown from it, it has given me an opportunity to think more thoughtfully about my faith and role as a Christian.

I have also seen the positive impact Ascension has had on our family, specifically our children (Nathan and Fiona), who were both baptized here. Ascension helps me in my quest to be a better Christian, husband and father.

Harry Breda

Member Since 2014

 

Education: BA, University of Texas,1992 | MBA, University of Houston, 2002

Occupation: Marketing | ALM First, LLC

Work and Leadership Experience: I’ve been in the financial business most of my career, first building products as a product manager, and, most recently, in a marketing capacity, leading a small team to develop campaigns and promotional content for our products and services.

 

Prior Vestry Experience: Prior to moving to Dallas in 2014, I served for two years on the Vestry at St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Golden, Colorado, a church about a third the size of Ascension. The challenges were similar – how to attract new parishioners, how to engage current parishioners, and how to include Jesus in your day-to-day life. Since 2018, I’ve served as clerk of the Vestry here at Ascension. I’ve been in the room for many of the consequential decisions of the past three years, keeping faithful records of the process and occasionally participating in debate when it was needed.

 

Prior Convention Delegate Experience: None.

 

Leadership and participation in Parish Ministries & Activities: I have worked with the Radical Hospitality committee for the past three years, both contributing and leading to events. I’ve also participated in serving at Austin Street Center, bringing lasagna, cookies, Tabasco sauce and hope to the guests there.

 

Community Activities & Organizations (not for profit or civic): I volunteer for the PTA at both Prestonwood Elementary School and Richardson High School. I also volunteer to help with the RHS band and theater programs, and was the field leader this year for the RHS Band “Rhythm Movers,” the crew that brought equipment on and off the field. I also have been a volunteer soccer coach for the past four years, as an assistant and a head coach, growing with Thomas’s team at Prestonwood Elementary since he was in third grade.

 

What drew you to consider Vestry leadership at this time? I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that a church is at the same time a place of worship, a spiritual center, as well as a business. As clerk for three years, I’ve seen how our Vestry has put the spiritual side squarely in front of the business side on a regular basis. We’ve been blessed with great leadership on our Vestry, and I feel I’ve learned a lot from being present and observing how they consistently focus on spiritual needs and the church’s mission in the community. I’ve learned from Jane Taber that you can always spare another hour to work on Vestry business. Scott King showed me how to be meticulous and precise in sharing ideas and concepts. Audry Lee continues to be an advocate for passionate outreach. And Avery Hoenig showed me that a welcoming place like Ascension always needs a warm smile and a friendly hug.

 

In addition to your professional expertise, what unique gifts, talents and experience would you bring to the Vestry? I believe I bring creativity and an ability to think outside the box, which can help as we seek solutions to engage people and encourage them to join us in worship. My experience with the Radical Hospitality committee – and the last twelve months of virtual worship and Zoom gatherings – has taught me that there’s no substitute for actual, side-by-side togetherness.

 

What do you hope for Ascension over the next 3-5 years? First, like everyone, I hope we are able to worship together, in person, in the same building, very soon. I also hope we are able to take the lessons we’ve learned through this pandemic – virtual assembly, improvising schedules, communication techniques, and ongoing outreach – and continue them in the post-pandemic period. I also hope that Ascension will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and light for Dallas and all of North Texas.

If selected for this role, what activities, ministries, or areas of parish life would you like to be involved in? I imagine I’ll continue to work with Radical Hospitality, as I enjoy throwing parties and getting people together. I’m a natural introvert, so this assignment forces me to break out of that shell and be involved in parish life. I’d also like to be involved with Stewardship, as there are a number of creative ways to ask parishioners to prayerfully consider supporting the church and its many activities. Last, I’d like to spend more time with the men’s group – it’s always been a wish of mine, but too often I sleep in on Sundays.

 

How has Ascension continued to form and inspire your faith? It’s the people of Ascension that are inspiring. I enjoy watching the youth begin their journey in the formation classes, seeing young families at ADS or in worship together, and joining in round table discussions with more seasoned parishioners. The diversity throughout the church makes is an inspiring place to call home.

