Lay Preachers

The Episcopal Church is known for welcoming people’s participation in worship and Saint Thomas is no different. Our licensed lay preachers complement the sermons given by ordained clergy, adding a variety of voices to the ministry of God’s Holy Word. Come to our worship services and hear preaching that is both challenging and inspiring, while remaining relevant to our lives in the 21st century.

Lay preachers are members of our parish who have received specialized training in either seminaries or universities. They are licensed by the local bishop to preach, usually less frequently than the ordained clergy, under the supervision of the church rector.

In addition to being experienced public speakers, lay preachers are grounded in Holy Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, the church, its faith, history, practices and teaching. They especially represent the life experiences of everday people, and bring to the pulpit a diversity of perspectives from their lives outside the church.

Over the generations, distinguished laity have spoken in our churches, including T.S. Elliot (poet), Dorothy Sayers (mystic), C.S. Lewis (academic/children’s author), and Red Barber (sportscaster). – Gage McKinney

Gage McKinney

Licensed Lay Preacher, Author, Historian

st thomas profile_gage (3 of 1)An interest in church architecture brought Gage to Saint Thomas for the first time in 1968. He visited many times over the years and became a member when he settled in Sunnyvale in 1983. He and his wife, Ilka Weber, were married in Saint Thomas’ Resurrection Chapel.

Gage works in purchasing for Lockheed Martin and Ilka is a flight attendant for United Airlines. For 25 years Gage helped manage Our Daily Bread, the hot meals program at St. Thomas.

Gage wrote California Troubadour (Comstock Bonanza 2011), the biography of Clarence Urmy, California’s first native poet. Mr. Urmy was the music director at Trinity Episcopal Church, San Jose, and founded Saint Thomas, Sunnyvale, in 1911.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Grass Valley, California, commissioned Gage to write Crosses in a Gold Field, a sesquicentennial history. His other books include A High & Holy Place, a history of the Methodist Church that once served working families at the New Almaden quicksilver mine south of San Jose, and The 1930s: No Depression Here (Comstock Bonanza, 2009), an account of the California Gold Country during the Great Depression.

In 2012, at the recommendation of the Rev. Wendy Smith, Gage was granted a lay preacher’s license by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves.

Lou - Bio PortraitLou Poulain

Licensed Lay Preacher, Adult Education Chair, Worship Committee Member

Lou and Margo Poulain came to Saint Thomas in 2001.   Previously they were active members of a Roman Catholic parish in Santa Clara. Lou was a professional and volunteer religious educator with an emphasis on adult formation and sacramental preparation.

Lou’s background includes five years in Roman Catholic seminary and professional work as a lay minister at both the diocesan and parish level.  He currently works as a Materials Manager for a medical device startup company.

Since joining Saint Thomas, Lou has served on the vestry and was Senior Warden in 2006.  In 2003, he joined the Adult Education Committee and has chaired it since 2006. He is also a member of the Worship Committee.

In 2009, during a series of probing conversations with the former rector, Wendy Smith, Lou began to explore the ministry of preaching. Wendy formed a discernment committee, which worked with Lou to determine whether to pursue the interest.  Lou was licensed as a Lay Preacher by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves in 2010.

Lou and Margo have two sons and three grandchildren.  They enjoy vacationing in a different city each year.  Lou likes to read about history and culture, and is an avid soccer fan.

If you have an interest in this ministry, please Contact Us
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