Our Vestry

Sharon ArlissSharon Arliss -Senior Warden

Hello, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Sharon Arliss and I am now serving on the St. James’ vestry as Junior Warden after having served 2 remaining years of an unexpired vestry term.

I am an Auburn native & have lived in the Hamlet of Owasco since 1986. I first came to St. James’ in 1974 while dating my now husband David. I was a lapsed Catholic and had not attended church on a regular basis in several years. David was a friend of Fr. Teeter and his family, Charlie and Kathy Crowther, Paul and Lia Bates and many others. Through these people and others I found St. James’ to be a warm and welcoming church community where I could discover a new relationship with God. David and I were married here in 1975 and have been members since. Our 3 sons, Matthew, Patrick and Jonathan, were all baptized and St. James’ and were active in Sunday school, Youth programs and the acolyte program through their high school years.

Over the years I have served on the Altar Guild, taught in Sunday school, and participated in Foyer groups, and I served as Clerk of the Vestry since some time back when Bishop Skip was Fr. Skip and our rector. More recently I served on the St. James’ Planning Steering Committee for the “Standing Tall” Capital Campaign. Presently I chair the vestry’s Human Resources Committee, I volunteer at the St. James’ Thrift Shop, participate with the St. James’ soup kitchen volunteers at St. Peter and John Church in Auburn and participate in Foyer Groups.

Professionally, I worked for many years in nursing home and hospital social work and lastly at the Cayuga County Office for the Aging, retiring in December 2011. I now enjoy spending more time with my husband, children and 4 grandchildren, reading, traveling, attending theater and musical programs and volunteering weekly in the office at Hospice of the Finger Lakes.

St. James’ has provided me with a safe and challenging spiritual home where I have been able to develop and grow in a personal relationship with God. I am honored to have been asked to take this next step in faith continuing to serve on the St. James’ vestry in my role as a warden and I pray for the grace to do so well.
Colleen Gannon-Junior Warden

My name is Colleen Gannon, and I have been attending St. James church since 2002.  I grew up here in Skaneateles and was raised Catholic.  Jean and I were both looking for a church we could call home and instantly found it the first time we attended a service at St. James.  Feeling the warmth, friendliness, and welcoming love, we knew we had a place where we could raise our family.  We currently reside in Marcellus with our daughters, Deanna (Dani) and Kelly. We feel truly blessed that they will grow up knowing this wonderful church family we have.

After serving 3 years on the vestry, I am pleased to be serving as the junior warden and chair of the finance committee this year.  I am currently on the church building committee in support of the capital campaign, serve as a chalice bearer and usher with my family at the 10:30 service and every year I help with the jumble sale.  In the past, I served on the search committee that brought Becky to us. In 2013 I traveled to El Salvador on a Habitat mission with several other members of St. James.

I am currently a senior mechanical engineer for Honeywell in Skaneateles Falls and an adjunct professor at Lemoyne College, teaching a 3D CAD J-mester course each year.  I have an AAS from Cayuga Community College and BSME (summa cum laude) from Syracuse University.

When I am not working or being a chauffeur for my children, I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, hunting, fishing and camping.  I enjoy watching NASCAR with my family and attend a couple of races every year.   I occasionally volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and really enjoy building & construction projects.  We have a modest size garden that I pretend to keep weed free and love to share our extras on the giving table. 

As a warden, I will continue to support the mission of St. James and help the church to grow and prosper while always staying focused on God and His will.

Christine Burgher – Vestry Member

My name is Christine Burgher and I have been a member of St. James’ since 2009. I was raised in upstate New York in the town of Bath and a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. After college and in all my travels, I have always been a member and found a home in the Episcopal Church.

My education is a combination of a BS in Accounting from the University of Alabama and a MBA in Finance from St John’s University in NYC. I had 19 years of work experience in New York City working in a financial capacity for multiple banks and brokerage firms supporting various types of domestic and international trading. In my last position, I worked for JP Morgan(9 years) as a Vice President of operations with responsibility for the North America Treasury Trading Support.

