December, 2005 Tower Chimes
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paragraph ending graphic Clergy Corner paragraph ending graphic Maryland State Boyschoir Concert
paragraph ending graphic Around the Parish paragraph ending graphic Memorial Flowers & Greens
paragraph ending graphic Vestry Report paragraph ending graphic Parish Register
paragraph ending graphic Women of Christ Church paragraph ending graphic Stewardship
paragraph ending graphic Christmas Services & Holiday Events paragraph ending graphic Trinity Root
paragraph ending graphic Serendipity Italian Night paragraph ending graphic On Prayer
paragraph ending graphic United Thank Offering paragraph ending graphic Food for Impoverished Seniors
paragraph ending graphic Our Sexton, Vito DiRenzis paragraph ending graphic Viva Voce Brass Ensemble @ CCNB
Clergy Corner

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, (in which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;) that in the last day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost now and ever. Amen.”

Well, that sure was a mouthful. I half think that every Advent Sunday when I pray this collect at the Sunday liturgies and throughout the week that follows. The grammar check on my computer almost short circuited as I typed it in (they don’t tend to do well with endless clauses). The other half of me, though, thinks of this collect as an encounter with an old friend, one I only get to see once a year. As one of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s original compositions for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, our church’s collect for Advent Sunday has been a part of the Anglican experience for a very long time and so has had ample opportunity to wiggle its way into our religious consciousness.

It embodies the language of juxtaposition, of contrasting images set against each other that result in a very natural tension. Notice how the phrases draw us in: “works of darkness” along with “armour of light” and “in the time of this mortal life” contrasted with “in the last day.” It really is an outstanding example of Cranmer’s ability to incorporate so many different threads of theology into one cohesive whole.

Timing is everything, I suppose, and Cranmer’s timing is perfect. The tension between darkness and light is really being lived out all around us, isn’t it? As the days continue their countdown to the day during which we have the least amount of sunlight, we are aware of this too. We notice how early in the afternoon it gets dark. We notice the difference in our energy levels when we realize that it’s dark when we go to bed, and it’s dark when we get up in the morning. We are aware of the toll the darkness can take on our spirits too, as our bodies deal with less and less mood-altering serotonin. It’s not hard to see how humans and nature really co-exist, is it? And yet we know the tide will turn, it’s a scientific certainty that at some point the days will start getting longer again. At some point the light will once again make its dramatic “come from behind play” and win out over the darkness.

Cranmer wanted us to make these connections. He wanted us to be aware of the fact that the world in which we live is actually a world that embraces the works of darkness, and yet it can also be a world in which it is possible to cast them off in favour of the light’s protection. Light isn’t armour in the strictest sense. All it does is let you see what really is out there more clearly. It won’t shield you, but it does allow you enough time to duck out of the way of what’s coming. The best thing about light is that you don’t really need a whole lot in order for it to make a difference.

I hope that this Advent season is a time of dawning brightness for you and your family. I hope and pray that as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Son of God “in the time of this mortal life,” we remember “the last day” as well. For it will be on this day that the light that enlightens all things will come again, not as a babe in arms, but as the Adult Christ in glory. Come, Lord Jesus.

Every blessing, Fr. Clarke paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

Season’s Greetings! It’s that time of year again, when many of you are busily preparing for the Christmas holiday – shopping, writing cards, and decorating your homes. Just in case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting pretty busy at Christ Church as well.

Sheila Hewitt is busily putting the final touches on the preparations for the St. Nick’s Holiday Fair on Saturday, December 3 rd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And Beth McLean and Trevor Mills, chairpersons for the December 10 th Holly Ball at Christ Church are collecting the RSVP’s and making final plans for the decorations, the food and the music. These are two of the many joyful holiday events at Christ Church and we encourage you to be a part of each one.

Congratulations and thanks to all of the members of Serendipity for giving us just one more reason to be thankful last month. Their Italian Night festivities not only gave us the chance to sample the tasty fare prepared by Marlene Elia, but more importantly, provided us with the opportunity to gather together for a wonderful evening of fun and fellowship. It was so good to see Gail Bernardez back with us after her recent trip to Trinidad. And the Beveridge clan was out in full force as well: Bill and Nancy Beveridge, daughter Beth (McLean), and a special visit from son Billy and their grandson, Jackson.

