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Seabury Celebrates Service: 2017 Honorees


On April 26, more than 300 people gathered at Washington National Cathedral to recognize the contributions of 55 special people: the honorees of Seabury Celebrates Service 2017. Nominated for their service to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the United Church of Christ Potomac Association, and Seabury Resources for Aging programs, their stories are truly remarkable – so we are pleased to share them here. Hats off to you, 2017 honorees!

Rev. Dr. Robert N. Abarno, Seabury at Springvale Terrace

Robert N. Abarno is a retired Lutheran minister affiliated with Trinity Episcopal Church, DC. With his wife Eleanor (also a retired Lutheran minister), he volunteers with the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage, Washington National Cathedral. The Springvale Terrace community knows him simply as “Pastor Bob.” For the past three years, he has been a faithful volunteer, arriving every Friday to lead his “Matters of the Heart” program. The residents enjoy the casual way Pastor Bob presents the gospel to them with kindness and love. He also fearlessly leads the congregation in a robust round of sound. At Springvale Terrace, he is more than just a volunteer; he is a part of our family. We thank him for all that he does for us.

Audrey Balderson (September 23, 1916­-February 8, 2017), St. John’s Episcopal Church, Olney

Audrey Balderson lived a life filled with the love of Christ and dedicated many hours to serving others, providing a role model for her four children, nine grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and us all. Born on September 23, 1916, she died on February 8 of this year, just a few months after her 100th birthday, and only two months after logging her last volunteer hours.

Audrey grew up near the Washington National Cathedral and after returning to the area in 1986 volunteered during special exhibits there. Audrey came to Saint John’s, Olney during this time and learned about the parish outreach mission to Africa, African Palms USA. Audrey embraced its mission and volunteered with African Palms from 1986 to November 2016, usually for several days a week, and was often the “first in, last out.” Audrey often said, “I receive a lot more than I give; I would probably be six feet under if I didn’t lead a busy life.”

Audrey considered Saint John’s her family; when a reporter asked about the best part of her 100th birthday celebration, she stated it was “walking into church with my family.” Audrey gave so much to her church community; she was proud to serve on Altar Guild, as President of the Women of Saint John’s, and to volunteer at the spring fling, church yard sales, Christmas Bazaar, and others events. She was always there to help. Audrey exemplified how to live life as a true Christian and Episcopalian.

John Barnett, Grace Episcopal Church, Georgetown

John Barnett’s work with the Garden Group at Grace comes naturally to him. While living in Florida, he was deeply involved in developing and maintaining the Withlacoochee State Trail, a hiking and biking trail converted from an abandoned rail line. A memorial bench he purchased for the trail sports a sign (signed by him) wishing a good rest to those who use it. John also served as a transporter (wheel chair jockey) at the Seven Rivers Community Hospital in Crystal River, and now volunteers at the National Museum of American History, where he helps clean displays in the “America on the Move” exhibit and contributes clerical work. He volunteers in the ER at GWU Hospital, doing supply-related work, and serves as a level walker along the C&O Canal National Park, picking up trash and reporting problems found on the first 3.5 miles of the trail. Grace Church is grateful for everything John does for his church and community.

Susan Beale, St. Columba’s Episcopal Church

Susan had performed all kinds of volunteer service since joining St. Columba’s in the 1970s, including the Stephen Ministry, the flower guild, the healing ministry, Good Shepherd’s meal delivery, Sunday school, youth groups and choir, but most notably, organizing St. C’s plant sale each year since the 1980s. The plant sale is a year-long process based out of Susan’s greenhouse and involves planning, selection of seeds, recruitment of volunteers, hosting several “potting parties” and getting the plants organized and sold at the church in the spring. Work on the plant sale brings youth and parents together and the proceeds have gone to various initiatives over the years. Susan works as a clinical social worker for Capital Care Hospice at Providence Hospital. She has spoken about her work with hospice at Rector’s Forums and for smaller groups. Susan and her husband Henry recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have two sons, Andrew and Nathaniel, and two grandchildren.

Anna D. Belstein, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Anna has been a member of the Diocese of Washington since her birth in 1923. Throughout her lifetime, she has served four congregations: St. John’s, Georgetown; St. David’s, Washington, DC; Church of the Redeemer, Bethesda; and now, Church of the Ascension, Silver Spring, where her daughter Joan serves as Rector. Among Anna’s many ministries at these parishes, she served on the Altar Guild, the Women’s Guild, as a Sunday School teacher, a Lector, a faithful member of prayer groups, a lay pastoral parish visitor, and often a “listening ear” to parish clergy. At Ascension, Anna is a faithful member of the Elderberries (the 55+ group) and brings support, joy, and faith to younger members of the parish. Anna has faithfully offered her time, talent, and treasure to support her parish homes and the Diocese of Washington. At 94, while her support now is mostly through her prayers and treasure, Anna remains a pillar of the Church who will continue to inspire current and future generations.

Constance Bishop (May 16, 1924-April 19, 2017), St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood

Connie’s more than 51 years as a member of St. John’s provided many opportunities for her to use her organizational and interpersonal skills, as well as the gift of faith which she shared with so many. As a long-time member of the Altar Guild, she served with reverence and good humor born of a faithful spirit. Connie was an especially important part of setting up/clearing up before and after Wednesday noon Eucharist services, and she was a regular attendee of Wednesday morning Bible Study, often providing chauffeur service to others. She enjoyed lively discussions on the intersection of faith and life.

