Our Leadership and Staff

Meet the Worship Team

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The Rev. Chris Pierce

Rector

The Reverend C. Christian Pierce (Chris) arrived at Grace Church in January 2012 to assume the role of Rector.  Chris was ordained to the priesthood in 1992 and holds a BA in Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College, Masters in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and Advance Clinical Pastoral Education from Medical College of Georgia and Eisenhower Army Medical Ft. Gordon in Neurolinguistics in the clinical setting.  


Chris was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1987 and has served as Chaplain in both combat and combat support roles. He served the 101st Airborne 3/187 Infantry, 311th Military Intelligence, 501st Signal, and was the American Chaplain to the United Nations Kosovo.  He exited the Army after serving Martin Army Community Hospital as Chief of Pastoral Care.  He was distinctive honor graduate in Officer Advance Course, and Clinical Pastoral Education. His awards are Legion of Merit, Army Commendation (two oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement (three oak leaf clusters), National Defense Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Humanitarian Service Medal, NATO Medal, Kosovo Commendation Medal, Army Overseas Training Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Ribbon, and Air Assault Badge.  


Besides Chris’s military ministry, he has served as Canon for Education, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Peoria IL; Rector, St. Matthew’s Lincoln NE; and Rector, St. James’, Warrenton, VA. He is the founder of the Youth Missions Organization, a youth outreach program that teaches spirituality to young people.


Chris was called to the priesthood at the age of thirteen after a mystical encounter with the Sacred and he continues to listen to the deep implication of that encounter.  Although well established in the Episcopal traditions, he is not limited to the dogmas of the Western church, and teaches a broad cosmic spirituality through the mutual indwelling of God in each person.  He is a student of masters, gurus, and mystics around the world, and recently concluded his sabbatical in Bhutan, living in monasteries with incarnate lamas.  He is known for his passion for organizational development and individual conscious expansion through the life of the church.  


Chris has over thirty years of leading mission trips to Uganda, Navajo Land, and the Gullah Geechee communities of the Sea Islands of South Carolina.  His passion for missions surrounds an inner journey to discover one’s inner poverty and unity with all people despite culture, class, or race.  


Chris is married to Julie and they have four children and two grandchildren.  Julie is the Director of Grace Academy.  Their home is a sacred space, filled with peace, love, and radical hospitality. They live with a dog, three cats, fish inside and out, and gardens.  Meditation begins at their home every day before sunrise.  On Sunday nights, they host a dinner for young people to teach and mentor meditative ways to navigate life.   

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The Rev. Dr. Donna Ialongo

Associate Rector

When I was about 10 or so, I often played “Mass” with my brothers. I used grape juice for wine and Necco Wafers (a sugary, host-shaped confection) for bread. My chasuble was two white bath towels, safety-pinned together and slipped over my head. My brothers were my altar boys as I stumbled through the Latin as best I could, and they did their best to respond. I was as serious about what I was doing then as I am now, but it took me a long time to get here.


In between my childhood Latin Mass and becoming the Associate Priest at Grace Hinsdale, I raised a child, waited for a husband at risk in a war zone, was a college professor, worked in corporate America and consulting for a long time, was an atheist for twenty-five years, found my way back to God, was laid off, and cared for aging parents as I journeyed with them in their last days. Before coming to Grace, I was the Interim Rector at both St. Barnabas in Glen Ellyn and St. Benedict in Bolingbrook. (An Interim Rector usually works with a parish for about 18 months, helping them transition from a former rector to a new one.)


With God’s grace, I continue to learn from my mistakes and take comfort over and over again from Jesus reminding all of us to “Consider the lilies.” I am finally grateful for all my experiences, but I am especially grateful for Jesus’ assurance that I am taken care of and all will be well.