Colin and Esther Reed’s daughter, Alyson, was also a welcome sight that evening. We found her sitting alongside her father while he was “collecting” money at the front entrance that evening. Alyson is Executive Director of the National Post Doctoral Association and just happened to be in town for a business trip. How fortunate for us.

Members of the Seeley family were also out in full force. It was so good to see Mae up and about after her most recent bout with respiratory distress, and husband David, sharing a dish of pasta with their son, Nat, his wife, Ella, and their children, Alex and Nat.

Also seen at tableside enjoying a glass of wine was Janet and Paul Schneider . We’ve been providing you with updates on their son, Andrew, who has been experiencing the “ins and outs” of Basic Training with the U.S. Army. Our most recent report on Andrew indicates that he’s currently in the Field Artillery branch, and once he completes Officer Candidate School he’ll be traveling to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in April of next year for additional training. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.

When Valerie Quinlan puts together a Serenade concert she really puts her heart and soul into it! When the Maryland Boychoir visited Christ Church last month not only did she (and her trusty assistant, Lois Lamb) organize a “Meet the Artists” reception for those who attended; they also solicited the help of a willing group of parishioners to provide food for 45 “bag lunches” for the boys to eat on their return bus trip to Maryland that evening. (By the way, their performance that afternoon was exceptional – and we’re all grateful that they didn’t consume their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before the concert!)

Did you happen to catch the wonderful article about Bill and Jane Brown that appeared in the Staten Island Advance last month? These two lovebirds, who met when they were enrolled in Wagner College, recently celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary. No wonder Bill always looks so happy when he sings in the choir each Sunday. (And can you believe it - Bill has been a member of the Christ Church choir for 45 years!)

Most of us at Christ Church are aware that there is a small “core” group of “regulars” who attend the 8 a.m. Sunday service in the chapel each week. A spoken Eucharist and a brief homily by Fr. Clarke are the usual bill of fare. However, there was a surprising change in the normal routine on November 27 th when Betsy and Scott Kalfa asked Fr. Clarke to baptize their young son, Nicholas James, during the service that morning. Nicholas, who was born on March 31, was joyfully received into the body of Christ by those who were fortunate enough to be in attendance that morning. Congratulations to all of the members of the Kalfa and Gattullo families on this most wonderful occasion.

It’s good to see Fr. John Walsted up and around once again. It didn’t take very long (about a week and a half after his surgery) for Fr. John to return to the Richmond Choral Society concert rehearsals, and our spies tell us that he’s been sighted at Adobe Blues once or twice as well. Glad to have you back, Fr. John!

And speaking of get well wishes, our best go out to Dorothy Rapp after a minor altercation while driving. Dorothy has a particularly important reason to get well soon – the birth of her third great grandson, Luke Michael Horvat. And best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Edson George, who undergoes shoulder surgery this month at Victory Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn.

Last, but surely not least, a round of applause for Shirley Black who was awarded the Advocacy Award given by the Division of Legal Services for the City of New York. Shirley holds the distinction of being the first “non-lawyer” to have ever received this prestigious award!

And finally, best wishes to one and all for a blessed and joyful holiday from the entire editorial staff of the Tower Chimes. paragraph ending graphic
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Vestry Report

Members of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton met on Monday, November 14th for the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Following is a brief recap of important issues that were discussed at that time:

