Show Your Support: General Convention Alternate Deputy

Participate in the discussion about the nominees for election at this year’s Convention by leaving a comment below in support of the candidate(s) of your choice. If you have a funny story to tell, if they have impacted you in some way, tell us about it. Let us know why you think one (or all) of these candidates should be elected.

Candidates for General Convention Alternate Deputy

Elect four lay and five clergy alternates for three-year terms:


Mr. Dennis Coughlin – St. Paul’s, Cleveland Heights        

In my recent life I have been a church (12 years) and hospital (13 years) administrator in operations management. I have been involved with the Episcopal Church since attending The University of the South (Sewanee)  as a student and with St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights for more than thirty-five years as a member and several years as Administrator for Ministry. I currently sit on the Diocesan Council and its Audit and Finance Committee and Executive Committee. Resume: Dennis Coughlin



Ms. Susan Cowling – St. James, Painesville          

During the more than 50 years as a member of both St. James, Painesville and the Diocese of Ohio, I have heard and answered many calls to serve God and his church. At St. James, I have served as Vestry member, Jr. and Sr. Warden, Christian Formation Facilitator for nearly 2 decades, Lector, Acolyte, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Worship Leader since the early 1980’s, and most recently as Lay Preacher. I am also a graduate of the Education for Ministry program. At the diocesan level, I have served on the Diocesan Council and the Standing Committee, including being President during my fourth year. To my service within the Church, I add skills obtained through my 12 years of teaching Psychology and Statistics at Lake Erie College in Painesville, over 25 years as a statistician, facilitator and trainer at Ricerca and the Lubrizol Corporation and 7 years as an OSU Extension Master Gardener where I help administer the program and give presentations on horticultural topics. When M. Vanessa asked me to stand for the position of Alternative Delegate to the General Convention, I realized that was one call I had heard, but not heeded. I would be honored to continue my service to the Church as an alternative Deputy to General Convention.


Dr. W. David Gemmill – St. Timothy’s, Perrysburg            

I was blessed to be formed in faith as a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church, beginning at Christ Church, Shaker Heights. The years have included active membership and leadership in Episcopal ministries in Columbus, Upper Arlington, Menasha (Wisconsin), Frankfurt (Germany), Toledo and, for over thirty years, at St. Timothy’s, Perrysburg. While much of my service to the church has been directed to several terms’ ministry as a vestryman, warden and member of the parish search committee, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to serve several Faith Alive teams in neighboring dioceses. As a pediatrician and an avowed analytical thinker with a healthy intellectual curiosity, I’ve chosen to live out much of my Christian witness and service working locally and nationally with victims of child abuse and the systems set in place to advocate on victims’ behalf. I would consider it a great privilege to serve as an alternate Deputy.


Ms. Anne Yug – Redeemer, Lorain                          

As a consultant for the Diocese, I converse with a diverse group of members sitting in our pews. This gives me a unique perspective on what we need and what we have to give. As a member of the Diocesan Congregations and Christian Formation Commission, I have been privy to some of the inner workings of our own Diocese and been a part of helping our churches grow in the Spirit and mission. Between this and my involvement in the Diocesan Interim Team, I have constant contact with clergy and have a knowledge of their dreams and frustrations. Lastly, as the coordinator of a Community meal in downtown Lorain, I have many conversations with those that are struggling to just live. This gives me some knowledge of how the church can help. I believe all of these contacts to be useful in helping to make decisions for the wider church. Resume: Anne Yug



The Rev. Debra Q. Bennett – Our Saviour, Akron              

I take seriously the admonition to “take my share in the councils of the church”. I believe serving as a Provisional Deputy at the General Convention is one way in which to accomplish this task. If elected to serve as a Provisional Deputy, I would bring the experience of my current and past ministry as Rector and Priest-in-Charge of a diverse and eclectic congregation; my current experience of serving on Diocesan Council, and other diocesan and mission area committees and commissions; the experience of having served as an ex officio member of Diocesan Council as assistant secretary of convention in the diocese of Long Island; as a member of the diocesan stewardship committee; delegate to diocesan convention and Province II Synod; and additional leadership in parochial, diocesan and national church ministries from my young adult years to the present. All these require the ability to lead and be a team player, the ability to see the big picture, and the gift of discernment. Finally, being of African- American descent, I bring an additional perspective to the table. Link: YouTube  Link: Facebook


The Rev. Dr. C. Eric Funston – St. Paul’s, Medina               

I have 23 years experience as a parish priest and administrator, and prior to ordination, 15 years as managing partner or administrator of a major law firm. In addition to my experience and theological education, I have a law degree, a Master of Business Administration and a Doctorate in Congregational Development.  I have served on the Standing Committees, Diocesan Councils, boards of trustees, and several committees and commissions of three dioceses (Nevada, Kansas, and Ohio), and was Chancellor of the Diocese of Nevada, 1986-1991.  I was a General Convention Deputy and a Provincial Synod representative for the Diocese of Nevada in the 1980s.  I completed a five-term as a Diocesan Trustee in 2013 and during my last year (as is customary in our diocese) I was president of the Trustees.  I write a blog of daily meditations entitled That Which We Heard & Known (accessible online at


