Seabury Honors Volunteers from Local Congregations

Update 5/5/2022: View photos from the 2022 Seabury Celebration of Service here with the password 2022Service.

Each year, Seabury invites Episcopal and UCC congregations in the greater Washington, D.C. region to nominate an older adult who makes a difference through service to their community. Below are the 2022 honorees who we will celebrate on May 4 at the Washington National Cathedral.

Elaine Alston, St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church

Elaine Alston has been a member of St. Stephen and the Incarnation since the late 1950s when she was baptized as a child and later confirmed as a member. Growing up in the neighborhood, Elaine learned that Church was a safe place where she could have fun and be loved. She attended Sunday services with her family, and during the week she was in the building learning games like hopscotch and basketball, taking acting and music classes, and being taught manners and elocution. Elaine has always wanted to give back to others because she herself has received so much. Over the years she participated in clothing drives and volunteered to cook and serve at the church’s Loaves and Fishes meal program. As well, she has served on the vestry, and has been a faithful Sunday participant in worship. Each year, Elaine creates Easter baskets for homeless children and those hospitalized. During the pandemic, she used her gifts for sewing to make hundreds of blankets and scarves for children with terminal illnesses at the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospital for Sick Children. Through her non-profit, New Generations, she supports people seeking employment training and housing. We are pleased to honor Elaine for her lifetime of service to the church and her community.

Maria Mercedes (Mariam) Bejarano, St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church

Maria Mercedes (Mariam) Bejarano came to St. Stephen and the Incarnation in 2004 by way of a yoga class in the sanctuary. Soon afterwards, she joined The Way, classes for newcomers, and then became a member of the parish through Misa Alegría, St. Stephen’s vital Latino community. Their festive, joyful worship was in Spanish and Mariam felt at home among mi gente, her people. After the liturgy, everyone enjoyed good food and camaraderie. Mariam began teaching Latino teenagers about the Gospels as they shared their common roots, language, and customs. It was an unforgettable experience. These days, she participates in worship as a lector, drummer and tambourine player in Misa’s choir. The music is lively and reminds each person of their country of origin. She also participates in dances, celebrations, and parties after worship, hence; the name Alegría meaning Joy.

These days, Misa Alegria is focused on remaining together as the pandemic and some conflicts have taken a toll on the community. Mariam has been a courageous and outspoken voice in the church’s reconciliation process. She feels called to be a witness to aid in the restoration and healing of the community. Mariam has also been an advocate for the Sightlines (now, The Path Ahead) program on the spirituality of aging offered in the church. She is grateful for this resource that has made a difference in her life, and she hopes that all seniors will be able to experience the program, especially those who speak Spanish.

Barbara Burton, SeaburyDC

Ms. Burton is a native of Alexandria, Virginia and has been a resident of Brookland since 2000. Ms. Burton retired in December 2002 from her position as a staff attorney at the Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia. Ms. Burton welcomes the opportunity to serve seniors through volunteering with the Home First Residence/Age-In-Place Advisory Council. She describes that the work she does with other volunteers is satisfying to her personally and fulfills important needs for the seniors who reside in the homes so they can remain independent. The Home First Residence/Age-In-Place program thanks Ms. Burton for her dedication and commitment to our program.

Elnora Cobham, Faith United Church of Christ

Elnora Cobham has dedicated her life to service personally, professionally, and spiritually. Elnora grew up in Washington, DC attending DC Public Schools followed by Howard University where she obtained her Diploma in nursing and graduated as the historic, final class of nurses who served Freedman’s Hospital. At Howard, she met Enrique Cobham, her beloved husband of 48 years. From this union they have three children and 12 grandchildren. Mrs. Cobham has led her family with kindness, dependability and abundant love.

Professionally, Mrs. Cobham worked as a registered nurse for 41 years at Howard University. She worked in family practice, general medicine, nephrology and finally as a certified mental health nurse. Nursing is a field of service and she performed her many duties, including serving as Head Nurse, with empathy, dignity and respect for her patients, clients and their families.

Elnora Cobham has been a willing and faithful member for Faith UCC for over 30 years where she has been a choir member, Sunday School teacher, Steward, Health and Wellness lead, Music and Arts Co-chair and Deacon. She willingly volunteers to serve whenever needed for community events, church gatherings and more.

