The Rev. Canon Gar Demo came to St. Thomas in 2006 from St. Peter’s in Conway, Arkansas where he was Vicar for four years. From 1998-2002, he was the assistant rector at St. Michael and All Angels in Mission, Kansas, before which he spent a year at St. Margaret’s in Lawrence, Kansas, and at the Kansas Diocese as the youth missioner.
St. Thomas’s depth of relationships, sense of community, and breadth of outreach are what drew Gar to the church and to this day are what he sees as exceptional of the congregation. That sense of community and that all are welcome continues to grow.
Gar attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest (ETSS) in Austin, Texas after receiving his BS in Psychology with a minor in Music from Wichita State University in 1994. He was ordained in 1997 and entered the priesthood in Dec. 1997. Gar also earned his MBA from Friends University in 2010. In 2020 Gar was appointed as Canon for Congregational Mission in the Diocese of Kansas where he is a resource for congregational development. Gar met his wife Kelly in his last years of college they were married just prior to attending seminary and she was also ordained in 1997. The two were married in 1994 and have two children–Riley and Asher. Gar enjoys movies, fishing, guitar, and sports.
The Rev. Kelly Demo joined the staff at St. Thomas in March of 2017.
The Rev. Kelly Demo joined the staff officially on March 1 of 2017. However, Mthr. Demo had been serving in a volunteer capacity for ten years before that both at the altar as well as teaching, helping with youth group and children’s ministries, and outreach. Before being on staff at St. Thomas Kelly worked for ten years in the non profit world working at two international aid organizations as a fundraiser and community builder. She also did youth work for the decade before that.
Mthr. Kelly was ordained in 1997 after attending Seminary of the Southwest. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas where she studied theatre, with a concentration in children’s theatre. It was during that time that she met Gar. They finished up their undergraduate degrees and attended seminary together as newlyweds.
At St. Thomas Kelly serves in ministries with the youth group, women’s ministries as well as general pastoral care and small group development. Kelly’s first love is spending time with her husband, Gar, and their two kids, Riley and Asher. Even after many miles traveled for her previous job she still loves to travel. She also enjoys reading, needlework, movies, and spending time with friends.
The Rev. Deacon Fran Wheeler is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, but also lived in Nevada, Virginia, Missouri, and New York before settling in Kansas. Fran and her husband Ray met and married in the Kansas City area in 1986. A former Marine, her husband Ray is currently an IT Audit Manager for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, and also serves on the Diocesan Council of Trustees.
They are blessed with two teenage sons, Ted and Cole. Fran keeps actively involved with their school activities and is an active member of Preceptor Epsilon Zeta, a local chapter of the women’s international sorority, Beta Sigma Phi. Additionally she has served with various organizations and committees within the Olathe Community and Johnson County.
Fran graduated in 1990 from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY with a B.S. Major in Fashion Merchandising. She has a previous career background in retail management within the fashion industry, but has been a stay at home mom for the past 17 years. Her love for Christ, a continual growing passion of working in the community, and the inspiration and personal desire to seek, identify, and commit where help is needed is what led her to the calling of the Diaconate. She graduated from the Kansas School of Ministry in 2010 and was ordained to the Diaconate in January 2011. She served her diaconal internship at Trinity Episcopal Church in Atchison, KS with a focus on Pastoral Ministry. She previously attended St. Aidan’s in Olathe, KS for the past 9 years, where after ordination she served as a deacon for the past 3 years. Her ministries focused on pastoral care, mission and outreach. In addition to parish activities, Fran currently serves as the Chair for Mission and Outreach for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, and serves as Vice President for the Diocesan Board of Episcopal Church Women (ECW). She is delighted to be assigned to St. Thomas now and looks forward to the many opportunities to serve and grow with the St. Thomas community.
