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paragraph ending graphic Clergy Corner paragraph ending graphic Maryland State Boyschoir
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 GODTV
paragraph ending graphic Youth Activities    
paragraph ending graphic Serendipity Notes    
Clergy Corner

This past week was a bit of a zoo around here. First of all, we are once more without a secretary (thanks AGAIN to the redoubtable Susan Fowler who, once again, has taken on the office administrator’s position with her usual aplomb). Plus we had the film crew here for three days. And I was trying to get ahead on certain projects—wishful thinking. I was hurrying to my car, trying to escape the notice (and stay out of the way) of the film crew when I heard the familiar cry: “Fr Clarke!” I was caught. With a certain amount of frustration I stopped to see what they wanted this time. A somewhat timid young man came up to me and said: “I found this pamphlet and I wondered if I might take it home?” He held it out to me and I lost my breath when I saw its title: “Having a Personal Relationship with Christ.” All I could do was nod in the affirmative (maybe a little too vigorously) and say “Yes, by all means.” I made a mental note to seek that person out the next time the film crew is here and ask them how they enjoyed the pamphlet.

I always find these encounters to be personally shocking, and yet at the same time, quite reassuring. I am glad to see that the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation is alive and well AND that it continues sometimes despite my best efforts. What’s truly amazing is that the above instance is by no means unique. People from the film crew share their faith journeys with me all the time. People who have never stepped foot inside a church before, suddenly find this the place and time to find answers to the deep questions in their lives. These people become part of the vast number of folks who make up the broader Christ Church. You know who I mean? All of the countless thousands of people who have had some kind of contact with this place and were changed by it.

A favorite author of mine, a woman named Barbara Brown Taylor, calls this particular phenomenon the luminous web. I thought of this web this week as I spoke to a woman across the country who told me that one of the most important bonds in her extended family is the fact that every single member of her family has been baptized at Christ Church. None of them live in New York, but they all return to Staten Island every time there’s a christening to be done. I think of the luminous web of Christ Church when I envision Andrew Schneider graduating from Basic Training at Ft. Benning. I think of the luminous web as I establish contact with the rector of Christ Church Brighton in the Church of England and we agree to “link” each other’s web sites. It is the luminous web of Christ Church at work when I think of Fr Walsted’s iconography now sold across the country by CM Almy. I think of the thousands and thousands of people who have intersected with Christ Church and gained so much from the experience.

All of us and each of us make up and carry away a little of that broader Christ Church. And as we approach our day of national Thanksgiving—a day on which we remember all of God’s many blessings—this is something for which we must truly give thanks. Every blessing,       Fr.Clarke paragraph ending graphic
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Around the Parish

There’s always something going on at Christ Church, whether it is a new job, a new house or a new addition to the family. This month is no exception.

On October 30 thBishop Sisk made a visit to Christ Church. It was such a pleasure to have him celebrate and preach at the 10:30 service, and also to have the opportunity to meet his wife, Karen. We also had the pleasure of meeting Canon Andy Dietsche and his lovely wife, Margaret. And special thanks to Dan and David Wood for organizing and hosting a wonderful reception for the Bishop following the service.

To quote Yogi Berra, it was “deja vue all over again” a few weeks ago when our Rector Emeritus, Fr. John Walsted, was the guest celebrant for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service. The morning was especially significant for Judy Davis as she watched Fr. John baptize her newest grandson, Adam Michael, the son of her daughter, Pat, and son-in-law, Dennis.Scire. Judy’s two other grandsons, Dylan and Zachary were also in attendance, as well as her daughter, Kim.

(And by the way, we send our love and prayers to Fr. John as he recovers from emergency quadruple bypass surgery which was performed at the end of this month. He’s doing well and hopes to be up and around very soon!)

And while we’re on the subject of proud parents, let us not forget to mention the recent accomplishments of Willie Black IV and Eva Black, the son and daughter of Connie and Buster Black. Willie IV is a member of the Tottenville H.S. Marching Band, which was recently named USSBA N.Y. State Champs for the third straight year. Eva recently auditioned for, and was accepted into, the Staten Island Boro-wide Orchestra, and will be playing the violin.

Congratulations to Andrew Schneider on his graduation from Basic Training at Ft. Benning, GA. He moves on to Officer Candidate School later this month, where he’ll be enrolled for the next 17 weeks.

