Staff & Clergy

REV. GRACE BURTON-EDWARDS | Rector

Grace Burton-Edwards, came to Columbus in February 2014 from Indianapolis, IN. She was originally ordained as an American Baptist pastor in 1994 and served in American Baptist, United Methodist, and ecumenical settings before discerning a call to the Episcopal Church.
 
That call began during a college semester in London where she met God in new ways through Anglican liturgy. It reemerged as she served as a youth minister with an Episcopal church. It deepened when she enrolled in a Doctor of Ministry program at an Episcopal seminary and learned more about our baptismal covenant and commitment to God’s mission in the world.
 
Grace was confirmed in 2004 and ordained as a priest in 2007. Grace graduated from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, completed her MDiv at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and completed a Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development at Seabury-Western. She is married to Taylor Burton-Edward who works with United Methodist Communications. They have two adult sons. Jacob lives in in Indianapolis, and Will is a working actor in Charlotte, North Carolina.
 
Grace can be reached at grace@stthomascolumbus.org.

Dr. DENNY CLARK | Parish Theologian

Denny Clark has been teaching religious studies for well over thirty years, involving a wide variety of biblical, theological, and other religious courses — twenty-two years of which were at The College of Idaho. While there he was also on the Board of Directors for the Bethsaida Excavations Project in Israel and led multiple study tours to Israel/Palestine for college and community members.

He was previously a Lutheran pastor (ELCA), including service as the pastor-developer of a new congregation and as Lutheran campus pastor to the University of Chicago. Since moving to the Columbus area nearly ten years ago, he has taught part-time for a variety of educational institutions (including Columbus State University), and continues to teach online courses for Saint Leo University, a Benedictine Catholic university based near Tampa. In addition, he worked for Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry, and been involved in fostering inter-religious understanding and cooperation in the Columbus area.
 
Denny graduated from Aurora University with a B.A. in Theology and heavy minors in both Biology and Chemistry. Both his M.Div., which focused on Constructive Christian Thought and on Pastoral Ministry (which also included six months of Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Chicago Hospitals & Clinics), and his Th.M. in New Testament were from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. His Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation was from The Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver. 
 

RICK MCKNIGHT | Organist & ChoirMaster

Rick has been a member of St. Thomas for over 25 years and has served as Senior Warden, Chair of the Stewardship Campaign, and Acolyte Master. In 2000 the Rev. Lori Lowe, Rector of St. Mark’s (LaGrange) asked if he would play the organ and direct the choir for three weeks, and that three weeks turned into three years!
 
Rick has also served as the President of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Cultural Arts Alliance. In 2004, Rick answered the call to serve St. Thomas as Organist-Choirmaster. During his years at St. Thomas, the St. Thomas Choir has grown to almost 40 singers. In addition to singing weekly, the choir has sung at Washington National Cathedral and our own St. Philip’s Cathedral. Rick has served on the Diocesan Music and Liturgy Commission and led the 100th Anniversary of the Diocese of Atlanta Celebration at the RiverCenter in Columbus. 
 
Rick is proud of the musical accomplishments of the Choir, but the spirit of community and care that is fostered among the members is what gives him the most gratitude. He is married to Marquette McRae McKnight, who serves St. Thomas as a Verger, Lector and Lay Eucharistic Minister, and on the Flower Guild. They have two children, Mac McKnight and Mitchi McKnight Wade.
 

MEG OLIVE-ALLISON | Director of parish engagement

Meg has been serving at St. Thomas since 2016. She grew up in Columbus in the Baptist tradition and attended McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. She was surprised  and  delighted by the opportunity to be back home serving at St. Thomas. Meg is committed to making St. Thomas a place where Christian formation happens in ways that lead to deeper love and service, and she believes good communication can help this happen.  
 
Meg and her wife Susie are proud parents to two daughters and one son. They are also proud foster parents and have fostered 15 children since becoming licensed in 2013. 
 

Erin Redden | Director of children’s formation & Parish life

Erin has been a member of St. Thomas since 1996. While working on her B.A. in Music Education (Columbus State), it was her passion for music and liturgy that brought her to the Episcopal Church as a staff soloist and Children’s Choir Director.
 
Erin earned her MSEd (Troy State) in Instructional Leadership and has been a music educator for over twenty years. She enjoys using her educational and leadership experience to develop Christian Education programming and faith filled experiences for “kids” of all ages. Her mission is to answer Christ’s call as outlined in the Baptismal Covenant and to proclaim God’s love for all people.
 
Erin is married to Roger, a music educator who serves St. Thomas as a musician. They have two adult children, Madison and Hugh.
 

Patty Slembarski | director of Parish Administration

Patty has lived in the Columbus area since 1999 and has worked at St. Thomas since 2006.  She manages the business side of the church, from membership to finances. She is married and has two children.
 
 

Daniel & Lauren Mitchell | interim youth directors

Daniel has lived in Columbus since 2013 just after getting married to
Lauren. He was brought up and ordained in the Baptist tradition,
earning a Master’s in Divinity from McAfee School of Theology in
Atlanta, GA. He then completed a residency for chaplaincy at St.
Francis Hospital, and after a few professional twists and turns, has
been a full time chaplain at Columbus Hospice of Georgia and Alabama
since 2016. Around that time he and Lauren started attending St.
Thomas. Their son Luke was baptized at St. Thomas in 2018, and Daniel was
confirmed in 2019. In 2020 he was officially endorsed by the bishop
as a lay chaplain in the Episcopal Church. He experienced significant
mentorship at church during his youth days. And so he is excited to
be able to pass that gift along, using his skills and education to
help the St. Thomas youth grow in their faith.
 
Email Daniel and Lauren at youth@stthomascolumbus.org
 

Additional Staff

Kitchen Manager and Sexton: Seth Burgamy
 
Housekeeping: Frances Woolfolk
 
Children’s Ministry Assistant: Katie Holbrook
 
Livestream Assistant: Nick Williams