As a retiree, Deacon Cobham remains active in her community. She regularly exercises and advocates for the needs of our seniors. Elnora is an avid theater goer and traveler. Elnora has traveled to over 20 countries in her lifetime including Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, China and Italy. She has reflected the love of Christ to so many in her lifetime.

Judith Davies, St. John’s Episcopal/Anglican Church, Mt. Rainier

Ms. Judith, fondly called by all as 'Aunty Baf,' is one of the Mothers of our Parish. She is a long time parishioner who has served the parish in almost every role, within numerous groups and committees within the church. She is an active member of the Altar Guild, Social & Cultural Committee, Mothers Union, Women of St. John's and the Daughters of the King. She has mentored numerous children through Sunday School and continues to be a great pillar of support to the church.

Lucille Dickinson, First Congregational UCC

Lucille is a true servant leader, committed to help the Church best serve the world. For 40 years, she has done everything for the church; served as moderator, treasurer, and financial wizard, and chaired multiple commissions and search committees. However, her most meaningful work is leading the church to become a more anti-racist and inclusive church. She reminds us that this hard and holy work is grounded in acknowledging the sins and hurts of the past. We must examine the ways that structural racism pervades our society, and has shaped our lives. Only through this difficult interior work can we truly commit ourselves to creating a Beloved Community, where all are valued and heard, and where socioeconomic forces no longer preserve an unjust status quo, steeped in white supremacy. Her steadfast belief in personal and collective change inspires us all! It reminds us that through our heartfelt faithfulness and good work, the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice. Thank you, Lucille! We love you! From your family at First Church!

Glen Drew, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Olney

Glen Drew has been a devoted, cheerful servant of God, bearing His witness, and fulfilling the ministry of the laity at St. John’s ever since his young daughter, now an adult, put on her Christmas list the wish to go to church. Since that time Glen has served on the vestry three times, and has been a trusted voice to the rector serving as Senior Warden twice. Glen has also benefited many of the ministries of St. John’s including serving on the board of trustees for our two largest outreach ministries: St John’s Episcopal School, and African Palms USA.

Glen’s service to St. John’s is not solely intellectual. He is always one of the first to show up when the grounds need sprucing up, when palm crosses need to be quality controlled, when the pumpkins need to be unloaded from the tractor trailer, or furniture moved to furnish an apartment for a refugee family. Need a ride to church? Glen will happily convey you there, even if you attend a different service from the one he attends.

Throughout his service to church and God, Glen has always quietly and humbly lead by example with sage insight, a good sense of humor, and a positive spirit; doing what needs to be done, never seeking accolades; merely answering his call to be the hands and feet of Christ in the Church and the world.

Gloria Ducker, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church

Gloria Anderson Ducker was born in Philadelphia PA., and has resided in the DMV area since 1969. She earned a BS in Urban Studies Social Planning from University of the District of Columbia and an MSW degree from Howard University School of Social Work. She has been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (EDOW), since her arrival in 1969. She has been a member of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church since the mid-1980s and previously served on the Vestry and was Chair of the Senior Ministries. She continues to be actively involved and participates in several church ministries; especially those promoting activities and services for the elderly members and community.

Gloria’s Diocesan experience includes several years of service, advocacy, and volunteerism. Gloria currently volunteers in the SE Washington Samaritan Ministry offices as an Intake Coordinator as well as performing other duties. Most recently, Gloria assisted in St. Timothy’s and St Philip’s hosting the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington NextStep Breakfast. The annual event serves as a fundraiser to support the programs of Samaritan Ministry. Utilizing her BS degree expertise and professional experience, Gloria provided ground work planning and marketing for Collington and Friendship Terrace and for transitioning the Diocesan Ministry on Aging to what is now known as Seabury Resources for Aging. She was one of the first Afro-Americans to serve on the Diocesan Episcopal Church Women Board of Directors as well as Diocesan UTO and delegate to Triennial Conventions. “Everything I am, I owe to God; everything I have, came from God. To Him be all the glory.”

Deborah DuSault, St. Columba’s Episcopal Church

Debbie is a native Washingtonian and has been a member of St. Columba’s since 1990. She has served our community in several capacities as part of the Sunday hospitality team and is the leader of our Good Shepherds ministry, which cooks and delivers meals to parishioners at times of joy and sorrow. Debbie is also a needlepointer and has participated in the design and installment of beautiful needlepoint kneelers in our Nave. Debbie is always willing to lend a hand, and her dry wit and big heart make her special. Her contributions to the life of St. Columba’s are much appreciated, and we are grateful for the chance to recognize her.