If you’re in the market for a Personal Trainer and you don’t know where to go, just ask Beth McLean! Sons Brian and Charlie, two of her brood of four sons, have each completed the necessary course work and they are anxious to get to work.

The next time you see Charlotte Hewitt be sure to stop and congratulate her on her new job. Charlotte recently began her assignment as a bus driver for the NYC Transit Authority and we certainly expect that she’ll be one of the “driving forces” of that organization. (Sorry Charlotte couldn’t resist!)

And last, but surely not in any way least, we wish Fr. Clarke and Sally a safe and enjoyable journey as they take off for a well-deserved trip to Greece later this month. They will be visiting many of the cities that St. Paul visited and wrote about in the Bible. During Fr. Clarke’s absence we will be welcoming Fr. John Covington back to Christ Church as our supply priest on Sunday November 13 and 20. If there are any pastoral emergencies that may arise during Fr. Clarke’s absence please contact either Nancy Reiersen or Beth McLean and they will have one the Staten Island clergy who will be covering for him contact you.

And in closing, best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving! paragraph ending graphic
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Vestry Report

The members of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton met on Monday, October 10 for the regular monthly meeting. Here us a brief summary of some of the important items that were discussed at that time:

  1. Filming for The Book of Daniel continues on a regular basis at Christ Church. Due to constantly having to move the pews in the right transept of the church whenever a scene is being filmed, it was decided to save wear and tear on these pews by placing them in “temporary storage” in a heated facility. The production company pays for transporting and storing the pews, and at the present time they are quite safe. Should we ever need to have these pews put back in place crews will have them back within 36 hours.
  2. The Plant & Equipment Committee has been discussing priorities for some of the long-term projects planned at Christ Church. These include repairs in the rectory, repairs to masonry in the church and parish hall, site drainage and landscaping, soliciting and reviewing quotes for stained glass restoration and electrical upgrades.
  3. The Vestry voted for the allocation of $650 to extend a water spigot to the Filmore Street side of the church, and to allocate $2000 to replace the stairs and carpet in the cloister prior to installation of a lift in that area.
  4. Leaks over the organ pipes in the church have been repaired; however there are new leaks towards the back of the church, one under the north side of the tower and another further back. These repairs will be addressed in due time.
The Vestry will meet again on Monday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. Approved minutes of the September 12 Vestry meeting have been posted on the bulletin board in the Parish House for those wishing to review them. paragraph ending graphic
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Women of Christ Church

The Women of Christ Church were pleased to have our Rector Emeritus, Fr. Walsted, celebrate the Eucharist and Healing Service which opened our meeting on October 13.

A brief business meeting included Shirley Elfers’ treasurer’s report of contributions for the past month, and plans for the World Community Day of Church Women United which we will host on November 4.

UTO Chairperson Connie Ricciardi sad that donations are beginning to come in for the In-Gathering that will take place on November 2 at St. Michael’s Church in Manhattan.

The fall holiday luncheon was arranged by Connie Ricciardi and Shirley Elfers and enjoyed by all who were in attendance.

Our next meeting will take place on Thursday, November 10. All are welcome to join us. paragraph ending graphic
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Youth Activities

The weekly Youth Activities program at Christ Church is up and running. Although we’ve had a good response, we still have openings for our Saturday Music Program.

This is a wonderful opportunity to receive FREE music theory classes for drum and guitar, along with instructional classes for both instruments. In addition, those students who enroll in the program will receive a FREE guitar or drum set to keep for their own.

We are still planning to offer the “Meet the Met” program on Saturday, but at this point in time we still need additional people to sign up before we can get underway. This program introduces students to art and sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and culminates in a visit to the museum to see first-hand the artworks that are being studied.

The Friday evening Girls Night Out program began a few weeks ago with a “backstage tour” of The Book of Daniel (led by Fr. Clarke) which is being filmed at Christ Church. The group meets on Friday at 6 p.m. by Gerry Lucadamo, one of our Youth Counselors.

Interested parties should speak to me, or leave a message for me in the Parish Office. paragraph ending graphic
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Serendipity Notes

Everyone loves Italian food! We invite you all to come out for a delicious, home-made dinner of pasta, meatballs, sausages and salad on Friday, November 11. The meal will be prepared by Marlene Elia and the members of Serendipity.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and will include dessert and coffee and soda. Wine can also be purchased. The modest cost is $8 for adults and half-price for children under 13. Special deals for larger families are also available!

