Beyond the Close

IN MEMORIAM: Vernon Austin ‘59

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The Rev. Vernon A. Austin, Jr., Class of 1959 of Collegeville, PA, died  March 19, 2019 at the age of 84. He and his wife, Judith (Haubens) Austin, would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on June 6th of this year.

Born June 9, 1934, in Trenton, NJ, he was a son of the late Vernon A. Austin, Sr. and Elizabeth (Clarke) Austin. He was a graduate of Hampden-Syndey College in Virginia before earning his Master of Divinity from General.

Austin began his ministerial work as a curate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ambler, PA. He later served as an assistant at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Schenectady, NY, before being called to Christ Church in Herkimer, NY as their Rector. In 1967, he answered the call of Trinity Episcopal Church of Gloversville, NY. He then served St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norristown, PA starting in 1976, and retired in 1996.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children, Virginia Carol Stellato and her husband, Mark T., of Valley Cottage, NY, and Stephen Michael Austin and his wife, Amber Y., of Lewisburg, PA; and four grandchildren, Martin, Austin, and Marissa Stellato, and Nola Austin.

A New Call for Michael Durning ‘87

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The Rev. Canon Michael Durning, Class of 1987 and a member of our Alumni Executive Committee, will be joining the Bishop’s staff of the Diocese of Oklahoma as Canon to the Ordinary on April 15th, 2019.

Durning brings 30 years of ministry experience to the diocese during a time of transition.

Prior to his 2018 retirement, Durning served for 21 years as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Southwest Florida. His roles have included Diocesan Transitions Minister and staff resource for the ordination/discernment process. Over the past 30 years, he has had parish assignments in Naples, Marco Island and Longboat Key, Florida. Prior to ordination, he worked in the publishing business as an Art Director and Book Designer.

Durning and his spouse Bonnie Jean have been married over 45 years. They have three children and three grandchildren.

A New Call for Brandt Montgomery ‘12

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The Rev. Brandt L. Montgomery, Class of 2012 and a current member of our Alumni Executive Committee, has been called as Chaplain of Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland. He will begin his new ministry on August 1, 2019. He is currently Associate Rector and All-School Chaplain at Ascension Episcopal School, Lafayette, Louisiana, where he has been serving for five years. His last day at Ascension will be May 31.

 Montgomery previously served as the Curate at Canterbury Episcopal Chapel and Student Center at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. He received his M.Div. cum laude from General, for which he wrote the thesis Time’s Prisoner: The Right Reverend Charles Colcock Jones Carpenter and the Civil Rights Movement in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. He is currently undertaking D.Min. studies at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and is a current contributor to Covenant, the weblog of the Living Church Foundation. As a musician, his interests lie in 1930s-1950s instrumental jazz.

A New Call for Anne Kitch ‘95

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The Rev. Anne Kitch, Class of 1995, has been called as the new Rector of St. Luke’s Church, Phillipsburg, N.J. She will be with the parish for Holy Week, and will begin full time ministry on May 1, 2019.


Kitch currently serves as the Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Bethlehem, PA. Ordained in 1995, she began her ministry at St. Peter’s Church in Peekskill, NY and later became the Canon for Lifelong Christian Formation at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, PA. She has been on the staff of the Diocese of Bethlehem for the past 11 years serving in a variety of capacities including formation, transition ministry, congregational visioning, and leadership development. Kitch is a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and serves on its Finance Committee. She grew up in the Episcopal Church and experienced a call to ministry as a young adult while serving as a youth minister. She majored in English at Carleton College, and received her MA in Education from the University of St. Thomas, before attending General.

Kitch loves preaching, teaching, working with people of all ages, and visioning how the Church can be a vibrant witness for the love of Jesus in the world. She is the author of several books in the area of Christian Formation including The Anglican Family Prayer Book and Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting and blogs at SacredStumbling.blogspot.com. Her husband, James Peck, is a Professor of Theatre at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.  They have two young adult daughters.

A New Call for Susan Ironside ‘10

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The Rev. Susan R. Ironside, Class of 2010, is the new Rector of Grace Church, Madison, NJ, effective in the fall of 2018. She previously served as Rector of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville in the Diocese of New Jersey as well as in parishes in Chatham as a seminarian and in Westfield as a curate.

Ironside was the recipient the Bishop of Newark Preaching Prize.  She has served on various committees in the Diocese of New Jersey including the Bishop’s Advisory Committee on Liturgy. She currently serves as a faculty member for the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. She is passionate about preaching, and works with preachers around the country in an on-line mentoring project. 

Prior to seminary, Ironside had a career as a Registered Nurse, working with adults in crisis, so pastoral care has an important place in her life and schedule.  

IN MEMORIAM: Bill Breedlove ‘92

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The Reverend William Otis Breedlove, II, Class of 1992, died March 8, 2019 in New Brunswick, NJ. He most recently served as an Associate at St. Barnabas’s Church in Monmouth Junction. He previously served in the diocese of New Jersey at St. Andrew’s Church, Trenton; St. Andrew’s Church, Mount Holly; and Trinity Church, Swedesboro. He also served in a number of interim positions and organized and worked in the Resource Room at Diocesan House for many years.