Egerton Forster-Jones, St. John’s Episcopal/Anglican Church, Mt. Rainier

If I had one word to describe Mr. Egerton, it would be dependable. You can count on him to always be there to lend a hand, wherever help is needed. He has served multiple terms as the Junior Warden of our Parish. He is very active with other groups and committees in the church, such as the Mothers Union, Stewardship, and Evangelical Committee. He also serves as one of the Eucharistic Ministers of our parish. Simply put, he is a great asset to the Parish.

Mary Fromyer, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Since Mary's retirement she has found a second career in volunteerism. In the community, Mary is a volunteer at Samaritan Ministries, serving in the Silver Spring office as a resume writer. She also serves as a kitchen helper for Meals on Wheels. Particular to Ascension, Mary has served as the vestry registrar for several years. Her current volunteer jobs at Ascension find her busy coordinating donations for our Afghan Refugee program as well as sorting donated goods for the refugees. She can be found early on Sunday mornings participating in our Street Ministry, doing Homeless Walk-Abouts where comfort packs are distributed to the area homeless.

Elizabeth Griffin, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

After her career as a nurse and program coordinator for the Kaiser Permanente's National Transplant Program, Elizabeth (Libbie) has found her way into volunteering for many of the programs and ministries at Ascension. A long-time member of Ascension's choir, Libbie can also be found packing and distributing food boxes for the Tommy's Pantry Ministry at Ascension, where some 300 food boxes are given out to the area food insecure each week. Libbie's newest volunteer task is to work in collaboration with Ascension and St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral to help collect necessary medical supplies to be sent to Ukraine.

Embry Howell, All Souls Episcopal Church

Embry Howell joined All Souls Episcopal Church with her husband Joe in the mid-1980s, attracted to the church in part because of the excellent choir, of which she has been an active and loyal member since that time. For the last 35 plus years she has been a lay leader of All Souls serving on the vestry, the rector search committee, and actively leading various outreach efforts. She spearheaded three initiatives to provide welcoming and supportive services to immigrant families from Afghanistan. These efforts have made an enormous difference in the lives of these families as they resettled in the U.S. She currently serves as one of the All Souls Church co-chairs of the Tri-Parish Refugee Support Sponsor Circle. This initiative partners with two additional Episcopal parishes in the region to respond to the emergency need to resettle Afghan refugees after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2021. Ms. Howell’s and All Souls’ past experiences with Afghan refugee resettlement fostered rapid organization and accomplishment of all that was needed to become a Sponsor Circle. Her expertise and leadership have been invaluable in this ongoing outreach, and her participation in the life of the parish has enriched All Souls Church and its ministries for years.

Judy and Bob Johnson, Rock Spring UCC

Bob and Judy have taken a member of the church to surgery at 5 a.m., and accompanied members to radiation treatments. For years they have overseen our church garden, where all produce is donated to the local food pantry. Judy and Bob usher, care for the building and grounds, and show up in many situations of need with compassion and insight.

Carla Kane, Model Cities Senior Wellness Center

Carla Kane became a volunteer unexpectedly. She joined the center with many ideas and she is a great advocate for the seniors and Model Cities. She has volunteered to give testimonies at the Center. She has helped seniors in many ways. She has volunteered to lead the Advisory Council. She has also volunteered to be on the Task Force for Model Cities’ renovation and addition. She is a very intelligent leader. We appreciate her for being involved in making Model Cities a better place.

William R. MacKaye, St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church

Bill, to his friends, came to St. Stephen and the Incarnation in 1960 when he and his wife Mary Anne (known to all as Ginger) returned to Washington, their hometown, with their then two children. (In later years two became five.) St. Stephen’s neighborhood, Columbia Heights, was in those days economically depressed and the church was abuzz with efforts to meet the neighborhood’s needs. Hunger was plainly one of those needs and by 1968 the congregation had settled into offering a daily free midday meal to anyone who showed up, the Loaves and Fishes program. For many years thereafter Bill and fellow parishioner Edward Grandi coordinated the preparation and serving of the meal on the third Sunday of each month. Subsequently he added the task of raising money for the program and writing grant requests for its support. He became a member of the L&F Management Board when St. Stephen’s Vestry created that group and tasked it with the program’s day-to-day direction. Bill was also deeply involved in the decision by St. Stephen’s congregation to pay reparations to the Black community by contributing much of its land for the construction of affordable housing in its neighborhood. That gift resulted in the 72-unit Urban Village apartments, which surround the church. Bill is vice president of the Urban Village Corporation, a neighborhood-church nonprofit that monitors the continued affordability of the Urban Village apartments and promotes affordable housing in increasingly unaffordable Columbia Heights.

