The Rev. Ryan R. Whitley, Rector
The Reverend Ryan R. Whitley is both a cradle Episcopalian and a native Floridian. Fr. Ryan, as he likes to be called, grew up in Fort Myers attending St. Hilary’s Episcopal Church and it was there that he first heard God’s call to the ordained ministry, through his fellow parishioners, his peers, and the diocesan youth ministry of Happening.
After graduating from Wake Forest University with a double major in History and Religion, Fr. Ryan headed to Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. He spent his senior year of seminary as the Seminarian Intern for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, where he grew to a deeper love and knowledge of the church’s traditions in liturgy and music.
His first call was back in his home state of Florida, serving as the Curate at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Tampa under the leadership of the Rev. Ed Henley. There he had primary responsibilities for youth and young adult ministry. It was while he was serving at St. Mark’s that he met Elise Woodroffe, the woman whom he would wed, at DaySpring Conference Center in Ellenton while attending a Vocare weekend. (Coincidentally, Elise was baptized at St. Thomas!) In 2009 they were married by Bishop Dabney Smith and in 2010, Ryan was called to be the Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore, PA.
While there he served as the Dean of the Merion Deanery, and as the Bishop’s representative to the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, an interfaith body made up of the adjudicatory heads of over 30 faiths, as well as being the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer. He has served on the Diocesan Liturgy Commission, as well as Diocesan Council. He has been a past President of the local ecumenical ministerium, and a past Treasurer for an international collegial fellowship of Episcopal clergy called the Society of Catholic Priests (catholic in this sense meaning “the church universal” rather than “Roman”).
Fr. Ryan is a very dedicated baseball fan, rooting for his childhood team the Atlanta Braves in the senior circuit, but of course, for the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League! He also enjoys reading and discussing fiction, and loves playing recreational softball.
Ryan and Elise have been blessed with two beautiful, young children, Jackson and Caroline. They are all excited to be back home in Florida and are thrilled to serve in the wonderful community of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church. One of Ryan’s favorite scripture passages is John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” His prayer is that the life of Christ may be made manifest in each and every person’s heart, mind, and soul at St. Thomas, and that that abundant life would spill over into the surrounding community and beyond.
The Rev. Ann Dierterle, Assistant Rector for Pastoral Care and Christian Formation
Ann Dieterle was born on Long Island, NY, but her family moved to Florida when she was just 8 years old. She is a cradle Episcopalian like her Mother and Maternal Grandparents before her. Her father’s family was Baptist and Lutheran and active in their respective congregations. She sang in the choir while growing up at the now closed Holy Cross Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg.
Ann has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish from FSU. She continued to live in Tallahassee and worked for the state of Florida before attending Seminary at Sewanee. It’s in Tallahassee that she became more involved in the wider Episcopal Church, volunteering as a youth minister and serving as a Camp Counselor at the Diocese of Florida’s summer camp for several years. It was through these ministries that she heard her call to the Priesthood.
After serving as an Assistant at parishes in Virginia and Illinois, she accepted a call to serve as Rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro, NC in 2014. Following her father’s death in 2017, she felt the call to move back home to be closer to family. She enjoys spending more time with her mother, brother, sister-in-law, and perfect baby niece.
In her free time, if she’s not hanging with her family, Ann can usually be found walking her dog, rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays, cooking or hanging with her foodie friends, volunteering with the League of Women Voters, or immersed in various sci-fi and fantasy worlds. She also blogs at www.thesuburbanmonastic.com.
Ann is thrilled to be joining the community at St. Thomas.
The Rev. Deacon Martha Goodwill
The Rev. Sonia Sullivan Clifton, Chaplain at Canterbury School of Florida
The Rev'd Sonia Sullivan Clifton comes to Canterbury from Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, where she has served as a Chaplain since 2003, and from St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, where she served as the Rector since 2010. At Trinity Prep she coordinated a student-led chapel program, taught religion, ethics, and psychology classes, sponsored student clubs, coached girls' basketball, and participated in theatrical productions. At St. Matthew's, she led the parish into financial security, strengthened community-based outreach programs, created new worship services, led a strong pastoral care team, grew youth ministry programming, supported children's ministry, and encouraged the worshipping community to embrace diversity. Her community involvement includes volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, KidsGames, Relay for Life, Coalition for the Homeless, the Central Care Mission, and other organizations. She has a passion for mission work, both at home and abroad. Her other loves are her husband Steve, anything to do with being on or in the water, and Mickey Mouse. Her son Christopher is an accountant, living with his wife Leanne in Salt Lake City, Utah, and her stepdaughter Catherine is Managing Editor for The Professional Counselor magazine, based in Greensboro, NC. Over the years she and Steve have raised several other young adults they call “pseudo-children” who are spread out across the country.
