The Rev. Pierce KlemmtInterim Rector
I grew up in village 10 miles east of Cincinnati, near the confluence of two rivers that flowed into the Ohio River. It was the fork in the river that provided so many adventurous summer afternoons with my four competitive brothers. When we first lived there, it was home to less than 1,900 people. Originally, it was a farming area, with horse riding stables, private schools, a summer camp and old-line families who built estates in the early 20th century. In time, people from the city bought up its farmhouses as weekend destinations since its elevation brought cooler summers. The Swing Line, between Cincinnati and a neighboring hamlet, brought weekenders out in good weather to hike and picnic in the vast Kroger Conservancy. Its rolling country appealed to Cincinnati families who eventually began building houses with better roads and more reliable cars. It became a suburb in the 1950s and was zoned for residential with the exception of the police station, whom we called the “Rangers,” and a village hall. It had two churches. A public school was added in 1945.
Forests were dense, well-water was pristine, and you could drink from the streams. The village was surrounded by a serpentine green belt. Except for the farmhouses and estates, most of us lived in new houses as building was rampant in the post-war era. Woods were everywhere and we ate wild berries straight from bushes. Children could get lost in the woods and enjoy abundant wildlife along streams, fields, and bluffs towering above the rivers. We swam in ponds, fished their bounty and played ice hockey over their black-green frozen depths in the winter. We were summoned home at nightfall when the bell outside the kitchen door was urgently rung. We played kick the can and listened to ghost stories huddled around bonfires after dusk.
The village was typical in its innocence and isolation. The county schools were small and nearly unrivaled. The same kids who starred on the football team were thespians in the school play. The athletes of the basketball team were members of the chess club. There were no locks anywhere. The Little League games weren’t poisoned with parents demeaning the umpires from the bleachers. No one would even think of questioning a coach. My team was managed by the village mayor and after games, we would all jump in the back of his sagging station wagon to drive to the Dairy Queen. Most of my life was spent pedaling a bicycle my father built from used parts between the school, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, boy scout lodge and home. Occasionally, when I felt like a root beer at the A&W, I could ride the 15 miles it took to get there. In time, I was allowed to take the bus to Crosley Field on the west side of downtown to watch the Big Red Machine pummel opponents back when the Cincinnati Reds were as hot as the sound of their name. The green and silver bus was Art Deco with seats covered in viral green vinyl. I would pass the stoops of dilapidated housing with idle children on the streets. It was then I knew something was beginning to stir in me that would express itself vocationally later during graduate school.
As I got older, nothing enthralled me as much as the Camargo Theater. It was a movie house run by a quaint elderly couple that asked for a donation rather than the price of admission. If you had it, fine, if you didn’t, you could still walk in without ducking. There my siloed life was opened to the glories of history, science fiction, adventure, mystery, stories of love and loss, tragedy and triumph. Since the only thing on black and white fuzzy TV screens was The Andy Griffith Show and Bonanza, it was expanding to go to the movies, sit in the dark with girls, and imagine ourselves in the roles we saw on the screen. And that is all!
Half the people in town attended the Methodist Church and the other half, the Episcopal Church, where I spent most of my social time since it was there that the school dances were hosted. Youth were taken seriously by an innovative rector. It was where I came to learn about the joys of faith the discipline of ethics, and the caution and excesses about the pursuit of mere happiness. Since small villages often send their young away, most of my classmates traveled great distances to preparatory school, college and careers beyond. However, each Christmas in the church, I remember seeing most of them again, year after year, when they came home for the holiday.
Eventually, things changed, as they will. No place is so idyllic as to withstand the mitigating exigencies of life. Parents grew older and infirm and were sent to retirement centers. Some were divorced, disappeared and their houses eventually sold. Girls and strangely behaved adolescents who had disappeared in my youth came back with unexpected children or a diagnosed disability. A few of my parent’s friends were institutionalized and brought back for home rest. My brothers left, were married, and made homes for themselves nowhere near the place of our births. Our parents, like so many others, left for retirement in Florida. The shake-stained New England-style salt box cottages were torn down for more iconic and muscular versions of the new suburbia. Drugs came to the schools and sprawling shopping malls surrounded the greenbelt of the village with galloping development. By stark contrast, the village was once an Indian reservation and filled with creeks, ponds, hills and ravines where trilobites and arrow heads could be plucked from under the forest leaf bed with ease. Eventually, with every descent to city limits and bordering towns, you were met with fast food chains, auto dealers, and retail outlets making you grateful you lived in the woods.
