The Rev. Dr. Israel Ahimbisibwe PhD.
Israel Ahimbisibwe [pronounced: Aa-he-mbi-see-bue] was born, raised in Uganda and ordained in the Holy Orders of the Anglican Communion of the Church of Uganda. Originally he was trained to teach Chemistry and Biology in High School but he got a spiritual conversion in the second year of teaching.
This new Christian experience would eventually turn Israel’s worldview. It was a time when many Ugandan youths were at the risk of HIV/AIDS and Israel believed that the Gospel of Christ is the only transformative force so vital to transform and bring about the necessary human behavior. He therefore got deeply involved in the evangelism to the youth. Evangelism to the youth also had a component that involved teaching these new converts on how to grow and succeed in the Christian faith. The more Israel did this work, the more he felt God was calling him to a deeper theological training that would better equip him for a full time Christian Ministry.
After deep thinking, prayer and commitment Israel felt God was assuring him by opening and providing the following educational opportunities: B.D- (First Class Honors) at Makerere University, Kampala/Uganda; Th.M-Princeton Theological Seminary- NJ-USA; MTS (Hebrew Bible)- Harvard University Divinity School- Cambridge-MA; Graduate Research at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem- Jerusalem-Israel; MA & Ph.D (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) at Rice University- Houston-USA.
Israel has had a year’s teaching ministry at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Cohasset, Massachusetts. He has also offered lecture series on the Book of Genesis & The Prophets at Saint John the Divine’s School of Theology in Houston Texas. He has offered courses on the Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at both Houston Baptist University and the University of Houston. He currently gives instruction in the Old Testament in the IONA Program of the Diocese of Texas. He is the Vicar of Redeemer Episcopal Church, Assistant Rector at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, Instructor of Christian Education, Lower School, at Holy Spirit Episcopal School, and College Missioner at the University of Houston.
Israel believes his passion and talent is to be a pastor and teacher for the strength and edification of Christ’s Church. He cherishes the love and tremendous support he constantly gets from his wife Dorcas. Their three boys: Isaac, Emmanuel and Israel Jr have been an added joy to the ministry of the Church.
KariAnn Lessner grew up in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. As the daughter of a Methodist minister, she spent much of her childhood in church. She pursued a degree in Christian Education with concentrations in art and music at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, where she met and married Ron.
KariAnn’s career in the Diocese of Texas began in 1996 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Dickinson, Texas. Since then, she has overseen ministries for children, youth, and families at both the parish and diocesan levels. In 1999, she became the Youth Director at St. John’s Episcopal Church in La Porte, Texas.
KariAnn’s diocesan leadership includes two years on the Board of the Center for Youth Ministries, three years as the Lay Director of Y.E.S. (Youth Encounter Spirit), as well as directing five diocesan youth Missionpalooza trips and several summer camp sessions at Camp Allen. She also serves as a trainer and master trainer for the Safeguarding God’s Children program.
KariAnn became Director of Children’s & Family Ministries at Holy Spirit in 2005 and lives with Ron and their two daughters, Keatyn and Karysn, in League City, Texas. She is quite aware that she has the very best job on the face of the earth. In her spare time, she loves to read and work on “crafty” projects at home with her two girls.
Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables and though she has a severe bird phobia, she collects pink flamingos. KariAnn is delighted to be working with children and families at Holy Spirit and using her gifts to build up the Body of Christ.
Helen Ramey, a native of Shreveport, La, has served as Holy Spirit’s parish secretary since 2006. She also serves as a lay reader, chalice bearer, and participates in the prayer shawl ministry. Helen attended Stephen F. Austin and then South Dakota State University, where she majored in horticulture. She and her husband Mark are blessed with three wonderful grown children, two amazing daughters in law, and three wonderful grandchildren!
Before coming to Houston in 2003 Helen worked first as parish secretary at the Catholic Campus Parish at S.D.S.U., and then later at Sylvan Abbey United Methodist Church in Clearwater, Florida.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, needlework, cooking, thinking about exercising and spending time with her family.
Leona Baker has worked for Holy Spirit Episcopal Church since 1989 when she began as a part-time Financial Secretary. There have been many changes since then and it has always been her privilege to serve the members of Holy Spirit during these years. Over the years, she has been an usher, does Ladies Night Out programs, is a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and attends a Home Group.
Leona was born and raised in South Dakota and comes from a large and wonderful family. While in South Dakota she attended Nettleton College and then worked for John Morrell & Co. until her marriage in 1970 at which time she moved to Chicago. She lived in various places until 1985 when she moved to Houston. Leona has two wonderful daughters and sons-in-law, and six even more wonderful grandchildren.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, scrapbooking, craft projects, knitting and being with family and friends.
Stephen J. Morris
Stephen J. Morris has enjoyed an extraordinarily wide-ranging career as a professional musician, having worked as a soloist, accompanist, conductor, composer, church musician and educator.
He holds degrees in music education and piano and organ performance from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and a Master’s Degree with distinction from Baylor University in Waco. He has done additional graduate work in sacred music, organ, and choral conducting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston.
For nearly twelve years, Mr. Morris has been the Organist-Choirmaster and Director of Music Ministries at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Houston, where he is in his 43rd year as a professional church musician.
Gardner is a native Houstonian and grew up in Memorial Bend next door to the old rectory, just west of the church, and attended preschool and kindergarten here at Holy Spirit.
Gardner’s prior work experience includes over twenty years in retail operations and facilities management with various retailers including Joske’s of Texas and May Company.
Gardner came to Holy Spirit as Parish Administrator in January of 2006 and loves being back in his old neighborhood and helping to support the clergy, other staff members, and parishioners in their various ministries.
Ron married KariAnn July 30th 1994 with very little experience in cooking. A few years into their marriage Ron started to learn how to bake by cooking Cheesecakes. After making a ton of cheesecakes he started to take a couple of small cooking classes at Central Market, Brennan’s of Houston and Haven.
He attempts to use the information he has learned over the years into cooking for his family friends and church. Ron still cooks for some Diocese retreats that his wife helps run some them have included : YES, College Retreat, and Mid-winter retreat.
As other hobbies he enjoys coaching his daughters in sports, traveling, and Top Gear [BBC version the Best].