OUR STAFF TEAM
The work of St. George's is primarily driven by many talented every day people just like you. At the same time, we have a passionate team of people who have been set apart to offer their gifts in support of our ministries and for empowering others to use their own.
Rev. Ryan Slifka, Lead Pastor
Ryan Slifka shepherds St. George’s as Minister of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care. He was called as minister to the congregation July 1st, 2014, having previously served as Campus Minister for the United Church of Canada at UBC, and as Associate Minister at University Hill Congregation.
As minister (or pastor), Ryan is primarily charged with carrying our story and tradition forward, and empowering others in our community to live out the Way of Jesus day-to-day. He does this through leading worship, teaching and spiritual formation, building community relationships, offering one-on-one guidance and compassion, and keeping us focused on our vision in all things we do.
Though originally from Calgary, Alberta, Ryan grew up in Black Diamond, a small town just south of the city. He received his Bachelor’s from the University of Calgary, and is a recent graduate of Vancouver School of Theology (MDiv, 2013). He was ordained by British Columbia Conference of the United Church in May of 2014.
Ryan discovered the Christian faith as a young adult and is passionate about making the connections between the wisdom of ancient tradition and all aspects of life in the present. He sees a future for a church that is anchored in humility, committed to changing lives, and one that practices a generous welcome with neighbors, friends and strangers alike. He believes the Spirit is up to something new and that the Christian Story has the power to transform people’s lives and heal the world God loves.
Ryan is happily married to Cheyenne Hutt. Together they are doing their best to raise two sons: Walt and Bram, and welcomed a girl, Martha on September 23, 2017. They both feel deeply privileged to now call such a beautiful community their home. The Comox Valley Record wrote up a story about their arrival here.
If you are seeking community, are exploring life’s big questions, or would just like to chat, he would love to meet you. He’s always up for conversation over coffee or tea, no matter who you are, where you are on life’s journey, or the journey of faith.
Ingrid Brown, Pastor of Christian Formation and Outreach
Ingrid Brown began as Minister of Christian Formation at St. George's in September 2017, having previously served as Associate Minister at Eagle Ridge United Church in Coquitlam with a focus on Children, Youth, and Families and Small Group leadership and development.
Ingrid is tasked with the education and spiritual formation of the congregation at St. George’s, focusing on children, youth and young families. seeking to find ways to connect the way we encounter God, walk with Christ, and are energized by the Holy Spirit in our lives with the ways Christians have done through the centuries.
Ingrid has lived in small towns, big cities, and in between! Ingrid became a Christian on Bowen Island, and was baptised into the faith at 16 at Bowen Island United Church. While attending a Performing Arts Conservatory in NYC, she was able to explore many churches, spending three years in a non-denominational Christian church plant that grew from 40 to 5,000 in weekly attendance during that time! Ingrid identifies her faith as the strength, the centre point of her life, and in 2007 heeded God’s persistent call to serve the church by seeking Ordination, entering seminary in 2010.
As a Candidate for Ordination in the United Church of Canada, Ingrid is completing her final year of study in her Masters of Divinity Program at the Vancouver School of Theology (VST). Ingrid and Ryan met attending classes at VST and were pleased to reconnect when Ingrid moved with her husband Todd, children Ella and Xander, and mom Lauma, to the Comox Valley in 2015.
God willing, Ingrid plans to graduate in May of 2018 and will be Ordained in the United Church of Canada in 2018 or 2019.
Kelly Allen, Church Administrator
Kelly Allen joined us as Church Administrator in May 2017. Before moving to Vancouver Island in 2015, Kelly spent several years in the legal field as a Paralegal and Legal Assistant and more recently was an office manager for an environmental consulting firm in Burnaby.
Kelly has enjoyed spending the last couple of years getting to know her new community, spending time with her family and volunteering at the Comox Valley Toy Library Society. She has had a love of dance since the age of 3 when she began Scottish dancing and is now joyfully dancing with the Comox Valley Scottish Dancers.
Kelly lives in Comox with her husband Richard who is a custom woodworker and her young son Rhys.
