Search Committee

St Stephen’s New Rector Search Committee Team Members

Search Committee Officers:

Helen Patmon, Co-Chair, has been a member of St. Stephen’s for over a decade. Helen began her journey at St. Stephen’s one day when she was walking her dog and had a chance encounter with a member of the congregation who was simply standing in the church yard taking a break. She was struck by the simplicity, honesty, and humility of the parishioner and decided to give St. Stephen’s a try. Helen made St. Stephen’s her home and has never looked back. The embracing of diversity and the incorporation of diverse worlds in worship keeps Helen’s spirit refreshed. Furthermore, she has devoted herself to working tirelessly for the children of St. Stephen’s by working with the KIC summer program for children and the OASIS high school group. For Helen, St. Stephen’s has been a place of deep healing and prayer. As such she has devoted herself to the Healing team and the Beloved Community team, a group that seeks to dismantle racism. Serving on the search committee as it’s co-chair, Helen sees her participation as an honor and a humbling process that she willingly embraces.

Steve Switzer, Co-Chair, Steve has been an active member of the St. Stephen’s community for over twenty years. In that time he has been a member of the Vestry, including a stint as Junior Warden. He is a member of the choir, holding up the baritone section. He serves on the Finance Committee and sits on the St. Stephen’s Housing Corporation board. You will find him in the kitchen during the Fall Fair and as emcee of the Big Money Raffle. Steve says that his participation on the Search Committee is a sacred responsibility and feels privileged and blessed to be working to find a new Rector to walk with all of us on our spiritual journey.

Virginia Fuller, Chaplain, Virginia Fuller was baptized and confirmed at St. Stephen’s Church. She was part of a team who organized and ran all the youth programs for middle/ high school youth, taught Sunday school, confirmation classes, organized and oversaw the 2014 Diocesan convention at the church. She developed and implemented the church employee handbook. Presently she is serving on the finance committee, advisory board of KIC (Kids in Community) summer and academic year programs and is actively a member and presiding clerk of the St. Stephen’s Housing Corporation Board (elderly housing unit owned by the church).

St. Stephen’s is her church where she has been extremely active and spent over seventy-seven years of her spiritual life.

Pam Poppe, Corresponding Secretary
I have been a member of St. Stephen’s since 2015, attending regularly on Sunday with my husband Jay, a life-long Episcopalian. I was confirmed by Bishop Tom Shaw in the Episcopal church 14 years ago and was part of church leadership in my former church serving on the Vestry and as clerk for many years and serving as their webmaster and posting on Facebook. I attend the Thursday Healing Eucharist and Tea and Talk. I am a member of the Women’s Group and the Beloved Community Team. Jay and I are regular ushers. Jay and I are retired and able to enjoy our hobbies of bee-keeping, gardening and stained glass. Caring for foster kids has been a joy in our lives for some ten years now. I worked at GE in marketing for 33 years and have an extensive background in graphic design and web page production. I volunteer at Brickett Elementary school, helping children with English as a second language, and in the school library. I am honored to be part of the process of finding the a new rector for such a unique and community-involved parish.

Emily Sherwood, Recording Secretary, was raised in the Episcopal Church, which gave her the foundation of experiencing God’s love and grace through the Eucharist, the preaching of the Word and the community. Her faith journey took her out of the Church for a number a years, partly the result of coming out as a lesbian during a time when that wasn’t embraced by the Church. She was thrilled to find St. Stephen’s in 2007, for the first time in her life worshiping in an affirming and multiracial, multicultural community of Episcopalians. Emily has served as a Eucharistic Minister and is a founding member of the Beloved Community Team.

Sandy Wittrup, Vestry Liaison, has been working as an early childhood educator since 1991, owning and operating a family childcare in her home as well as center-based care for some years in between. Sandy was raised in Lynn in the Roman Catholic Church until being received into the Episcopal Church in 2007. She and her husband Kent started attending St. Stephen’s Lynn in 2005 after they were married at St. Stephen’s Cohasset in 2003.