Ashley Rector

Member Since 2017

 

Education: B.A. in Religious Studies – College of William and Mary | M.E. in Curriculum & Instruction - University of Texas at Arlington

Occupation: Mother

Work and Leadership Experience:  N/A

Elementary Teacher, Roanoke City Public Schools (Roanoke, VA)
Elementary Teacher, Greene County Public Schools 
(Greene County, VA)
Elementary Teacher, Holmes County Public Schools (Holmes County, MS)

 

Prior Vestry Experience: None  

 

Prior Convention Delegate Experience: 2020 Convention Delegate

 

Leadership and participation in Parish Ministries & Activities: 2020 Diocesan Convention Delegate | Finance Committee Member | Room mother – Ascension Day School | Saints and Sinners Dinner Group | Stults Road Pen Pal Participant

Community Activities & Organizations (not for profit or civic): Chair – Lake Highlands Area Early Childhood PTA Playgroup

What drew you to consider Vestry leadership at this time? I have enjoyed getting more involved at Ascension during the past few years and making greater connections with church members. Having been unable to attend services for the past ten months has weighed heavily on me and made me appreciate the many benefits I receive from attending church at Ascension. I would like to show that appreciation by taking an active role in helping lead the church in the coming years.

 

In addition to your professional expertise, what unique gifts, talents, and experience would you bring to the Vestry? As a mother to two (soon to be three!) young children, I believe that I bring a different perspective than many other Ascension members. I am eager to see the life of our church include many opportunities for young children to grow in their knowledge and love of God and Jesus while also building cross-generational relationships. I am a strong communicator and a practical planner – I know that as a former elementary teacher and a mother balancing many roles I can bring that same energy to Ascension.

 

What do you hope for Ascension over the next 3-5 years? First, like everyone, I hope we are able to worship together, in person, in the same building, very soon. I also hope we are able to take the lessons we’ve learned through this pandemic – virtual assembly, improvising schedules, communication techniques, and ongoing outreach – and continue them in the post-pandemic period. I also hope that Ascension will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and light for Dallas and all of North Texas.

If selected for this role, what activities, ministries, or areas of parish life would you like to be involved in? I view Ascension as a welcoming environment for all, and I would like to see that continue. Additionally, I would like to see us continue our emphasis on outreach to young families and first-time church members, including ensuring that my children and their peers are raised in a vibrant, joyful church family in the years to come. I am eager to find ways for our youngest members to be included in the rich tradition of community outreach that Ascension commits to each year. I also have two children who attend Ascension Day School and want to ensure that as a church we continue to mission to the religious formation of our local children and find ways (as it becomes safe again) for our members to interact with the school. Finally, I would like to continue to grow the local community’s awareness of the good work Ascension is doing – I want to make sure people know about all the amazing things going on at our church! With these hopes comes a desire to see the continued tradition of balanced budgets and successful parish communications and operations – areas that have been highlighted to me as so important as we have faced the challenges of the past year.

 

How has Ascension continued to form and inspire your faith? I have missed attending services during much of the past year, but I am incredibly grateful for the commitment Ascension staff and parishioners have made to allow us to continue to worship. This year has held many personal challenges and I find myself returning to the rock that is Scripture and to the church community at Ascension that nurtures it – it has allowed me to deepen my prayer life and my faith in what has been a year of tests. Holding this year apart from others, gathering with the people at Ascension and weekly sermons leave me with a place to ground my family and my faith each week.

2021 Diocesan Delegates

John Dexter

Member Since 1966

 

Education:  Ph.D. The University of Texas at Tyler |  MBA, The University of Texas at Tyler | MS, The University of Texas at Tyler | BS, The University of New York, Albany | Episcopal School of Dallas (high school)

 

Occupation: Professor of Management

Employer:  Sorrell College of Business | Troy University, Troy, Alabama

Work and Leadership Experience:  

  • Senior Vice President and Chief Administration Officer, Caliber Home Loans

  • Senior Vice President and Chief Administration Office, TravelCLICK, LLC.