Eve Mark, Director of Music
Eve began as St. George's Music Director in fall of 2016 after serving two years as our accompanist. Eve offers extensive gifts in direction, teaching, singing and congregational engagement.
Eve comes to us with an rich background in sacred music, choral direction, and the performing arts. Eve began singing in church choirs in her childhood in Edmonton at Highlands United and Grace United. She sang in the West Vancouver United choir; started and led a Junior Choir at St. Andrew's United in North Vancouver; and was choir director at Denman Island United, (with Tom Pagdin and Doreen Johnson) as well as starting a youth group there. In the early 2000's she led the Junior choir at St. George's for two years, then for eight years Eve led music and formed a congregational choir at Cumberland United.
Eve has also been extensively involved in a variety of local musical performances. She performed with June DuPuis' Bel Canto singers presenting yearly classical concerts in the valley, in addition to her annual solo Fall concerts at Cumberland United, and 'the opera diva' for Canada Day concerts. Eve enjoyed singing with local choirs in the past, including North Island Choral Society, the Vocal Minority/ Just in Time Jazz Choir, and Harmonia Mundi.
Eve has four children, and three grandchildren. She and her husband Peter Merrick, a retired industrial arts teacher, currently live in the Old Orchard in Courtenay. There she has been teaching private voice and piano lessons through Eve's Music Studio to all ages since 1998.
Kelly Thomas, Lead Accompanist
Kelly Thomas began at St. George's lead accompanist on the piano in the fall of 2016, helping our community of faith lift its hearts and voices in song.
Kelly developed her musical passion in the northern cultural hub of Yellowknife, NT where she played Big Band piano for dance gigs with her high school jazz band, accompanied community groups in musical theatre productions, and played in various community and professional bands. Her classical chops were tested on several years’ running performances of Handel’s Messiah with local singers and members of the Winnipeg symphony.
After completing a Jazz Diploma in Edmonton, she became the accompanist for EKOS, a vibrant adult community choir in Edmonton, which was to be her companion musical community for 25 years while pursuing a career in educational television and radio.
Kelly brings a practical knowledge of a wide variety of musical styles to her playing and adores working with singers. Currently she holds the piano chair with the groovin’ Georgia Strait Big Band, and is keyboardist with Zandhunga, a local latin dance band. Salsa anyone?
Of course, sitting at a piano necessitates any reason to spring to action—this includes teaching salsa dancing with her fabulous husband Fred, and spending hours walking in the glorious outdoors.
CLINTON WISE, CUSTODIAN
Clinton ensures everything that happens at the St. George's facilities happens as smoothly as possible by providing regular maintenance, upkeep, and supervision of renovation of the St. George's building.
A former heavy duty mechanic by trade, Clinton retired after a cancer diagnosis which he eventually beat. Ever-busy and interested in practical problem solving, Clinton joined the St. George's team as volunteer custodian in 2015. You'll find Clinton fixing, painting, mowing the lawn, moving furniture or something completely different, depending on the day and time.
Clinton lives in Courtenay, with his wife Ellen, who is a long-time active member of St. George's. Before he took over the custodial role, Clinton was new to church. Clinton was eventually baptized on Christmas Day of 2016, much to the joy of St. George's, and especially Ellen, who renewed her baptismal vows at the same time.
Rev. Ray and Pat Brandon, Ministers Emeritus
Rev. Ray and Pat Brandon served as a ministry team at St. George's, and are now our Ministers Emeritus (meaning retired).
From 1970-1992 Ray was the Lead Minister of St. George's. Ray completed his studies at Union College (now Vancouver School of Theology) and completed a Master of Theology degree at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. During their tenure, St. George's underwent a period of growth and revitalization, a time fondly remembered by many. They have continued to attend St. George's ever since Ray's retirement from ministry in 1992, serving in various official and unofficial capacities.
Both Pat and Ray bring a lifetime of experience in ministry, and continue with the same passion and love for God and the world God loves.
Erik Nieuwejaar, Janitor
Erik has been our custodian at St. George's since 2015. Erik is a lifelong member of St. George's. He and his wife, Dea, live in Courtenay.