In 2007, my husband Bill and I decided to relocate to central New York to be closer to family and to raise our 2 sons, Matthew (16) and CJ(14) in the town of Skaneateles. In addition to raising our children, I volunteer and support many school and church organizations and projects. I have been a past Co-Treasurer for St. James’ and I am currently the Finance Chair for the Standing Tall campaign. I have assisted with the coffee hours and the Community Day of service projects.

St. James’ has so much to give its members and to the community. It would be a blessing to be an integral part of its mission. As a member of the vestry, I would be honored to share my gifts and work in collaboration with the clergy, the vestry members and members of the church in support of that mission – “Igniting Passion for Jesus Christ to Change Lives”.
Carrie Chantler-Vestry Member
Carrie makes her home in the village and has spent every summer of her life on Skaneateles Lake. She is the Marketing and Communications Director for the Onondaga County Bar Association. Prior to her current position, she wrote about education and environmental issues for The Citizen and the Skaneateles Journal.  Her articles have also appeared online for Edge Media Network.  She returned to CNY in 2007 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, her alma mater. She earned her FBA from SU in theater in 1986.  Previous to her graduate studies, Carrie resided in Chicago where she founded Terrapin Theatre, a non-profit arts agency that thrived for 14 years.  In Chicago, she produced, directed and acted in a variety of productions. Her voice has been heard in numerous commercials, in addition to singing with the St. James’ Church Choir and MasterWorks Chorale. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.  


Nancy Corl – Vestry Member
Nancy Corl has been a member of St. James’ since 2008. She had a long history with the Episcopal Church in Central New York prior to that, as well. Nancy started attend- ing St. John’s Episcopal Church in Auburn as a teenager and was active in their youth group. She married Jim while he was in seminary at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After Jim’s graduation, they moved to Clayton, NY, in the Thousand Islands, where she attended several small, now closed churches in the North Country Mission Field, as well as Christ Church in Clayton. From there, she moved to the Southern Tier of NY, where Jim served as Associate Rector and then as Rector of St. Paul’s Church in Endicott for a combined total of thirty one years. That congregation had about 750 congregants with an average Sunday attendance of 200 at two services. At St. Paul’s, she taught Sunday School and worked with the two youth groups. She helped produce Christmas and other youth presentations for the congregation. She led the Chapel pro- gram, which offered services for children aged three to six during the main church service at ten. She published Chapel Chatter, a newsletter about that program. She also was instrumental in developing and implementing the Parish Nurse program, which provided her the opportunity to use her nursing and Nurse Practitioner skills for the congregation. She even got to preach once when Jim was stranded in Boston during a major snowstorm.

Jim was then called to Christ Church in Manlius, where Nancy worked on altar guild and on the annual church Christmas Marts, which are marked by the production and sale of handmade wooden Christmas ornaments. She served as a lay reader and chalice bearer. She led the replanting and restoration of the Christ Church Memorial Garden in the church’s cemetery. She even got a marker in that cemetery without being buried there.

In retirement, Jim and I moved to Auburn, where we have built a retirement home. We wanted to join a vibrant church community. My father’s family, the Ducketts, attended St. James’, and I came here with the St. John’s youth group when the parish hall was new. We are drawn to the wonderful people here and the beautiful setting on the lake. At St. James’, I have again worked as a Parish Nurse and as a part of the Stephen Ministry. When asked to serve as a vestry member, I was initially surprised and asked “Why me?”. I was told that my name was mentioned by several on the nominating committee, so I decided to be open to a call in this new area. It would be an honor and a privilege to see where God may be leading St. James’ and me next.
Gail Cowley – Vestry Member
My name is Gail Cowley. My husband, Paul and I have been married 40 years this December, have
lived in Skaneateles for 37 years and have attended St. James’ for 7+ years. We have two grown children, Emma, who lives here locally and Jonathan who lives in NYC.

