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This last Sunday
at the altar while I was preparing the elements for Holy Communion
and listening to the choir's anthem, a moving rendition of J. Stainer's For
God So Loved the World, one of those moments hit me that
I have talked to many of you about. It is a time when clarity hits
me like a "ton of bricks" and I am enabled to view something anew
that I have either taken for granted or even forgotten about over
a long period of time. This particular moment was like a thunderbolt
out of nowhere that jolted me into a spiritual awareness of how
meaningful Holy Communion can be for us during this holy season.
Holy Communion, that is, Holy Eucharist, is thanksgiving. Ultimately
our trust, our faith, our peace, our very lives, are all summed
up in thanksgiving to God for the gift of God's Son to all creation.
In the part of the Communion called the "Preface," we acknowledge
that the realm of this thanksgiving is joined with the Heavenly
courts where "we praise [God], joining our voices with Angels and
Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing
this hymn to proclaim the glory of [God's] Name." Thus, I believe
that angels are present at our thanksgiving and that we enter
into Christ's life in the presence of angels. This means that
we are in those eternal moments in the wilderness and in Gethsemane
, when in Christ's unimaginable humility, he leaned upon the comforting
ministrations of these holy angels.
Furthermore, our own guardian angels (see Mt. 14:10), who are
with us in temptation and with us in the Gethsemane of the world's
agony today, are also with us in our thanksgiving during the Eucharistic
prayers, fanning the flame of Christ's life in us with their spread
wings, folding them over our hopes and fears, to comfort the Christ
within our souls.
Finally, these same angels can roll back the stones that close the
tombs of our hearts, so that every day Christ, in whom we all die,
may rise from the dead in each of our lives empowering us to go back
into the world to do God's redemptive work of love and service for
Around the Parish
As I sit here writing
this column for the April issue of The Tower Chimes I
find it hard to believe that we're preparing for Mother Nature's "last
burst of winter" on the eve of an impending snowstorm. Doesn't
she know that spring is right around the corner?
Victor Stanwick tells
me that pictures of the Christ Church stained glass "sacrament
windows" have been
published in a 4th Grade Sunday School workbook, "Finding God," by Loyola
Press. In case you're wondering, these windows are located
in the Sacristy and Cloister areas of the Church.
Last month I reported on the Staten Island Council of Churches
dinner and the special awards that were bestowed upon several Christ
Church parishioners. What I failed to mention was the wonderful
musical interlude presented by an exceptional baritone, Anthony
Turner, and it just so happens that he'll be performing
at Christ Church in June as part of the Serenade concert
series. Valerie Quinlan has worked so
hard to coordinate the performers for this wonderful musical program,
in addition to securing the grant funding that makes it possible.
By the way, don't miss the first performance of this series on
Sunday, April 18 th at 3: p.m. It will feature an accomplished
young pianist, Vincent Craig, the son
of our own Ed and Laura Craig!
Things are really busy these days in the McLean household. In
case you haven't heard, Chip McLean (Beth's
husband) has thrown his hat into the political arena and is running
for Assemblyman from the 61 st District. Don't forget to vote for
him in the September primary!
Did you happen to catch the two terrific articles that appeared
recently in the Staten Island Advance? The feature on John
and Anne Stenglein, former Christ Church parishioners,
and the parents of Anne Devlin, painted
a beautiful picture of their lives on Staten Island. And a recent
article in the " Living" section of the Advance featured
a great story about a devoted group of knitters, "Close
Knit," who meet at the John Noble Museum to make all
sorts of lovely items to keep others warm during the winter months.
Several of our own Christ Church parishioners are part of this
group, including Judy Davis, Martha Keucher and Connie
Ricciardi. The group meets on the first Thursday
of each month and is always ready to welcome new members. If you're
interested please contact Martha Keucher.
The Wednesday Night Lenten programs at Christ Church have been
inspirational, conversational, and downright "delicious" thanks
to the talents of our own Dorothy Rivera, who prepared a different tasty and interesting homemade soup for
each of the three Wednesday Night sessions. Not many of us are
aware that her father was a cook, which is probably where she got
her first inspiration to work magic in the kitchen. (Did you also
know that Dorothy is a grandmother of seven, and a great-grandmother
of 16!)? Each wonderful meal was complemented by an assortment
of breads and muffins prepared by Anne Devlin, who was also the creative force behind the themes and topics which
were discussed each evening for this quite interesting - albeit,
too short - three week series. Anne's Irish Soda Bread that we
ate on St. Patrick's Day was a particular favorite of mine!
