Jane Bates, Parish Administrator [email]
An active parishioner, Jane has volunteered in the Church Office since 2011. For more than 20 years, she worked in the financial services industry, responsible for management, administrative and financial activities for both large and small companies. Jane attended New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., majored in accounting and business administration. She and her husband, Gary, have lived in the Conroe area for more than 15 years.
Dr. Eric Gundersen, Director of Music and Fine Arts [email]
Eric is a native of Fredrikstad, Norway. As a youngster, Eric enjoyed activities such as soccer, ice-hockey, downhill and cross-country skiing. At age 17, Eric started his music training and organ studies. He continued his studies in the U.S. at Utah State University where he earned his Bachelor of Music. While at USU, Eric served as guest organist at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Eric studied at Yale University where he earned Masters Degrees in Music and Sacred Music from the Yale School of Music and the Yale Divinity School’s Institute of Sacred Music. He earned his Doctor of Music degree from Rice University as a pupil of the late Dr. Gerre Hancock.
Before accepting the call to serve as Music Director at St. James, Eric served on the faculty at Sam Houston State University’s School of Music where he taught organ and sacred music. He has played recitals throughout Europe and the United States including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, St. Thomas 5th Ave.—NYC, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Eric has also been awarded first prize in the Neihart International Organ Competition, and a regional American Guild of Organists Competition. Eric and his wife, Dr. Laura Avery, live in The Woodlands with their two girls, Jessica and Lila.
Thomas Johnson, Lay Ministry Coordinator and Communications [email]
A native of Conroe,Thomas attended the University of North Texas before returning home and becoming a member of St. James in 2009. Before joining the staff in 2012, he served as a Church Office volunteer as well as a member of the choir. As Lay Ministry Coordinator, Thomas assembles the monthly “lineup” of worship service volunteers (Eucharistic ministers, ushers, greeters, etc.), helps newcomers – and long-timers! – get “plugged in” to ministries where they can use their God-given gifts, and oversees many parish-wide events and celebrations.
Donna Oppermann, Newcomer Coordinator
As a lifelong Episcopalian, Donna is an active member of St. James after participating for over forty years in parish life at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Texas in Austin and has taught at the elementary and preschool levels. Donna used her training in education at St. Martin’s coordinating the preschool and elementary Sunday school program for six years and is now beginning her sixth year of leading the Dayspring Women’s Bible Study at St. James. She loves greeting visitors on Sunday mornings and then looking for ways to connect them into our active and caring community. Donna and her husband, Skip, love living in the Conroe area and have two grown children and five grandchildren.
Earning a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas A&M University and a M.S. in Elementary Education from Stephen F. Austin State University along with eight years of classroom teaching experience have instilled in Claire a passion for education. Claire grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas in a family of educators. She is proud to hail from the “Oldest Town in Texas” and enjoys frequent trips back home. Claire, her husband, Jeremy, and their two children, Jack and Scarlett, have lived in Conroe for five years. As Director of St. James Episcopal School, Claire is committed to providing the finest care and promoting an enthusiasm for learning in a faith-based environment.
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