The Reverend Charles Wallace, Priest-in-charge
In August 2020, Bethesda Church welcomed the Reverend Charles Wallace. Charles came to Saratoga Springs after 17 years at Saint Thomas Choir School, New York. One of only three residential schools in the world exclusively for boy choristers, Saint Thomas originally appointed Charles as chaplain, but after a year asked him to become headmaster. In this role, as priest-educator, Charles served the choristers, the staff and their families both administratively and pastorally, responding to the complex concerns and needs of a boarding school where children and teachers live together in community.
Prior to moving to New York, Charles served as a member of the clergy of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in the United Kingdom. He oversaw the liturgical life of the chapel, working closely with clergy colleagues and the music department staff in the planning and preparation of worship, from the regular daily services to state occasions for the Royal Family. He also worked on the teaching staff of St. George’s School, teaching in the French and Religious Studies departments.
Charles studied History and French as an undergraduate at King’s College of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, before entering Trinity College at the University of Toronto in 1995. While at Trinity, Charles was assigned to a five-month parish placement at the Church of Saint John the Divine, Victoria, British Columbia. At the end of his internship, he was invited to join the clergy staff there. As a busy center-city parish, St. John’s provided a solid and comprehensive grounding at the beginning of life as an ordained person. On any given day, there were interactions with the business community, the elderly and homebound, young families, and the university community. Because the parish included both extremely affluent and poor underserved neighborhoods, St. John’s provided a very active and intentional ministry to the city’s homeless population.
In 2017, Charles took a six-month sabbatical from the Choir School, through his association with the Anglican Diocese in Europe (a diocese within the Church of England), working with parishes in transition. At St. Andrew’s Church, Tangier, Morocco, Charles sought to build bridges between the Christian churches and other social service organizations working with sub-Saharan refugees as well as the Missionary Sisters of Charity working with orphaned girls. In Marseille, he assisted at a center sponsored by the Lutheran Church that offers academic support, counseling and assistance to recent immigrants to France from the Middle East.
Charles’ experiences at St. John’s Victoria, St. George’s Chapel Windsor, and St. Thomas Choir School gave him considerable insight into the importance of establishing meaningful links between churches and the communities that they serve, and the level of collaboration required for institutions to be successful. He has worked to establlish a similar level of cooperation between Bethesda Church and the local organizations seeking to bring care and relief to those in need in Saratoga Springs.
The Vestry of Bethesda Church
Pursuant to the Canons of the Diocese of Albany and the Episcopal Church, as well as the parish bylaws, Vestry members are elected on a rotating basis. Three members are elected each year for three-year terms. Members are limited to serving no more than two full three year terms. Wardens are elected to two years terms, with a limit of three full terms. Elected Treasurer and Clerk also serve on Vestry.
The vestry is an integral part of strategic planning and goal setting for the mission of the parish. The vestry has fiduciary responsibility for budgeting to achieve these plans and goals and for taking care of the building and grounds. The group meets monthly to discuss the goals and programs of the church and to allocate the funds for outreach and ongoing church activities.
You can read minutes from recent vestry meetings here.
Current Members of the Vestry
The Reverend Charles Wallace was appointed Priest-in-charge of Bethesda Church in August 2020.
Darren T. Miller, Senior Warden, is the Chief of the Office of Special Investigations, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, having previously served as Senior Counsel at the Attorney General’s Office, and as Deputy Inspector General at the NYS Inspector General’s Office. As Senior Warden, Mr. Miller oversees all activities of the Vestry and parish operations, with particular emphasis on financial management. He is a graduate of Brown University and Albany Law School.
Sara Manny, Junior Warden, has a Masters in French and a degree in secondary education. She taught French to children and adults for 5 years before starting a family. Now she is a full time mom and able to volunteer at her children’s schools. She is also an active member of the church and the local YMCA.
Karen Finkbeiner, Treasurer, grew up in Michigan, and has a degree in Accounting from Michigan Technological University. She lived in the Mid Hudson region for 35 years, working for IBM in Finance and Planning. In 2018 she retired from her role as IBM Finance Director of Transformation and moved to Saratoga Springs. She has attended Bethesda since moving to Saratoga.
Ann (Casey) Bullock, Clerk, grew up in Schenectady. She was graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in German, and from Albany Law School, and now practices law with her father in the law firm of Casey and Casey in Clifton Park. Although raised in the Reformed Church, Ann and her husband, Robert (Bob) Bullock, came to Bethesda largely because of the music program. Their daughters, Kate and Emma, both sang with the Treble Choir. Ann sings in the choir and Bob serves on the altar as verger.
Laura Kszan is a long-time music industry executive known for spearheading creative initiatives and, before her recent retirement, leading the product development process for Sony Masterworks in New York. She and her husband Jeff Wentling recently relocated to Saratoga Springs from Manhattan. Previously, Laura served on the Music Committee, Adult Education Committee, Friends of Music Concert Series Advisory Committee, and also served as a Chantry Chapel Lay Reader & Acolyte at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.
Marcia MacDonald, a Lifelong Episcopalian, joined Bethesda after she and Jerry were married there in l988. Marcia has been a 25 year member of the Flower and Fruit Mission which supports Womens’ Health at Saratoga Hospital, and also volunteers for Hospice, Skidmore, and the Senior Center. She is the proud mother of three and grandmother of seven.
Steve Rucker is a long-term Episcopalian, originally from Middlebury, VT. He is a Nurse Practitioner providing primary care in Bennington, VT. He holds a B.A. in International Relations, and a B.S. and M.S. in Nursing. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
David Wilder, a graduate of Williams College and the Duke University School of Law, retired from the Albany law firm of Nolan & Heller, where he was a partner, at the end of 2014. His areas of concentration at Nolan & Heller were workouts of troubled commercial loans for banks, trust litigation and general commercial litigation. A Chicago area native, resident of Saratoga Springs since 1979, and Bethesda parishioner since 1980, David has served on the boards of Unlimited Potential, the Council of Community Services of Northeastern New York and the Historical Society of Saratoga Springs, and is presently a member of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army Saratoga Springs Corps.