Meet the Core Leadership Team
Kim ArakawaProject Coordinator & Evangelist
Rodney C. DeanSpiritual Director/Catechist
Christopher DecaturFormation Consultant
Yoimel Gonzalez HernandezCatechist, Bi-Lingual Ministries Specialist
Lisa KimballProject Director
Dorothy LinthicumCatechist, Aging Ministries Specialist
Juan OliverResource Consulatant
Eduardo RiveraLatinxs Resource Lead
Francie ThayerSpiritual Director
Project Coordinator & Evangelist
It was not until the death of her father, in 2013, that Kim felt led to the Episcopal church. The moment she walked through the doors at Holy Apostles in Hilo, Hawai‘i she knew…it fit. Time spent as a member of the vestry, and later on Diocesan Council helped Kim learn more about the inner workings of church life and the importance of lay leadership. God seemed to move fast from there, opening the way to Virginia so Kim’s husband could answer his long-held call to the priesthood. Now back in the Diocese of Hawai’i, and having recently completed her Masters’ degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, Kim is grateful and humbled to be able to give her skills in support of Baptized for Life.
Rodney C. Dean
It was (probably) 1957 when Rodney was baptized one Sunday morning, as an infant in a proper garment of the era, becoming at least the third generation of his family to worship at Zion Methodist Church in Cambridge, Maryland. Vivid memories remain of Sunday mornings in church with his parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a great uncle…..you get the idea. Zion was a regular part of family life in those years; choir rehearsal for his mother, Nursery/Sunday school for Rodney, Men’s Group activities for his father. Moving from their hometown in 1962 this time remains a precious memory of innocence, of community and multigenerational togetherness.
Early in life, nature (especially water) began to appeal to Rodney. This love of water guided him to the ocean regularly. Invited to try the sport of surfing Rodney knew his life would be forever changed. Today he feels closer to God in large part due a lifetime bathed by nature. Then mysteriously decades ago, The Episcopal Church began to slowly deepen the relationship with Our Lord.
Moving around the country (O‘ahu, Florida, Maui, Maryland, and California) opportunities to serve as a lay leader slowly transformed Rodney. Sunday school to Stewardship to Vestry and then Diocesan Leadership, learning institutional protocol offers priceless insight. Sitting at a Diocesan Convention one year and hearing The Good News again for the first time became a true inflection point in Rodney’s life.
Today his vocational calling is being reborn and resurrected with a New Beginning following 25 years in finance and investments. An adventure through an emerging ministry known as The Retreat House at St. Paul’s Hillsboro MD while being enrolled in The Spiritual Guidance Program with Shalem Institute is the newest chapter of Rodney’s faith journey.
Being raised in The Roman Catholic Church, Chris was baptized in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1993. After deferring confirmation to the age of 17; because, he didn’t feel ready, Chris was later prepared for confirmation through the adult RCIA program. “I don’t really remember my baptism, I remember my confirmation process in The Catholic Church, but, still feel that I wasn’t spiritually ready, but, was completing it as something that ‘I should & had to do.’” While studying at Cleveland State University, Chris found The Episcopal Church and expressed interest in being received. “For me, that was the first time, I felt that I was making a spiritual and religious decision independently. I was following God’s call and meeting that divine presence where I was in my own spiritual journey. When walking through the baptismal covenant and personally reading and reflecting on the marks of mission of The Episcopal Church, I constantly find myself reflecting on how those marks and proclamations help tell my story, which help me understand God’s presence among us more clearly.”
Christopher Decatur has been called as the new “Priest-in-Charge” of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He was ordained as a Transitional Deacon on May 26th and will be ordained (God willing and the people consenting) as a Priest this fall. Chris is a class of 2020 graduate from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA where he received his Master in Divinity degree and a Certificate in New Mission Practices. Before arriving at St. Luke’s, Chris served at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C as their seminarian and served at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio as the Associate Minister for Children, Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries. Chris currently serves on The Taskforce for Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision for The Episcopal Church.
Chris has an undergraduate degree in Comparative Religion from Cleveland State University and years of studies and practicing of Early Childhood Education both at CSU and as a student at The Catholic University of America. He is passionate about creating a space for all wonderers and seekers to explore faith!
When Chris is not immersed in his work at St. Luke’s or with Baptized for life, you might find him outside running along Lake Erie, picking up weights in a local gym or listening to music, and ‘dancing through life.’