  1. Although Fr. Clarke was not present at this meeting, he did indicate in his printed report to the Vestry that filming for The Book of Daniel has been discontinued – at least for now. The producers have advised us that they HOPE to return for additional filming in 2006. As was indicated in previous reports, the Vestry voted to designate all funding that is received from this project to the much needed repairs of our stained glass windows in the church.
  2. The Finance Committee has been meeting to formulate the 2006 budget for Christ Church. The final “draft” of the budget will be presented to the Vestry for approval and in turn, will be presented for the final vote at the Parish Annual Meeting in January.
  3. A Nominating Committee has been formed to determine the list of eligible candidates to fill upcoming vacancies in the Vestry next year. Members of the committee include Warden Beth McLean, chair of this committee, Lester Blair, Glendon Jantzi, Connie Ricciardi and Lesley Shannon. Additional information will be made available after the committee presents its proposed slate to the Vestry for final approval.
  4. Susan Fowler, chair of the Plant & Equipment Committee, gave a very important and informative visual presentation of the areas of the church that are sorely in need of repair at this time, and a time line of when these projects are scheduled for completion.
The Vestry will meet again on Monday, December 12th. Approved minutes from the October 10, 2005 meeting have been posted on the parish house bulletin board for those wishing to review them. paragraph ending graphic
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Women of Christ Church

In the early days of Christ Church there were two women’s groups:  the St. Elizabeth Society, whose ladies rolled bandages in war time and sewed infant’s garments for Staten Island Hospital, and The Women’s Guild. These two units later became The Women of Christ Church. Many were the dinners, luncheon/card parties, rummage sales and other events organized by the ladies for the benefit of the parish.

The Women of Christ Church (ECW) is a dues paying unit of the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of New York. Every female member of Christ Church, New Brighton, is automatically a member of ECW. An invitation is extended to the women of the parish once a year to make a monetary contribution to Women of Christ Church to meet its annual ECW diocesan dues of $175 per year.

Besides contributing $2000 annually to the parish budget, The Women of Christ Church generously donate to many local and national worthy causes as listed in its financial statement in the parish Annual Report.

As women’s interests have changed over time, so has participation in groups like Women of Christ Church. The membership has decreased to the point of no longer being able to function as in the past, and therefore, the officers have voted to disband at the end of December 2005. Any remaining funds will be transferred to the Christ Church treasury. paragraph ending graphic
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Christmas Services &
Holiday Events

Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 24th
4:00 p.m. – Family Nativity Eucharist
10:00 p.m. – Choral Nativity Eucharist

Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25th
8:00 a.m . – Said Eucharist
9:00 a.m . – Combined Service

Holiday Events for our Younger Parishioners!

The Sunday School is Sponsoring a Glove Tree
Please consider donating a pair of gloves, mittens, a hat, or a scarf to be distributed at the end of the month to the people who need them. The Glove Tree is located in the Guild Room of the Parish House.

Dinner with Santa
Friday, December 16
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A special evening for our younger parishioners to come out and have dinner with Santa. Lots of other surprises as well!

Sunday School Christmas Play
Sunday, December 18
Members of the Sunday School will be presenting a Christmas play as part of the Combined Service that morning at 10:30 a.m. paragraph ending graphic

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Serendipity's Italian Night

Some members of Serendipity thought the recent Italian Night might be the organization’s swan song. The gloomy thoughts some of us had, as the evening began, were quickly dispelled as eighty-three people poured into the Guild Room and created an unexpected seating problem. Only 17 fewer attended the event than came to the May Ham dinner. While it was obvious that people enjoyed eating together, they lingered over dessert and cream puffs so as to enjoy talking with each other.

Are you allowed to work like a demon when you’re working for Jesus down at Christ Church? Because that’s what chief cook and bottle washer Marlene Elia and others did, throughout a very enjoyable November evening. About fifteen or more children, some of whom were under Beth McLean’s directing, helped clear tables and when things slowed a bit, Richard Zayzay was conducting silent games. A man who can keep that many kids quiet on a Friday evening deserves a medal. $533 was raised for Christ Church at this event. paragraph ending graphic
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United Thank Offering

The Women of Christ Church would like to give a big “thank you” to all who generously contributed to the 2005 United Thank Offering Fund. We were able to collect $785 (at this writing,) which will be put to good use at home in the New York diocese and over seas as an outreach of the Episcopal Church. Thank you again. paragraph ending graphic

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Our Sexton, Vito DiRenzis

The very name reminds one of some grand Venetian nobleman. In April, 2005, Father Clarke, Warden Beth McLean and Susan Fowler, Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, were lucky enough to persuade Vito DeRenzis to join the staff of our church for Sundays through Thursdays.