Edna Paulson, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park

Edna Paulson has been an active and valued member of St. Andrew's for more than 30 years. She has often served as our delegate to Diocesan convention. In her capacity as co-chair of the Jubilee (Outreach) Commission, Edna has been a faithful supporter of both our monthly Loaves and Fishes meal program and our annual Warm Nights shelter. She has served on the Altar Guild for many years, including chairing that organization in support of worship at St. Andrew's.

Lawrence Paulson, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park

Lawrence Paulson has been a faithful and enormously supportive member of St. Andrew's since 1990. He has served on numerous vestries, and as both junior and senior warden. He is active in the Jubilee (Outreach) Commission and has participated in a wide range of activities - from directing parish plays to editing the monthly newsletter, and co-chairing the Stewardship Commission and the Youth Group. He was a founding member of the parish Endowment Board and has supported our Diocesan participation by serving on the Angus Dun Committee and as a Diocesan Convention teller.

Delores Powers, Model Cities Senior Wellness Center

Delores “Dee” Powers has been a volunteer for over 10 years. She comes to the Center every day and stays throughout the day. She assists the staff with administrative tasks. She will pick up seniors from their homes and bring them into the Center. She has distributed calendars to seniors’ homes during the pandemic. She will help set up with decorations as well as clean up and she participates in fun activities as well as exercise. She will purchase popcorn for the card players or a movie activity. She will give them a ride home after an event from the Center. She is very helpful, thoughtful, dedicated. and kindhearted. We truly appreciate “Dee “ for all she does for Model Cities.

Vonda O’Sullivan, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Bethesda

Vonda O’Sullivan has been a member of St. Luke’s for over 60 years. She was a Sunday School teacher for over 30 years. She retired once but accepted a call back into service. Many of her former students greet her with thanks and heartwarming memories. Vonda ran the Flower Donation Program keeping records of present and former parishioners and their families and when they wished to make donations for altar flowers. She consulted with each family about the statement they wished placed in the Sunday bulletin as to whether it was a memorial or a thanksgiving gift. For some, it was the only remaining connection to St. Luke’s and for others, it was a welcome reminder that St. Luke’s - represented by Vonda’s friendly voice – cared about their family. Vonda took food donations to the Bethesda Help food pantry, a St. Luke’s Community Engagement Ministry. For many years St. Luke’s held an annual Bazaar/Rummage Sale. Vonda was a key member of the Women of St. Luke’s that ran the Sale. She sorted clothes every Monday for months, helped set up the bazaar, and then worked all day of the Sale. Vonda and David, her husband, were original members of the Supper Club, a periodic potluck promoting fellowship for adult parishioners of all ages.

Vonda is one of the unsung volunteers – always ready to support St. Luke’s and its activities, never seeking recognition or accolades – that are the backbone of a thriving parish.

Sarah Padgett, St. James Episcopal Church, Potomac

Sarah and her husband Charles have been attending St. James' Potomac Church since 1990. She has been co-chair of the Flower Guild for many years, an intercessor for Sunday worship, and on the Lunch & Learn Committee, focusing mainly on purchasing the food and managing the budget.

Robin Petrusak, Little River UCC

Robin Petrusak has served the Little River congregation in multiple positions as a lay leader; currently, she serves as chairperson of the Board of Trustees. She consistently shows up to help meet the needs of the church and serve the wider community and generously gives of her time to the full range of congregational life. She is faithful and diligent and has served as a tremendous source of inspiration to members of the church. She has shared her passion, treasury, and time to the full range of the congregation as a volunteer in a variety of positions. Robin is our general go-to person who assists the pastors and ministers in reaching out to members of the church. Also, her concern for the wider community helps to keep us informed and engaged in the lives of our neighbors, including strangers who come to the church in times of their critical needs. Robin embodies Christian love and compassion. She is a worker within the church with a global vision and passion.