Rector – The Reverend Jeanne Forte

I was called to St. Paul‘s, Benicia in 2005. I now make my home close to my roots, the Pacific Ocean. In a strange reversal, my grown sons worry about their mom, living the grand life in California while they (Andrew and Michael) toil away in Alberta, Canada. They are pleased however, to enjoy holidays in sunny California. I am richly blessed by the St. Paul‘s family and my four-legged family Abby, a Bernese Mountain Dog and her cat, Leo.

 

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The Reverend Canon Mary Goshert, Associate Priest
 
I am blessed to  be a prunepicker – an old nickname for a native  Californian – thanks to my parents coming west from the  Ozarks just in time. California gave me a great education:  BA at California State Long Beach, MSLS at California State University at Fullerton, MDiv at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, from which I graduated in 1979.   At CDSP my deepest interest was, and continues to be in  medical ethics. St. Paul’s, Benicia, taught me nearly everything I ever needed to know about being rector with a  congregation; except that you all didn’t teach me how  unique you are. I had to learn that after parting from you, and working with other congregations as rector and interim

pastor, in Northern California and Los  Angeles. 

Gene Ekenstam and I married in 2011, both of us retired, and we chose Benicia as our home and St. Paul’s as our church home. Felix the Cat rules our household and kindly allows us  to pay bills and buy kitty food.

Currently I am on loan from St. Paul’s and can usually be found on Sundays at St. Luke’s in Calistoga; I love that Pastor  Jeanne lets me do some Wednesday services and we get to St.Paul’s on Sundays as often as we can.

 
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The Reverend Pamela Higgins, Associate Priest
 

A Native Californian!  I attended undergraduate and graduate schools in California and practiced law from 1978 through 1989.  In 1982, in response to the HIV/AIDs crisis, I began doing estate planning as part of the San Francisco Bar Association’s pro bono program for people with HIV/AIDs.  In the midst of that, I felt called to the priesthood.   I graduated with distinction from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1991 and was ordained to the priesthood in San Francisco (Diocese of California) in 1992. 

I have served in a variety of parish settings, including as Pastoral Associate at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, where I was kept very busy doing marriage counseling and weddings; funerals and grief support; Lay Eucharistic Ministry support; AIDs/HIV support; liturgy; and Spiritual Direction. 

I moved to Benicia from Berkeley in 1999, but continued to serve in the Diocese of California, most recently as the Vicar at Holy Trinity/La Santimisa Trinidad in Richmond.   During that time I also did legal work as the Fair Hearing and Mediation Specialist at the Regional Center of the East Bay which provides services and support to people with developmental disabilities.  Now that I am “retired”, my joy comes from traveling, gardening, reading, continuing education and Celtic Christian Spirituality.  I continue to do Spiritual Direction.   I am delighted to be at St. Paul’s.

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The Reverend Doctor Arthur Holder, Associate Priest

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and educated at Duke University (AB and PhD) and The General Theological Seminary in New York City (MDiv). After ordination in 1977, I spent nine years in parish ministry in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina before coming to California in 1985 to join the faculty of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Since 2002 I have been serving as Dean and Professor of Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union, an ecumenical and interreligious consortium of theological schools in Berkeley. My special research interest is in medieval spirituality, but as a lover of church history in all times and places I am delighted to be at St. Paul’s with its rich tradition of worship and missionary service in the heart of Benicia.

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The Reverend Beth Gaines, Deacon

 I have been attending St. Paul’s Benicia since shortly after we moved to Vallejo about 20 years ago. I was drawn to not only the beauty of the building but also the friendliness and welcome of the people. I became involved in Parish Health Ministries and eventually became a Stephen Ministries leader.
 
I have been married for 26 years to Dennis and we have twin daughters, Teresa and Michelle who are now 20. They grew up in the church and have served as acolytes and enjoyed participating in the Sierra Service Project. I also have two wonderful stepsons, Jason and Scott, daughters-in-law Sabrina and Angel, and two grandchildren, Anthony and Frankie.
 
I work full time as a public health nurse for Contra Costa County. I am blessed to work with a group of caring nurses and managers who genuinely want to help our client population of marginalized, homeless, and mentally ill people. 
 
Returning to St. Paul’s has been very exciting and I look forward to starting my work as Deacon with the congregation.

 

Parish Administrator JoAnn Souza

JoAnn Souza, Parish Administrator

JoAnn uses her varied administrative skills to help manage the day-to-day operations of St. Paul’s. In her previous secular work life, she held publicity and marketing support positions for a non-profit science education and a performing arts organization. With a degree in print journalism and an early stint at a national magazine, never had she imagined herself working as a parish administrator for an Episcopal Church. Life is indeed full of pleasant surprises. A former long-time resident of the South Bay, JoAnn and her family have been enjoying small-town life in Benicia since 2000.