Vestry & Officers

Zac Lowing

Zac joined the staff as our Sexton in 2015.  In addition to his many other talents, Zac is an accomplished artist.  Some of his work may be found at this link.

Dennis Northway
Parish Musician

Dennis Northway [A.K.A. denden] has been Parish Musician at Grace Church since 1994.  He is pleased to assist in teaching the faith and singing, to people of all ages.  Here at Grace we have womb-to-tomb or cradle-to-crypt choirs.  If you have an interest in telling your own story, and doing it in song, please contact Dennis.  We have a Movement Choir for people who Dance and we have a String Ensemble, Strings of Grace, for people who like to fiddle around; we have choirs for children, the Schola Choir, high schoolers, the Madrigal Choir and adult singers, the Adult Choir.  We sing for services, funerals, weddings, Evensongs, cabarets, Boar's Head feasts, services of Lessons and Carols, and more!  Our choirs have sung in New York, Dubuque, Boston, Nashville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Atlanta and many other places on tour. Boy do we sing around here!

Dennis was the former Dean of the Chicago Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and Chair of the OHS 2012 National Convention in Chicago.  He is currently Artistic Director of the Handel Week Festival and Representative for John Paul Buzard Organ Builders. Den den also loves to compose music, conduct concerts, travel and occasionally bowl.

Episcopal CHurch

Douglas VanHouten

Douglas is Grace's administrator.  He is responsible for communications (including our website and Facebook page), finance, facilities rental, scheduling, and along with the rest of the staff consults around visioning and programming at Grace.  If you have a question about your pledge balance, a reimbursement check, scheduling an event, Grace's website, a building issue, holding a concert or program at Grace, submitting an online registration form for formation programs, donating securely online, Douglas is your go-to person. 

Douglas served on the Commission on Ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago for a six-year term and was the first layperson ever appointed by the bishop as its vice-chair.  He has a deep passion for discernment of gifts and ministries.  He is a firm believer that all baptized persons are ministers and therefore takes great delight in watching and helping others find ways they might best offer their gifts and talents toward the building of community.

A Colorado native, Douglas—an avid skier, hiker and biker—is still looking for the mountains in Illinois when he's not busy gushing about his two nieces or puttering about his garden and pond.  Douglas is married to an Episcopal priest.

Jonathan Baumgarten

Jon has been a member of Grace since 1982, and has served as a deacon at Grace since 2004.  His main work at Grace is to encourage and enable the people of Grace to help the needy, whether inside the parish, or in our neighborhoods, our region, our nation, or the world.

Jon serves as a volunteer in the church.  Outside the church, he is a Senior Software Developer at the Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago.  (If you're having trouble falling asleep, ask him to explain the intricacies of unemployment benefits for railroad workers.)  He has worked there for over 30 years, and has occupied cubicles within a 50 foot radius on the same floor since 1988.

Jon is married to Marion.  They have two adult children, Martha and Peter, who both live in Chicago.

Mary Slenski
Interim Rector

The Rev. Mary Slenski comes to Grace Church from the Diocese of Indianapolis.  She finds joy in working with congregations in transition as they claim the blessings and embrace the future God most desires for them.  Grace Church is her fourth appointment as an Interim Rector. 

 Ordained in 2008, Mary holds a Master’s of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School, an MBA in Finance from Wright State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Florida.  (Go Gators!)  During a sabbatical in 2016, she completed additional graduate coursework in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.  

 In Mary’s own words: “The most important things about me are not how I came to occupy the rector’s office at Grace Church, where I grew up or went to school.  The most important words I can use to describe myself are simply these: beloved of God, follower of Jesus of Nazareth, priest; and then, wife, mother, godmother, sister, daughter, neighbor and friend.  I love being near large bodies of water, mountains, and the giant Redwood trees.  I’ve had a needle in my hand since before I could read and enjoy quilting and ethnic textiles.   And, congregations undergoing transition are special to me.”

Mary has been married to George since 1980.  They enjoy travel, theater, and especially, their two adult daughters, Denise and Abigail.

Our Leaders

The Vestry is the body within a congregation that, with the clergy, leads the parish. Grace’s Vestry meets monthly, on the fourth Tuesday at 7:00 pm, usually in the St. Hilda Room (2nd floor of the Parish House). In addition the Vestry periodically schedules additional and/or special meetings as needed. ALL Vestry meetings are open to members of the Congregation.  The schedule for Vestry meetings is at this link.