Meet Our New Chapter Members
On Sunday, January 26th, 2020, Denice Leslie, Katharine Nelson, and Aaron Schuelke begin their three-term on St. James Chapter
Denice is a retired United Methodist Clergy Person, a wife, a mom, and a grandmother. She lives in Clovis with her husband Kim, and runs a Clergy Coaching practice.
Denice first came to St. James as a guest of Carol Mohan for Dean Ryan's installation. At the time she and Kim had only been retired for about 3 years and were looking for a new spiritual home. A conflict of interest with the United Methodist Church meant they were attending a non-Methodist church locally. "When we came to St. James for the installation we just knew we were home. We really love St. James, the inclusiveness of the congregation, the commitment to the whole Bible."
Denice ran for Chapter out of a desire to see St. James thrive and expand its ministry, and to help it become a vital force in the community. For Denice, personal holiness and social holiness go together. "The gospel is about serving in a church that focuses on that. I think, that’s pretty much why. I wanted to be able to be supportive of the vision of the clergy, the Dean, and also to continue to give back to the Church. I do have a clergy coaching practice, and I love this clergy, and want to use my experience to the benefit of my congregation."
Katharine was born in Houston, Texas but moved to New Mexico when she was 5 years old. Though Katharine isn't a "cradle Episcopalian" she still considers herself a "cradle protestant" finding church homes in the united Methodist, Southern Baptist, American Baptist, and Presbyterian traditions. "The liturgy provides a richness to the worship experience that helps me adopt a reverent attitude and grounds my soul."
Katharine's husband David Balabanis is a cradle Episcopalian and works as a nurse anesthetist. When Katharine and her family moved to Fresno she and her family joined St. James and began attending the new members classes. On April 1, 2018 Katharine, David, and their two children, Alec and Elena, were confirmed by Bishop David Rice.
Katharine works as a physical therapist and spends her time at the California Veteran's Home helping residents with fall prevention.
"I am not exactly sure what my role on the Chapter will become, but I feel that my spiritual background in different churches, my newness to the Episcopal branch, and my role as a parent helping children grow in faith, might help offer perspective as we discern how to implement how God is calling us to serve our local, and Diocesan communities."
Aaron was born in Texan and grew up near Austin. After a time of "spiritual fermentation" Aaron joined the Episcopal Church as a 17 year old High School Senior. He's been involved in the Episcopal Church every since wherever he's found himself.
Eventually he made his way to Fresno for work. Aaron teaches Film at Fresno State and made St. James his spiritual home after moving to the city.
Aaron ran for Chapter after being approached by Dean Ryan. He had called St. James home for about a year and was at a place where he felt ready to get involved in the community. "As a community I'm interested in seeing what it looks like to live into the role as a cathedral in our diocese. I want to continue what we're doing, support our clergy, and expand on the service we're doing int he community. I’ve become increasingly excited about what is happening at St. James and what God is doing in our community and I look forward to the future."