Larry’s baptism story has some unique turns. Baptized as an infant probably in the Presbyterian Church, his father died suddenly when Larry was five. Eventually, his mother remarried a Roman Catholic who was in the Air Force, and his whole family began to attend a Roman Catholic parish. As part of the formal preparation for First Communion, he was baptized again when he was eight. This was a common practice in the Roman Catholic church at the time. Larry remembers having to be lifted-up to the tall Baptismal font for the water to be poured, and the words to be said. He feels it is a fine reminder that he lives into his Baptism only with the care of others.
In his early adulthood, he entered a religious order – the Jesuits – where he experienced a sense of mission, was given a great education and formation in spirituality for eleven years. After being approved for ordination, he made the hard decision not to be ordained as he had many questions about living a celibate life and eventually left the community. Larry’s journey then comprised of several years on a parish staff, ten years on a Bishop’s staff, twenty-five years in leadership, and chaplaincy in faith based medical centers.
Larry is an Episcopal Priest, who serves St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in South Kansas City. He also serves on the Standing Committee of his Diocese and is involved in the Lay Licensing and Vocational Discernment committees of the Commission on Ministry. Presently he is engaged in completing his Doctor of Ministry thesis in Christian Spirituality at Virginia Theological Seminary. He is completing his Board term as Vice President of Journey to Baptismal Living, an ecumenical faith organization promoting the Adult Catechumenate.
Larry’s wife, Christy, has been an Episcopal priest for over twenty-five years. They have two young adult daughters, both adopted from China.
Myra attended Catholic schools for 12 years and started that learning experience while attending a Baptist church (on occasion) with her family. Her faith formation happened mostly in religion class and during school mass. The principal announced over the PA system that the Garnes children would be baptized and receive The Holy Eucharist during the spring break. The classrooms exploded with cheers from friends! During the Easter Vigil at Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio on April 10, 1982 Myra, her brother, and sister were baptized. Their mother was confirmed the same evening while their father and godparents stood along with them.
Myra is grateful that this is a day she can remember with her siblings and that the decision was theirs; not just a choice that their parents made for them. Myra and her siblings decided to affirm their faith and make a commitment as members of the Body of Christ in a community that they were immersed in every day. She continued seeking a true welcome and inclusion the way she felt during that Easter Vigil.
Myra’s faith journey took her to many churches and denominations over the years before she found The Episcopal Church. She loves our Episcopal tradition of reaffirming our faith and renewing our baptismal vows. The words of the Baptismal Covenant resonate with her whenever she hears or recites them. Myra feels called to love, to forgive, to push against injustice and to evangelize in her own unique way. She had found her faith home and she is welcome here!
As the Canon for Youth & Young Adult Ministries in the Diocese of Long Island Myra is blessed every day to lead a ministry with young people grounded in principles of social justice and rooted in the gospel. Together, they aspire to create moments in which they will experience God and grow in their faith so that they too feel loved and will welcome others. Myra lives in Suffolk County on Long Island and adores seeing the beauty of the ocean daily.
Maureen-Elizabeth Hagen was baptized Roman Catholic at four weeks, confirmed at 10 years, and then her family left church for three decades. The intervening years found her exploring other cultures and engaged in all things international. Two years in Peace Corps, a year at the Sorbonne, and five years at grad school at Columbia fed Maureen’s mind and imagination. God’s presence was seldom felt in all the busyness of life. Disappointment led to questioning which led to making a decision to give church a try and that has made all the difference.
Four months after Maureen started attending All Saints Episcopal Church, she witnessed her first baptism. As they prepared to welcome Reid Nicole into the Body of Christ, Maureen paid close attention to the promises she was making on Reid’s behalf and the reaffirmation of her own baptismal vows. From that time forward, Maureen embraced a strong baptismal ecclesiology which has helped form all that she does. A fierce champion of the ministry of all the baptized, it was her community which saw in Maureen a call to ordination. She became a deacon in 2004; with a ministry focusing on empowering and equipping the people of God to live into their baptismal covenant as we work to ensure that all are included. Currently, Maureen serves in a small urban congregation which feeds 150,000 people a year, and directs the diocesan formation program which provides theological education for all. She is also president of the Association for Episcopal Deacons and a member of the Task Force for Clergy (and Lay) Leadership Formation for Small Congregations.
