The Reverend Martin Elfert, Rector
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I started going to church shortly after our son, Ami, was born. Church hadn’t been part of my life growing up in Vancouver, BC. But the experience of being present for Ami’s arrival into the world changed something for me. The Celts speak of “thin places,” of physical locations in which God is particularly close at hand; Ami’s birth was a thin experience, an occasion on which something loving and beautiful and awesome and beyond words filled up the room.
Afterwards, I realized that I wanted – that I needed – a community and a set of practices within which to respond to that experience.
Thankfully, I am married to a PK – a Preacher’s Kid – and the beloved members of my extended family invited me to explore The Episcopal Church (or, as it is called in Canada, the Anglican Church). There I found a tradition that held room for ambiguity and paradox, that celebrated beauty, that honored doubt even as it nurtured faith, that cared profoundly about social justice, that took scripture seriously enough to argue with it, that allowed the possibility that Jesus came both to comfort us and to challenge us.
For the first time, I considered the possibility that there might be a home for me in church.
Ami and I were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005. Not long thereafter, my worshipping community began to encourage me to consider ordained ministry. After several years of discernment (“discernment” is church speak for thinking and praying about a possibility), the church gave me its blessing. And my wife and I decided that I would leave a job that I loved as Technical Director of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre and that we would move our family to the San Francisco Bay Area so that I could begin seminary at Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
After three fabulous years at CDSP, we moved to Spokane, WA, where I served as Associate Dean of St. John’s Cathedral from 2011 to 2015. In 2015, I had the uncommon privilege of being called to serve as Rector (i.e., Senior Pastor) of Grace Memorial.
While I no longer work in the performing arts, I continue to love the theatre and to look for opportunities to integrate its lessons into Sunday morning. I also find joy in reading, writing, riding my bicycle, and taking on home improvement projects with my family. I live not far from Grace along with my wife, Phoebe, the aforementioned Ami, his sister and brother, Mimi and Timo, and our longhaired miniature dachshund, Baudelaire.
I am daily grateful for the invitation to serve the Lord Jesus Christ here in the marvelous community that we call Grace Memorial. I can’t wait to see where God is calling us next.
You can follow me on Twitter @martinelfert, receive my weekly reflections by subscribing to Grace’s weekly newsletter, and find my blog and my (very irregularly published) advice column on Spokanefaithandvalues.com. You can also give me a call at the church – I’d love to take you out for coffee and to hear some of your story.
The Reverend D. Corbet Clark
I have served as teacher and chaplain at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland since 1988. For many years I served as Chaplain in the Upper School, and I am currently the Chair of the school’s Religion Department.
I received my A.B. degree from Harvard College and an M.A. from Yale University, before going on to receive his Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from the General Theological Seminary in New York. In 2011, I earned a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.
After ordination in the Diocese of Olympia in 1977, I served parishes in Seattle and Tacoma, worked as a civilian Chaplain at Ft. Lewis, and taught at several schools in the Puget Sound area before moving to the Portland area.
I serve on the faculty of the Academy for Formation and Mission of the Diocese of Oregon and am member of the Commission on Schools for the Diocese of Olympia, where I continue to be canonically resident.
The Reverend Canon Richard (Dick) K. Toll
I was born on April 14, 1939 in Pecos, Texas. I graduated from Pecos High School in 1957, and received a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in 1962. On September 1, 1962, I married Elaine Higginbotham and we have two children: David & Sondi, and four grandchildren.
I received a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1967 and was ordained as a Deacon on June 29, 1967. On January 10, 1968, I became an ordained Priest at Grace Memorial where I served as Curate. From 1967 to 1970, I served as as City Missioner, Diocese of Oregon. In 1970, I entered Chaplaincy for a year of training in Clinical Pastoral Education at Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
From 1971 to 1976, I was Rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Baker, OR, then was called as Canon Pastor at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle from 1976 to 1984. In 1984, I became an Honorary Canon of the Diocese of Olympia in 1984. From 1984 to 2003, I was the Rector at St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukie and retired from parish ministry in September 2003.
I was appointed by Retired Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning as the Chair of Friends of Sabeel North America, from 2001 to 2011, during which time I had the opportunity to organize 34 conferences in the U.S. on the issues of justice and peace in the Holy Land. As Patron of Sabeel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has supported Sabeel internationally and within the U.S. I am still on the board of Sabeel.