Search Committee Members:

Paulina Villarroel Cruz is honored to be chosen to serve on the Rector search committee at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. She came to St. Stephen’s in 2010 when she was hired to create and lead Oasis Community Youth Group’s summer filmmaking institute. The short film produced, entitled “I Am Lynn,” focused on three personal stories from Lynn teens about what it means to be from Lynn.  In 2015, she was once again asked to create and run an all female led summer filmmaking institute in response to the Black Lives Matter movement for 10 teenage women. Told through first person narration, the film depicted these teens’ personal challenges and choices made to overcome these challenges. Both film projects brought together teens who otherwise did not attend St. Stephen’s and reached its goal of harnessing the power of creativity to help create opportunity for Lynn teens to be seen, heard and respected.

In 2011, Paulina was married at St. Stephen’s which she describes as “the best day of my life.” One year prior to her wedding, she suffered a life-threatening massive heart attack at the age of 34. She attributes her healing to the prayers, love and unconditional support from the St. Stephen’s community and especially from Rev. Jane Gould. In addition to the many ways Paulina views her life differently since being ill, she embraces the idea that each person’s spiritual journey and relationship to God is always evolving. For Paulina, the best aspect of Sunday worship at St. Stephen’s is when the Rector announces: “All Are Welcome Here” from the altar. This simple phrase is emblematic of St. Stephen’s inclusive essence.

Paulina holds a BFA in Film and Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an Ed.M in Arts in Education from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard.

Bob Dixon has been a member of St. Stephen’s for 72 years. I was baptized here in 1946 by the Rev. Chafe. I have served on the Vestry, the Deanery, the Altar Guild and I usher the first Sunday of the month. I am also a member of the Pastoral Ministry Team and a Eucharistic minister. I have been retired for 10 years, having worked at GE/Ametek for 41 years.

Bob Tucker has been coming to St. Stephen’s Church since 2015. He regularly attends the 10 a.m. service. He has participated in ECCO meetings and the Annual Youth Pride Event. Bob has lived in Lynn his entire life and serves on the Lynn Human Rights Commission, President of the Friends of Lynn and Nahant Beach and Chairperson of Lynn Community Television. He is a former President of the Lynn City Council and is active participate in the Lynn community, especially for social justice. Bob looks forward to serving on the Search Committee.

Joyce Wallace My family crossed the bridge from Jamaica Plains to Lynn 55 years ago. I attended middle and high school here and earned a degree from University of Massachusetts. I was employed by the General Electric Company for 42 years and served my local union as a shop steward, policy board member, trustee and women’s committee member. I have also volunteered for schools’ functions, been a member of Girls Inc. Board, HAWC crisis hotline representative, ECCO, and worked on numerous political campaigns.

I am the parent of two adult sons and seven grandchildren. Although I am not a cradle Episcopalian, I have attended St. Stephen’s for over 30 years. My children, grandchildren and some of my nieces and nephews were baptized, made first communion and confirmation in this church. I am an activist for social justice and feel passionate about both my community and church and have served both in many difference capacities. Some of my involvement at St. Stephen’s includes serving on the Vestry, teaching Sunday school, the North Shore Deanery, the altar guild, ushering, the Big Money Raffle Committee, the Beloved Community Team, the North Shore Mission Hub Committee, the women’s group, helping with annual fairs, soul food dinners, setting up for events, and anywhere else a pair of hands or a person is needed.

Keri Whitcomb My name is Keri Whitcomb and I was raised at St. Stephen’s. My mother, grandmother, and great grandparents also grew up at St. Stephen’s and my parents were married here. Both of my siblings also attend our church. I was an active member growing up participating in Sunday school and was an acolyte. When I graduated from the high school program, I became a Sunday school teacher. I have taught middle school, preschool and the fourth and fifth grades at St. Stephen’s. Outside of church, I teach preschool and play softball for local towns. I am extremely excited to help find a new rector for our church!