That's it for now, but I would like to take this opportunity to offer
you my best wishes for a blessed Easter. By the way, if you're interested
in contributing to the special fund that's been established to hire
a brass quintet to play at our Easter service there's still time
to do so by placing your contribution in a separate envelope marked "Easter
Brass" or by mailing it to the parish office.
The regularly scheduled
meeting of Christ Church 's Vestry took place on Monday, March
8, 2004 . Sheila Hewitt led The Office for a Meeting. The minutes
of the previous meeting were approved as corrected. In giving the
Treasurer's Report, Phyllis Bath noted that Pledge Income is over
budget and ahead of last year. However, expenses for heat and utilities
are up. The Treasurer's Report was approved as presented.
The Rector presented the Parochial Report for 2003, which was
prepared to be submitted to the national church. It includes membership
and attendance statistics, as well as stewardship and financial
information. In a new regulation, each Vestry member must sign
a roster as having seen it, before it can be submitted. This was
accomplished and the report will be submitted.
Discussion of the possibility of Summer Day Camp and/or Vacation
Bible School elicited the important information that Christ Church
provides college and camp scholarships.
The "sleepover" program administered by Project Hospitality is
under way. (Participants in this program were arriving at Christ
Church just as the Vestry meeting was coming to an end.) There
have been a few minor problems due to inexperienced supervision,
but these are being attended to and will be solved. A few neighbors
who didn't know about the program in advance have made negative
comments to the Rector, but their complaints have been ameliorated
by improved communication with them, one neighbor wishing us "good
luck" after the Rector spoke with her.
Discussion of the Christ Church Mission Statement raised the issues
of our spectacular buildings and their relationships with the neighborhood.
Do they support our mission or are they in themselves our mission?
Great concern was expressed over recent incidents of rock throwing
at the Parish Office, apparently by teen-aged residents of adjacent
Buchanan Street . Vandalism is viewed as an expression of anger.
Ways of confronting anger and angry youth were discussed, like
the power of a kind word and involving the neighbors in church
activities. They need to believe that Christ Church belongs to
them: "People protect their own." The church's fortress-like appearance
may need to be softened. Improved signage and communication with
the neighbors are indicated. Time devoted to the outside world
and thinking about our place in it is time well spent. We want
to know the neighborhood and be the neighborhood church, while
welcoming many longtime members from outside the neighborhood.
The Plant and Equipment Report notes that the office computer
needs replacement. Drawings of the Church, Cloister and Parish
House will be undertaken with the goal of landmark designation.
Improved lighting of the Guild Room is in process with the cost
to be met by memorials and donations. Bids are being sought to
repair outside woodwork on the Rectory. This work may help to lower
high heating bills.
Gytha Bellaby will report on the "lapsed member canvass" at the next
Vestry meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
to make exciting plans for our church community. At its March meeting
it made final plans for the famous fish fry on Saturday 2 April,
once again prepared by Shirley Black, Hueldine Webb, and others.
Last year over eighty people made reservations, so make yours early
so that our cooks will know whether you want your fish and potatoes
baked or fried.
The teachers who serve the Prison Ministry at the Arthur Kill
facility report that the State Of N.Y. does not provide them with
any office supplies. The State would apparently like to lock people
up and throw away the key! Serendipity decided to help the teachers
with needed paper supplies.
There are lots of rumors about THE BOOK, which Serendipity hopes
to have ready for sale at the St. Nick's Fair on 20 November. You'll
hear lots more about it in a mailing we are preparing, but the
basic idea is to create an appointment book which will have plenty
of space for each day for over one thousand days starting in December
2004 and ending in January 2008. Nick Dowen is writing a shortened
History of Christ Church and Colin and Linda Reiersen are working
on a section called Humor at Christ Church . If you have any funny
Christ Church stories to share, from the present or the past, please
call Colin at 981-3495 or better still write them out and let him
have them. Susan Fowler and Shirley Black are collecting recipes
from Diversity Sunday and the Second Saturday Lunch Program, and
Victor Stanwick is drawing cartoons for the humor section.
The Book described above is part of the 100th birthday of our
stone church and the 155th anniversary of the founding of Christ
Church in New Brighton . We are planning a huge May-Ham Birthday
party for Saturday, 14 May 2005 .
It's not just for women anymore. Three men attended the meeting and
now we hope more men will feel encouraged to join the faithful females
in the group. As Richard Zayzay said at the Annual Meeting, "Why
do we keep hearing about what the women do for Christ Church and
never about the men? Well, that's changing. We have a great time
together and lots of laughs. At the end of each meeting we have a
great party. We're not on the wagon.