Julieanne Stapleton joined the St Thomas staff as Director of Music in the summer of 2023. She is a versatile and accomplished musician with a wealth of experience in choral directing, piano, opera singing, and musical theatre direction. Her journey began at Wichita State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance, alongside performing with The Kansas Opera as the Miller Scholar for Drama and receiving a scholarship from the Miss Kansas Pageant in 1993. Julieanne further honed her skills in vocal pedagogy, choral conducting, and operatic performance at the UMKC Conservatory of Music. Currently, she is in the final stages of completing her Masters in Education as a Teacher of Distinction from Baker University.
Julieanne’s choral conducting and vocal pedagogy studies were guided by esteemed educators such as Dr. Michael Denham, Dr. Bud Boughton, Dr. Robert Glasmann, and Robert Shaw. While in Washington DC, Julieanne also served as the Vocal Music Director for the Creating Original Opera (COO) program at the Kennedy Center and George Mason University. Notable directorships include the Hunters Woods Magnet School for the Arts and the St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes Schools in Alexandria, VA, with memorable performances in esteemed venues like the Capitol Building rotunda and Arlington Cemetery.
After relocating to the Kansas City area and embracing parenthood, Julieanne established The KC Kids Music Company, an outreach performance group that collaborated with the Fox 4 Love Fund. Julieanne has directed for numerous organizations, including Music Theatre for Young People, Music Theatre of Kansas City, Stage One Players, Broadway at Baker, Culture House Community Theatre, Trilogy, Olathe Civic Theatre Association (OCTA), and the Depot Theatre in Dodge City. She has also maintained a private vocal and piano studio. Throughout her career, Julieanne has showcased her musical talents as a contemporary worship music leader, serving in various locations.
Julieanne will lead our various music groups and hopes to create many new opportunities. She will begin her ministry at St Thomas is mid-July of 2023.
Barbara McCall is the Director of Children’s Formation. Barbara currently teaches elementary students at Liberty View Elementary in Olathe, KS. She brings with her 12 years of experience as a professional educator. Barbara holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a Master of Arts in Education from Baker University. She is married to J. D. McCall, her high school sweetheart, and they have two children Joshua and Jacob. She enjoys singing in our praise band as well as crafting and home decorating. She has been a member at St. Thomas for over 13 years.
Justin Smith is the Parish Administrator for St Thomas. He is an active parishioner at St. Mary’s Church on 13th and Holmes. While he is not formally in discernment, Justin aspires towards ordination and is dedicated to his spiritual journey.
Seven years ago, Justin relocated to Kansas City. Since then, he decided to convert to the Episcopal Church from Roman Catholicism. During his time in Chicago, Justin immersed himself in a monastic/religious community, focusing on sacred liturgy studies, greatly enriching his knowledge and education. At St. Mary’s, he has been entrusted with the responsibilities of the acolyte master and head sacristan of the altar guild, roles he has carried out diligently for a significant duration.
Beyond his contributions to the church, Justin possesses a diverse skill set that makes him a valuable asset within the ecclesiastical and professional realms. He boasts substantial experience in the healthcare sector, having completed nursing school at Lincoln University and working in various service industries. Furthermore, Justin’s flair for floral arrangements spans over a decade, as he successfully owns a wedding and events company specializing in this domain. Complementing his practical expertise, Justin is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, further broadening his understanding of human behavior. Moreover, his experience in business and financial skills adds another layer of versatility to his profile.
Overall, Justin’s multifaceted background, coupled with his unwavering commitment to his faith and community, has made him a welcomed member of our team at St. Thomas. He is always eager to lend a helping hand and make things run smoothly!
Meribeth Risebig is responsible for communications such as weekly newsletters, bulletins, posters, booklets, website revisions, etc.
Meribeth is an active free-lance musician in the Kansas City area as an oboist/english hornist, and also plays the lever harp. She enjoys swimming laps and water walking, gardening, cooking, wine tastings, and watching movies and TV series filmed in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. She has two young cats, Clover and Tutu.
Need to contact the staff?
Please use the form on the Contact page. Thank you!