Many years later, I was invited back to be the keynote speaker of the church’s 75th anniversary. As a child, I knew the village like the back of my hand, but I unexpectedly recall getting lost trying to find the church. I had moved away many years before, but for the first time, I felt like a stranger in my hometown. I stayed at a bed and breakfast that I remember we resided in while waiting for the house to be built in the 1950s. I looked for the old movie house, but it had become an Apple store. The ice cream store was a drycleaner and the A&W drive-in was a parking lot for the CVS pharmacy. Sunday came and I had no expectations of what it would be like or who I would meet. Once I entered the back door of the church I remember entering as an acolyte, I was greeted by the waxy, herbaceous scent of its worship space and vesting room. On the corner wall stood the cross that was given in memory of my teenage brother who died of encephalitis, a cross I remember carrying as an acolyte. The organist of 50 years began the prelude which made my heart sing and shamelessly, she played all the old chestnuts from the 1949 hymnal. Instantly, it began to feel like home. With my parents gone and my brothers scattered, it wasn’t exactly the same. The village, as a good town should, showed me the way out when I was young. Yet, for all the years I lived someplace else, it somehow remained my own, much as you can put some beloved object away and take it back out whenever you choose, flooding you with the quixotic memories of your youth. But when I walked into the church, during the procession, I was surprised to see how many were there I would identify through the veil of their silver hair and scraped skin. After coffee hour, following the service, we spun tales and relived memories in a splendid reunion.
Now I am retired from 20 years of serving as Rector of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. My children are launched having careers and families of their own. I imagine on one Christmas night, soon in the future, they will return with the bevy of our grandchildren and regale the memories and stories of youth, challenge and discovery, and will feel, however briefly, at home again.
The Rev. Jay SidebothamAssociate Rector
910-763-1628 Ext. 113 |
It’s been my privilege to serve as part-time associate rector on the clergy staff of St. James since July 2013. I preach, teach, preside at the liturgy, lead bible studies, and lead chapel services for our children. When I’m not engaged with the St. James community, I work for Forward Movement in a new ministry called RenewalWorks. I’m out of town a lot, visiting with churches around the country to focus on spiritual growth. I'm grateful to be part of the St. James staff. I’ve known St. James for a while. My wife and I were married here in 1985, and many subsequent important family events have unfolded at St. James, all of which is to say that this church means a lot to me and my family. We have two adult children: John Reid and Helen. I’ve been ordained since 1990, after graduating from Union Seminary in New York, and have served parishes in Rhode Island, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, New York City and suburban Chicago. I love work in the church, but also do a lot of cartooning and artwork. I enjoy spending time at Wrightsville Beach, and am grateful to get to see the ocean so often.
The Rev. Chris HambyAssistant Rector
Chris Hamby was born and raised in the horse capital of the the world in Lexington, Kentucky. Chris attended Transylvania University before joining the Young Adult Service Corps and serving for a year as an Episcopal Missionary in Nagoya, Japan. Chris attended Virginia Theological Seminary and joined the new Ministry Resident Program which allowed him to serve at Christ Church, Alexandria for two years before joining the family at St. James. Chris is an avid Kentucky basketball and football fan, technology nut, and music lover. He and his wife Mandy have two children Lewis and Wilson. He is involved with missionalvoices.com.
Erin BeckerDirector of Communications
My background is a little unconventional but that has led me to be a more well-rounded marketer. I started out in undergrad as a Studio Art Major and a few years after graduation I decided to pursue my Masters in Business Administration. Once I had my MBA, I joined a regional commercial real estate firm as their Digital Marketing Associate then Marketing Director. Now, I’m excited to bring my experience to St. James Parish and start a new adventure with my husband here in Wilmington!
