The clergy and staff of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension work closely with the congregation to meet the needs of the church and the community.


The Rev. Paul Klitzke Fr. Paul Klitzke is the Rector at Ascension. He is a life-long Episcopalian, and is married with two children. He has a BA in Fine Arts Administration and a Masters of Divinity from The School of Theology at The University of the South (aka Sewanee). From 2005-2010 he served in Alaska, performing missional ministry: arranging for church groups to assist with ministries throughout the state and serving a small church in Wasilla. From 2010-2015 serving a church plant in Kapolei, Hawaii. He enjoys the rewards and challenges that come from the variety of work that his job provides. He also plays the guitar, loves music, is ambidextrous and likes tacos.

The Rev. Paul Klitzke

Fr. Paul Klitzke is the Rector at Ascension. He is a life-long Episcopalian, and is married with two children. He has a BA in Fine Arts Administration and a Masters of Divinity from The School of Theology at The University of the South (aka Sewanee). From 2005-2010 he served in Alaska, performing missional ministry: arranging for church groups to assist with ministries throughout the state and serving a small church in Wasilla. From 2010-2015 serving a church plant in Kapolei, Hawaii. He enjoys the rewards and challenges that come from the variety of work that his job provides. He also plays the guitar, loves music, is ambidextrous and likes tacos.

The Rev. Dr. Marci Pounders Mother Marci is the Associate Rector for Episcopal Church of the Ascension. She and her husband Tracy have been a part of the Diocese and residents of Dallas for some time. They bring connections to the community and a multitude of gifts to Ascension. Mother Marci has most recently served as a Chaplain in the Baylor Hospital system. She comes to Ascension with over 12 years’ experience in ministry as a chaplain, pastor, teacher, and spiritual director. She has expertise in pastoral ministry and grief counseling, having served nine years as the Palliative Care and Hospice Chaplain at Baylor University Medical Center. Marci has been married 30 years and has two grown children, Elizabeth and Alex.


The Rev. Dr. Marci Pounders

Mother Marci is the Associate Rector for Episcopal Church of the Ascension. She and her husband Tracy have been a part of the Diocese and residents of Dallas for some time. They bring connections to the community and a multitude of gifts to Ascension. Mother Marci has most recently served as a Chaplain in the Baylor Hospital system. She comes to Ascension with over 12 years’ experience in ministry as a chaplain, pastor, teacher, and spiritual director. She has expertise in pastoral ministry and grief counseling, having served nine years as the Palliative Care and Hospice Chaplain at Baylor University Medical Center. Marci has been married 30 years and has two grown children, Elizabeth and Alex.


The Rev. Dr. Ernie McAfee Fr. Ernie is retired, but continues to serve as an assisting priest at Ascension.  Ernie first came to Ascension in 2005 after retiring as rector of St. Barnabas, Garland. He also served parishes in the dioceses of West Texas and Texas. At Ascension he served in the areas of outreach and pastoral care in addition to preaching and liturgical duties. In 2006 he traveled to South Sudan on behalf of the parish to train Sudanese clergy in pastoral care. In October, 2009 he took a leave of absence to serve as interim rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Oak Cliff. He returned to Ascension in October 2013. Ernie has a B.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University, and M.B.A. from Pepperdine University, an M.Div. from the Seminary of the Southwest, and a D. Min. from Drew University. He has done extensive post graduate study in Bowen Family Systems. He is an avid bicyclist. He is married to Diana. They have three children, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

The Rev. Dr. Ernie McAfee

Fr. Ernie is retired, but continues to serve as an assisting priest at Ascension.  Ernie first came to Ascension in 2005 after retiring as rector of St. Barnabas, Garland. He also served parishes in the dioceses of West Texas and Texas. At Ascension he served in the areas of outreach and pastoral care in addition to preaching and liturgical duties. In 2006 he traveled to South Sudan on behalf of the parish to train Sudanese clergy in pastoral care. In October, 2009 he took a leave of absence to serve as interim rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Oak Cliff. He returned to Ascension in October 2013. Ernie has a B.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University, and M.B.A. from Pepperdine University, an M.Div. from the Seminary of the Southwest, and a D. Min. from Drew University. He has done extensive post graduate study in Bowen Family Systems. He is an avid bicyclist. He is married to Diana. They have three children, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