Born January 15, 1941, Breedlove was the son of a Baptist minister who followed in his father’s path and after college and seminary, was ordained in the American Baptist Church. His years at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago started him down a different spiritual path from that in which he had been raised and shortly after his ordination in the Baptist Church he left that tradition and became an Episcopalian.

After receiving a M.S. in library science, Breedlove spent time at The Free Library of Philadelphia working mostly in adult literacy and outreach services. He also served as the director of two public libraries in New Jersey. In the late 1980s, he again began to explore ordination. After Anglican Studies and training as a spiritual director at General, he was ordained to the priesthood by the Rt. Rev. G. P. Mellick Belshaw. He was an active spiritual director and a life professed member of the Third Order, Society of St. Francis as well as serving as the Formation Director for the Province of the Americas.

Services will be on Saturday, March 16th at 11 AM at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 142 Sand Hills Road, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852. 

New Music from Ron Clingenpeel ‘78

Fr. Ron Clingenpeel, Class of 1978, has released a new CD: On My Way Home. Eight original songs influenced by American folk music represent an eclectic folk style from South Louisiana and are the latest in his journey: practical, historical, and spiritual.

With many years of service to the church as parish priest, campus chaplain, Canon to the Ordinary, and Cathedral Dean, Clingenpeel returned to his folk roots several years ago. Organizing the Great American Folk Song Singalong, Fr. Ron brought together a group of talented musicians to give a variety of voices and styles to traditional American music.

The Great American Singalong gathered energy as many were reunited with the great songs, and others were introduced to what some consider the heart of the American soul of the 20th century – Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Odetta, Leadbelly, and many others. Now in March, 2019 comes a new CD by Fr. Ron & Friends: they can be found on Spotify, Amazon, CD Baby, Gigmasters, and at the website bishopsmusic.net.

A New Call for Andrew Cooley ‘85

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The Rev. Andrew Cooley, Class of 1985, has been called as Interim Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Florence, Italy.

Cooley has been serving the Interim Ministry Network since 2011, with calls at St. Paul’s, Walla Walla, WA; Grace and St. Stephen’s, Colorado Springs, CO; St. Mary Magdalene, Boulder, CO; St. Luke’s, Fort Collins, CO; and Christ Episcopal Church, Aspen, CO. He previously served as Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Durango, CO from 1995-2011, and before that as Vicar at St. Nicholas, Littleton, CO and St. Patrick’s, Pagosa Springs, CO. He was Regional Missioner from SW Colorado from 2005-2011 and a member of the Commission on Ministry for the Diocese from 1997-2003 and 2011-2013.

He has been elected six times as a deputy from Colorado to General Convention. From 2009-2012 he was a member of the Liturgical Resources Task Group to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music where he worked on the development of liturgy for same-sex blessings. From 2000-2006 he was a member of the House of Deputies Standing Committee on the State of the Church.

IN MEMORIAM: Albert Minor ‘55

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The Rev. Albert Neely Minor, Class of 1955, died January 4th, 2019. He was born in Jennings, LA, on March 6, 1930, grew up in Griffin, GA, and made Knoxville his home for the past fifty-four years.

He was a graduate of University of the South (Sewanee), and the University of Tennessee before attending General. He began his vocation in the priesthood in Fort Valley, Georgia; then served as campus minister at East Tennessee State University before being called to Tyson House Episcopal Student Center at the University of Tennessee, where he served as college chaplain for the Diocese of East Tennessee from 1964 until his retirement in 1994. 

Minor was widely respected for his active involvement in many religious organizations, as well as local and regional community organizations over the past 50 years. Those included the Campus Ministry Council, Fort Sanders Historical Association, Bridge Refugee Program, and the Prison Ministry of St. James Church. He served on the National Advisory Committee for Ministries in Higher Education, and Board of Governors for the Appalachian Peoples Service Organization (APSO) / Coalition for Human Needs. He co-chaired the General Convention Youth Program for the Appalachian Region and served as mentor and friend to many.

He was preceded in death by his beloved son, Stephen Phillip Minor. He will be greatly missed by his wife of 63 years, Carroll Wood Tuthill Minor, children Deborah Williamson (Warren), Michelle Rule (Tony), and David Minor. He also leaves five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren - all who truly loved their "Gigi," and special family friend Rebecca Hare. 

A requiem mass was held on Wednesday, January 9th, 4:00 p.m., at St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville.


His final request – "Mourn not. Offer prayers of thanksgiving for his time of life among us."

A New Call for Jay Gardner ‘17

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The Rev. James (Jay) Wynn Gardner III, Class of 2017, is the new rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Cullman, Alabama.

Gardner is originally from Alabaster and attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he earned degrees in philosophy and music. He then attended Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. Afterward he moved to New York City to attend General and become a priest of the Episcopal Church. After graduation he served in New York as Curate at Calvary-St. George Episcopal Church in Manhattan.

Gardner and his wife Paige welcomed their son William just over a year ago and decided to return home to Alabama be closer to family.With him being from the Birmingham area and his wife being from Athens, Gardener said, “Cullman is ideal in every sense.”

When asked about his new role and goals, Gardner said, “Keep preaching grace; that’s really the big goal. There’s a lot that goes on in this parish as it is. I don’t want to change that. My job as I stand in that pulpit each week is to make sure people know that God loves them. That’s my job.”