The St. Edward’s vestry is comprised of 9 members. Leading the vestry are a senior warden and a junior warden. There is also a vestry secretary, who is responsible for taking meeting minutes. The St. Edward’s vestry typically meets once per month and vestry members serve for a 3-year term.
The role of the vestry in an Episcopal church, as detailed in The Vestry Resource Guide by The Episcopal Church Foundation is as follows:
“Vestry members are legal representatives and agents of a parish, charged with specific responsibilities by the canons of The Episcopal Church. They share leadership responsibilities with the rector. As legal representative and agent, the vestry functions much like the board of any nonprofit, with responsibility for finances and management of property and human resources. Many aspects of the vestry’s role are defined by entities beyond the congregation – local, state, and federal laws, and diocesan and Episcopal Church canons – as well as by the church’s own constitution and bylaws.”
“There is an important element of shared life and purpose in vestry leadership. You’re not just elected to the vestry; you are called to a sacred ministry in your faith community.”
Vestry is laity and clergy working in shared leadership creating a vision and plan of action to fulfill God’s ministry and we are thankful for all who answer the call to serve on vestry. Below you can get to know our current vestry members. Please feel free to reach out to them with any questions you may have about St. Edward’s.
MEREDITH WESTGATE, Senior Warden ’20
Many people at St. Ed’s know me as “the Krist Kindling” lady. This is a task I took on 25 years ago quite by chance. A few of you may remember Georgia Messmer, who brought this activity with her from a former church. After one year, her husband was transferred. I ran to Georgia in the grocery store and suggested she pass along the information to someone. She rang my doorbell, packet in hand, later that afternoon and the rest is history.
I am a life-long Episcopalian. I was baptized, confirmed and married at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Olean, New York – my beautiful hometown. Randy and I moved to Lancaster in 1983. Shortly after, we heard about this new Episcopal Church in Hempfield. At the time, we lived on Woods Avenue in the city. We drove “west” looking for this church in the Union Hall. That Sunday was Tim Small’s birthday and there was a celebration themed “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” with hot dogs and popcorn. We liked the informality of the setting and the friendly people we met, and, I think, the idea of building a church. Tim and Betsy visited us shortly after and we were “sold.”
Our four kids all grew up at St. Edward’s. Evan is 34. He is a major in the army and currently teaches at West Point. He and his wife Lauren, have a three year old daughter, Caroline. Adam, 32, lives in Lancaster and works for Bill Swiernik as a landscape architect at David Miller Associates. He recently became engaged to Jessica Hoyman. He writes and illustrates children’s books (Pawprintstories.com). Aubrey is a writer/editor for a medical magazine. She and her husband Brian live in Glen Rock and are expecting their first child in May. Rosie, our 15 year old, is a freshman at Hempfield High School. She plays piano and violin with the Praise Band and loves singing with the Mennonite Children’s Choir.
I retired in June, 2016 from a 13 year teaching career at Edward Hand Middle School in Lancaster where I taught ESL. Now I love teaching refugees two mornings a week through Church World Services. I am a long-time volunteer Girl Scout leader I have been married to Randy Westgate for 38 years. He works at Mountville Family Practice as a family doctor and leads the St. Edward’s Praise Band.
Besides Krist Kindling, I have worn a few “hats” at St. Edward’s. Randy and I led the Youth Group for over ten years when our older kids were in school. I taught Sunday school for several years and served for a time on the Pastoral Care Committee. One year I coordinated Jesse Tree gifts with Social Outreach for needy students at Hand. I served on vestry prior to and after Fr. Stephan’s call to St. Edward’s and was honored to serve as his senior warden.
With less demands on my time post-retirement, I would like to be more involved again in the life of my church. I was honored to be asked to consider a term on vestry and it would be my pleasure to serve.
JULIE HOFF, Junior Warden ’22
My husband Jerry, our sons David and Michael, and I have been members of St. Edward’s since its founding in 1981. Then I was a young wife and mother. Today I am a wife of almost fifty years, the grandmother of four lovely young girls, and a retired educator. St. Edward’s has been my church home for thirty-eight years and I love it dearly.