On the back of the bulletin each Sunday, he is listed as our Sexton. In spite of the temptation to make a joke about the role of one who is called a sexton, I passed up that opportunity and went to the Oxford English Dictionary where a sexton is described as “an officer charged with care of the church, its vessels, vestments and church yard and one who also is a grave-digger.” I think the latter’s a duty Vito will forego, though there’s plenty of room in our church yard—tea is not the only thing we could enjoy under the trees.

Vito was born and went to high school in that land opposite us—good ole Brooklyn. Following his graduation from high school he worked for Citibank, and following that, was in the construction business for nine years. During the following 11 years he was a carpenter’s apprentice, and then became the superintendent of a building that housed a senior citizens’ complex before joining the staff of Christ Church.

Vito is married, has two sons, Robert, 18, and Blake, 10 years old, and his daughter, Devan, is 17. Vito’s wife, Deborah, is a legal secretary. Although Vito is not a movie fan, he likes all kinds of music. His tastes in food are typically American. He likes steak with mashed potatoes and string beans or broccoli and, wonder of wonders, he loves macaroni with pasta sauce. When he’s out his favorite fast food chain is McDonalds where he loves Big Macs.

If you don’t know him already, you’re in for a treat. The Vitos of this world are few and far between these days. His constant willingness to be immediately helpful is so refreshing these days and his pleasant response to just about any request takes us aback because we’re just not used to it. When Shakespeare wrote Timon of Athens he could have had Vito in mind when he wrote ‘Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support him after.” paragraph ending graphic
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Maryland State Boyschoir Concert —
It Was Stunning

Stuffing thirty-five rolls with tuna fish salad at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning is not my idea of the best way to begin the Sabbath, but had she asked, I and a team of other volunteers would have worked all night for Valerie Quinlan. I’d watch her walk the dog!

The November visit to Christ Church by the Maryland State Boychoir was one of the most stunning events of our year. We were honored to entertain almost forty men and boys ranging in age from eight to eighteen.

How many men in the audience were taken back as I and a couple of other men were, to a time long ago, when they were boys in a church choir and perhaps sang Brother James Air, as soloists or choristers. Shakespeare once said that “youth and crabbed age cannot live together,” but that afternoon they did. It was just wonderful.

Our church was almost packed and people continued to pour in even after the concert had begun. It was fun to see Vincent Craig, the son of Ed and Laura, who has been the tour accompanist for the Boychoir for thirteen years, running between the organ and the piano. Many of the hundreds who came were especially moved by a program that was not just the traditional Bach, Tallis, Stanford and the like, but included also some wonderful African music. And who will forget the seductive performances of the four handsome older teenage boys who knelt as they sang a love song before some ladies in the audience. Heavens, what is our church coming to? paragraph ending graphic
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Memorial Flowers & Greens

Those who would like to contribute to the Altar Memorial flowers and greens for Christmas should list names of those to be remembered and place envelopes containing donations in the offering plate on a Sunday. Flower fund envelopes will be found in the pews. Checks should be drawn to “Women of Christ Church.”

Names and donations may also be

mailed directly to Mrs. Richard Elfers, 61 North Randall Ave., Staten Island, NY 10301. To be listed in the Christmas bulletin, all names must be received no later than Sunday, December 18. paragraph ending graphic
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Parish Register

December Birthdays

1—Sue Boody; 3—Liam David Aleman; 4—Philip Aleman, IV; 5— Victor Stanwick ; 12— Linda McAndrew; 17—Lester Blair; 18—Willie F. Black, Jr., Tovin Epherim Hewitt.

December Anniversaries

273—Shirley & Willie Black, Jr., Linda & Robert McAndrew, Laura & Albert Patrick.

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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Stewardship is a Year-Round Project

In October of this year the Vestry designated S unday, November 6 th as Stewardship Sunday. This is the day when many of you submitted your 2006 pledge cards and talent bank sheets after prayerful consideration and reflection.

