Dea Podhajsky

Dea Podhajsky


On November 9, 2017, Bishop Kirk Smith announced his retirement and called for the election of his succesor. On the same, day, Bishop Todd Ousley, from the Presiding Bishop's Office of Pastoral Development who oversees the transition process for the Episcopal Church, outlined the next steps. The Standing Committee, with The Rev. Canon Daniel Tantimonaco as President, will oversee the search and transition process for the diocese. The Diocesan Staff's responsibility will be to work to keep the diocese doing business as usual throughout this transition.

The Search Committee is designated by the diocesan Canons. The names of those who are serving on the committee are listed below. Their job is to find a list of final candidates to present to the whole diocese in a series of "walkabouts" before the election takes place at the Diocesan Convention on October 19-20, 2018. The bishop-elect will then work with Bishop Smith for a few months before being consecrated as the Sixth Bishop of Arizona on March 9, 2019 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Below are links to announcements and other information about the status of the search process. If there are any questions, please contact Clyde Kunz, Chair of the Search Committee, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Standing Committee has accepted and hereby presents the recommendations of the Bishop Search Committee for our next Bishop. This follows a rigorous search and prayerful discernment process that began with review of written applications (from which gender, race/ethnicity, age, and other identifying information had been redacted) followed by video interviews with the most qualified applicants, then face-to-face interviews and worshipful, prayerful interaction with several semi-final candidates.

Each nominee submitted essay responses to twelve questions as part of their initial application; those questions and their responses may be seen by clicking on the link below each bio. Nominated candidates and a short bio of each, are presented in alphabetical order:

The Rev. Dr. Dena Marcel Cleaver-Bartholomew
Rector, Christ Church (Manlius, NY) Diocese of Central New York

Born into a military family and raised in the Episcopal Church, Dena has had the opportunity to witness the faithfulness of God’s people in a wide variety of contexts. She learned to go where the mission is, and is fortunate to be married to a man who shares her commitment to responding to God’s call. David and Dena met at Yale Divinity School and have been married 30 years. He is also ordained, has a doctorate in biblical studies, and does taxes for fun. They are blessed with two daughters. Audrey is engaged and will begin law school this fall.  Lydia recently graduated from college with a degree in economics, and will participate in the Episcopal Service Corps this year. They are each active discerners of God’s call and willing to invest themselves where the Holy Spirit leads.

Dena’s call is to be a faithful leader who listens to, discerns with, and facilitates the joyful transformation of God’s people. Ordained for 30 years, she seeks and serves God, the eternal source of life and love, the One who creates all that is. With gifts for preaching, teaching, organizing, and creatively collaborating, Dena builds community with others as they follow Jesus together. She is a lifelong learner, and welcomes the opportunity to grow in knowledge in differing environments. In 2017 Dena earned a Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership and Community Witness from Emory University. 

Dena enjoys traveling, especially with her family, and delights in exploring new places, trying new foods, and appreciating other cultures. She loves to read, do yoga, and walk, and has a special fondness for dogs.

Answers to Essay Questions

The Rev. Jennifer Anne Reddall
Rector, Church of the Epiphany (NY, NY) Diocese of New York

The Rev. Jennifer Reddall, the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in New York City, believes the world is hungering for Good News, and that the “Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement” has a compelling message of joy, love, and justice to share. At their best, our churches welcome all and seek to build communities where newcomers and established parishioners alike can grow their faith, experience the love of God and neighbor, and claim their identity as disciples and ministers of the Gospel.

At Epiphany, Jennifer has led a diverse congregation in growth, particularly among new families with children. She began as Associate Rector in 2003, became Priest-in-Charge in 2011, and Rector in 2014. She successfully restructured their Day School, completed a major building project, and led the creation of new local and international outreach ministries. 

Jennifer grew up in California, and after graduating from Yale University with a degree in Theater Studies, she joined the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Los Angeles. She graduated from the General Theological Seminary with an MDiv in 2002. Her first ordained role was as the Curate at the Church of the Epiphany in Agoura Hills, a large suburban parish outside Los Angeles.

She is a Trustee of the Diocese of New York, a former chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, and a member of the Organizing Committee of the New York Episcopal Credit Union. She has served on the Institutional Review Board at Weill-Cornell Medical College for over ten years, and was recently appointed to serve on the House of Deputies Subcommittee for Truth and Reconciliation in Sexual Harassment and Exploitation.

Jennifer is the mother of Nathan, who is nine. Her parents moved to Tucson in 2016. Jennifer is in a long-term relationship with Paul Sheehan, who lives primarily in Hong Kong.

