St. James' 2024 Vestry

Each Vestry Member Serves in a Ministry Assisting Volunteers. 
Ministry Areas and the Vestry Leadership

Buildings & Grounds: Doug Smith


Children and Youth Commission: Carol Murphy

Finance: Diane Steckel


Nominating: Doug Smith, Margie Amberge, Diane Steckel                  

Music/Worship:  Marie Hughes and Beckie Hidy

Rep to the Thrift Shop Board: Bill Spalding and Doug Smith

Rep to RJRC: Judy Holmes

Stewardship: Margie Amberge, Tara Covert-Lanning, John Devins

Bill Spalding-Senior Warden (2023-2025)

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve St. James for another 2-year term as Warden. The past 3 years on the Vestry and then as Warden have been quite different than I imagined they would be. Who knew the world would turn upside down in 2020. Thankfully, I have received support from the rest of the Vestry, our Rector, our Staff, the many committee members and most important the Holy Spirit. I was born and raised here in Skaneateles. After a 10-year sojourn in Cortland where I met my wife, Molly, I moved back home. My grandparents and my parents were St James’ members. I was christened and confirmed here. Molly and all three of my children were baptized in the lake here at St. James’. My business, Upstate Temperature Control, is based here in Skaneateles servicing HVAC Control systems for larger commercial buildings throughout Upstate. I am excited at the opportunity to give back through service on the Vestry.

Doug Smith-Junior Warden (2024-2026)

My name is Doug Smith, and I was born in Syracuse, brought up in Skaneateles, and attended local schools. I graduated from the University of Miami in 1969 That same year, I married my childhood sweetheart, Beverley Fairs, here at St. James’.  Shortly after, I joined the US Army Reserves and spent the next 6 months at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Upon my return, we lived in Auburn where Bev was teaching and I commuted to Syracuse daily for various sales jobs for several years until ultimately starting our own business, Hiawatha Kitchens in 1974. We raised two children in Auburn, and finally moved back to Skaneateles in 1995. However we had never left St. James’. My business career additionally included sales jobs in industry, real estate and remodeling. I have served as a member of the Vestry four previous times including twice as warden. I have also taught Sunday School, served as an usher, hosted numerous gatherings, volunteered for capital campaigns and workdays and sing in the choir a the 9:00 AM worship service. I am now retird but find myself busy serving as a driver for Laker Limo, delivering groceries for Skaneateles Food Pantry, attending Sunrise Rotary meetings and projects, playing bass drum in the community band during the summer, and am a member of  Robert J. Hyden Post of the American Legion here in Skaneateles. Our grown children Eric and Krista, live respectively in Atlanta and Fort Worth areas with their families totally 7 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.  Consequently, we have great places to vacation! I look forward to serving St. James’ again as Warden and feel optimistic about the future. I feel my extensive business background will offer a unique perspective to decisions which will have to be made during the next few months as we deal with transition and its impact. My faith in God and his plan for each of us is the foundation of my optimism. With Him by my side and Bev on my arm, the future looks bright.

Margie Amberge Vestry Member (2022-2025)

When I first moved to Skaneateles 16 years ago, the first thing I asked God when I got the key to my house was…“Where is Your house? He led me to St. James’. I loved the mantra of, “Whoever you are, where ever you are at, you are welcomed here”. I was a part of the worship team for many years, and currently volunteer at the St James’ thrift store, and making soup with the Martha‘s. I currently work at the Vermont Green Mountain coffee shop downtown, and absolutely love being a part of this community. I have one Son who was a Sgt. in the Army, served 2 tours of Afghanistan, and is now a police officer in Washington. We all need each other, and I love being a part of this wonderful St James’ family!

John Devins Vestry Member (2024-2027)

I am excited at the prospect of serving on St. James’ Vestry. My wife Stephanie and I joined St James in 2017 following the marriage of our son Chris and Carolyn. Through their wedding, we learned about the wonderful faith community that is St James’ and received a warm welcome from Becky and everyone associated with the parish.At St. James’, I have served as an usher, assisted with lawn mowing, and helped the “unofficial” table wranglers team which prepares the parish hall for events. Stephanie and I moved to Skaneateles in 1988, and had 3 children attend Skaneateles schools. We are blessed with 7 grandkids. Upon graduation from St. John’s University, College of Pharmacy, I worked in a variety of sales and marketing positions for Eli Lilly and Company for 38 years. It would be an honor to serve on St. James’ Vestry as we continue on our exciting path forward!