During that time, I have participated in many activities and ministries within the church. I served on the building committee for the sanctuary and office wing. I have sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, and am involved with coffee hour. I previously served on the Vestry two separate times. In 1981, I joined the Altar Guild and have served on it continuously since then. Currently, I serve as co-chair of that group.
This important ministry is very meaningful and fulfilling to me.
Having grown with St Edward’s since its beginning, I am looking forward to being part of the Vestry as we move forward to the next step in our journey of faith. I appreciate the opportunity to serve.
MICHAEL FRESHWATER, Secretary ’21
I was born and baptized an Episcopalian in Ohio. I have been a member of St. Edward’s since the early 1990’s. Having been a youth group leader through both my girl’s formative years, I then became a charter member of the famous St. Edward’s Praise Band. If you don’t know me, on the second Sundays, you will spot me singing and playing the guitar next to Randy Westgate and Thomas Ishler in the praise band.
I retired in 2016 and work on various projects in my workshop, or you might see me giving tours part time at the Amish Farm and House on Route 30. My life partner is Deann Buffington. She lives in Lititz and is a member of Lititz Moravian Church. She will attend St. Edward’s on holidays or take in a contemporary service once in a while with me. Likewise, if she is a reader during a service at LMC, I might attend service with her (especially if they are having the Moravian Love Feast – coffee and Moravian Sugar Cake). Our favorite time is spent with Alison and Mike and our two grandchildren, Nora age 2 and Colin, age 2 months. They live in the Princeton, New Jersey area. I also enjoy trail biking or sailing with my younger daughter, Jaime and her Mike, living in York.
I enjoy travelling and visiting far away places. We recently visited Paris and were stranded in Barcelona a few extra days when the Catalans held elections to secede from Spain. Other vacations are usually spent with my family who all live in Tucson.
I look forward to serving St. Edward’s again and hope I can contribute back as much as St. Edward’s has given me.
DINA CARTER ISHLER ’20
My name is Dina Carter Ishler and I am respectfully stating my interest in joining both our vestry at St. Edward’s and serving as a delegate for the 2017 Diocesan Convention. It was an honor to serve as both a vestry member and a search committee member at our previous parishes and I look forward to using those experiences at St. Edward’s.
My husband Patrick and I, along with our three children, have attended St. Edward’s since our move to Lititz in 2009. As Faith, Carter and Thomas have grown to an independent age, it is my great joy to have the opportunity to become much more involved in our church community. I worship at both the contemporary and the 10:15 services where I participate in Praise Band and Choir, as well as helping Patrick when he shares music with our young people. These are exciting opportunities for me to utilize my degrees in music, psychology and education. Currently, I consider myself to be actively searching for God as I seek to learn what His plan is for my life in this new season, listening for how He would have me show His love daily in our community and our world.
From my father, I have inherited my birthright of generations of membership in the Episcopal Church, which fostered in me a deeply rooted love of its traditions, its worship and its music. As I seek God in all things, I am learning to combine traditional elements of music and worship with new ideas as I pray earnestly for the church to be a very real sanctuary for all people. I bring to the vestry table a willingness to learn from and listen to others, a strong desire to share ministry and worship, a true work ethic, a lively intellect, and most importantly, a heartfelt gratitude towards God and love for Him. I am eager to serve and thankful for my faith-filled husband and family who support me in all I do. Blessings to you all and thank you for allowing me to serve.
MARK S. JAKIEL ’21
I moved my family to Lancaster County in 1993 as Cargill Inc. bought Wilbur Chocolate. I was Cargill Cocoa Accountant Manager. I started coming to St. Edward’s around 1996 to get back to my Episcopal upbringing for my family. I remember the welcoming committee (Barb Mahon and Jan Warshawsky) bringing a loaf of bread to my home in Landisville. I was attracted to the beautiful church and most importantly the community of our faith at St. Edward’s.
I went through a divorce, losing my job, and my home in 1997 and St. Edward’s was a large part in keeping me whole with my boys (Matthew, Scott and Sean). Married the love of my life on 8-11-2001, Barbara J. Reiner, and Chad became my stepson, so now I have four boys.
