Since my return
from the Holy Land, a number of you have asked about my impressions
of the current state of things with regards to the Christians resident in that
place. My private response has been “it’s the best of times, it’s
the worst of times...” But a few weeks ago our group got to sit down
with a very prominent Palestinian Christian and ask him that very same question.
What follows is a little of the substance of our conversation with the Right
Reverend Riah Abu El-Assai, the Anglican (Episcopal) Bishop in Jerusalem.
My overriding impression of Bishop Riah is that he is a much
larger man than his five and a half feet let on. He introduced
himself as an “Arab Palestinian Christian Anglican Israeli” and
that gave me the first hint that he is a man of many sides. All
those descriptions are true: he is an Arab, born in Palestine of
Christian parents, and he holds an Israeli passport. He also happens
to be a cradle Anglican. And as the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
he is charged with a special kind of mission: to be a strong, yet
reasonable voice and advocate for a disenfranchised minority in
that troubled land.
He speaks with pride about the work of his diocese - and the
ways in which they deliberately try and get involved in as much
of society as they can. They operate schools for all ages and faiths
and hospitals are open to everyone in need. Indeed, the Anglican
school in his hometown of Nazareth is reputed to be one of the
finest schools in the region and has a student body of Jews, Christians
and Muslims. With an incredibly small number of people, they are
able to do what the church in every part of the world does: take
care of the most basic needs of those who are most in need. To
hear him talk about the weekly rounds of confirmations, ordinations
and parish visits, one gets the sense that the church there is
in many ways quite “normal.” But, as his diocese covers
all of Palestine, Jordan and parts of Syria, being able simply
to show up for these events is sometimes as much of a miracle as
those of our Lord. He recounted one instance where an 18 year old
Israeli passport officer refused to let him travel to a church
meeting in Egypt simply because he “had been doing a lot
of traveling lately.”
Restrictions on movement are not unique to the Bishop, of course.
All Palestinians face great difficulty in moving from place to
place. Our bus driver for most of our time in Israel lives with
his family just outside of Jerusalem in Bethany. Far enough outside
of Jerusalem, though, to land on the wrong side of the now infamous “Wall” the
Israelis are erecting all along their border with the Palestinian
territories. In order to travel the few miles into the city and
pick up his passengers, our driver needed to plan on spending HOURS
at an Israeli-run check point.
The increased tensions of the area, the almost complete lack
of international pilgrims, the restrictions - all these things
have created a situation of profound desperation on all sides of
the conflict. The Christian community there (Orthodox, Roman Catholic,
Anglican) has seen in recent years its members leave in record
numbers. As family after family seeks a better life in North America
(most of Bishop Riah’s family lives in Toronto), the Church
there continues to adapt and struggle.
As an advisor to the late Chairman Arafat and a succession of Israeli
Prime Ministers, Bishop Riah has tried to articulate that this struggle
will never produce a winner, only losers. Peace, he says, is the
only option. Not the fragile peace where one group lives on one side
of the fence completely isolated (protected?) from the other. But
the kind of peace that recognizes the inherent value of their shared
humanity. That is what’s behind every Christian’s duty
to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem .” And pray we shall.
Church certainly knows how to throw a party - and we surely had
a good one at the 100th Anniversary May Ham Dinner on Saturday,
May 14th. It was truly a cavalcade of food, clergy, parishioners,
family and friends. We were so pleased to have both Bishop
Sisk and Bishop Taylor with
us that evening, in addition to our Rector Emeritus
Father John Walsted, Father Jerry Keucher, and of
course, our Interim Pastor, Father Clarke.
It was truly a perfect evening - the weather, the food, and the
fellowship. It’s quite obvious that the members
of Serendipity, under the direction of Colin
Reed, in addition to a special group of volunteers
who donated their time, talents and treasures, worked very hard
to make this evening such a tremendous success. Many of our old
friends were in attendance that evening - Joyce Rowan
and her grandson, Liam, Gloria Keck, Carol Shea -
just to mention a few. Thanks to the support of parishioners and
friends we raised a significant amount of money that evening.