Women of Christ Church
On a sunny day
that promised that spring would soon be here, the first meeting
of the Women of Christ Church after their two-month lapse took
place. Following the usual plan, we attended the Eucharist and
Healing Service and then returned to the Vestry Room for our meeting.
Treasurer Shirley Elfers brought us up to date on the state of
our finances. The response to our Annual Appeal is heartening and
will enable us to continue to support the many organizations we
list in our budget.
We reflected on the recent death of long time member Eileen Murray,
who had courageously attended our meetings even while fighting
Our April meeting date falls on Maundy Thursday and since we will
be attending services at church on that day it was decided to cancel
the meeting. On May 13, we will join with the New York Altar Guild
at One Pendleton Place . We agreed to be ready to host the May
Friendship Day meeting of Church Women United on May 7 if need
Helen Martin and Connie Ricciardi, hostesses, had prepared a table
with a St. Patrick's Day theme, supplying Irish soda bread and
other delicious desserts which were enjoyed by all.
The meeting was not well attended. It is hoped that more women of
our Church will take note of future events and be with us.
On Sunday, April
18th, pianist Vincent Craig, son of Mr. And Mrs. Edward Craig,
parishioners of Christ Church , will perform works by Beethoven,
Mussorgsky, Joplin and Gershwin. The concert will begin at 3 p.m.
and is free to the public. A reception to meet the artist will
follow the program.
Vincent Craig began his career at the age of eight when he performed
in public at the Columbia Artists Management Hall in New York City
. His career has been a series of successes on the concert stage,
on television and in competitions. He won first prize in the 1989
Society of American Musicians' Young Artist Competition. He has
attended the Aspen Festival and has studied with and accompanied
many internationally famous artists.
Mr. Craig is Music Director of the Main Line Unitarian Church
in Devon , PA , and is on the faculty of the School of Music ,
West Chester Union, PA. Since 1992 he has been the accompanist
for the Maryland State Boy Choir and visiting artist of the Baltimore
Major funding for these concerts has been given by the Staten
Island Bank and Trust Foundation. These concerts are made possible (in part)
by an Encore Grant from the Council on the
Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI), with public funding from the New
York State Council on the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Richmond County Savings Foundation, Northfield
Savings Bank and the Independence Community Foundation.
Bringing Gifts of
They should make
them days of feasting and joy. and of sending portions one to another
and gifts to the poor. Esther 9 vs. 22
Prior to the May-Ham Dinner last October, more than 100 enthusiastic
sponsors, including members of our parish, friends of Christ Church
and friends from the British Isles, gave us the money for everything
from tea-bags to vichyssoise, hams and brownies. There were even
those who paid good money to shock the parish into seeing Colin
Reed dress up for Church in a suit and tie. We had some laughs
while we made some money and many people helped Serendipity make
a profit of about $4 500. We are using that money in a variety
of ways to assist Christ Church , and a number of projects in our
community that assist needy people. As soon as the temperatures
made it safe to leave warm homes, we spent over $420, to help the
Richmond Senior Center on Jewitt Avenue at which both Margaret
Harris and John Watson volunteer two days each week. Gytha Bellaby
and Colin Reed went to Costco early in March and purchased large
quantities of soap, pet foods for both cats and dogs, scouring
powder, dish washing liquid, denture adhesives, shaving soap, throat
lozenges, furniture polish, and other household cleaners, which
they delivered to the Richmond Senior Citizens pantry on Jewitt
Avenue. The elderly poor cannot get these items with their food
stamps and often experience desperate needs for items which most
of us are able to take for granted, like shampoo or shaving cream.
Gytha and Colin had the added fun of greeting Beverly Neuhaus,
and our delightful new treasurer, Phyllis Bath, who was also visiting
at the time,
Serendipity also decided to support the food pantry at the Stapleton
United American Methodist Episcopal Church on Tompkins Avenue with
a grant of food which included tuna fish, chicken, soups, stew,
chili and cocoa totaling about $300. Our friend Mamie Daniels presides
over this program and it was appropriate that our Tompkins Avenue
friends receive a generous donation of food for their pantry. Not
only was their church a great supporter of the 1996 auction, which
we held here at Christ Church and which raised about $15,000 for
five food pantries, but last year we were glad to have their enthusiastic
support for our May Ham dinner.
Because we also had a generous grant from Father Michael's discretionary
fund, which we added to the $250 dollars, which Serendipity allocated
to help New Directions in early March, Wendy took Colin to Island
Produce where she was delighted to order, at Christ Church Serendipity's
expense, 100 dozen jumbo eggs, and large quantities of fresh garlic,
tomatoes, carrots and beans.