Following dinner, we will have a game night. You’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of board or card games, and there will also be movies to view. We are hoping that all of our young families will enjoy this evening of friendship, excellent food and good fun. But everyone, young and old, parishioners and friends, are welcome to eat, drink and be merry.

Serendipity is proud to lend its continued support to those less fortunate members of our community. In July, we allocated $800 for food for the needy. On October 17 the remaining balance was used to purchase eggs, lettuce, oranges, bananas, potatoes from Island Wholesale. Oh yes, thirty mangoes were also purchased for the Christ Church Chutney Factory!

Serendipity’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the home of Gytha and Gene Darconte. Visitors are most welcome to join us. paragraph ending graphic
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Maryland State Boychoir Returns
to Christ Church on November 13th

Serenade will present the Maryland State Boychoir in a concert on Sunday, November 13 at 3:00 p.m. The program will include sacred and secular music, as well as gospel songs, lively spirituals and ethnic music

The program will be performed by the boys “tour choir,” numbering 35 voices. They will be directed by Stephen Holmes, Music Director. Dr. Vincent Craig, the son of Christ Church parishioners Laura and Edward Craig, will be the Boychoir’s pianist and accompanist.

Maryland State Boychoir.The Maryland State Boychoir is already known to Christ Church parishioners, having once joined us in the celebration of a Sunday morning Eucharist. On that occasion their musicianship and spirited singing were very much admired. They have sung in many places, coast to coast, and in Europe. They were featured performers in the Vatican, and have earned high praise. Norman Schreibner, of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, wrote of them: “Their ravishing tone quality, superb vocal production, and immaculate musicianship sets them apart as one of the premier choirs of this or any era.”

The concert is free to the public and a “Meet the Artists” reception will follow it. Come and meet the boys!

This Serenade program is made possible by support form Serendipity and City Councilman Andrew Lanza. For further information please call 718-273-3668 or send an e-mail to serenade228@yahoo.com. 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

November Birthdays

3—Laura Craig, Evelyn Zayzay; 4—Ellen Mazzucco; 5— Paul Smith; 13—Marlene Elia, Samolu Freeman, Sheila Hewitt; 16—Bob McAndrew, Jonathan Elia; 22—Varney Freeman, Sr.; 23– Heather Nicole Allen; 25—Eugene Darconte; 28—Kim Davis; 30—Ronald J. Bell, Mark E. Hewitt II, Christine Szczepanik.

November Anniversaries

16-Ellen & Ron Mazzucco; 23—Janet & Paul Schneider.


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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Christ Church lit up by the movie lights.We’re all familiar with the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days. Basic Instinct, The Sopranos, CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CSI Perth Amboy (this is a new one, with The Who’s “Boris the Spider” as their theme song). Murder and mayhem, violence, explosions, car chases, decadence and sex and drugs and all-night parties with high-priced “escorts” and rock stars bouncing checks and mingling with scantily clad A-list celebrities and corrupt DEA agents and godless, drunken, amoral studio executives blacklisting their friends and enemies and chasing buxom “secretarial” starlet wannabes around expensive teak desks and coke-sniffing malodorous perverted little lefties bashing THE AMERICAN WAY, threatening to leave the country if [place politician’s name here] is elected or re-elected or not elected or nominated or impeached.

Unfortunately, none of that is happening here at Christ Church. The worst behavior exhibited by any of the television people so far is a tendency to work incredibly long hours while remaining polite.

They are filming a television series called The Book of Daniel, which tells the story of Daniel Webster, an Episcopal priest played by Aidan Quinn (an Irish-American actor who used to be a roofer and apparently left that lucrative career to take up acting as a “fall-back” position, in case the roofing work dried up). Fr. Daniel has the following things going for him: 1) a dependency on prescription painkillers, 2) an openly gay Republican son, 3) an alcoholic wife, and 4) a young daughter who alone shares his ability to see and have conversations with Jesus. While these are all decided advantages as far as Hollywood is concerned, they’re probably not so great for your average urban church rector.

Fr. Daniel works for a female bishop played by Ellen Burstyn, who no doubt gained the requisite experience for this part playing little Megan’s mother in The Exorcist. I gather that there is some friction between Fr. Daniel and the bishop, but I must confess that I don’t know the cause of the friction (I missed that meeting). I know what you’re thinking: there’s plenty of potential in all this for some of that racy Hollywood stuff mentioned earlier. But I’ll bet the average Christ Church parishioner won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of participating in any of that horrible activity.