Good news - Father Clarke’s wife, Sally,
will be returning here on June 6th - this time to stay. It will
be good to have the entire French family - Fr. Clarke, Sally, and
their two cats Mathilda and Horatio -
together under one roof. We’ve all been looking forward to
Sally’s arrival and can’t wait to make her feel a part
of the Christ Church family.
Barnett Shepherd has been working hard
to help us preserve our heritage. He recently toured the church
grounds and buildings with an archivist to discuss how we can protect
and store the valuable records and artifacts of our past.
Water babies? Perhaps not the best description for Beth and
Chip McLean’s four
sons - Charlie, Brian, Kenny and Sean. But
how else can one explain that each of them will be life guarding
this summer - whether it be at a private pool, swim club or
public beach. This is obviously a family that gets along “swimmingly” And
congratulations and best wishes to Robin Beveridge,
daughter-in-law of Nancy and Bill Beveridge,
who was ordained as a Deacon on May 14th.
Get well wishes to Nick Dowen who
broke his arm last month. And our special prayers for a speedy
recovery continue for Richard Sigman and André Black.
We miss you both and look forward to seeing you back with us on
Just a reminder - the Tower Chimes staff will be on summer
hiatus for the next two months, and we’ll be publishing our
next issue in September. Until then, our best wishes to you all for
a healthy, happy and restful summer. Keep cool - see you in September!
Women of Christ Church began their May meeting with the Eucharist
and Healing Service, and were happy to have Father Clarke home
from his trip and in his usual place as celebrant.
The business meeting that followed was brief, and included a
report of the Church Women United’s May Friendship Day and
the Treasurer’s Report. We voted to take a full-page ad in
the Mayham Dinner Journal, and we are glad that the dinner was
such a success!
May is a beautiful month on Staten Island - and probably elsewhere
too - and is a special month for celebrating the birthdays of three
of our members: And in honor of these wonderful women our hostess,
Connie Ricciardi, had a lovely and tasty birthday cake, plus other
goodies for our dessert. Shirley Elfers, Nancy Beveridge and Helen
Martin shared in cutting the cake in their honor.
We were happy to welcome Brenda Baskerville on this day as our newest
member. We hope that she and other new people will come to the June
meeting which will be at One Pendleton Place . This end-of-season
luncheon has become a tradition, when Father John serves one of his
delicious meals and we all get into “summer mode.” Don’t
forget: there is a Eucharist in the chapel at 11:00 a.m. before we
gather at One Pendleton. And one more IMPORTANT thing to mention:
the meeting will take place on Thursday, June 16th (the THIRD Thursday
of the month this time instead of our regular second Thursday.)
We were pleased
to see so many parishioners turn out last month to complete the
Parish Survey forms. Your input has helped us to put together what
we hope will be a fairly representative picture of where we are
now and where we want to be next year.
Your comments on what our parish does best and what improvements
need to be made were insightful, and often times, quite honest.
They will be helpful as the Search Committee meets to decide just
what we are looking for in a new Rector and how we will convey
that message to the Diocese.
The committee will be meeting to discuss the results of the surveys
and we will be preparing a more in-depth summary report of our findings
to present to you.
Saturday, June 11th there will be a buzz of activity at Christ
Church, starting early in the morning when a group of volunteers
arrives at the church to move tables, chairs, signs and other items
into the oval in preparation for the Spring Fair, which takes place
from 10 am to 3 p.m. The vendors will arrive soon afterwards to
unveil their treasure trove of sale items, many of them hand-made “original” creations
that they’ll be selling that day.