Beckie Hidy Vestry Member (2024-2027)

I have attended St James since I was born.  I was baptised and married in St James.  I have been married for 30 years to Brian Hidy (the love of my life).  Danae Hidy is our 25 year old daughter who was baptised in St James as well.  She happened to be the first in a long line of children to be baptised in the lake in the 20th century.  I work full time as a Reservations Manager at Mirbeau Inn & Spa and have been there for 23 years.  I look forward to the next three years to be on the Vestry of my second home.

Judy Holmes  Vestry Member (2023-2026)

I would like to thank those who have placed their faith and trust in me by nominating me to a seat on the St. James’ Vestry. It was a surprise to be asked since I am a relative newcomer to St. James, having pretty much arrived here virtually during the COVID pandemic. Pre-pandemic, I was at a crossroads in my spiritual life. It’s funny how we seem to categorize events these day as happening pre-or-post-pandemic. I am Lutheran and spent most of the last 20 years as a member of Atonement Lutheran Church in the Valley section of Syracuse. During the summers of 2018 and 2019, I attended Lakeside services at St. James. During the fall and winter, I attended services at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Skaneateles. When COVID hit in March 2020, churches closed their doors and I was reeling. St. James’ online worship carried me through Lent and Easter. I hung around virtually; emailed Becky, asking whether a wayward Lutheran could join St. James’ Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission—the answer was yes; and Kip invited me to participate in St. James’ virtual church choir. I knew Kip via MasterWorks Chorale, where I was participating in its virtual choir projects. Long story short, I am still here post-COVID. I sing in the real-time choir and I am learning how to be an Altar Guild person. I am still at a crossroads in both my faith life and in finding my way after “retiring” from full-time work at the end of June 2022. I am a dual-career person, having spent half of my working career in healthcare as a registered nurse and the other half of my working career as a journalist, working for newspapers and as a communications manager at Syracuse University. I am here at St. James because of the simple statement on the website: “Whoever you are, wherever you find yourself in your journey of faith, you’re always welcome at St. James’!” In my journey, I have always struggled with the question—how do we know we are using our spiritual gifts in the ways in which God intended? Ten years ago, I had this philosophical conversation with a past mentor, Pastor Rick Bair, former chaplain at SU’s Lutheran Campus Ministry. In an email exchange, he wrote these words: You are a gifted child of God and you are utilizing the gifts God has placed in you for the benefit and service of the world God so loves. Your basic call or vocation is to be a baptized, loved child of God; your station(s) is/are all the roles through which you enact that vocation — i.e., as daughter, wife, mother, journalist, volunteer, etc.” The Spirit works in funny ways. I am here at St. James, embarking on a new adventure as a member of the Vestry. I have much to learn. I look forward to many Spirit-led adventures as a member of this faith community and discovering together how to use our gifts in the ways in which God intends.

Marie Hughes Vestry Member (2023-2026)

From the moment I walked into St. James’ on the third Sunday in October 2014, I felt at home. The ushers greeted me, some of the parishioners welcomed me, and our priest, Becky, asked in her sermon, “Are you where God wants you to be?” That alone would have been enough, but at Communion I was asked, “What is your name?” and from that day on, I have found my spiritual home and family at this amazing church on the Lake. At my meeting with Becky the next week, I told her it was very important for me to become an active part of St. James’.  I had just moved back to New York after living 41 years in Northern New Hampshire, where I was very involved in my Episcopal Church and headed towards becoming a Deacon at the request of the Bishop and my priest because there were so few priests in the North Country, and I was already responsible for leading Morning prayer one Sunday a month. It did not take long for Becky to ask me if I would become Clerk of the Vestry.  I accepted, and have held that position for the past seven years.  Therefore, I must admit, when I received the phone call asking if I would serve on Vestry, I was literally “blown away.” I never dreamed I would be given such an honor. Not only does it make me feel honored, but so humbled to serve in the church I love and feel at home.