However, when members of the Finance Committee met at the end of November it was noted that at least 30 pledges were still outstanding. If you haven’t submitted your pledge yet we ask that you do so as soon as possible so that the committee will have a more tangible monetary figure to work with in their efforts to formulate a budget for 2006.

This year, Christ Church was fortunate to have been selected as the film locale for The Book of Daniel . In addition to the wonderful publicity that we received while the show was being filmed, we also reaped financial benefits as well. As you know, the filming has been put on hiatus, and we’re hoping that it will get underway again in the early spring.

The money that we have received has since been designated to the much needed repair and upkeep of the stained glass windows that drew the production company to Christ Church in the first place!

There are still many other projects that need to be completed and many other additional and ongoing expenses, such as heat, utilities, salaries and the like, that still need to be met. And this is just one of the many reasons for us as a parish family not to just submit our pledges, but also to be faithful in maintaining that pledge throughout the year.

We are all aware that Stewardship is not just a matter of money – it also involves the sharing of our time and our talents throughout the year. This can include something as simple as offering to host a coffee hour, bake a cake or oversee a table at one of our fundraising events. It can also involve a deeper commitment, such as being an usher, a reader, a server, a member of the choir or a participant in the weekly Bible study and book groups.

Or, it just might be that your special talent or ability is needed to help the members of our parish committees continue the important work that needs to be done to keep our parish active and alive, whether it be as a member of the Landscape or Plant & Equipment Committee, or as a member of the Stewardship or Evangelism committees.

If you have not yet submitted your pledge, or are in need of an additional pledge card or talent bank sheet, please contact Connie Ricciardi our Financial Secretary. You can find her at the 10:30 service every Sunday morning, or you can leave a message for her in the parish office. paragraph ending graphic
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Trinity Root

Can a tree become a hero and a martyr? The answer is yes. An amazing red sculpture has been installed in front of Trinity Church Wall Street. Named “Trinity Root” by sculptor Steve Tobin, and dedicated on Sept. 11, 2005, this large sculpture represents the complex, spreading root system of the 100-year old London plane tree that was felled in St. Paul ’s Churchyard by a steel beam from the collapsing North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

This London plane tree grew inside St. Paul ’s Churchyard near the corner of Church and Vesey Streets. It is admired because all the trees in the churchyard, by blocking and catching the falling debris from the collapsing tower, protected the church from damage, so that not a single pane of glass was broken.

The reputation of St. Paul ’s Chapel as a relief center after the 9/11 attacks makes it still one of the leading tourist attractions in the city. Thousands visit annually. Trinity Parish dates its founding back to 1697 Viewing “Trinity Root” is a wonderful way to stay in touch with our roots as Episcopalians. God bless the Episcopal Church. paragraph ending graphic

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On Prayer

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary, not necessarily the most important one, from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is. paragraph ending graphic

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Food for Impoverished Seniors

Each year our Vestry remembers those in our community who cannot afford basic necessities. Early in November Eugene, Gytha and Colin spent six hundred and fifty dollars of your money for razors and shaving cream, tooth paste, and soap—goods which poor people are not allowed to purchase with food stamps. Beverly Neuhaus also made a special appeal for some protein, so we loaded the carts at Costco with Spam (in honor of Victor Stanwick), salmon, tuna, chicken and stew. paragraph ending graphic

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Viva Voce Brass Ensemble
at Christ Church New Brighton

On Sunday, December 4th Serenade will present the Viva Voce Brass Ensemble in a program entitled “Essential English.” Viva Voce is a well-established music ensemble which has been entertaining Staten Island audiences for more than 20 years.

This will be a program of works ranging from the Renaissance to the Modern, featuring the traditionally English holiday selections. Presented early in December, it is Serenade’s way of launching the Christmas season. It will be a fun event for the whole family – children are most welcome.

The concert is free to the public, and there will be a “Meet-the-Artists” reception immediately following the performance. For additional information please call 718-273-3668 or e-mail us at

This concert is made possible by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Noble Maritime Collection, City Councilman Andrew J. Lanza, and J.P. Morgan Chase Regrant in partnership with the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI). paragraph ending graphic
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