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“…so that they may be one, as we are one…” John 17:22b

Officers & Staff

Governing Board Officers (2017 - 2018)

Bishop Marvin Thomas

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Bishop Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr. was elected the 62nd bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on July 1, 2014 at the 37th Quadrennial Session & 38th General Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

Prior to his election as bishop, he served as the seventh president/dean of The Phillips School of Theology (“The Seminary of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church”) at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia and the pastor of the Good News Community CME Church in Lithonia, GA. He is a graduate of Stillman College, with degrees from The Phillips School of Theology at ITC, and United Theological Seminary in Dayton. He has served as pastor, presiding elder, and as a member of the Religion faculty at Lane College, Jackson, TN and Stillman College. The Second Episcopal District includes Kentucky and Ohio Central Indiana Regions. Bishop Thomas is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the second of six children born to Mrs. Minnie Thomas Brown. Bishop Thomas has two children, Kourtney Lea Thomas and Marvin Frank Thomas, Jr., and one grandson, Kameron.

Rev. Vanessa E. B. Clark

St. James Episcopal Church

Rector, St. James Episcopal Church (2009- present) and Ecumenical Officer, Episcopal Church, Diocese of Ohio (2016.)

The primary goal of ecumenical relationships is to embrace the grand diversity of Christ's Body with joy, holding one another accountable to the Gospel commandment of radical love. She was ordained to the priesthood in 2007 after graduation from Bexley Hall Seminary, Columbus and served St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville, Ohio (2007-2009). Her passion for interfaith dialogue and ecumenical relationships began as a child in a diverse religious context. Between 2006-2009 Vanessa served as a Diocese of Southern Ohio representative to the OCC Faith & Order subcommittee.

In 2007 she was selected by Bexley Hall as student representative to the NCC Faith & Order Centennial conference in Oberlin, Ohio. As Rector in Painesville, she is on the Christian Emphasis Committee of The Y of Lake County, planning an ecumenical Good Friday event and offering Christian programs to children from a variety of denominations. Vanessa lives with her husband, author Mark Clark, and their two children in Mentor on the Lake, Ohio.

Rev. Deb Oskin

Church of the Brethren, Southern Ohio District

She is ordained to Peace Ministry in the Church of the Brethren (one of the historic peace churches), and has worked on an interfaith basis to promote nonviolent methods of peacemaking since 2003.

Deb serves as Co-Convener of Faith Communities Uniting for Peace; on the Executive Committee for the Ohio Council of Churches (secretary 2008-2012) ; and as District Board Chair for the 54 churches in the Southern Ohio District (1 of 23) of her denomination. Deb also works year-round for H&R Block in Hilliard, Ohio. Her facebook page picture features her smooching a dolphin – ask her about it!

The Rev. Tim Philabaum

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Northwest Ohio Synod

Pastor Tim graduated from Capital University and Trinity Seminary in Columbus, OH and recently completed his Doctorate from Gordon-Cromwell University in Boston.

He has been serving Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg since 1985. He and his wife Kate, have adult twin sons, Aaron and Matthew, and a married daughter, Allison (Partheev Shah), as well as  6 year old granddaughter, Addison.


Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson

Executive Director

The Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson, a native of Iowa, became the Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches in April, 1997. She has held ministerial standing in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1981. She is a graduate of Buena Vista University (1974) and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1981).

Rebecca served for 10 years in parish ministry in Iowa and Minnesota, as the Director of the Commission on Faith and Order for the Minnesota Council of Churches, and then joined the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991. While there she served as Associate, Women Employed by the Church, and later as Associate for Call Referral Services.

"I believe in ecumenism....the church universal.  This is vital to the Christian faith community’s presence today. We are ALREADY the Body of Christ. We are called to live that out as sisters and brothers. We each have gifts and traditions which enrich the other. I am blessed to work with such a wonderful tapestry of who this Council is. Thanks be to God.”

Tom Smith

Director for Public Policy


Tom Smith is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a Masters degree in administration. He served for 15 years in the Ohio Senate in various staff positions including Chief of Staff and Senate Clerk. He finished his public service as Public Affairs Director for the State Treasurer.

Upon his retirement he joined the staff of the Council as the Legislative Advocate. He is the editor of the Legislative Brief, published bi-monthly. He is a member of Westerville Community United Church of Christ.

Cindy Ries

Cindy began working with the Council in November 2013.

She is a solutions-oriented professional with over 15 years of experience in accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and human resources record keeping with a broad range of clients in various industries. She is a part of Kaiser Consulting.

Sara Ward

Staff, Ohio Interfaith Power and Light


Sara served  15 years as the State of Ohio’s Energy Director after serving 15 years as the Weatherization Assistance Program Director.

She provides consulting in areas related to “Earthkeeping”, works with organizations such as Greater Ohio Policy Center on Smart Growth, US Department of Energy and Oakridge National Laboratory, and serves as the part time Director for Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.

Added by Rebecca as a Who We Are Article on Monday, Nov. 09 2015. Last viewed on Thursday, Sep. 21 2017 | 27,472 views