I grew up as the oldest of 10 children with parents who were very committed to both service to God and their country. We learned at an early age what it meant to help others whether working at our local church functions or helping our elderly neighbors.  Therefore, I have always felt a strong sense of giving. As a teacher and having been an educator for 50 years in mostly poor, rural areas, there was also plenty of opportunity to practice what I had been taught.  At St. James’, besides being Clerk of the Vestry, I am a licensed Prayer Minister, and help regularly at the 6 PM service. I am a Lector and Communion Minister.  Thanks to Nancy Graham, I am a Stephen Minister, and because Kip said “yes” when I asked, I am a choir member as well. Serving occasionally as an acolyte is one of the greatest honors for me. Helping with the Rescue Mission and serving on the Board of Habitat are also important parts of my service. Presently, I am also preparing to take first vows as a Benedictine nun in the dispersed Order of St. Luke.  That will occur this June after my three years of preparation, and with the encouragement and support of everyone at St. James’.

My seven years as Clerk of the Vestry has given me an historical perspective on what has happened in those years, and it will help me as I reflect on what happened and what was learned during various issues and decisions. As Clerk, I had no input in any Vestry matters, but because I had to record everything at each meeting, that will help me immensely as we go forth this year and make some very important decisions about the future of our parish.  I am deeply honored and grateful for this opportunity to serve at St. James’ in a way I never dreamed possible.

Tara Covert-Lanning   Vestry Member (2024-2026)

I was born and raised in Skaneateles, and baptized and confirmed at St. James’ by Father Jack Teeter, thus making me a third generation “cradle” Episcopalian right here on Lake Skaneateles. After graduating high school here, I attended and graduated from Keuka College with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I spent the next 30+ years as a graphic artist and editor, mostly in the Geneva and Canandaigua areas. I also worked several years as a computer analyst and programmer at the University of Rochester. I volunteered post-9/11 for my local fire department, first as auxiliary president, then as department and EMS secretary, exterior firefighter, EMT and fire police officer. I returned home to the Skaneateles area in 2015. I now live in the Town of Niles, where I was interim Town Clerk in 2016-2017. I work part time for the Cayuga County Board of Elections as a technician and poll site manager. In 2017, Jim Lanning and I were married at St. James’ by Reverend Becky Coerper. During our pre-wedding meetings with Becky, I found a warm and loving return within the walls of St. James’. I also rediscovered God’s love and my faith was renewed in Christ’s work. I volunteered in the organization of the church’s Jumble Sale. More recently, I have volunteered in the office and assisted in updating the church’s directory. In November 2023, I was reaffirmed by Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe. In my recommitment to God’s service, I’ve attended the Episcopal 101 series with Father Joe and Kristen Mitchell, joined the Altar Guild and hope to become more involved in some of our outreach programs. I am humbled and honored to be considered for the Vestry position and I hope to continue to serve in earnest with God’s love.

Carol Murphy   Vestry Member (2024-2027)

I have been a member of St. James’ for three years. Prior to moving to the Skaneateles area in the summer of 2020, and recently widowed, I had spent the two previous decades on Onondaga Hill with husband Tom and attended St David’s Episcopal Church in DeWitt where I sang in the choir, served as an MC, Lector, Intercessor and Vestry member. In earlier years (the 70’s – 90’s), I lived near Aurora in southern Cayuga County where daughters Julie, Nicole and Michelle grew up in a single-parent household while I taught high school and middle school French in Lansing. We attended the United Ministry of Aurora (Episcopalian and Presbyterian) where I sang n the choir, served on Vestry and as a Lector and Chalice Server. Currently, I volunteer at Interfaith Works as a tutor of citizenship and English to refugees and as the backpack organizer for newly-arrived refugee school children. I also sing with Masterworks Chorale here in town. A grandma of seven, I enjoy attending events of local grandkids. At St. James’, I love choir singing, reading lessons and prayers, serving the chalice and helping out with Evening Prayer. It is an honor to be asked to serve on Vestry and I look forward to serving St. James’ in this capacity.

Diane Steckel   Vestry Member (2022-2025)

What a wonderful way to start the New Year being asked to serve on Vestry! My name is Diane and I am a long-time parishioner of St. James’. In my 30+ years at St James’, I have volunteered for many ministries at church. Each ministry, including Sunday School teaching, Outreach efforts, Altar Guild and Stephen Ministry has enriched my life and allowed me to meet great people. I live in Skaneateles and am married to Chad Steckel. We have 2 grown children Peter and Allison. A retired nurse, I currently work per diem at the VA Clinic in Auburn and volunteer at Matthew House. I love to keep busy so in my free time I am a member of the Junior League of Syracuse and the Skaneateles Garden Club. It would be an honor to serve on the St. James’ Vestry.