Cookie CantwellYouth Ministries Coordinator
Cookie Cantwell first came to St. James as a Youth Ministries Consultant. This position morphed into a full-time Youth Ministries Coordinator staff position, where the focus continues to be on building authentic relationships with Jesus Christ among the young people within the Parish and throughout the world. Through fun, friendships, Bible studies, service projects, mission experiences, music, and worship, young people and the adults who accompany them on their journey of faith strive to provide meaningful opportunities to grow spiritually within a Christian community. In addition to enjoying her ministry among our youth, Cookie also enjoys her family, Happening, Province IV Youth Ministries, hiking, kayaking, needlepoint and reading.
Wes ClewisProperty and Maintenance Manager
Wes is a man of God who is guided by Christ to serve his family and community. He is a Wilmington native who joined the St. James family in November 2016. Wes and his wife, Sara, have been happily married since 2014. He is also the proud father of two beautiful daughters, Bryanna and Destiny. Wes loves bass fishing and the Washington Redskins. Before coming to St. James, he served the Cape Fear area as a master carpenter for over 20 years.
Maria HollopeterFinancial Administrator
Maria joined the staff of St. James in June, 2019. For the past 16 years, she has been employed with a CPA firm in Concord, NC. During her tenure in public accounting, she formed many long-lasting relationships with her corporate and individual clients. She also has experience in private sector accounting and experience in the banking industry as well. Maria attended the University of North Carolina – Charlotte majoring in Business Administration.
Maria is married to her husband, Clifton. They have been married 35 years and have 2 children, Kristen and Zachary. Clifton and Maria relocated back to Wilmington in 2019 and are glad to be back at the coast.
Walking on the beach, watching sunsets, and enjoying nature are activities she enjoys the most. These are activities where she can see God at work. Maria has always been a “church-girl”. Choir, handbells, VBS, mission trips, bible studies, and scripture are some of her favorites.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
John SullivanDirector of Music
John Sullivan first began working at St. James Parish in September of 2006, both as a music teacher in the St. James Day School and also as a tenor in the St. James Choir. In November of 2006, John joined the parish office staff, producing the Sunday bulletins and the weekly Grapevine newsletters, while also serving as the administrative assistant to the Rector. John began as organist and choirmaster at St. James in 2010, where he plays the organ for Sunday morning services, in addition to leading both the adult choir and the children’s choirs. Prior to assuming the position as music director at St. James, John was organist and choirmaster at Grace Episcopal and Christ the King Lutheran Church in Whiteville, NC. John came to Wilmington from San Francisco, CA, where he was a tenor in the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys and administrator of the cathedral music office at Grace Cathedral for 12 years. A cradle Episcopalian, John grew up in New Jersey where he sang as a boy chorister in the choir of men and boys at Christ Episcopal Church in New Brunswick. John has a Bachelor of Music in piano from Ithaca College, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Rutgers University, and a Master of Music in Kodaly Music Education for Children from Holy Names College in Oakland CA.
Bill McKenzieFacility Administrator
Bill McKenzie, a long-time member of the Parish, will be succeeding Don in the Facilities Administrator position. Bill is a commercial property appraiser with a broad knowledge of building and property management. Bill has been actively involved in the life and ministries of the Parish having served on Vestry, worked as a team leader on the breakfast crew and continues Lead Verger duties this summer at Mt. Lebanon Chapel.
Amy TaylorSt. James Day School Director
Ms. Taylor received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Davidson College and her Initial Elementary Education Teacher's Certification from UNCW.
What drew you to teaching? "All children are precious to me! Seeing a child feel safe and loved brings me great joy. And the look on a child's face when they figure out that they are capable is priceless. What a delight and privilege it is to work with children at SJDS!"
Favorite Snack: "Fruit, followed closely by brownies."
Hidden Talent: "Memorizing important dates, especially birthdays!"