Parishioners who remember to bring a weekly donation of food for
the basket, which is taken up to our altar each week may wonder,
what happens to their contributions. Wendy Neuhalfen's architect
husband to New Direction's headquarters on Post Avenue periodically
transfers them from the cabinet outside the office.
The Second Saturday Lunch program continues to flourish under
the leadership of Victor Stanwick and Susan Fowler. More than 50
parishioners and some friends of our church participate in this
program, donating the food, which they prepare in their home kitchens
to feed a crowd of between 60 and 80 people every second Saturday
at Trinity Lutheran church. Other Christians and groups of other
faiths are also involved.
So, your thoughtfulness in bringing gifts of food to the church each
Sunday and your support of the activities of Serendipity, the wizard
of the Chinese Auction, Alleida Mitchell, and the Second Saturday
Lunch Program helps tremendously in the maintenance of one of the
most important missions of Christ Church . We know that you don't
expect any reward for your giving but Serendipity has tried to express
its gratitude to so many of you, with the gift of a Pancake Supper
in February and a lavish Ice Cream Social which will be given on
August 9. The verse of Esther quoted at the head of this article
is singularly appropriate for us at Christ Church . We send portions
to each other and to the poor!
My Country 'Tis of
As I began to return
the hymnal to its place on the back of our pew, at the end of the
morning service one day recently, by chance the book flipped open
to hymn 717, My Country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. I
noticed that the words of that hymn were by Samuel Francis Smith,
a Baptist preacher and poet who lived from 1808 to 1895. Because
the tune for that is the same as the British National Anthem God
Save our Gracious Queen, I wondered where it originated.
The hymnal was not very informative, simply saying "Music: America from Thesaurus
Musicus, 1745 and so I sent an email to our great organist,
Tom Sarff and his reply below is enlightening.
"The exact origin of the tune is unknown, but has been sung in
many countries for a variety of purposes, whether as hymn, patriotic
song, or presidential inaugural anthem; at one point or another
at least a half-dozen countries have adopted it as their national
The earliest known printed source is Thesaurus Musicus (1744)
and the earliest known performance of "God Save the King" (both
tune and text) took place at the Drury Lane Theater in London in
1745, making it the oldest of all national anthems. An adaptation
was sung in the United States at Washington 's inauguration with
the words, "Hail, Thou Auspicious Day!" Another United States version
was "God Keep America."
The most familiar American words were written by Samuel F. Smith,
who had been engaged by his friend, the Boston organist Lowell
Mason, to either write or translate new text for several German
school music books Mason had acquired. Smith was particularly impressed
with one of the melodies, which turned out to be the same tune
used by the British for "God Save the Queen." He wrote new words
to be sung to that tune, and it was debuted by Mason in 1831 during
a children's service at the Park Street Church in Boston ." The
song ordinarily has six verses but below is the story of how a
seventh verse was inserted around 1746 but later withdrawn." Mystery
The invasion of England by the Scots in 1746, explains the following
anti-Scottish words that were inserted into the song, but withdrawn
when it was adopted at as the British National Anthem. Marshall
Wade was an officer in the army sent to halt the advance of Jacobite
troops into England.
Lord, grant that Marshall Wade,
May by thy mighty
May he sedition hush like a torrent rush,
We hear that Paul Smith, Colin Reed, Joan Rock, David Holt and others
of British descent, will be paying the choir a large sum to assemble
under Judy Davis' bedroom window, to remind her, through their singing,
that it's never too late to crush a rebellious Scot.
Scots to crush,
God save the King.
Food for Thought
All that we are
and have - our lives, intelligence, imagination, sensibilities,
abilities, potential for growth and inheritance - are gifts from
God, given to us to be developed and used for the benefit of all
God's children. Stewardship begins with the recognition that God
is a generous giver and that we are called upon to be a grateful,
responsive, and responsible people. In the words of St. Peter (1
Peter 4:10 -11), "Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God,
serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
Whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies,
so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.
To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."
1-Ian Robert Adams, Bryan Jamal Adams, Matthew Ambroggi;
6-Harry Bernardez; 10-Michael Devlin; 17 - Siaber Zayzay, Celestine
Zayzay; 24-David Wood, Daniel Wood; 26-Mary Boody; 30-Nancy Sherman
6-Linda & Harald Reiersen; 12-Carol & John
Brown; 15-Eva & William Sherman; 17-Sue & Rick Boody; 25-Laura & Henry
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish