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  March 2003

Click one of the headings below to read the article:

flame bullet character Father Michael flame bullet character Sunday School News
flame bullet character Around the Parish flame bullet character Wanted: Assistant Treasurer
flame bullet character Vestry Notes flame bullet character Save the Date!
flame bullet character The Right Stuff flame bullet character Ponder This
flame bullet character Virginia Clark Peel flame bullet character March Birthdays
flame bullet character Women of Christ Church    

God's Love Song in the Sky

Those of you who have been in the rectory know that I collect arks. In fact, I have an entire room that my kids lovingly call the “Ark Room” because of its varied and numerous items that pertain to Noah and his ark. When Colin Reed interviewed me over five years ago in this room, he made mention of it in his Tower Chimes article. Many parishioners have added to the collection since then through thoughtful and meaningful “ark” gifts – so much so that I am seriously considering because of “ark” overflow, setting up another room in the rectory called “Ark Room II”.

The story of the ark has always been one of my favorite ones since I attended Bible School. I collect arks, not because they are part of a special “folk art” genre, which because of its popularity is considered a good investment, but rather because they represent for me God’s determination to never give up on us. The Great Flood may not have effected any dramatic change in humankind, but it did effect an “earth-flooding” change in God. From this moment on God would forever more approach humanity with an unlimited patience. From this moment on God would approach humanity with unconditional and unlimited love. From this moment on God promised never to give up on us no matter what we might do.

God did not set the rainbow in the cloud so that Noah would see it, but that God himself would see it. It was a sign to God. That is why each time when I see a rainbow, I thank God from the bottom of my heart that the Good News depends not on what we see, on our senses, on our feelings, on subjective emotions that change with the seasons, but on firm, unshakable and unmovable realities: God in Christ has reconciled the world to God self.

Better than a silver lining over our cloud is a beautiful rainbow – God’s Love Song in the Sky – the knowledge that whatever darkness covers our sky, God is able to deliver us and to keep us within the embrace of God’s saving embrace. Finally, this beautiful love song woos us with the eternal truth that no matter how we might have blown it and have totally messed up, in God’s eyes we are always redeemable and worth saving. paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

I thought for this edition of the Tower Chimes, it would be a change to interview Christ Church members in a local watering place where they are known to gather at the end of the workweek. So shorthand book came out of my pocket as Judy Davis was lingering around. Her first grandson, Dylan, is five years old and losing his teeth. (I know the feeling, although I didn’t get a lollipop to compensate—wartime). And he’s getting new ones—lucky guy. Colin, who was in the area, told me that his dentist projects that his (Colin’s) teeth are not long on this earth.

Judy’s niece Sam(antha) is coming for a holiday with her sister Traci and her nieces and “Granny” will be having a whole family of 11 for lunch to celebrate daughter Pat’s birthday.

Dick and Susan Maren, we hear, left this past weekend for a holiday in Spain. They probably felt it was too cold in their usual holiday home in Norway. (It’s jolly cold here too.)

Paul Smith and his brother Ian will be together for a short while—this time in the U.S. and we look forward to hearing him speak at the pulpit on Sunday (past.) Ian is The Team Leader of the Church Mission Society in England. That makes him a missionary.

Our dear friend Fr. Walsted has had some minor surgery, very minor Martha told me. He has a stiff upper lip she says, and is having a restful respite.

Colin’s nephew was planning a trip to the U.S. in April on the QE2, having his mobile home shipped separately by freighter. These Brits!! But the flow of tourist activity is preventing him from clearing permits and visas. It’s on hold at the moment. Colin also shared this—his brother from England sent him some new underpants and was awarded the Cross of St. George. Was the award for the underpants? Now why in the world would we need to know this!? These Brits have some funny relatives—even Colin thought it was weird.

I received four Valentines this week!!!! Things are looking up—but I have to say I was extremely surprised.

Annie Reed took the plunge again. She has two babies. One is thirteen months and a newborn—they’re just about a year apart. Colin and Esther are very proud.

People who have church events planned for this year and the coming year should be aware that a Calendar Committee will be innovated soon. Beth McLean, (tall and mean they call her at school when she’s not looking,) and Trevor Mills are in charge of the next Holly Ball. Please give them your input so they can make their arrangements.

Victor Stanwick has made wooden dividers to separate the Serendipity sale of cards from the coffee hour. This has escalated and recent sales have amounted to over $1,000!!! Victor’s carpentry made a huge difference to the way the display looked. Victor is also on the cusp of going from being an aspirant to a postulant. He has had many interviews and is on the way!

I was wondering where Martha Keucher had been for the last few weeks and I learned that she has recently returned from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The River Chaophyra Hotel is right on the river there and Martha says that it was very picturesque. She and her daughter-in-law Jan Keucher had to row across the river to shop on the other side. Martha says that it was a fantastic trip--she should write a book!!

Speaking of wonderful trips, Gytha Bellaby and her mom, Joan Rock are in Paris. When they return they are both planning to go to Florida for several weeks. Send us some cards; we miss you already. paragraph ending graphic

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Vestry Report

The new Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton met for the first time this year on Monday, February 9, 2003. Preliminary plans were made for several upcoming events and many important decisions were made at that time. Here are some important highlights:

Nancy Reiersen-Scromo was elected as Clerk of the Vestry for the 2003 Vestry term

Richard Sigman will remain in the position of Treasurer “pro tem” and continue to write checks and submit financial reports to the Vestry each month.

“Heat Fund” contributions of $275.00 from members of our parish helped to offset some of the fuel expenses in January 2003.

Three new pay phones will be purchased for use in the Parish House - one will replace the current model in the hallway, one will be installed on the second floor, and the other will be installed in the gymnasium area.

A grant application for funding for our Youth Program has been submitted to Episcopal Charities. In addition paperwork is being considered for grant funding from Childcare, Inc.

The Christ Church basketball teams have been entered into the Episcopal league tournament on April 26, and they have been invited to participate in a tournament sponsored by the Jewish Community Center. Parishioners and fans are encouraged to attend these games and cheer our teams on to victory.

Dates have been selected for several important events at Christ Church, which will take place during the year. (Please see the special article in this issue of The Tower Chimes.)

The Vestry will meet again on Monday, March 10th at 7:30 p.m. In the interim, approved minutes from the meeting of January 13, 2003 have been posted on the Parish House bulletin board for those wishing to review them. paragraph ending graphic

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The Right Stuff

Every once in a while, not nearly often enough, the New York Times and other news media give the Episcopal Church some publicity. Tuesday, February 4, 2003, was a red-letter day in this respect, for on that day the Times ran, on the front page of the “Metro” section, an article about the Episcopal Diocese of New York and Bishop Sisk’s project to raise and contribute monies toward the rebuilding of a mosque in Afghanistan, a mosque that is believed to have been damaged by American military action.

Quite frankly, I was overjoyed to read this article—and even happier to learn later that the vestry of Christ Church had voted to contribute to this fund. Afghanistan has “dropped off the radar screen,” insofar as mainstream news media coverage is concerned. It has often been said that the three Semitic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are not tolerant religions. We can certainly point to many examples of intolerance throughout Christian history. But many Episcopalians, myself included, believe that intolerance is a serious fault. This fault seems especially to critique Judaism, Christianity and Islam, for all three great world religions claim Abraham as their father and share in the entire rich and lengthy heritage of the Old Testament. The relationship between Judaism and Christianity, of course, is unique. It is said that Jews could object to nothing in the Lord’s Prayer, for example.

The Elizabethan Settlement of 1559, which determined the character of Anglicanism from that day to this, set an example of tolerance that was unusual for its time and that still rings true across the centuries. Queen Elizabeth I, “Good Queen Bess,” was determined not to “make windows into men’s souls” and to include as many of her subjects as possible in the “church by law established.” Even today, Episcopalians enjoy a freedom of religious opinion that is scarcely known in many other religious bodies. Intellectual liberty is highly prized by our best church leaders and the Episcopal Church in America today has welcomed many adherents from other traditions that are not as tolerant.

My experience of the Episcopal Diocese of New York dates back to 1968. Over the years I have found much to admire in it and have made many friends here. We are strong enough and mature enough to embrace unpopular causes and to take right actions. Bishop Sisk is part of a great tradition, a tradition that all can claim as our own as we face the future with courage. paragraph ending graphic

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Virginia Clark Peel

Until she moved to Texas almost 28 years ago, Ginny Peel was a lifelong member of Christ Church. Her father, Joe Clark, sang in the choir, served on the Vestry and went bowling in the old gym in the basement. Her mother, Grace Clark, was a member of Women of Christ Church and very involved in activities here. Her sister, Doris Tucher, who now lives in New Jersey, also sang in the choir. An alto, Ginny loved singing under the direction of Maestro Jack Bainbridge, along with her longtime choir buddies Shirley Palmer Elfers, Mae Seeley, Valerie Quinlan, Pam Miller, Beth Beveridge McClean, Jay Spadaro, Bill Brown, Bill Beveridge and Dave Seeley, as well as her daughter, Janet Schneider.

In Texas, Ginny has been attending St. Francis Episcopal Church, two blocks from her home in San Antonio, and singing in the choir. When she and John first moved there, she taught school and owned a gift shop, while volunteering as a docent at the McNay Art Museum, which specializes in art from the Impressionist era up to the present. She was later hired to work there in the library, as a cataloguing specialist, and retired from that job only recently, while still serving as head of weekend docents and also volunteering as a mentor in a local public school.

When John had a stroke in 1983, Ginny left work to care for him until his death in 1992. His ashes rest in the columbarium in the chapel here in Christ Church.

Ginny has now moved to 448 Pecan Way Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78240, which is in a retirement community just a few miles from her former home. Her phone number remains 210-690-9482. When she returns to Staten Island to visit her family, which includes Janet, Paul and grandchildren Kate, Andrew and Ted Schneider, she loves to renew friendships with old friends here at Christ Church, as well as to make new friends with all who have come here since she left. And if anyone from here plans a trip to San Antonio, Ginny would love to hear from you, can guide you about places to see in town, and will give you a private tour of the museum! paragraph ending graphic

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Women of Christ Church

The Women of Christ Church will meet on Thursday, March 13; beginning with Holy Eucharist in the Chapel at 11 a.m. Connie Ricciardi and Helen Martin are the hostesses for the day. Bring a sandwich and join the hospitality. paragraph ending graphic

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Sunday School News

Sunday mornings at Christ Church are busier than ever these days. Our Sunday School is back and in full swing under the watchful eyes of our new Director, Sheila Hewitt, and our new Assistant Director, Christine Szczepanik. Our Sunday School teaching staff includes Deirdre Aleman (grades K-1); Melodi Coleman (grades 3, 4, 5), and a group of “team teachers” - Barnett Shepherd, Leslie Sullivan, Richard Zayzay and Fr. Michael - who work with our Junior High group.

Sheila is thrilled to be working with the children and has had a lot of experience in this area. She was responsible for coordinating several programs at the Todt Hill Community Center for young people and seniors, in addition to serving as Director of the North Shore YMCA from 1979 to 1983 where she coordinated the basketball and baseball leagues, in addition to the Summer Camp Program.

The current curriculum centers on Bible stories; however, there are other “special” activities that our young people are involved in. Right now they are working on a special presentation for Maundy Thursday and will also be participating in the “Watch Night” later that evening. There will be a Family Service on Easter Sunday, followed by the traditional piñata and Easter Egg Hunt.

And speaking of the Family Service, we hope you’ve had the opportunity to hear our new accompanist, Thomas Liu. Thomas is a sophomore at Curtis High School and studies piano with his mother, Joyce Chung. She is an accomplished concert pianist and has performed at Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall. Thomas’ ten-year-old sister, Kathleen, is a pianist and also studies violin with Valerie Quinlan. We are so pleased to have Thomas with us - as well as the members of his family - his parents Joyce and Paul, his sister Kathleen and his brother Philip. paragraph ending graphic

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Wanted: Assistant Treasurer

As many of you are aware, the Treasurer’s position has been vacant for over a year. In the interim, our Senior Warden, Richard Sigman, has graciously taken on many of the recording and reporting functions of this job until a full-time volunteer steps forward to fill this very important position.

At this time it has become apparent that we need to create an additional position – that of Assistant Treasurer – to help ease the burden of the Treasurer’s responsibilities at this time, and to provide a solid background that will enable this person to move into the Treasurer’s position - upon approval of the Vestry - before the year has ended.

The Assistant Treasurer’s position requires approximately eight hours of volunteer work once a month. The candidate will be trained to use Excel and Quick Books (accounting-based computer programs) and will also learn how to do financial reporting. The Assistant Treasurer will also learn how to write checks, do bank reconciliations and also prepare written reports for the Vestry. A knowledge of accounting or bookkeeping practices would be helpful, or in the least, computer literacy and skill with numbers.

The Vestry was so much in favor of having an Assistant Treasurer that they voted to make this a permanent position. This person will continue to work side by side with the Treasurer in this very important role in our Church leadership. If you are interested in taking on the challenge and want to learn more about the operations of our church, please see Richard Sigman or Father Michael. They will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. paragraph ending graphic

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Save the Dates!

The Christ Church activity calendar is bursting at the seams – there are so many exciting events that are scheduled to take place in 2003 that we wanted to share the dates with you NOW so that you can plan to be a part of each and every one. Grab your calendar and a sharp pencil and get to work!

Spring Fair – Saturday, June 14
(Chairpersons: Gytha Bellaby and Leslie Shannon)

Jeans’ Sunday – October 5

Stewardship “Events Sunday” – October 26

Stewardship “Commitment Sunday” – November 2

St. Nick’s Fair – Saturday, December 6
(Chairpersons: Nick Lettiere and Richard Sigman

Holly Ball – Saturday, December 13
(Chairpersons: Trevor Mills and Beth McLean)?

Deadline for the April Tower Chimes is Sunday, March 16, 2003. paragraph ending graphic

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Ponder This

In the name of Jesus Christ, who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God that you will slow us down, for we know that we live too fast. With all of eternity before us, make us take time to live—time to get acquainted with You, time to enjoy Your blessings, and time to know each other. paragraph ending graphic

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March Birthdays

13—William Keck III, Eileen Murray, Kevin McAndrew, Kenneth A. McLean

14—Eva Sherman

15—Gail Bernardez

18—Theresa Lettiere, Beverly Pavelec

20—Edith Armstrong

23—Nancy Lettiere, Heather George

26—Pamela Miller

30—Daniel N. Lettiere, Mark E. Hewitt, Sr., Tom Sarff.

If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added. paragraph ending graphic

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