  • Vice President and Chief Administration Officer, Hotels.com / Expedia

  • Director, HR, Global eCommerce and Catalog Businesses, Office Depot

  • Director and Chief HR Officer, TranSouth Financial

  • Nuclear Engineer, US Navy

Prior Vestry Experience: None  

 

Prior Convention Delegate Experience: None

 

Leadership and participation in Parish Ministries & Activities: Ascension Food Pantry; Ascension Tasby Middle School Food Pantry; Austin Street Ministry

Community Activities & Organizations (not for profit or civic): Parkland Foundation (volunteer); Meals on Wheels

Why do you want to serve as a convention delegate? I want to understand the mission and vision of the diocese, how Ascension meets that mission/vision, and be able to provide influence and input into a unified vision within Ascension as well as across congregations. 

What do you hope for Ascension over the next 3-5 years? 

  • -Enhance Community Outreach opportunities.

  • -Continue to grow the congregation and attract “younger” members.

  • -Enhance the depth of Christian education and understanding.

How has Ascension continued to form and inspire your faith? Having been a member of Ascension nearly all of my life, Ascension has provided my family and me with four generations of Christian values and guidance and has formed a lifelong commitment to Christ.  Ascension has always been a significant part of my family’s life as well as that of my grandparents (Jack and Margaret Fenton) and my mother (Marian Dexter).

Laura Schmidt

Member Since 2017

 

Education: B.A. English – Univ. of North Texas | M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction –  Univ. of Houston

 

Occupation: Marketing Communications Manager

 

Employer: The University of Texas at Dallas

Work and Leadership Experience:  Since August 2018, I have worked on the communications team at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas. Our team (I am primarily a writer) manages the school’s website, social media presence, peer-to-peer advertising, and content marketing, including a research magazine, as well as virtual events support. The school has a number of accomplished research professors with activities of interest to media in highly technical fields such as cybersecurity, biomedical engineering, Internet of Things (IoT) technology, wind engineering, and more. I enjoy the broad range of tasks involved with my job.

 

Previously, when my children were infants and younger toddlers, I was a freelance copywriter for four years with clients in education. I was also a marketing manager of creative services for American College of Education, an online school specifically for educators, where I executed creative projects while managing freelance creative professionals and agency relationships. 

 

Early in my career, I worked in nonprofit development for a faith-based relief organization (GRACE) and as a teacher, so my work has always been related to education or social service in some capacity. 

Prior Vestry Experience: None  

 

Prior Convention Delegate Experience: 2020 Convention Delegate

 

Leadership and participation in Parish Ministries & Activities: Stewardship committee member, Godly Play teacher

My son also attended Ascension Day School as a toddler, which drew us to this church.

Community Activities & Organizations (not for profit or civic): School parent volunteering, previously participated in program at International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Dallas to do volunteer communications work.

Why do you want to serve as a convention delegate? I enjoyed participating in the convention last year, even in a virtual capacity, and I would like to continue building connections across our diverse diocese.

What do you hope for Ascension over the next 3-5 years? I hope that Ascension can retain its unique identity as a place where people come to serve and where all are welcome and accepted. I also hope that it can continue to adapt and meet the needs of the surrounding community, bringing people of all ages to follow the way of Jesus by example. I am heartened by the way the church has adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic through providing virtual offerings and has increased its commitment to racial reconciliation. I hope we will continue to reach children and build back programs as we are able to gather more in person.

 

How has Ascension continued to form and inspire your faith? I have been inspired by the beautiful liturgy (this is still newer to me, coming from a different background), the music and the connections I have found here, even through Zoom. Through confirmation, I have re-examined many core aspects of faith, including baptism. More than ever, I appreciate that our church has spoken out about social issues, and I also appreciate the effort and care that went into connecting people during the Advent season while highly valuing health and safety. Our church is progressive and traditional at the same time. It is also uniquely focused on service. I have found thought-provoking conversation with people who may have attended the church for decades as well as visitors who are interested in finding a church home.

8787 Greenville Avenue

Dallas, TX 75243

214.340.4196

info@ascensiondallas.org