Yoimel Gonzalez Hernandez
Catechist, Bi-Lingual Ministries Specialist
Yoimel is originally from Cuba and is currently living in the Washington D.C. area. He was baptized in Cuba, in the Presbyterian Church, when he was 12-years-old. The day of his baptism was the first day he walked into a church, but after less than 2-hours experiencing his baptism, and the vibrant energy of the Sunday School, he felt he wanted to be part of the church. After some years, and as part of his leadership, he became a Catechist supporting children, teenagers, and people of all ages that began looking at the Cuban church as a space for spiritual growth and social participation. His baptism was really the beginning of a long journey of faith that continues now in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
As part of the Episcopal Church, Yoimel remembers his confirmation in the Washington National Cathedral as a crucial moment of continuity, and re-commitment, now in the Episcopal branch of the Body of Christ. He graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) in the Anglican Studies program in 2019 and he was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Washington in June 2019. He is now an Associate Priest at St. Alban´s Episcopal Church and the Dean of the Latino Deacon´s School in his diocese.
When Yoimel is not at church, he is reading or writing poetry, visiting museums, or listening to Cuban music.
As a catechist Yoimel is looking to share his multicultural experience in the Episcopal Church, learning from the experiences of other disciples, and continuing to find the signs of God´s presence around in the world.
Lisa was baptized in the same service in which her father was confirmed, at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley, CA. She grew up living in four major cities in four countries and can count on one hand the number of Sundays her family missed church. As a recent college graduate, Lisa accepted a coffee-hour invitation to help with the church youth group. Twenty-five years later, having served on the staff of five Episcopal congregations, two dioceses, and as a consultant/trainer across the United States, she received her Ph.D. in Work, Community, and Family Education from the University of Minnesota. Lisa’s dissertation on the significance of godparents in the 21st century wove together her interests in human development, experiential learning, faith formation, church history, and popular culture. Today she focuses on discipleship practices, and the relationship between Christian education and healthy faith communities in times of rapidly shifting patterns of religiosity. Lisa is married to the Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons, with whom she shares a passion for compelling church and adventures in their RV, “Minerva.”
Catechist, Aging Ministries Specialist
The central memory around Dorothy’s baptism was the visit from her pastor. It was a solemn occasion, with Dorothy and the pastor seated in the center of the formal living room, while her parents sat to one side. She doesn’t remember specific questions or her answers but recalls the intent. Gently, but with great seriousness, he asked about her decision and public profession of faith to accept Jesus as her Savior. Dorothy was seven years old when this conversation occurred.
The influence of the Southern Baptist Church remains with Dorothy to this day. Memorized scripture is still etched in her mind, along with camp experiences and questions that keep her faith vibrant and ever-changing. After graduating from Baylor University, she was a reporter and copy editor for newspapers in Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia. Soon after her marriage to a colleague at the Atlanta Constitution, she was confirmed into the Episcopal Church. Like many in her generation, she tested out different career paths before becoming a mother. The experiences gained working one day a week for 14 years at one of Mother Teresa’s houses for men with AIDs transformed Dorothy’s spiritual life and grounded her faith.
Dorothy recently retired after spending 22 years in Christian formation at Virginia Theological Seminary writing, editing, and teaching. During that time, she was also a lecturer at an Anglican seminary in South Africa and managing editor of the Episcopal Curriculum for Youth. She was a caregiver for her father who had Alzheimer’s disease; both of her parents died of Alzheimer-related causes. After her father’s death, Dorothy began an intensive study into the field of aging and spirituality. This led to the writing of Redeeming Dementia (Church Publishing, 2018) with former student Janice Hicks, a scientist whose mother also died of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dorothy is still living into the meaning of the decision she made long ago to accept Jesus as her Savior. The one constant in her life is that she is “sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”
At six months old, Juan was baptized on December 25, 1948 at Sacred Heart R.C. Church in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was an acolyte by age 8, and by the following year was playing Mass on a makeshift altar in the garage. A priest friend of the family said he had a vocation to the priesthood and Juan believed him. At about ten his mother took him to his first Easter Vigil, where he renewed his baptismal vows. It dawned on him then and there that his very being as a Christian flowed from baptism. After finishing Jesuit High School, he moved to the States to join them, but after five years, having realized 17 had been way too early an age to decide anything, left to begin a career in art.
