Clergy & Staff


gardner-clif-1000x1000The Rev. Clif Gardner, Rector

Fr. Gardner completed his studies at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and was ordained a deacon in 1986 and priest in 1987 in the Diocese of South Carolina. He served for seven years at the Church of the Holy Family in Moncks Corner, South Carolina before accepting a call to the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo, Texas in 1993. After nearly ten years there, he accepted a call to St. James in 2002.

He has been active in each diocese in which he has served and most recently has served on the Commission on Ministry (which oversees the ordination process) since 2003 and has chaired the Commission since 2005. He is active in the Cursillo Movement having served on the National Episcopal Cursillo Committee as Vice-President.

Fr. Gardner is a student of Church History and he embraces the Anglican traditions of biblical authority, liturgical worship and “faith seeking understanding.” He and his wife, Gig, have two grown children, Allison and Kevin, and he is blessed to have his children and grandchildren all at St. James. He and Gig both like travel and Jazz music.

rebecca_tankersleyThe Rev. Rebecca Tankersley, Assistant Rector

 Mother Rebecca Tankersley who has been serving at St. Augustine’s in Dallas. Mtr. Tankersley was recently ordained to the Priesthood after graduating from SMU Perkins School  of Theology.

Mtr. Rebecca is married to Scott and has three boys: Trevor (14), Elton (12), and Owen (9). Scott is an attorney, as is Mtr. Rebecca. The boys all attended St. James Episcopal School and are active swimmers. Mtr. Rebecca excelled in her studies at Perkins, winning both the Weatherford Prize for preaching and Flinn Award given by the faculty to the student who “most exemplifies the mission of the school” which is “to prepare women and men for faithful leadership in Christian ministry.”

button-roger-1000x1000The Rev. Roger Button, Deacon

Deacon Roger was raised in the Methodist Church, and he attended a Bible church before he graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1984 with a Masters in Biblical Studies. He was confirmed into the Episcopal Church in 1992.

Instead of entering the ministry immediately, he took a different road. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a law degree. In Dallas, he was a court appointed receiver and practiced civil litigation and mediation as an attorney before returning to his calling as a minister. En route to ordination to the Diaconate in 2010, he earned a Diploma in Anglican Studies (2009) at the (Episcopal) Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He also trained in pastoral care for one and a half years in the surgery and trauma units of Parkland Health and Hospital Systems. In addition to his work as deacon, Deacon Roger worked for more than six years as a hospital chaplain with Baylor Health Care Systems, most recently as Lead Night Chaplain for Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas. He is a Board Certified Chaplain (Association of Professional Chaplains).

Deacon Roger also tries to keep up with his wife, Kathy (a computer programmer with Southwest Airlines), with their daughter, Rachel (a student preparing to become a registered nurse), and with godson Saber Stuard and his family.


derrick brookins-1000x1000Derrick Brookins, Music Director

A native of Fort Worth, Mr. Brookins has successfully completed with honors both undergraduate and graduate work at the University of North Texas.

Mr. Brookins has studied and performed with world-renowned composer and choral conductor, Moses Hogan, for nine years. As a vocal performer, Mr. Brookins has performed on four continents for several European Royal Families and in venues such as The White House and The Sydney Opera House.

Mr. Brookins is highly successful as a choral conductor and his choirs have consistently received sweepstakes and division one awards from the University Interscholastic League as well as several “Best In Class” and “Grand Champion” recognitions throughout the United States. While at Williams High School, Mr. Brookins was named the 2000 Teacher of the Year, received the honored Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers’ Life Membership and was inducted into the Who’s Who Among American Educators. As a highly sought after choral conductor, vocalist and choral clinician, Mr. Brookins has been invited to conduct several district, community and TMEA Region Honor Choirs throughout the state. Choirs under his direction have performed by invitation for the Music Educators National Conference and most recently were awarded the distinguished Grammy Award, presented by the National Recording Grammy Foundation.

Mr. Brookins currently holds membership in the Texas Music Educators Association and servers as the Vocal

Chairman of Region 24. He is also a member of the Texas Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association and the Texas Music Adjudicators Association and has been recently appointed Division Chairman of Multicultural/Ethnic Choral Music for the Southwest Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

carol-hernandez-1000x1000Carol Hernandez, Parish Administrator

Screenshot 2017-01-24 10.10.42Than Ling, Youth Ministry Associate

Than Ling has been an active member of the St. James Youth Ministry for over five years. In 2017, he was hired as the Youth Ministry Associate to serve alongside Amanda Payne in youth ministry. Than is an experienced Camp Counselor at Camp All-Saints and is passionate about his community and the students at St. James. Than is currently studying at Brookhaven College and is fluent in Karen (Burmese) and English.

Amanda Payne, Minister to Children & Youth

Amanda entered into vocational ministry in 2005 working in the Methodist Church in College Station, Texas, then Second Baptist Houston, First Baptist McKinney and then Christ Church Plano. From an evangelical background Amanda found the ancient beauty of the Anglican tradition and has found Episcopal Church to be a perfect fit. Amanda is currently working on her Masters of Divinity at Redeemer Theological Seminary and plans to continue her work with children, youth and families upon completion.

Amanda is a active member of Dallas Diocese Youth Commission and enjoys serving in her local parish as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor. Amanda’s family lives in McKinney, Texas and she is the proud aunt of one niece, Allie Elizabeth.

toynbee-tammie-1000x1000Tammy Toynbee, Bookkeeper

warrick-robin-83Robin Warrick, Sexton

David Weigle, Organist

St. James School Staff

Loree_BirkenbackLoree Birkenback, Head of School

Loree Birkenback is the head of school at St. James. She has a degree in Life Sciences from Louisiana Tech University and a Masters of Arts in Education and Curriculum Design. She received her Montessori training from Dallas Montessori Academy and her lower elementary certification from the American Montessori Society.

Mrs. Loree taught at St. James for 12 years where she spent 3 years in an all school gardening and art program and 9 years as the lead teacher in the Lower Elementary classroom. In this time, she evaluated and designed curriculum for up to 5 different age levels and coordinated field trips to tie into the curriculum. She added several programs to the school including the bi-annual science fair, career week, and the elementary camp out.

She completed courses in Junior Great Books, Teaching for the Multi-Intelligence, Chicago’s Everyday Math, Hands-On-Algebra, Hands-On Science, and the Shelton Summer Series for Learning Differences. She also has served on two Accreditation teams for the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools.

Mrs. Loree lives in Rockwall with her husband and youngest child, Logan. Her son Dylan is in the Air Force stationed at Barksdale. Her youngest daughter Coral works at St. James in the Mother’s Day Out program. Her youngest son attended St. James beginning with the toddler program and continued through the fourth grade. Her other two children live locally and visit often.

Mrs. Loree enjoys spending time camping, canoeing, and mountain biking with her family.

Lisa_WilsonLisa Wilson, School Administrator

Ms. Lisa began her St. James Episcopal School journey as a substitute in 1995 – the same year her daughter Jordan started as a 3 year old. Then in the Fall of 1996, Ms. Lisa became a full time employee serving various roles from assistant in the primary classroom to school administrator. Lisa also has been the Head of the After School Care program since Fall 2011.

Jordan continued as a student at St. James through 3rd grade and has now graduated from University of Arkansas in the Spring of 2015.

During her free time, Ms. Lisa enjoys walking, trying new recipes and going to the movies.

Ms. Lisa treasures all the St. James Episcopal School events but has a real passion for the Moving Up Day Celebration since she sees how the kids have grown from the first day of school.