Leaders

The Rev. Dr. David Roppel, Interim Rector

I first met the people of God of Grace Episcopal Church in Advent 2017, when I began to supply at the Eucharist for a two-month period. In March 2018, I began to serve Grace as Transitional Pastor/Priest. My background in ministry is as an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and its predecessor body, the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). I graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary) and was ordained in 1973. I served three parishes in the Upper/Upstate New York Synod – east, west, and central until 1999. At that time, I embarked upon a journey as a transitional ministry specialist for another twelve plus years. In 2008, I completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. My doctoral project studied Transitional Ministry in my own denomination and its full communion partners (which include the Episcopal Church USA). Although quite familiar with the Episcopal Church since the 1980’s, I only began to serve in the Central NY Diocese in the spring of 2017. I have served as a long-term care facility chaplain (1986-94), as a dean of the Central Crossroads (Lutheran) Conference (2010-14), and as a mentor/pastor to pastors.

I am delighted to have been asked to serve Grace in this transition between rectors. I bring over four decades of ministry learning and experience, a love for worship and pastoral care, and a conviction to be a life-long learner and growing disciple of Jesus, the Christ. My position is part-time which includes presiding at worship and preaching most Sundays and a few hours of pastoral care and administrative oversight during the week. This is a congregation rich in faith, tradition, diversity, and a vision to be a dynamic serving presence in downtown Syracuse and surrounding areas. We are near to Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF, three of Syracuse’s hospital/healthcare centers, and a host of culinary and cultural treasures.

I look forward to meeting you, serving with you, and making Christ known in our time together!

 

Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie, Organist

Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie is an American born Ghanaian organist. He began his musical studies at the tender age of 8, learning the alto saxophone in his school band. He later took on the piano which has now brought him to the organ. As an emerging young African American organist, Sam’s goal is always to inspire young people, especially minorities who are not well represented in the field of classical music. He likes to encourage young people to get involved with music and learn an instrument. He also incorporate his love for contemporary and African music in his musical studies. In February of 2016, Sam was a prize winner of the Brooklyn chapter AGO (American guild of organist) scholarship award. Sam currently studies organ performance with Dr.Annie Laver at Syracuse University. Sam’s wish is to become a performer and motivational speaker who uses his talent to inspire and encourage young people, especially minorities in music. Sam’s devotion to Christ and the music ministry is what keeps him motivated.

Wardens and Officers

 

Mike Hungerford, Warden

I am married to Margaret Ryniker with whom I have four children. I was a member of Grace in the 1980s, and served on the Vestry and as a Warden at that time. I returned in 2014, attracted by Graces’s social justice ministries and am involved in Grace’s anti-hunger programs (Matthew 25 farm and Food Pantry). I have been a vestry member since January, 2016.

Sarah Reks, Warden

Dr. Sarah Reks is a staff scientist in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where she teaches students and conducts research on diseases of the eye. She is married to Imants Reks and has two adult children, Ariana and Matthew. She offers the following:

“I am a life long Episcopalian and along with my husband, Imants, have been a member of Grace since 2005. I have served previously as a warden and on the vestry. I have worn many hats over the last decade including youth group leader, lay reader and Eucharistic minister and food pantry team member. I was privileged to serve on the planning committee for our yearlong focus on race and reconciliation in honor of the 50th anniversary of the integration of our church. I have most recently been involved in developing our emerging prison ministry for teenage boys. I have been an active member of many churches throughout my adult life, but in Grace I have truly found my spiritual home and family. I am grateful for this caring Christian community that has nurtured, supported and challenged me to live more fully into the person God desires me to be.”

Terri Jennings, Clerk of the Vestry

I was married in Grace Episcopal Church in May, 2014, and have been a parishioner since. I am thankful for the spiritual home I found at Grace Church, and drawn to the diversity and social conscience of the leadership and congregation.

I look forward to serving as Clerk to the Vestry for a 2nd year. Grace Church is welcoming, non-judgmental, progressive and spiritually uplifting. I’m privileged to be a member of the Grace congregation and to serve the Vestry in my role as Clerk.

Retired from government service (in agencies providing services in Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Child Protective Services), I subsequently worked part-time for several non-profit agencies as Corporate Compliance Officer. Currently, I am employed at a local non-profit agency as Volunteer Coordinator for the Senior Companion Program, and am an active member of the local chapter of the National Federation for the Blind.

Margaret Ryniker, Treasurer

I returned to Grace in 2008. I am a lifelong Episcopalian. I am married to Michael Hungerford and we have four children. I have a great dog and I like to quilt!

The spirit of Grace and its loving congregation lift my soul.

 

 

Vestry Members At-Large

John Auwaerter

I am honored and excited to serve on the Grace Church vestry as it helps the parish live into God’s love for our neighborhood and world. My wife, Kate, and I have two boys, Eric and Robin, and have been attending Grace since 1997.

In addition to serving as co-chair of the Property Committee, I schedule our Lay Ministers who assist with worship.

Dan Bilow

I’ve been a communicant of Grace Church since October, 2013. What attracted me to Grace is a diverse, welcoming congregation that gave me the feeling of being part of their faith family from the moment I walked in the door.  Being a member of the vestry gives me the opportunity to share with others, the gifts and talents that God has blessed me and my family with.

Christopher Carter Sanderson


Christopher Carter Sanderson is Meredith Kadet Sanderson’s husband and Max Kadet Sanderson’s dad. He works for L’Arche Syracuse sharing time with intellectually and developmentally (ID/DD) challenged people, and teaches playwriting at the Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center. He is the founder of the local startup Second Stage Syracuse, and the founding artistic and producing director of Gorilla Rep NYC (since 1992). A couple of his books are published, and he’s taught at various universities. He holds degrees from NYU and Yale. A Fulbright grant took him to work in Norway, which explains why he thinks Syracuse winters are balmy.

Sabrina Coleman

I became a member of Grace Church at a young age. Participated in various youth groups including Adventures In Education, Sunday School, Youth Choir, and camping trips. To be a member on the Vestry is an honor for me. Grace is home and I feel spiritually fed when I come to this welcoming and loving community.

My family members, my husband Gary, and my daughters Samantha and Sakari and her husband Ali and my grandson London, will occasionally surprise me by attending Sunday worship. Thanks be to God.

Damon Gilstrap

I enjoy attending Sunday services at Grace, and am proud to serve as a member of the Vestry. I also enjoy my ministry as a member of The Grace Project. As a member of 100 Black Men, I work in the community mentoring at-risk youth. I am an author whose book was nominated for the YMCA 2015 CNY Book Awards for the best non-fiction book. I had a stroke and three brain tumors in 2007. I have four sons: Jabril, Damon I, Sean & Tahjamere and two daughters: Michelle and Jameka. My life motto is: It Gets Greater Later! I have enjoyed life with my beautiful fiancé Angela for twenty years and look forward to many more years to together.

 

Charles (Chuck) Vanderpool

In the fall of 1963 my wife Gloria and I were looking to join a church. Since five of my family members had joined Grace from St. Philips, we decided to join! My three daughters, Renee, Lisa and Bridget were baptized at Grace. I have been at Grace for 54 years now. Hopefully, as a member of the vestry I can help to pull our thoughts together and make good decisions.