Back to All Events

St. Mary's Vestry Announces New Rector

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Napa

New Rector Announcement to Parish from Barbara Olmsted, Interim Rector’s Warden

and Jennifer LaLiberté, People’s Warden

New Rector.jpg

Dear Parish Family,

We have been on such a journey as a church family! Before announcing our new rector, I wanted to take a quick look back on where we have been and how we got here. Our long-time rector, Stephen Carpenter, departed St. Mary’s in October 2017 after 34 years of devoted service. Our interim rector, Vanessa Stickler-Glass, has lovingly guided us through our transition for the last 18+ months. During that time, we completed two Holy Cow surveys, held multiple listening sessions on various topics, and selected close to two dozen parishioners for the Profile Committee (PC) and Applicant Review Committee (ARC). Both committees worked diligently in their respective roles – first, the PC prepared a church profile that reflected the vision, values and priorities gleaned from the surveys and listening sessions – followed by the ARC, who painstakingly reviewed applications and references, interviewed applicants both by video conference and some in person, and ultimately provided the vestry with three final candidates. Both committees were blessed by the chaplaincy of parishioner Sue Stevens. The vestry is so very appreciative of the PC and ARC members and the countless hours they devoted to their tasks. We also want to thank Canon Andrea for her guidance through this process. What is so striking is how beautifully the committees all worked together – it demonstrates how much we all love St. Mary’s!

The vestry received three wonderful candidates from the ARC, along with their résumés, summary reports and recorded video interviews, and reference checks. The vestry immediately invited each candidate to spend two days in Napa with vestry members for worship, fellowship and interviews. All of this happened over the course of two weeks in July. On July 31st, Bishop Megan and Canon Andrea joined the vestry to facilitate our final discernment. The process included prayers to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, talking and listening, reflection, and more prayer. We evaluated each candidate’s gifts and how they align with the parish profile, what excited and surprised us, and places where there may be challenges. We worked to reach a consensus, and are so very pleased and excited to share with you the outcome of our discernment.

We entered our discernment with a very special message from Deacon Don, which set the tone and helped us know we would be held up by him and by God as we moved forward:

Dear Vestry members,

I want you to know that I am praying for you as you prepare to make a call for the next Rector of our beloved parish.

I am praying that the Holy Spirit is stirring within each of you, helping to bring clarity to the endeavor in which you have been trusted.

I pray that your mind and your heart guide your decision and in doing so they are in harmony with each other.

I pray that your love and respect for each other is the balm that soothes any debate or disagreement.

I pray that each of you knows how much you are appreciated as you move through this endeavor.

I pray that your choices have been difficult because of the quality of candidates you have received.

I pray that each candidate is considered based on the merits they have presented in this process.

I pray that as you reach a decision, you know that God’s will has been done.

I pray that each of you finds rest and peace after the completion of this monumental task.

I thank God for each of you.

May you hear the song of Jesus and may that song be the name of our next Rector.

Eternally in Christ,


And so, on behalf of your vestry, please join me in welcoming The Reverend Robin Denney as the new rector of St. Mary’s! Reverend Robin comes to us after completing a two-year Associate for Christian Formation position at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach. During her time there she focused on revitalizing the Christian Formation department, and helped manage a $1.6 million capital campaign for refurbishing their church campus. She graduated cum laude from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2017. She served as a lay pastoral leader at Trinity Church in Gonzales for three years, and at the same time as youth director at All Saints’ Episcopal in Carmel. Reverend Robin has a formal education in viticulture and enology from UC Davis and her first profession was vineyard manager in Bradley, CA. followed by serving as a teacher and farm advisor in Liberia through the Episcopal Youth Adult Service Corps, and later an agriculture consultant for the Province of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan. There she founded and managed an agriculture department for the province, taught agriculture at the seminary, managed three pilot farms, and administered grant-funded programs. Reverend Robin has several generations of ancestors who were Napa Valley pioneers, and currently her sister, Reverend Amy, is rector at Grace, St. Helena. Her mother, aunt and stepfather are Episcopal priests as well. Vestry and ARC members were moved by Reverend Robin’s sermons (you can listen to examples here.)  When we met her and spent time with her, we were taken with her poise, warmth and enthusiasm for the opportunity to join our family at St. Mary’s.

Reverend Robin will join us on Thursday, September 19, 2019.

We will have more to share in the coming days and weeks about Reverend Vanessa’s Farewell Liturgy and celebration of her ministry at St. Mary’s (mark your calendars, September 1st, 10:00 service).

And in the fall/winter, we will hold the Celebration of New Ministry for The Reverend Robin Denney the date to be coordinated with the Bishop’s office.

You can read Robin’s letter to St. Mary’s here.

Earlier Event: September 9
Education for Ministry