It is time once again to elect our leaders for Area 9 of the Handbell Musicians of America. We will be electing a new Chair-Elect, who will begin serving immediately due to the vacancy in the Chair-Elect position, then continue serving in this position into the October 2018 term. We will also be electing a Secretary and Treasurer. The elected offices will serve a term from October 1, 2018, until September 30, 2020. In addition, the Chair-Elect will serve a two-year term as Chair followed by a two-year term as Past Chair. You can learn about each candidate below.

The ballots were mailed out to active members at the beginning of March 2018. The election results will be announced at Summit 2018, in Ringing News – Area 9’s newsletter, and here on the Area 9 website.

Please take advantage of one of your membership benefits by voting. It only costs one stamp to return your ballot.

CHAIR-ELECT: Dellinda Ebeling

Dellinda EbilingDellinda Ebeling has been a handbell musician since the 1990s and is the director of Bells Gloria at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, where she also facilitates several ensembles within the group. She began a children’s handbell choir in 2015 and is a ringer at another local church.

A member of Handbell Musicians of America, she previously served a term on the Area 9 board where she helped organize two Spring Rings in west Texas, arranged and served as clinician for a fall Boot Camp and reading session, and assisted in organizing Area 9’s first national anthem ringing event in 2016. She has organized two other workshops in Lubbock with nationally known clinicians and attends events around the country to further her own skills in directing and ringing. Passionate about all things handbells, she has begun working with friends to establish a community handbell ensemble in Lubbock.

Dellinda has been an attorney in private practice for over 40 years, specializing in Child Protective Services cases. Her husband Bobby cooks breakfast for the group on the Sundays they play and is a dedicated chauffeur, bell polisher, and all-around assistant. They enjoy spending time with their daughters and triplet granddaughters in addition to their church activities and traveling.

CHAIR-ELECT: Catherine Gaertner

Catherine GaertnerCatherine Gaertner lives in Whitehouse, Texas with John, her husband of 20 years, their two daughters Grace (16) and Ella (12), and their two cats, Toby and MacCavity. She is an 18-year veteran teacher of high school Theatre Arts and English, and currently teaches at Rusk High School. She has directed over 30 productions. She is a cradle Methodist and has been a part of the music ministry of every church she has attended starting at three years old at Gilmer First UMC.

She began ringing handbells at Lakeview Choir Camp Clinic in 1985 and started ringing at her church by 1990. She has also rung at St Stephens Methodist in Amarillo, Sulphur Springs First UMC, Carthage First UMC, and currently Marvin UMC. Catherine has assisted her bell directors by subbing and teaching small groups of children and youth how to ring. She utilizes bells whenever possible in her productions. She has rung as part of a duet and as a soloist, but her bells of choice are in the 3rd octave (G3 is her favorite). She also sings alto and plays her trombone in worship whenever possible. Her entire family can ring and all participated in ringing the National Anthem for the Texas Rangers game in 2016.

SECRETARY: Russell Miller

Russell MillerRev. Dr. Russell Miller is the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Boerne. For 19 years he served as minister of music and worship in that congregation, and transitioned to the associate pastor role in June of 2017, where he now focuses on pastoral care, adult faith formation, and missions. He still is an active participant in music ministries. He was ordained as a permanent deacon in the United Methodist Church in 1997, and served as chair of the Rio Texas Conference Order of Deacons for 8 years.

Miller is a native of Corpus Christi, TX and has lived all over Texas, including in Harlingen, Abilene, and the Houston area before moving to the Hill Country. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas; a Master of Music degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Arts and Theology from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Russell has played handbells since high school, and directed them since the early days of his ministry. He was a member of the Houston Bronze Ensemble in the mid 1990s, under the direction of Maggie Tucker. He has previously served on the Area 9 board as the South Texas representative.

Russell married his high school sweetheart, Sylvia, in 1983. Together, they perform handbell duets under the stage name “Double Ring”. Both also teach full studios of piano students, and Sylvia is the organist/pianist on staff at FUMC, Boerne. They have 2 adult children, both of whom are married, and 4 grandchildren.

SECRETARY: Amy Whiteaker

Amy WhiteakerAmy Whiteaker was unaware of the existence of handbells until she went to college, where she discovered the Baron Ringers of Brewton-Parker College. She enjoyed playing for two years at BPC and performing around the state of Georgia. After she transferred to the University of Florida, Amy began ringing with the adult and youth handbell choirs at FBC Gainesville.

As a graduate student and science teacher in Florida and Texas, Amy focused on her career but was delighted to discover the Austin Handbell Ensemble in 2013. This is her fifth year with AHE, and she has been the President of the Board of AHE since 2016. She currently stays home with her young children, but will return to teaching science when they are in school.

TREASURER: Chris Burton

Chris BurtonChris Burton says that handbells hold a special place in his heart. Many of his fondest memories are from his first handbell choir: the Baylor Bronze led by Carla David. Not only did he meet his future wife and the best man at his wedding while playing in the group, it fueled a passion for handbells that has led him to make sure that he always has somewhere to ring. Chris currently directs the handbell ensemble at his church, Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church in Dallas.

Aside from handbells, Chris holds degrees in music composition from Baylor University, Florida State University, and the University of Kansas. He also has previous experience working with, organizing, and directing arts nonprofit organizations. Most recently he served a year as the Executive Director of Voices of Change, a contemporary music ensemble in Dallas, where he benefited from a special mentorship by Bloomberg Philanthropies. In New Orleans, he co-founded New Fangled Opera, where he handled the business and financial aspects of the organization. Chris is excited by the opportunity to be on the ballot as Treasurer of the Handbell Musicians of America Area 9 and hopes that he will be able to help the organization thrive.

TREASURER: Linda Rutherford

LindaRutherfordLinda Rutherford first started ringing handbells in 1982. She quickly was hooked on bells. She has directed choirs in Indianapolis and Austin. She has been a member of the Indianapolis Handbell Ensemble and a charter member of the Austin Handbell Ensemble. Linda also teaches an introductory class at Veritas Academy in Austin and has been a clinician at the Heart of Texas Suzuki Organization weekend seminar. In addition to ringing at multiple handbell events in the United States, she has had the privilege of ringing with groups in Scotland and Italy.

In 2013 Linda went with a group from Covenant Presbyterian Church to Luyano, Cuba and took a two octave set of handchimes to the church. When the team returned to Cuba in 2015, they took the additional handchimes to complete three octaves. It is a thrill for her to receive emails with pictures of the group playing for church services there.

Linda received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Eastern Kentucky University and her Master of Music Education degree from the University of Texas. She has taught instrumental music, worked as an educational editor at Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, and was a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. In her “spare time” she enjoys teaching ESL classes and traveling.