The first time we attended St. James’ was in the summer at a lakeside service. It was an ideal day, warm, breezy and I could feel the Spirit moving in and around the people and the environment. It was exciting to see so many people engaged in the ministries of the church and the genuine caring and embracing nature of this church family.

Initially, we participated in the Foyer groups thanks to Gay Hembach’s encouragement and have really loved getting to know so many people in the church through these groups. After talking with Nancy Graham, I realized that getting involved as a Stephen Minister was a great way to use my gifting to serve our church family and also, I was asked to serve Chalice on Sunday’s.
Professionally, together with Paul, we own Cowley Associates, an Advertising/ Marketing firm in Syracuse. I have oversight of the business side of the Agency, which includes Account Services, Business Development, Finance/HR. The Agency had the blessing of working with Chuck Wolfe and the St. James’ team to produce the Standing Tall for Generations Campaign materials. It’s been so exciting watching the progress and excitement that this cam- paign is generating and I know that after we go through this time of discernment that we will truly be able to use our church to serve the felt needs of our community in the way Christ would lead.
I currently serve on several Boards of Directors including CenterState CEO, Upstate Medical University Foundation, Notre Dame High School, The Family Business Center and Cancer Connects.
It’s an honor for me to be nominated to serve on the Vestry and I look forward to using my God given leadership skills in any way that will benefit the spiritual growth and nurturing of our church and the community.

Jeffrey B. Davis – Vestry MemberJBD toast

I am married to Cate Davis for 35 years and we have 3 daughters, all married by our Rector Becky Coerper. Julia and Audric Collignon were married in our yard in the summer of 2013. Julia lives in San Francisco, she is an engineer and works for the car manufacturer Tesla bringing solar energy to their facilities. Julia and Audric have given us grandson Eric. Meryl and Gregg were married at St. James’ on November 8, 2014. They are members at St. James’ and live in the Village of Skaneateles. Meryl is the Director of Food and Beverage for the Inns at Aurora. Carolyn and Alex were married at St. James’ on November 14, 2015. Carolyn is following Alex in his baseball career. Cate and I have lived in Skaneateles on Highland Ave. for 22 years. Cate is an owner of the women’s clothing store in Skaneateles, Cate and Sally. We are truly blessed with a beautiful family.

I have been a member at St. James’ for 4 years and been a member of the Vestry for a year. I am the chairman of the Stewardship program. I feel I have been called to St. James’ and it has been a life changing experience for me.