Answers to Essay Questions

The Rev. Andrew Wallace Walter
Rector, Grace Episcopal Church (Silver Spring, MD) Diocese of Washington

The Rev. Andrew W. Walter is Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, a diverse, spirit-filled congregation located just outside the nation’s capital. Working closely with the Vestry, clergy, and staff, Andrew has guided Grace Church in pursuing its vision, and under his leadership, the Grace community has grown significantly in spiritual depth, activity, and resources. The parish has: expanded the number and diversity of its programs for Christian formation; focused on growing its children, youth, and young adult ministries; nurtured relationships with local churches, schools, and organizations; and, committed themselves to serving others, particularly by working for racial justice, and by hosting a refugee family from another country. Andrew loves to preach, teach, and be with people of all ages. He believes deeply in the transforming power of Christ’s love, and he tries to share that love through his life and ministry. 

As Rector, Andrew serves on the Board of Grace Episcopal Day School, which provides a diverse student body with a quality education in a supportive and spiritual environment. He is also active in the wider church, currently serving in the Diocese of Washington as Chair of Diocesan Council, and for The Episcopal Church, as a member of the Executive Council Investment Committee and Economic Justice Loan Committee. 

Previously, Andrew served for four years as Associate Rector at Saint Luke's Parish in Darien, Connecticut. Prior to his ordination, Andrew worked in the finance industry and taught high school mathematics.

Andrew earned his Masters of Divinity at the General Theological Seminary and is a graduate of Bucknell University and the Groton School. He also studied at the University of Chicago and Teacher's College, Columbia University.  Andrew and his wife, Susan, have been married for over thirty years, and they have three sons: Thomas, James, and Timothy.

Answers to Essay Questions

To submit your name for consideration as a Petition Candidate, please fill out the application form.

The Petition Process closes at 5:00 p.m. (Arizona time) on Friday, July 20, 2018.


One of the many outreach programs here at Transfiguration is our Million Meals for Our Neighbors program  The following update by director Bill Robinson demonstrates how we as a congregation our transforming lives. Thanks to all who have given their time and money.

"The current MM meal total has now provided funding for 1,336,498 meals. 8000 of the 31,000 meal increase since March came from two cash grants from The Crazy Chile Farm. The rest came from "coin cups" from parishioners and an additional grant from the AJ VFW Post.This week. a Million Meals grant for 5300 meals has been issued to the Community Alliance Against Family Abuse In Apache Junction. They operate a 64 bed women's shelter, and you, the people of Transfiguration, have provided the funding for all of their meal requirements for the past three years."


Since we began Walking on Wednesday our 36 human  walkers and four canine walkers have logged over 18,000 miles. We have travelled to the top of Mount Tabor, which is believed by many to be the location of the transfiguration. We have visited Canterbury and Westminster Cathedral. We have walked the Camino de Santiago, watched flamenco dancers in Seville, and enjoyed the bazaar in Tangier. We have rested at an oasis, cruised the Nile and worshipped with our sisters and brothers in South Sudan and Ethiopia. We are currently in Nairobi, Kenya. Please join us on our adventure. Remember all you need to do is email the number of steps, miles or kilometers you walk each month to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Crazy Chile Farm was formed in 2014 to support the food relief programs of Transfiguration Episcopal Church.  We live in a State where hunger is endemic. In Arizona 1 in 4 children, 1 in 5 adults, and 1 in 6 seniors are at risk for adequate daily food.  Our response was to create an all-volunteer non-profit farm growing a 400 year-old un-hybridized landrace chile pepper.  Chile was selected because spicy foods are a trending item in high demand in the gourmet market and, fortunately, grows quite well in our low desert climate.


Since its inception, profits from the sale of our chile powder have been used to support our local community, by funding food distribution agencies of the Feeding America Food Bank system.  We also fund programs in our local public school systems to support underfunded students, food support for a large women’s shelter, and other outreach programs at Transfiguration and in The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.  In 2016 over $5600 was provided for outreach.  Likewise, the 2017 crop got off to an exceptional start, and in March and April we were able to provide over $1000 in grants to Million Meals, Project Help, and Lutheran Social Service’s Refugee Focus Program.  But then we hit a “speed bump”.


In early May, we picked over 150 pounds of ripe chiles—a record for that month.  Yet by the end of the month it had become apparent that about 80% of our only field was inexplicably near death.  After examination of our fields by U. of A. Cooperative Extension and an independent agricultural laboratory, our crop was diagnosed with Verticillium wilt, a fungal infection causing irreversible vascular failure in chile peppers and other members of the Solenacea family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants).    

Nevertheless, while the harvest was down, it did not disappear.  We continued to produce enough revenue to cover our operational expenses (including our water bill!) for 2017. And by working with our sister program, A Million Meals for our Neighbors and our summer parishioners, we were able to provide funding for 27,500 pounds of food for Hurricane Harvey relief—an extraordinary project that gained us national recognition!