In 1985, I received a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2001. I served on the Board of Trustees at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific for 10 years and served as President of the Alumni Association that established the present day Alumni Council in the mid 1980’s.
I became a Priest Associate at Grace Memorial in 2013.
Jackie Thomas, Office Manager
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I was born here, in Portland, and have lived in the area all of my life. I graduated from Milwaukie High School in 1979. After graduation I started working in the family business, a small printing company. Seeing the decline in the industry because of the increase in technology I decided to try something different. I ended up in the restaurant industry including owning one of my own.
I enjoy spending most of my free time with my family. I have two children and four grandchildren all of which I’m very proud.
Tom Krausse, Registrar
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I am from an Oregon Pioneer family having been born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I attended Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History in 1979.
I bring to Grace Memorial Episcopal Church over 25 years of Marketing and Customer Service Experience attained while working for two telecommunication start-ups in the 1980’s followed by a transition to the Finance Industry where I worked from 1988 to 2013. Joining the Grace Parish staff in February 2013, I am responsible for maintaining the internal Grace Memorial Episcopal Church directory of members and newcomers, providing support to the Church Vestry and the Rector for annual report purposes, and assisting other parish staff members with their office duties.
I have a 24 year old son Alex who resides in Spokane, Washington where he works while attending college.
I am an avid golf fan who enjoys watching weekly golf tournaments especially the four major championships and occasionally attends a live tournament when times permits. When not watching golf, I enjoy going to the movies, reading books, and relaxing at my sister and brother In-law’s vacation house in Ocean Park, Washington.
Demetria Keck, Office Volunteer
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Holly Puckett, Youth Group Mentor
I have a theater degree and a psychology degree from the University of Alabama, and also a law degree from U of A School of Law. I have lived in Portland for 5 years, and attended Grace Memorial for 4 of those years. I have a background in non-profit work, primarily efforts to improve the living conditions of minorities and vulnerable populations. Before becoming an attorney, I enjoyed my 14 years of work experience, most of which was in customer service and management for small, locally owned businesses in Alabama.
I was a camp counselor for a music and arts overnight summer camp in Oneonta, Alabama for over 4 years, where I taught guitar lessons to the campers, ranging in age from 6th to 12th grades. I am currently serving my second term on the Board of Directors for the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, a national non-profit that focuses on peace, and calling the Episcopal Church into more peaceful action and community, both addressing specific issues, and encouraging young adults across the country to bring their unique skills and their faith to peace and justice work. I have a 4 year old shelter dog named Arlo, and I work full-time at a nonprofit in Portland called the Campaign for Equal Justice.
Kristin Koop, Church School Coordinator
I am a proud fourth generation Oregonian. My family joined Grace Memorial in 1998, and soon after I attended my first Grace Art Camp as a camper. After several years, I worked as a counselor, Assistant Studio Artist, and now, I teach as an Artist. I spent two years at San Francisco Art Institute after graduating from high school at St. Mary’s Academy, and have taken classes at Portland State University in Women and Gender Studies and Oregon College of Art and Craft. In addition to coordinating and teaching Church School at Grace Memorial, I am currently working on my art practice. I also often baby, pet and house sit when I am not a “cat-couch” for my own two cats.
I believe that children are more capable than most adults think. In Church School, I use the Revised Common Lectionary as a guide, and my teaching emphasizes learning through art, stewardship and service. I am also SAFE Church certified in Protecting God’s Children and Preventing Sexual Harassment in Communities of Faith by the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.
Susan Jensen, Organist & Choir Director
I came to Grace in 1994 and now celebrate my twentieth year of Music Ministry at Grace, and over 35 years in the Diocese of Oregon. A lifelong Episcopalian, I graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in Organ Performance and pursued post-graduate studies in organ with Margaret Irwin-Brandon and Harold Vogel, and harpsichord with Edith Kilbuck and Ton Koopman. I was appointed organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Portland from 1977 to 1989, as a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, and the Royal School of Church Music. I am a principal harpsichordist and organist with the nationally acclaimed Portland Baroque Orchestra since 1986, and I have performed with the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Oregon Bach Festival, as well as many festival series. I was on the Fine and Performing Arts faculty of Oregon Episcopal School where I served as Music Department Chair PreK-12 for 10 years. Currently, I am teaching visual arts at the Upper School level, accompanying the Lower School Boys and Girls choirs, and I am the school’s chapel organist.