While she never considered herself an “arranger” of flowers, Connie served as treasurer of the Flower Guild, and provided sustenance (in the form of pecan coffee cake) and encouragement, as well as setup and clean-up assistance for the great festivals of Christmas and Easter. She was particularly fond of “dressing” the large wooden Cross in preparation for the placement of flowers by our children on Easter morning. Connie served as a Lay Eucharistic Minister at major Sunday services, always sharing the cup with a calm and reverent manner. She served as teller at the Annual Parish Meeting.

For her many services to St. John’s, heralded and unheralded, Connie is honored as one who served with joy and humility – a woman of faith in action.

Charlene Blaine, Church of the Transfiguration

Charlene Blaine is one of those quiet Christians who lead without fanfare. Charlene schedules the 8:00a.m. service, ushers, brings in goodies for fellowship, folds bulletins, and works at C-4, taking care of those who need to be fed. Always interested in new ideas, her eyes sparkle with good humor. She has served on the Mission Strategy Team as they have reordered themselves and how they now do outreach. Charlene has traveled to the Holy Land with other parishioners and been a major contributor to the camaraderie of the group. Charlene’s quiet and gentle spirit speaks volumes to those who know and love her as she leads by action.

Marta Brenden, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Marta has been a member of Ascension since 1996. Among her many leadership roles, Marta has served as senior warden, junior warden, and member of the vestry; delegate and alternate delegate to diocesan convention; and a member of the Diocesan Refugee Task Force. Currently Marta sings in the choir; serves as a lector; is chair of the outreach facilitators; is co-chair of the Elderberries (our 55+ group); is a graduating member of our EfM program; and serves as co-chair of the Race and Social Justice Task Force of the Diocese. Marta’s contributions to our parish and to the diocese are immeasurable. We are grateful to God for her gifts and look forward to serving with her in her current and future ministries!

Brigadier General Geoffrey Cheadle, Knollwood Episcopal Congregation

Brigadier General Geoffrey Cheadle (United States Air Force, Retired) is a member of the Episcopal congregation at Knollwood, the military retirement residential community near Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Geoff is a frequent lay reader and also sings with the prologue choir. Recently, he coordinated and hosted the reception held in honor of Bishop Jay Magness, Bishop of the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, during the Bishop’s Knollwood Visitation in November 2016. Geoff has contributed to The Living Church Foundation as a guest columnist, publishing such articles as “A Matter of Righteousness: ECUSA and Israel” (August 30, 2005) http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1473699/posts His late wife, Margaret (Peg) Cheadle, was a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary. During their military career, the Cheadles were posted to New Mexico, Guam, West Point, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Texas, Kansas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York City, Hawaii, and at the National War College and Andrews Air Force Base. At all of their postings, the Cheadles were active in the Episcopal congregation. Before moving to Knollwood, Geoff and Peg were members of Washington National Cathedral. General Cheadle continues to pursue the principle given by the title of his wife Peg’s final thesis at the Seminary: “The Primacy of the Holy Eucharist in Christian Worship.”

Millie Coleman, Christ Church, Georgetown

Millie Coleman has been a faithful parishioner at Christ Church, Georgetown since 1994. Graciousness, hard work, and steadfast dedication are words that only begin to describe her positive approach to the many ministries she supports – and most often leads. In addition to being an usher at the 11:15 service, Millie heads up the St. Benedict’s Guild. This welcome ministry seeks to make Christ Church an inclusive, hospitable place where all feel warmly welcomed. With Millie’s faithful leadership, witness, and guidance, the Saint Benedict’s Guild works each Sunday to actualize Chapter 53, Verse 1 of The Rule of St. Benedict: Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ.

The Christ Church Thrift Shop is yet another area of the parish that receives Millie’s dedicated service. Over many years, the small community of Thrift Shop volunteers has been able to make grants of over $500,000 to a variety of organizations, including: Meals on Wheels, Iona Senior Services, Washington Literacy Council, The Bishop Walker School, Joseph’s House, Aged Woman’s Home, and Washington School for Girls. Millie was a key volunteer for many years when the former leader of the Thrift Shop died suddenly in the spring of 2015. Without missing a beat, Millie not only assumed leadership of the Thrift Shop, she also walked lovingly and bravely with many through their grief.

Christ Church, Georgetown is blessed to have Millie Coleman as a parishioner and we are truly thankful for her many years of faithful service to Christ and to our parish family.

George Crossman, Wellspring UCC

George Crossman is one of the founders of Wellspring UCC; he and his wife Rita joined the congregation in 1997 when it still met in homes. He has served on many committees through the years, including the Finance Committee. As Treasurer, he developed a careful system for the congregation’s finances; his work is the foundation of the congregation’s stability today. He continues to be an active member of Wellspring Council, the church’s governing body.

He also was a founder and active participant in the Living the Question Covenant group, which now meets weekly at his home to discuss the relationship of faith to current issues. George invites new participants, encourages new topics, and sends out weekly reminders for the group. George’s gifts bring inspiration and joy to his congregation, his family, and his friends. At 91 years, he never stops growing, appreciating and thanking others, and he continues asking questions that pull others into conversation. A scientist, historian, translator, and foreign policy analyst by training, he is a man of faith and an amazing volunteer of time and talent.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Davis, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Bethesda

Elizabeth (Betsy) Davis has been a member of St. Luke’s Bethesda since 1999, and in the intervening 18 years she has held just about every position possible in the church. Betsy served on the vestry and as senior warden during a major remodeling of the church. Afterwards, she accepted the chairmanship of the Strategic Planning Committee, through which St. Luke’s reviewed and updated its operating structure. Betsy has served on many committees for seminarians and on lay discernment committees.

For more than 13 years she was on the finance committee, including a term as chair. The Committee handles all budget and finance issues of the church, and during her time she partici