Now my ministry is to St. Edward’s. I’m currently active in the finance committee for around 20 years, LEM, fundraising, men’s breakfast cook, money counter, depositor, and part time usher. I served one tour on the vestry in early 2000’s and one year as senior warden. I was fundraising committee chairmen for 11 years.
I currently work for Furst McNess as a Brewer’s Grain marketing manager with 2 very large breweries and 2 smaller ones. I directly market the grain to dairy and beef herds in PA, VA, MD and WV. I bring a wide variety of experience and skills to St. Edward’s and look forward to my second tour on vestry.
HERB JOHNSTON ’21
I was raised in the Abington area of suburban Philadelphia. I graduated with a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I also served in the US Army Reserves.
My business career started with The 3M Company. In 1971 I and my family relocated to Lancaster for a business opportunity. Ultimately I retired from JJ Haines and Company in Baltimore, MD after 20 years of service. I was Vice President of Sales and Marketing as well of Strategic Planning and Acquisitions and Mergers.
It seems I had interest in doing service of different sorts. While in the suburban Philadelphia, I severed as President of the Erdenheim Civic Association. Here in Lancaster I was a board member and President of The Deerford North Condominium Association and also chaired a committee attempting to construct tennis courts in Manheim Township’s Overlook Park. I also chaired a committee for a Judaical candidate running for a judgeship. Finally, I am a longtime member and past board member and President of the Lancaster Tennis and Yacht Club. And sadly, no, I do not own a yacht.
However I do play tennis and own a tennis racket.
I am single now and the father of two children Jennifer and Todd. Jennifer has 2 sons, Will and Alex. Todd has one son Cayce.
I grew up attending the Abington Presbyterian Church and thank that church for giving me my religious foundations. In 2012 I found St Edward’s to be my new church home. I really enjoy the people of the church, the busyness of activities and outreach programs.
I look forward to serving you on our vestry.
ELLEN MILLIGAN ’22
My family (Kevin, Maeve, Finn) and I came to Saint Edward’s early in 2015. After our first visit we considered visiting other churches, but Maeve and Finn wanted to return to the ‘friendly church’ and we knew that our search was done. We feel very much at home here.
Almost immediately, my daughter and I were drawn into the Praise Band and we found them to be a wonderfully supportive group. We have both enjoyed being part of worship music ever since. I also enjoy baking, so I try to host coffee hour once a month. Our hospitality and fellowship make St. Edward’s a special place and to me coffee hour is an important part of that.
In addition to serving coffee, I serve on the Social Outreach Committee. Among the committee’s projects, the school supplies drive has been a special favorite of mine. Perhaps that is because I work part-time as a library aide at the Manheim Township Middle School. In the summer, I work at the Manheim Township Public Library and it is always great to see friendly faces from Saint Edward’s there.
As a member of Vestry, I would strive to keep our Church a warm and welcoming place for all who enter.
WILLIAM MICHAEL SWIERNIK ’20
Who I Am: 2nd Child of 4 Children
Born in 1963 at Fort Dix, New Jersey
Acolyte and crucifer as a young boy
Member of a really fun youth group during my teen years
Graduate of a Catholic High School
Associates Degree in Biology from Middlesex County College in New Jersey
Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the State University of New York at Syracuse University
Met Amy (my wife) in college, she is also a Landscape Architect
Married in a Catholic Church
Will celebrate our 29th Wedding Anniversary in June
Celebrating my 27th year of working at a local landscape architecture / engineering firm in Centerville
Father of 2 boys, James Reed age 22, William Cole age 18
Member of Saint Edwards since 1995
Sunday School Teacher
Previous Vestry Member
Things I enjoy most: Seeing my boys set goals and succeed at them
Taking long bicycle rides (therapy)(across Michigan!)
Running on a hot summer day
Setting goals and achieving them for myself
Goals as a vestry member:
Work hard on ways to support the mission of the church
Be a good listener to other church members
Be an advocate for those that need one