Before moving to Orlando, she served for ten years in Swainsboro, Georgia. In addition to pastoring a congregation, she led a community-wide youth ministry program called CrossRoads and was a part of many community outreach organizations. She also served as the Youth Coordinator of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
Sonia was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. She received her BBA (’84) and MBA (’89) degrees from Valdosta State University, and her M.Div. (’93) from the University of the South (Sewanee). Outside of professional ministry, her work experience is rooted in management and marketing, mainly for non-profit organizations.
Sonia has a zeal for helping others find their place in God’s world by walking with them on their journey through life. She will be with us at St. Thomas' on most Sundays.
Rick Smith, Director of Music
For more than 35 years Rick has worked professionally as a church musician in the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and United Methodist traditions. Here in St. Petersburg he served as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church. Rick has also served churches in North Carolina, Tennessee, the Atlanta Metro area and the San Francisco Bay area of California. His choirs have toured the U.S., England, Italy, Spain, and Scotland, leading worship in such places as St. Giles Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica. Rick has also conducted community choruses and ensembles in Georgia, Florida and California. Rick is a native of the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. He earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Michigan State University, where he studied with composer and conductor Dr. Robert A. Harris, recently retired from Northwestern University in the Chicago area. Rick earned the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Tennessee, where he studied with conductor Donald Neuen, now at UCLA. Rick has additional graduate study in Church Music Education and in Christian Worship. As a conductor, Rick is at home in both vocal and instrumental music. He has extensive experience with handbell ensembles and is an accomplished composer. In addition to a lover of great music, Rick is a passionate sailor, a reluctant but regular runner, a solitary hiker and a happy gardener. Rick has been married to his wife, Grace for 35 years. They have one young adult son, Matt.
Joseph Master, Organist and Director of Finance
Music ministry has been in Joe’s life for the past 33 years. A native of Bethlehem, PA, at age 13, he began playing the organ in his home parish church. He studied music at Moravian College in Bethlehem and was a long time member of the Moravian College Choir. Joe has toured England, Moscow, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Prague and Germany with the college choir and came to appreciate the many cultures in these places as well as the composers and music indigenous to that country. After graduating from Moravian College in 1994, Joe continued singing with the college choir, accepted a position as senior accountant at Dun and Bradstreet, and worked part time as Music Director in a Lutheran Church. In 1997, Joe moved to Florida after accepting the position as Director of Music and Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. He remained in the same parish for 12 years. Joe is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Music from St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana and is a staff accountant at MB Advisors in St. Petersburg.
Courtney Crosby, Youth and Children's Minister
Courtney was born and raised in the St. Petersburg area. She was baptized, confirmed, and was an active member of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter before relocating to Fort Myers to attend Florida Gulf Coast University. During her time in Fort Myers, she served as the Youth Coordinator for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Bonita Springs. Since early childhood, she has been active at DaySpring Summer Camp and has been a member on staff for the past eight years. Her other diocesan involvement includes The Annual Acolyte Festival, EYE, and the Youth Leadership Team. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, her boyfriend, cooking and trying new things. She is excited to have moved back to the area and for the wonderful opportunities it will bring.
Pam Holley, Parish Administrator
Pam joined the staff in January of 2007. She is the first voice you will hear when calling St. Thomas and the first face you will see when you come into the office. Before coming to St. Thomas, Pam spent 19 years in the Travel business. She handled personal and corporate clients as well as groups and incentive travel. She has been in the choir since 1989 and a member since May of 2006. Pam and her husband, John, have a two adult children and four grandbabies.
Jon Ward, Sexton
Jon joined the staff at St. Thomas October, 2015. Jon grew up in Clearwater, Florida. He comes from a close family with one sister, both parents, and a myriad of nieces and nephews. After high school, Jon worked as a roofer. By age 20, he owned his own business installing windows. After spending eight years working as a mechanic, he found his way to Canterbury and St. Thomas. He has a nine-year old son who he loves to take fishing. Among Jon's many hobbies and talents, he enjoys rides on his motorcycle and racing his RC car around the neighborhood.