Our current objective is to recover our revenue base, to enable us to provide even more food support in our local community, and additional funding for disaster relief food. To that end, we recently opened a second growing field.  This will enable crop rotation between Field #1 and Field #2 to reduce pathogen build-up in our soil, give us the space to diversify our product offering with different crops, and increase the size of our harvest.  If you haven’t seen it yet, Field #2 is located behind the Parish Hall on what used to be a dirt parking area.  “Ripping” the new field was a project.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bob DeSpiegelaere and Liz Farmer for renting a John Deere Tractor and doing the initial plowing.  We also are indebted to Laura Ward and her manager Todd for initial disc and plow work in the new field with her team of Clydesdales, and continuing to bring the horses back for additional work. 

In November, The Farm was invited to participate in an agricultural funding program called “Seed Money”.  We subsequently earned $800, which will permit us to buy a greenhouse to enable our farmers to start our own seedlings in an "all-weather" facility.  This will give us better control of our seedling production, higher volume, and better quality seedlings.  Currently seed flats are sent home with individual farmers in January, with sometimes disappointing results.  Having our own greenhouse will also allow us to recover more rapidly if we are afflicted with transplant failure or pathogen attacks. If this project is successful it will allow us to gain at least a month on our growing season, lengthen our harvest time, and hopefully enable a 20% to 25% increase in annual revenue.


As we move into the first quarter of 2018 we give thanks to all those who have encouraged and supported our “sometimes fumbling” efforts.  The love, patience and enthusiasm extended to us by the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and of The Church of the Transfiguration in Mesa has been extraordinary.  We are also especially thankful for the help and information provided by U. 0f A. Cooperative Extension, the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture Advisory Council on Food and Agriculture, the Association of Community Gardeners of Maricopa County, A&P Nursery, Native Seeds/Search, Tenth Generation Farm in Apache Junction, and David Archuleta, the Farm and Ranch Mgr. at the New Mexico State University Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Alcalde NM.  But, most especially, we thank our own volunteer chile farmers for their tireless energy, extraordinary insights, and constant efforts to improve our processes, our service, and the quality of our products.  Our hearts have been truly touched!


Bill Robinson

Altar Guild

A bit of background of your altar guild director: I was baptized, confirmed and married in the same church.  During my youth the only time I ever saw a woman in the sanctuary was when I saw the altar guild preparing the altar.  In those days, there were no girl acolytes, no female lay readers, no female chalice bearers or lectors, and no females were ordained as priests. When asked to be on the altar guild 25 – 30 years ago, to my mind I was following in my mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps.  I was living out a legacy.  This is what the women in my family did, they served on the altar guild.  That heritage was my connection and my motivating force. It was a good time to be in the altar guild in the early 1970’s.  It was a time of change; the church had a trial prayer book; the altar was moved from the wall; the priest began to face the people.  The holy Eucharist became normative for worship.  I learned a lot at the time, “I am lucky to be born when I was born! I’m having a really good time learning, something that my mother and grandmother didn’t”.

Our Altar guild has an annual bake sale, along with other get togethers and we love it.  (and we don’t wear gloves and hats).  There is not a business  meeting at these sessions, though Fr. Bob  will join us often. He may quite often have a request and we have never turned him down.  He always tells us how very grateful he is for us.

In the early days of the church, the duty of caring for the altar and sanctuary was the concern of the priests and attendants.  Nuns now do the work in certain parts of the world.  Although the altar guild was primarily a women’s  ministry, members today are of an age and gender.

The Altar Guild was an important element in the following celebrations during the course of 2017.  Memorial services, some for our members or their family member, confirmation, memorial service for the Vietnam veterans (which we have many within our congregation), the usual services for Lent/Easter and four Christmas services; on Christmas eve  9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. and a morning service on Christmas day.  We were so blessed this year, as there was a very special five year old young man, who wished to have his lego man given to baby Jesus as his gift to him.  Needless to say, we were all so touched by this love for Jesus. 

Altar guild is also the flower guild, being sure flowers are on the altar for those who request them for: anniversaries, thanksgivings, memorials, birthdays, etc.  There is a flower chart on the bulletin board in the narthex that you can view at your leisure and select any date you wish.  There can be more that one person on any given Sunday. Our meetings are held monthly, normally the first Saturday of the  month at 11:00 a.m. in the church.  Meetings last one hour.  The meetings are informational and for preparations needed for our Sunday services.  There are special church seasons that require us to come together for seasonal preparations. 

Should you wish to join our ministry, you would be serving with a partner once a month at either the 8:00 or 10:00 whichever is your choice. We are a ministry that enjoys working together and lovingly preparing the Lord’s table for the Eucharist celebrations and other services. We look forward to having you be a part of our Altar Guild ministry. At our bake sale we cleared about $450 and these funds are used to purchase linens, wine, silver vessels and any other item needed.     