By day, I practice law – for about 30 years in Syracuse – and more recently closer to home in the Village of Camillus. My work involves real estate, wills, estates and business. I graduated from West Genesee, Syracuse U. and the Syracuse College of Law.
I also practice most of the things in my life and religion is at the top of the list these days. I enjoy cooking; photography (…light from light… is my favorite spiritual image); golf; swimming; reading.
It is a dynamic time to be involved with St. James’.
John Gilly-Vestry Member
I am the proud husband of Jane McMahon-Gilly for 32 years and counting and proud father of two sons, Ian and Quinn, who both live in Pennsylvania.  I was raised in Eastern Pennsylvania and educated in Pennsylvania with my terminal degree of a PhD in molecular biology from Lehigh University.  My professional career has been in biotechnology drug and vaccine development and managing businesses and NIH programs in cancer and infectious disease research starting in 1980 until I stopped working full time in 2014.  After spending much time and serious thought, Jane and I moved to Skaneateles in 2014 for the purpose of retiring here and I feel the change has been a healthy one for me.
I was baptized in the Presbyterian faith and was active in the church in my youth.  That changed once I started my first job at age 14 and I did not return to being active in a church until after I met Jane in 1983.  I enjoyed attending mass with her, was married in the Catholic church and as we raised a family I converted to Roman Catholic faith as the result of a desire to feel more fully part of the family.  In our move to Skaneateles we were seeking a church community that had kinship to our liturgy experience as Catholics and also was warm and welcoming. I strongly feel we’ve found that at St. James’.  Some of my fundamental beliefs are that God’s greatest gift to us is each other and that faith without works is dead.  I’ve had the chance at St. James’ to participate more fully with the church; more than I ever had the time or opportunity to in my life before, including the choir, the 2015 Habitat for Humanity trip to El Salvador and a range of other activities that St. James’ offers. When asked to consider being nominated for the Vestry, I felt that it was my time to commit to an obligation of service to a community that has offered me so much in such a short time.
Brian Hidy-Vestry Member
I’ve been connected to St. James’ in one way, shape or form since I was in High School. Back then I was involved in diocesan youth events like Happening and made friends with young people from all over our diocese, including St. James’  My faith has been a critical part of my journey since that time.  
Later, when I met my wife Beckie who grew up in Skaneateles and was baptized here, we decided to be married at St. James’. We soon moved west to live and work in Colorado where we were part of a church family while we were there.  Once our daughter, Danae, was born we decided to move back to Central New York to be closer to family.  We eventually settled back in the Skaneateles area and became members of St. James’ when our daughter developed a close relationship with the daughters of then Rector, Robert de Wetter. We soon found ourselves in the role of high school youth ministers and served for several years in that capacity.  We’ve also been strong advocates for youth ministry at the Diocesan level, serving in many capacities to preserve those opportunities for future youth.
My wife is part of the worship band and has been since its inception, and you’ll often see me playing conga and singing as a part of the band at 10:30 as well.
Outside of church I have worked in education as both a middle school science teacher and most recently as a coordinator and software implementation project manager for WFL BOCES in Newark, New York.  I am also an avid outdoorsman, focused primarily on cycling, but I also love to ski, sail, swim, hike, and climb.  We have long felt that St. James’ is where God has called us to be at this point in our journey in faith.
Carolyn Legg – Vestry Member
I was baptized at St. Mary’s Catholic church here in Skaneateles as well as receiving my first communion and confirmCarolyn pication. After marrying there, I stopped going to church because I disagreed with many of the Catholic teachings regarding social issues. When my sons reached school age, my then husband and I thought they needed a spiritual part of their upbringing. We started “church shopping” with St. James’. Father Skip Adams was preaching that day. He spoke about how he felt inadequate as a father because one of his sons said he was always at meetings in the evenings and never home like other Dads. It was so refreshing to hear that honesty from someone who knows the ups and downs of raising a family. That was it for me. St. James’ became our spiritual home for the last 18 years or so. Since then, I have been a Sunday school teacher, a vestry member, a Martha, an Altar Guild member, and a Stephen Minister.
St. James’ has become my family just as strong as my biological one. Since my sons have become adults and my divorce, I never feel alone at church. I have such an immense sense of connection every time I walk in the doors. By attending St. James’, I have gained a better understanding of who Jesus is, what his purpose was on earth and hence what my purpose is in this world. I still have a lot to learn, to understand, and to grow which keeps me coming back each week.
One of my greatest joys as a result of attending St. James’ is becoming involved with one of our refugee families. I initially started working with them because “whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me”. However, I have received so much more love than I could possibly give. This relationship has truly been a gift from God. In the future, I see St. James’ becoming more involved in outreach. Each one of us has something that we can offer in some way or another. I would like to rejoin the vestry to help make our connection to the less fortunate, whether that be emotionally, physically or spiritually, continue to grow.
Laura Spanfelner-Vestry Member
I work as a freelance graphic designer, having my own studio as well as for companies who need extra help in their in-house design departments.  I’m a cradle Episcopalian and have been worshipping at St. James’ for 5 years.  Scott and I have been married for 26 years and we have three children; Madison, Sydney and Jackson.  In my free time, you’ll find me skiing, running, or reading.  Since coming to St. James’, I have been a volunteer at the Thrift Shop as a cashier and as the recording secretary for the Thrift Shop Board.  I have helped with bringing communion and food to the shut-ins.  I am also an usher for the 10:45 service and the editor for the St. James’ Weekly Newsletter.