The Rev. Bruce Douglas O’Neill grew up in the East Bay and was sponsored for ordination by St. Anselm’s Church in Lafayette. After graduation from the University of California at Berkeley, with majors in English and Social Welfare, he worked as an Employee Benefits Consultant with the San Francisco law firm of Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro.Between his second and third year in the Master of Divinity program at Virginia Theological Seminary, Bruce served an internship at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos. After graduation from seminary, and ordination at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, he served as Associate Rector of St. Bede’s in Menlo Park. In 1997, Bruce was called to be the Rector of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley.
Bruce currently chairs the Personnel Practices Committee for the Diocese of California, and has served on the board of directors of Episcopal Charities, Stanford Canterbury and Berkeley Canterbury (past board president). From 1998 to 2003, he chaired the Department of Campus Ministry for the Diocese of California, and is a past board member and president of the Board of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. Bruce has taught as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In his spare time, Bruce enjoys tennis, history, U.C. Berkeley athletic events, and spending time with his wife Michele and son Jeremy.
Director of Music
Linda Gavenda was born in Chatsworth, California, and studied piano throughout her childhood with her grandmother Katharine Johnson, who was organist at their local Methodist church. Attending UCLA, she started as a piano major but soon began organ studies with Thomas Harmon. She later studied organ with Duncan Phyfe and Sandra Soderlund, and harpsichord with Charlene Brendler. She had training in choral conducting under Philip Brett, at that time on the UC Berkeley faculty. After years playing in Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Congregational churches, on both the west and east coasts, she came to St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in 1982 and has never wanted to leave. In 1986, she was sent by the church to attend the six-week course for choral directors and organists at the Royal School of Church Music at Addington Palace in Surrey, England. She has taught piano and accompanied musical theater, solo performers, and choral groups. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Anglican Musicians.
Victor Gavenda was born in Austin, Texas, and began his choral career singing in the children’s choir at University Baptist Church. It wasn’t until college that he took a more serious interest in choral music, and sang in the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum under F. John Adams. Later, back home in Austin, he earned a Master of Music degree in Musicology at the University of Texas, continuing to sing in choral and early music ensembles.
Victor moved to Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Music History at the University of California. At Berkeley he took up conducting, studying choral conducting with Philip Brett and instrumental conducting with Michael Senturia. Victor was Assistant Director for the UC Chamber Chorus for 5 years under Philip Brett and John Butt. During that time, the Chamber Chorus made several notable recordings of Handel oratorios with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra led by Nicholas McGegan, and their recording of Handel’s Susannah won the Baroque Vocal Grammy in 1991.
While serving as Director of Music at El Sobrante United Methodist Church (1993–1998), Victor occasionally guest-conducted at St. Clement’s to help out with larger choral works. In 1998, Victor was invited to join the staff at St. Clement’s as Choirmaster.
In 2014, Victor was invited by fellow alumni of the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Music to conduct two reunion concerts in Paris, France, commemorating their 1976 European tour.
Youth Choir Director
Raised in Oakland, Margaret Ruenzel sang in St. Clement’s Youth Choir as a child. After earning a B.A. in Music from St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota where she studied piano and composition, Maggie returned to the East Bay where she teaches private piano and leads a school choir at Unity High. She has worked in the music program at St. Clement’s since 2013, and is now the Youth Choir Director. She is also enrolled at Holy Names College in the Masters program for the Kodály method of music education.
Nursery Professionals (Shelly Burns and Marcia Sherris)
Shelly Burns has worked in the St. Clement’s nursery for over 10 years. Shelly came to us through a highly regarded East Bay nanny finder. When she is not caring for parishioners, Shelly is a full time nanny. Prior to working as a nanny, Shelly worked in schools and day care centers around the Bay Area.
Marcia Sherris has been caring for children in the St. Clement’s nursery for five years. Marcia is the Grandmother of eight, all of whom attend St. Clement’s.
Marcia and Shelly are in the Nursery every Sunday and use great teamwork in entertaining and caring for the babies and toddlers in their care.
Sarah Williams joined the staff of St. Clement’s in May of 2014. In addition to parish office duties, she arranges for the use of our buildings by community groups. You can find her by phone at 510.843.2678, by email at: email@example.com,
or at the church when the office is open: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
Sarah has a Master of Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley, with a specialty in gerontology. She is an elder at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, and serves on the Troop Committee of Boy Scout Troop 6. She enjoys choral singing, backpacking, and orienteering.
Field Education Student
St. Clement’s has a long history of serving as a field education site for Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) students. The rector has supervised over twenty students during his tenure, and they have all had meaningful experiences thanks to the support of the St. Clement’s community.
In September of 2019, we welcomed seminarian Brian Cleary as our field education student from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (“CDSP”). Brian will be beginning his third and final year of seminary in the Fall of 2020. Brian comes to Berkeley from Bonita Springs, Florida, in the Diocese of Southwest Florida. He grew up in Weston, Connecticut, and studied at The College of Charleston and Northeastern University. While in college, Brian served an internship with Mercedes Benz in Madrid. Upon graduation, he worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Connecticut and then founded The Green Living Centre in Westport, Connecticut. Brian then moved to Bonita Springs to manage his family pool maintenance business. In addition to his professional experience, Brian arrives
with a myriad of gifts in parish ministry.