Respectfully submtted,      Ruby A. Seyffert, Altar Guild Director


The St. Teresa of Avila Chapter of the Daughters of the King was reestablished at the Church of the Transfiguration in 2014.  The current officers are Lynn Whayne Graff, President, and Miriam Waddington, Secretary.


We usually meet monthly at 10 a.m. on the same Saturday that the Episcopal Church Women meet.  Membership has been stable.  The only change occurred when one person moved away. We now have 10 members.


Five of our members attended the annual Daughters of the King Province VIII Spring meeting at Litchfield Park.  We learned about other Chapters and their work here in Arizona.  The program centered on the Navajoland Area Mission, the churches there, their development, special projects and plans.  The communion service was done with Native American influence in the processional, the readings, the sermon and the music.

The focus of the Daughters of the King is prayer, service, and evangelism. Prayer concerns for the church or individuals are discussed at each meeting.  The Daughters pray for these needs throughout each month.  Our service has centered on providing receptions, following funerals, memorial services or special events. There were seven such events during 2017.  We also strive to support the minister in his work.


Our vision as Daughters is to know Christ, to make him known to others, and to reflect God’s love throughout the world.  As an order we undertake a Rule of Life which includes a Rule of Prayer and a Rule of Service.  We fulfill these vows by praying daily and seeking to do God’s will as service to Him each day.


Respectfully submitted,  Lynn Whayne Graff, President

The Diocesan Search Committee wants to ensure that every member of the diocese has a chance to present their opinions for the search of the sixth Bishop of Arizona. If you wish to participate, an electronic version of the survey can be found here:

We made it to Mt. Tabor and we are now on our way home. This is an ambitious route so we need your help. In fact we need your friend’s help, your neighbors help, and your dog’s help!

  • Istanbul
  • Zurich
  • Brussels
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Canterbury
  • Scotland
  • Cardiff
  • Belfast
  • Camino de Santiago (500 miles)
  • Morocco
  • Cairo to Cape (Includes Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Nairori, Dodoma, Lusaka, Gaborone) (7,731 miles)
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Polynesia
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Central America (Stopping to visit El Hogar)
  • Mexico
  • Phoenix

Transfiguration has a new director of Children’s Ministry, Eileen Chandler. Eileen brings passion, enthusiasm and a great deal of experience to the job. Eileen has had a long history of supervisory and high level management roles in hospitals and business venues. Her career included 43 year in nursing. As part of her nursing training, she visited ill and special needs children. Eileen recalls one boy of around three or four who walked up to her, gazed into her eyes, and established an immediate connection. The other nurses were astounded as the boy had not reached out to anyone for months.


This special connection with children extended into her personal as well as professional life. She and her family took in a 15 month old foster child who lived with their family for almost 10 years. 


In the area of Christian Children’s’ ministry Eileen became involved with St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee when her son Christopher was not quite 5 and her daughter Carolyn was almost  2 ½.  Eileen was soon appointed Christian Education Director. Eileen states of this experience, “It was like a part-time job as teachers were recruited, oriented and trained, not to mention my learning curve! I taught pre-school on up, having fun with the curriculum, and even leading an adult group (not my idea) for I am not a cradle Episcopalian having been raised Catholic.  I had a lot of scriptural catching up to do.”


Eileen feels that her biggest challenge as Director of Children’s Ministries at Transfiguration will be to build a dedicated Sunday School teacher base. Two keys to sustain success in the building of the base will be instilling confidence in the teachers and offering fun training.


Recently Jana Sundin from the Diocesan Office came for a visit to offer ideas for building the Children’s Ministry.  Her suggestion included that Eileen should write her own job description as director after consultation with Fr. Bob and Bobbie Lafford. 


Summing up her plans Eileen stated, “There may be enough energy and resources surrounding nursery development for me to separate from those initiatives and focus on family faith formation through experiential learning and family worship.  Specifically, I'd like to guide our efforts toward a lectionary based curriculum that transfers to home life and to enhance children/youth involvement in church worship. . .  for example, the use of music and musicians.”







Transfiguration has updated its web page. You can view it at Some of the features include prayer requests, a daily devotional, our calendar, news, events, sermons, the Deacon’s Blog and basic information about our mission and services.


To help people learn to use the web page and our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) I will be available on the  second Friday of the month from 10-12 in the Parish Hall to answer questions. Along with questions concerning Transfiguration’s on line presence, I will be glad to answer simple questions about applications, photography, and how to manage your Facebook feed. If you have a non hardware question we can look for the answers together if nothing else and I unlike your grandchild will not roll my eyes.

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