The Rev. Deng Alaak Pager Fr. Deng grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya amidst civil war. Much of his family is still there, even as he and other ‘Lost Boys’ moved to the United States in early 2001. Deng has made a life for himself here, working for the Presbyterian Hospital of Plano and supporting family in South Sudan and the Dinka Community in greater Dallas Fort Worth. He was ordained by a visiting Episcopal Bishop and hopes to be received into the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas soon. Deng leads our Dinka congregation in worship and provides pastoral care as well.

The Rev. Deng Alaak Pager

Fr. Deng grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya amidst civil war. Much of his family is still there, even as he and other ‘Lost Boys’ moved to the United States in early 2001. Deng has made a life for himself here, working for the Presbyterian Hospital of Plano and supporting family in South Sudan and the Dinka Community in greater Dallas Fort Worth. He was ordained by a visiting Episcopal Bishop and hopes to be received into the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas soon. Deng leads our Dinka congregation in worship and provides pastoral care as well.


Mark Unkenholz Mark is the Organist and Choirmaster at Ascension. Mark was raised on the prairies of the Dakotas. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Dakota. Trained as an organist and choral conductor, he also earned his teaching certificate while serving as a church musician and teaching elementary and secondary choral music. He attended Southern Methodist University as a Merit Scholar. After receiving his Master of Sacred Music degree from the Perkins School of Theology at SMU he served as a church musician at Highland Park United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church in Plano and the Presbyterian Church at Hackberry Creek. Thereafter, he returned to the classroom to teach German and Choral Music at the high school level. In 2000, he became the assistant Choirmaster at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and in July of 2008 he assumed the responsibilities of Choirmaster for Ascension. Mark is married to Karla J. Unkenholz, Head of the Theatre Department at Berkner High School and together they are the parents of two grown sons, Matthew and Patrick.

Mark Unkenholz

Mark is the Organist and Choirmaster at Ascension. Mark was raised on the prairies of the Dakotas. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Dakota. Trained as an organist and choral conductor, he also earned his teaching certificate while serving as a church musician and teaching elementary and secondary choral music. He attended Southern Methodist University as a Merit Scholar. After receiving his Master of Sacred Music degree from the Perkins School of Theology at SMU he served as a church musician at Highland Park United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church in Plano and the Presbyterian Church at Hackberry Creek. Thereafter, he returned to the classroom to teach German and Choral Music at the high school level. In 2000, he became the assistant Choirmaster at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and in July of 2008 he assumed the responsibilities of Choirmaster for Ascension. Mark is married to Karla J. Unkenholz, Head of the Theatre Department at Berkner High School and together they are the parents of two grown sons, Matthew and Patrick.

Kathy Stutesman Kathy is our Operations Manager.  Kathy joined the staff of Ascension in 2013 to assume the newly developed position of Operations Manager. One of the many things Kathy enjoys about her work at Ascension is learning more of the history of the church and working with a wonderful staff and congregation. Kathy is a native Texan. She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, cooking, and reading. Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree in Historical Studies and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas.  Kathy and her husband, Bill, of 37 years live in Plano. They are members of St. Andrew United Methodist Church and both are active in mission outreach in the area of prison ministry. Their daughter Holly, her fiancé and two grandchildren live outside of Sacramento, California.

Kathy Stutesman

Kathy is our Operations Manager.  Kathy joined the staff of Ascension in 2013 to assume the newly developed position of Operations Manager. One of the many things Kathy enjoys about her work at Ascension is learning more of the history of the church and working with a wonderful staff and congregation.

Kathy is a native Texan. She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, cooking, and reading. Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree in Historical Studies and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas.  Kathy and her husband, Bill, of 37 years live in Plano. They are members of St. Andrew United Methodist Church and both are active in mission outreach in the area of prison ministry. Their daughter Holly, her fiancé and two grandchildren live outside of Sacramento, California.