Working in the western suburbs reminds me every day of the words of Verna Dozier, that tireless champion of lay ministry. She said, “What happens on Sunday morning is not half so important as what happens on Monday morning.” Indeed, in businesses across the Chicago area, every day, Christians face ethical dilemmas. Some of our decisions may only affect our relationship with one person we work with; other decisions may affect millions of people. Like physicians, all of us who work must promise, “First do no harm and be open to the Holy Spirit working in our lives, helping us to discern righteous decisions."

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Andrew Paul Fredel

Minister of Music

Andrew Fredel came to Grace Church in August of 2016 to serve as Minister of Music, having previously served an historic Episcopal church in Minneapolis.


The prayer of the Grace community, particularly as shared through music and liturgy, is a source of joy, life, and profound hope for Andrew. Hearing, nurturing, and accompanying the varied voices of the congregation, cantors, and choirs are some of his greatest delights; working with instrumentalists from the community provides a welcome accent.


Andrew heard the organ soon after he was born, fell in love with the instrument as a young boy, and started playing regularly for services while still in eighth grade. Years of formal training and education earned him undergrad (Oberlin Conservatory) and graduate (Valparaiso University) degrees, as well as a few awards for his playing.


Growing up a Lutheran Christian, Mr. Fredel attended seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he received an MA in Theology, with concentrations in Liturgy and Sacred Music.


God's voice and the breath of the Spirit have stirred Andrew to discernment about rostered ministry, and he is now an aspirant for the permanent diaconate. With the generous and collegial support of Fr. Chris and Rev. Donna, the Grace staff, he engages in a collaborative ministry serving the Grace community.

 

Our Staff

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Megan Mannor

Children's Spiritual Formation Director

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Julie Pierce

Academy Director

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Tera Sternitzke

Parish Finance Director

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Kristina Taheri

Communications Director

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Sherry Thorburn

Assistant to the Rector

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John Robinson

Adult Spiritual Formation

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David Erpenbach

Property Manager

 

What Is a Vestry?

In England the annual election of churchwardens took place in Easter week. The parishioners gathered at the church to hear the outgoing wardens render their accounts and elect their successors. The parishioners assembled in the vestry, the room off the chancel where the clergy vested. The assembled parishioners came to be known as the vestry. These were open vestries in that all adult male parishioners could participate. It was like a modern annual congregational meeting. In Virginia the parishes were very large and it was difficult to get all the male parishioners together. So they would meet only once and elect twelve of their number to serve for life. This was known as a closed vestry. The transition to a closed vestry was completed by 1633 or 1634, when a Vestry Act was passed. It provided that "there be a vestrie held in each parish." The current vestry evolved from this colonial pattern.

The vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. The number of vestry members and the term of office varies from parish to parish. Vestry members are usually elected at the annual parish meeting. The presiding officer of the vestry is the rector. There are usually two wardens. The senior warden leads the parish between rectors and is a support person for the rector. The junior warden often has responsibility for church property and buildings. A treasurer and a secretary or clerk may be chosen. These officers may or may not be vestry members. The basic responsibilities of the vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the congregation; to support the church's mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.  (Source:  Glossary "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors)

 

Our Lay Leadership

Meet the Vestry

 
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Mike Ascher

Senior Warden

Mike is a lifelong Episcopalian who has attended Grace, first with his parents Rick and Caroline, and now with his family, for ... long enough that everyone is probably sick of hearing about it. He and his wife Polly and their three children Emily (18), Annie (16), and Hugh (12) have been regular attendees at Grace since moving to Clarendon Hills in 2005. The Ascher family has been active in Grace Church in Vestry, formation and fellowship groups, mission trips and choir, and acolyting and pancake making. For the last two years, Mike has served as Junior Warden of Grace Church. Emily, Annie and Hugh all attended preschool at Grace. 


Mike is a Managing Director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, where he helps law firm partners find the best platform for their particular practice. Mike obtained his undergraduate degree from Duke University, and his law degree from The University of California at Los Angeles. He enjoys cooking with Polly, playing golf with Emily, attending the opera with Annie, and watching sports with Hugh.