Right before the doors open at 10 a.m. that morning, Janet Schneider
and Margaret Harris will set out the wonderful array of home-baked
goodies made by our talented Christ Church chefs, which will be
on sale that day. This is a popular table, and if you’re
looking for some tasty snacks to take home with you it’s
best to arrive early before everything is sold. Please feel free
to contact Janet or Margaret if you’d like to make a donation
of home-baked goodies - cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies and the
like - for them to sell. They will be most graciously accepted.
This year we will be initiating Father Clarke into the day’s
activities by putting him to work at the grill with Victor Stanwick.
They’ll be serving hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas and smiles.
Susan Fowler and Valerie Quinlan will be selling a variety of lovely
and reasonably-priced plants, and this year will mark the return
of our Book Room, hosted by Paul and Karen Smith, featuring an
interesting selection of reading materials.
And for those who want to take a quiet moment to rest and reflect
on the beauty of our lovely church, our parish historian, Nick
Dowen, will once again be conducting his informative and interesting
tours of this historic building. This year we are celebrating the
100 th year that our lovely church building with its magnificent
stained glass windows has been in existence, and Nick is truly
our “raconteur extraordinaire!”
We have several activities planned that day for our younger visitors.
They’ll have the opportunity to climb aboard a fire engine,
meet “Scooter” the Staten Island Yankees’ mascot,
make some lovely “spin art,” shop at a special Chinese
Auction put together by members of our Sunday School, and also
memorialize their visit by leaving their hand prints in specially
designed molds that will be placed in a special spot in our church
And let us not forget about the raffles for the baskets of cheer,
and other imaginative collections, that will be on display that
day. Lesley Shannon has been coordinating donations for the Silent
Auction, a special feature which offers Fair goers a chance to
quietly “bid” on a variety of interesting items. In
the past we’ve featured voice lessons, a home-cooked dinner,
and tickets to locally produced concerts and events - can’t
wait to see what Lesley has planned for this year! We also have
the 50/50 raffle and the $500 Door Prize Raffle which is quite
And last - but certainly not least - we have the White Elephant
tables filled with reasonably priced “treasures” thanks
to the efforts of Connie Ricciardi and her volunteer staff who
not only sell these items on the day of the Fair, but also price
and arrange them for purchase during the week before the Fair.
We need YOUR help to make this event a success. This not only includes
attending the Fair, but also volunteering in some way - whether it’s
baking a cake, working at one of the tables, helping to set up or
clean up, selling chances, making donations to the Cake Table, White
Elephants or donating a raffle basket. Aside from all of the fun,
this is also one of Christ Church ’s major fund-raising events
and we need your support. If you haven’t done so already, please
contact our Fair Chairpersons, Beth McLean or Anne Devlin , and let
them know how you’d like to be a part of this wonderful day!
Our Christ Church
Youth Director, Lou Ranieri, has been meeting with the members
of his staff to come up with a variety of summer activities for
kids between the ages of 7 and 12. Although the details haven’t
been finalized yet in terms of times and activities, he has asked
that we let you know that Christ Church will be sponsoring a different
activity every day of the week during this 8-week summer program.
The program will offer a variety of sports activities each day,
as well as arts and crafts programs. There is no charge - the only
requirement is that you register for the activities ahead of time
to give Lou and his staff an idea of how many people will be attending.
Parents can register on any Thursday night during the month of
Lou has also planned an outing to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
on June 25th. Look for flyers on the Parish House bulletin board
for more details about this trip, and also the summer program schedule.
On Sunday, June
12th, the Serenade concert series at Christ Church will present
a program entitled “Opera for a Sunday Afternoon.” Featured soloists
include Beth Johanning, soprano; Linda Laible, mezzo-soprano; and Richard Lewis,
baritone. They will perform arias, duets and trios by Mozart, Rossini, Cilea,
Delibes, Verdi and others.
The concert, which is free to the public, will begin at 3:00
p.m. and a reception to meet the artists will be held in the Guild
Room immediately following the concert. Come and hear these beautiful
and interesting compositions sung by three outstanding voices.
This concert has been made possible by generous grants from Staten
Island Bank & Trust Foundation, Richmond County Savings Foundation
and Independence Community Foundation.