Dabney Dwyer Dabney is the External Ministries Area Leader (Ascension Outbound Director). Dabney’s passion is building bridges from the church to the community by sharing the light of Christ with those having physical, emotional or spiritual needs. Over the last 12 years, Dabney has helped Ascension begin to transform zip code 75243 by developing partnerships and creating opportunities for the church and the community to work together to make a better life for all. Dabney has both a BA and MA degree, has certification in mediation and facilitation and 20+ years of experience in strategic planning for healthcare and nonprofit organizations. She is also Missioner for Outreach for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and is on the leadership team of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, a growing collaborative effort to eliminate hunger in Dallas County.

Dabney Dwyer

Dabney is the External Ministries Area Leader (Ascension Outbound Director).

Dabney’s passion is building bridges from the church to the community by sharing the light of Christ with those having physical, emotional or spiritual needs. Over the last 12 years, Dabney has helped Ascension begin to transform zip code 75243 by developing partnerships and creating opportunities for the church and the community to work together to make a better life for all.

Dabney has both a BA and MA degree, has certification in mediation and facilitation and 20+ years of experience in strategic planning for healthcare and nonprofit organizations. She is also Missioner for Outreach for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and is on the leadership team of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, a growing collaborative effort to eliminate hunger in Dallas County.

Sarah Klitzke Sarah is the Director for Christian Formation.  As such, she coordinates the various aspects of youth and adult education at Ascension. As a part of this position, she also leads the youth group. Sarah moved to Texas in 2015 with her husband, Paul, her two children, Noah and Emma, and her Bassett hound, Ophelia. Sarah has been serving in youth ministry since 2006. Sarah grew up involved in Diocesan youth events in Wisconsin and is passionate about helping teens find faith in an environment that is welcoming and fun, as well as deeply formational. She served as a youth minister in Alaska from 2006-2010, then as the Diocesan youth director in Hawaii from 2012-2015. She is also a registered nurse, with a strong desire for increased community health and health education.

Sarah Klitzke

Sarah is the Director for Christian Formation.  As such, she coordinates the various aspects of youth and adult education at Ascension. As a part of this position, she also leads the youth group. Sarah moved to Texas in 2015 with her husband, Paul, her two children, Noah and Emma, and her Bassett hound, Ophelia. Sarah has been serving in youth ministry since 2006. Sarah grew up involved in Diocesan youth events in Wisconsin and is passionate about helping teens find faith in an environment that is welcoming and fun, as well as deeply formational. She served as a youth minister in Alaska from 2006-2010, then as the Diocesan youth director in Hawaii from 2012-2015. She is also a registered nurse, with a strong desire for increased community health and health education.


Rita Sands Rita is our Contributions and Parish Records Coordinator.  Through her tireless efforts, she helps to keep the parish community organized, and works to make sure all our parish records are current.

Rita Sands

Rita is our Contributions and Parish Records Coordinator.  Through her tireless efforts, she helps to keep the parish community organized, and works to make sure all our parish records are current.

Janet Calhoun Janet provides Lay Ministry Support.  She schedules the Liturgical ministers for the services.  Also, she controls the thermostat programming for the facilities, so if you are having an event at the church, Janet is the one who coordinates having the heat or air conditioning on. Janet worked for Richardson ISD for 28 years as an Executive Assistant at Moss Haven Elementary, a job that really meant financial secretary, public relations, and even “school nurse.” She’s been married for over half a century and has 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren. She’s a “cradle” Episcopalian, and has been trained as a Stephen Minister, which has been a valuable tool for her Ascension ministries.  Janet loves working with the staff and volunteers to create the schedules for services.

Janet Calhoun

Janet provides Lay Ministry Support.  She schedules the Liturgical ministers for the services.  Also, she controls the thermostat programming for the facilities, so if you are having an event at the church, Janet is the one who coordinates having the heat or air conditioning on.

Janet worked for Richardson ISD for 28 years as an Executive Assistant at Moss Haven Elementary, a job that really meant financial secretary, public relations, and even “school nurse.” She’s been married for over half a century and has 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren.

She’s a “cradle” Episcopalian, and has been trained as a Stephen Minister, which has been a valuable tool for her Ascension ministries.  Janet loves working with the staff and volunteers to create the schedules for services.