Thirteen years later it all came back, and as he dipped his toe in the Episcopal Church at St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco, he realized he was home. Two years later he was in seminary again, at CDSP in Berkeley. During that time he joined the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, whose president he would be in the late nineties, and served in the Christian Initiation subcommittee of the Standing Liturgy Commission of the Episcopal Church. He also designed and led workshops on the Catechumenate throughout the Church. Ordained priest in 1990, he stayed in Berkley to work on a PhD in liturgical studies, writing his dissertation, under Louis Weil, on the theological criteria for the evaluation of liturgical architecture, The Look of Common Prayer. In the meantime he served as assistant at St. Mark’s Palo Alto, Vicar at St. Aiden’s Bolinas, and Interim rector at St. John the Evangelist, all in the San Francisco Bay Area.
From 1996 he served on the diocesan team in the Diocese of New Jersey, and beginning in 2000, directed the Mercer School of Theology in the Diocese of Long Island, as he developed the Latino Program at the General Theological Seminary. In 2008 he retired to Santa Fe, NM, where he helps out at St. Bede’s, but spends most of his time gardening, cooking, and writing. The following year, he published Ripe Fields: The Promise and Challenge of Latino Ministry.
He lectures widely, usually about worship design, liturgy and culture(s), Latino Ministry, the history and theology of Church architecture, and the Catechumenate. He is currently the Custodian of the Book of Common Prayer (big title, little work) and serves ex officio on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, where he chairs the Task Force for Liturgical Translations. Juan recently published The House of Meanings, an introduction to the theology of the liturgy suitable for use in parish forums during Easter. His blog, Theolalia, contains anything form liturgical anecdotes to theological musings.
Juan is thrilled at the prospect of helping Baptized for Life to develop ways in which parishioners of all types can deepen and explore their baptismal vocation!
Latinxs Resource Lead
Eduardo’s baptism story begins on a windy winter day in the city of his birth, Chicago. He was six-months-old and wore an adorable little white outfit, as white as the six inches of snow on the ground that morning.
The memories came later. Memories of his mom’s narration of the day as they turned photo album pages, of godparents coming to visit on special days, and the shoes he wore preserved in bronze. Eduardo loves showing his children the shoes that to this day, many, many, years later; sit on a shelf at grandma and grandpa’s home.
Eduardo first began to rediscover his baptism when he learned about the history of baptism as a Sunday school teacher and the priest insisted on celebrating baptisms and the Great Vigil with incredible intentionality. Later, he was blessed to become a member of a worshipping community that also valued the beautiful gift of sacrament, the process by which adults were baptized, and also observed lent, the Triduum, and Easter in ways he had never experienced. Eduardo’s passion for Christian formation, worship, and sacrament stems from those experiences where he felt God’s saving grace beautiful and generous ways.
Eduardo is on the board of Forma, an organization that celebrates, equips, supports and connects leaders who form followers of Jesus. He also serves on the eFormation Advisory Group and the Council of Advice of the Missioner for Latino Ministries in The Episcopal Church. Eduardo is the Managing Editor of EFML, the new Latinx curriculum of Education for Ministry (EfM) and serves on the Bishop’s staff in the Diocese of Southeast Florida as Interim Communications Director. His nearly 25 years of ministry has afforded him a wealth of experience in publishing, multimedia production and management, marketing, and public relations. Eduardo lives in Hollywood, Florida with his loving spouse and four beautiful children.
Francie was baptized as a baby-in-arms at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Garrison Maryland—the same church where she was later confirmed and married, and where her parents are buried. The youngest of 5 siblings, perhaps there were photos for the baptismal event, but they have been long lost in the shuffle of a busy and loving childhood household. Currently the Director of The Retreat House in Hillsboro MD, Francie finds great joy in prayerfully listening for the leadings of the Spirit for invitations of where to travel next with the growing community there. Life on the margins with a small number of loving and intentional seekers is an amazing place to live into one’s baptism. As a spiritual director, Francie also has the joy of spending time at VTS several days a month, sitting with the Spirit and with seminarians, area priests and others, listening for the Quiet Whispers of invitation from the Holy One.
Francie lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her husband Peter who recently retired as Head of School at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown DE.
Ever grateful to have been “marked as Christ’s own forever’” those many years ago, Francie is humbled and delighted to be part of this adventure of Spirit inspiration that is Baptized For Life.