“God chose his servant David, and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the nursing ewes he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel, his inheritance. With upright heart he tended them, and guided them with skillful hand.” - Psalm 78:70-72

Every year, lay persons in the parish are elected to assist in the leadership and management of the parish. From a secular perspective, the Vestry are the directors of the legal entity of the parish. Within the life of the Church, the vestry prayerfully assist the Rector in leading the parish, providing representation for the whole of the parish to the Rector, and also in providing administrative support for the work of the parish, particularly around finances and financial accountability. The first duty of any Vestry is prayer, as its leadership role involves prayerful discernment of God’s will for the parish as it helps move the parish forward. The Biblical example of David reminds us that it was first his heart for God, and not the skill of his hand, which made him a great king. So too, while familiarity with finances and maintenance can be useful skills to hold, holiness is the greatest asset of any Vestry.

Sr. Warden

Margaret Emerson


The Senior Warden’s only function in the canons (laws of the Church) is to notify the bishop of when the parish is without a rector, however in the past, wardens have had responsibility for maintaining good order in public services as well as the collection of alms. Today, there remains continuity with those functions and the Senior Warden often holds responsibility in areas of financial stewardship and maintaining good order in the parish. The Senior Warden will generally chair a meeting if the rector is absent, and assists the rector with personnel issues and other general management and administration matters in the Church.

About Margaret

Margaret is a “cradle” Episcopalian. She was baptized, confirmed and married at St James in Leesburg. She and her family transferred to St. Thomas in 2013 and she has served in a variety of capacities at the church.  Margaret has been in charge of Parish Life, a school liaison, taught Sunday School and serves as a Lay Eucharistic Minister.  She also volunteers in the church office and chaired the church bazaar last year. Margaret worked as the secretary at St. Thomas for almost two years after retiring with 36 years in education. She has been married to Jeff for 37 years. They have two adults daughters, a seven year old granddaughter and are excepting a grandson this summer. Margaret is currently studying to become a deacon.

Jr. Warden


Dennis Hartenstein

The Junior Warden is appointed by the Vestry and elected from within their number. The Junior Warden has no specified canonical obligations, however the Junior Warden is generally vested with responsibility for the building and grounds, as well as overseeing other operations of the parish. At St. Thomas, the Junior Warden heads up the Buildings & Grounds committee and helps co-ordinate between volunteer maintenance and special projects, as well as contractors who help maintain the physical plant of the Church.

About Dennis

Dennis was born and raised in Eustis. He was raised a Seventh Day Adventist and attended the small Adventist church school on Eustis Street. At the age of 13 he moved to Georgia. and then to Missouri. He joined the army and served as a Medical Corpsman and Military Police K-9 handler. He met his wife Sally Perry at Mercer Plastics in 1980 and we were married in August of 1981. He joined St. Thomas in 1982. His children Chelsey and Casey were baptized at St. Thomas.

Vestry Members

Wayne Bailey

Gail Carlson

About Gail

Gail Carlson and her husband, Tom, have been members of St Thomas since 1978. All six of their children grew up here, attended, and were confirmed at St Thomas. Gail has been choir members for 45 years. She has served as Bazaar Chairman, taught High School Sunday School, and became a catechist (teacher) in the Catechism of the Good Shepherd program. Gail has previously served on the vestry, and was honored to have served as Jr Warden and Sr Warden in the past. Gail was a cradle Episcopalian, having been baptized in the Episcopal Church as an infant. She has grown in her faith and relationship with Jesus thanks to the clergy, but especially thanks to her wonderful church family here at St Thomas. Gail is honored to serve you on vestry once again.

Roslyn Chappell


Opal Mahoney

Opal Mahoney

About Opal

Opal Mahoney was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies and attended St. Marks Anglican Church but was christened Catholic and confirmed Anglican. Since living in Florida she has attended Holy Family Episcopal Church in Pine Hills, but later moved her membership to St. Thomas . She earned her Doctoral degree in Education Leadership. She currently teaches at Tavares High School. As an active member of St. Thomas she has been in the choir and has served as a Vestry member.

Mary Shriner

Leslie Waters

Leslie Waters

Assistant Treasurer

About Leslie

Leslie has been a member of St. Thomas since 1995.  Leslie has served in many capacities at St. Thomas.  She has been a Sunday School teacher, Thrift Shop volunteer, Bazaar Chair and Sr. Warden.  She also served on the Search Committee in 2010.  She is married to David and together they have two adult sons who were both confirmed at St. Thomas.  They also have identical grandsons.