The Rev. Priscilla (Percy) Grant – Canon for Ministry, Diocesan Staff        

I grew up in a village in Vermont that gathered once a year to set the town budget and amend laws and elect officials. The way we, as the Episcopal Church govern ourselves makes sense to me. As your Canon for Ministry, I would like to participate in the legislation that creates the canons I have been asked to abide by. I have served as a priest in the church for 22 years, during those years I have served on two diocesan staffs, liaison to the Commission on Ministry, the Standing Committee and Council, as well as Christian Education, Youth ministers, and the Committee on Aging. I have worked with congregations in the diocese of Ohio, from small to large and seen how the works of General Convention are lived out at home. It would be a privilege to serve Ohio as a deputy.


The Rev. Heather L. Hill – All Saints, Parma          

I have served medium and smaller churches for 11 years. I understand the joys and challenges that so many churches are feeling as the role of the church changes. I would like to be an alternate deputy for our diocese to help shape the conversations around the future of our church. I hope to continue to work to help create thriving communities of faith for today and for my children as they grow. I was ordained in 2003/4 and served churches in the Diocese of Michigan and Pennsylvania before moving to Ohio in 2009.  My husband, Dustin Berg-St. Mark’s, Canton, and I have amazing two year old twins!


The Rev. Mark J. Pruitt – St. Paul’s, Akron            

I have been ordained for 22 years, Rector of St. Paul’s for seven years, and in a previous diocese served as an Examining Chaplain and on the Pennsylvania Bishops Committee on Legislation. I am happy to respond to the need for clergy to serve as Alternates to the National Convention.




The Rev. Himie-Budu Shannon, Sr. – St. Andrew’s, Cleveland     

My years of working for the Anglo/catholic episcopal church has prepared me for participating in the national life of the church. I have served as a Rector, Vicar, president of a standing committee and in many committees. I seek to represent the voices of many not heard by the church. Resume: The Rev. Himie-Budu Shannon, Sr.




The Rev. Jan M. Smith Wood – Grace, Sandusky               

We are at a rich time in our institutional life: knowing that what has been will not be the way of the future and not yet knowing how the future shall be. We are as intent as ever in discerning God’s purposes for our church, our communion, our mission. The Diocese of Ohio is a place and a people doing forward-thinking work, in traditional and experimental venues. This diocese has much to offer the larger church. I would like to help that happen at the legislative, consultative level at General Convention. I have served the Church in various capacities (Volunteer; Lay Professional;  Deacon, Priest and Pastor; Canon Educator; seminary Dean of Students) at various institutional levels: parochial, diocesan, and provincial. I currently serve the Diocese of Ohio as priest; as a member of the Commission on Ministry and the Disciplinary Board; as NCMAC Vice President. I have served at various institutional levels: Parochial: in congregations, small and large, some with plenteous resources and others that rely exclusively upon the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish ministry. Diocesan: as Canon Educator in El Camino Real; on commissions and committees in El Camino Real, California, Chicago, and Ohio. Provincial: as a member of Province 8’s Provincial Youth Council and as a member of the network, Western Episcopal Educators. Seminary: at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific on Alum Council, as a Trustee, and as Dean of Students (not simultaneously, nor consecutively, but over the course of 20 years) I have engaged in study groups in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion (The Clergy Leadership Project/Trinity Wall Street, CREDO/Episcopal Church, The Clergy Course/Anglican Communion at St. George’s House, Windsor). I was baptized at St. Matthias, Whittier, California and confirmed at St. Luke's, San Francisco.


Comment Below

When commenting, please be sure to start with your own name, and include in your comments the name of the candidate(s) you are supporting!


My name is Nancy Foye-Cox. I whole heartedly support the election of Rev. Debra Q. Bennett - Rector, Our Savior - Akron, as Clergy General Convention Alternate Deputy. I have known Mother Debra for two and one-half years both as a parishioner and Diocesan Council colleague this past year. She was installed as my parish rector on October 18th following her tenure as our priest-in-charge. She is very familiar with the Episcopal Church in Ohio, having also completed her studies for the priesthood at Baxley Hall Seminary. Mother Debra would be an excellent General Convention Alternate Deputy.

I feel that Rev. Eric Funston-Rector, St Paul's Medina would be a superb Clergy General Convention Alternate Deputy. I have know him since he was installed at St Paul's 10 years ago. He is wonderful at sharing his experiences in serving numerous postions in his various Dioceses and has said many times that he would enjoy serving the General Convention.