As many of you
may be aware, Meals on Wheels has made the difference
in the lives of those Staten Islanders who are sick, elderly, or
housebound and unable to prepare their daily meals. Every day the
Meals on Wheels vans deliver lunch and dinner to these individuals,
not only providing them with the nourishment that they need, but
also a few minutes of companionship and attention, which are just
Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers to help deliver meals
one day a week for about three hours or so. Volunteers will need
to have a car - or perhaps, a friend who would be willing to do
the driving - to deliver meals to a specific list of recipients.
It’s an easy assignment and will help to make the difference
in the lives of those who are unable to do for themselves.
If you’d like to help out you can call the Meals on Wheels
office at 718-727-4435, or speak to Nick Lettiere, who works for
them and is responsible for preparing the meals that are distributed
to their clients. And if you’d like to get a first-hand report
of how easy it is to distribute the meals and the rewards that come
from being a volunteer, just speak to Victor Stanwick or John Watson,
who have made this commitment every Wednesday.
Wednesday, July 27th the Heritage Singers, under the direction
of Tim Knight, will be returning to Christ Church to present a
wonderful choral concert featuring selections from British, American,
German, Italian and Norwegian composers.
This prestigious group of musicians from Yorkshire, England is
now in its eleventh year of touring through England and United
States, singing in a wide range of venues from small country churches
to large cathedrals. The choir sings mainly for Anglican services
but also makes concert appearances to help fund the core work of
Many of you may remember the wonderful concert presented at Christ
Church almost two years ago by this talented group of musicians;
we are fortunate to have been included in their 2005 concert tour.
Don’t forget to mark this date on your calendar now because
it’s an evening that you won’t want to
Schneider was kind enough to contribute a large sum of money for
the purchase of the cakes for our 100th Birthday Celebration.
I forgot that she had done so and accepted one of two other offers
from a parishioner and a former parishioner in Florida to contribute
the birthday cakes. I’m deeply sorry for my error and make
this apology to Janet.
June: 4–Christopher John
Brown, 9–Kristin Reiersen;10–Sean Patrick McLean; 12–Anne
Beveridge; 15–Patsy Parese, Vlasta Jantzi, Charles McLean
III; Richard Zayzay; 16–Jill Kanner, Romeo Zayzay; 19–André Black;
21–Melodi Coleman; 22–Paige Cooper; 29–Leslie
Thompson, Gregory Brown; 30–Mary B. Scott.
July: 9–Wendy Cooper; 10–Williette
Thompson; 13– Brian William W. McClean; 14-Togba Porte II;
15–Nick Lettiere, Bonnie Nygard; 16–Carol Brown;
19–Sydney George; 20–Oliver Simpson; 21– Peter
Flihan, Sarah Kanner; 22–Charlotte Hewitt, 23 – Sheila
Swigert; 15 – Maureen Sohm; 26 – Ann Sohm; 30 Titus
August: 2–Ted Schneider;
3–Joseph Ambroggi; 4–Edwin John; 5–Eleanor DeMuth
Alice Pyne; 7–Michael LaCause; 8–Erin Hawley Shannon;
10–John Watson; 11–Bill Beveridge, Jr.; 12–Anne
Devlin; 15 – Joseph Zayzay; 24 – Yassah Zayzay; 25–Laura
Jean Mazzucco, Elizabeth McLean; 28- David Nygard; 29–Christiana
June : 8–Joseph
Ambroggi and Dorothy Thompson; 11–Nancy and Bill Beveridge;
17 – Richard & Yassah Zayzay.
July: 4–Mae and David Seeley;
30–Constance & Willie Black III; 31-Fr. Clarke and
August: 9 Laura and Edward Craig; 15–Elizabeth
and Charles McLean; 20–Nancy and Nick Lettiere. 31–Christine
and John Szczepanik.
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office
at 727-6100 so it can be added.