All lit up.Anyway, I spent some time chatting with the show’s head writer, Mr. Jack Kenny. He’s been in a stable partnership/relationship for many years with an active Episcopalian (who apparently is the ONLY Episcopalian involved in the whole thing, other than us, of course). I wanted to know if the recent Gene Robinson flap had anything to do with writing this story. Mr. Kenny said that it certainly was on his mind while writing it, but that he was extremely interested in the whole Episcopal outlook (the open and welcoming attitude of the institution) for some time before those events. He said it was time for someone to explore the Church in the same sort of realistic way that The Sopranos has examined the underworld and that Six Feet Under has examined the under underworld (what’s a word for more under than under? Underer?). He wants to take a closer look at every day problems with relationships, family, religion, and life in general from the point of view of a small parish priest. (It’s the parish that’s small; Aidan Quinn is actually five-foot eleven and a half.) Mr. Kenny said that he has been made to feel very welcome and he’s enjoying his time here at Christ Church. Being an LRC (Lapsed Roman Catholic), he feels comfortable with the Episcopal rites. If the series gets picked up for a permanent slot, he may have to move out here for some period of time to accommodate the filming and writing schedule.

One of the other writers for the series (there are about a dozen writers in all) is Ms. Dava Sovel, with whom I spent an hour or so one day a couple weeks ago talking about the show. Ms. Sovel was personally responsible for the episode that was filming at the time. (We were both hideously embarrassed when I mistook her for popular author Dava Sobel. Turns out that Dava Sobel and Dava Sovel are two completelydifferent people!)

This is called the "sound cart," where all of the sound recording equipment for the series is kept.Ms. Sovel is impressed by the open attitude of the Episcopal Church, and especially the people she’s met here at Christ Church. She can’t understand how some of the other churches insist that their priests can’t be married or that women can’t be religious leaders. She likes the fact that ALL baptized Christians are welcome at Communion in the Episcopal Church (though I’m glad we didn’t get into what would happen if a Jewish person, such as herself, wanted to receive Communion).

She says she’s really into the gothic look of the Church, and how it looks like it’s right out of an old horror movie. She really perked up when I mentioned that my house is haunted, causing Fr. Clarke to offer her a tour of the Rectory, which he in turn claims is haunted. He made sure to point out the attic’s “Blair Witch Project” room (you know the one I mean). I didn’t tell Ms. Sovel that my house is actually haunted by dead cats.

Many of the crew people (camera operators, sound technicians, locations people) are young, college-educated professionals who majored in communications or arts and then went directly from school into the film industry. They work grindingly long hours and in all weather. They are unfailingly cheerful and polite, and it was a pleasure to spend time with them, in spite of the lack of all that cool horrible Hollywood stuff mentioned earlier.

On filming days Super Vito (our indefatigable sexton), shows up at the church at 5:30 a.m. to unlock everything and let the crew in, and he has to be available well after midnight to lock up after they leave. They actually pay him a stipend to cover the extra time he spends at the church.

When they’re not on location, their days are a little easier (they work comparatively ridiculously short ten-hour shifts in the studio). The location assistants (like Chris Johnston) are constantly looking for new places to use for film locations, so if you see any Hollywood types skulking around outside your house after dark, don’t be alarmed. Unless they aren’t actually the location people, in which case, be alarmed. The way to tell the difference is that the Hollywood people are polite, and actual criminals rarely are (if you are a polite criminal, you probably won’t be reading this, but just please accept my apologies and stay away from my house).

St. "Barnabus" Church.Most of the filming so far has taken place either in the church or in front of the church. A crew comes in and transforms everything to make it fit the demands of the script. You may not recognize the place when you see it on television. In the series, the church is called St. Barnabus Church of Newbury, New York, somewhere up near Albany. Yes, Barnabus is spelled wrong. Mr. Kenny told me that the first time he looked up the name, he found it spelled that way (he didn’t realize it was a typo). The project sailed along using that spelling with no one noticing the error.

Mr. Kenny said that it actually works in his favor. No overly pious types will be able to say, “Hey, that’s OUR church those godless Hollywood freaks are stealing plot lines from!” (Overly pious types tend to use prepositions to end their sentences with). Also, there is no town called Newbury in New York. So the overly pious types can’t say, “Hey! That’s where WE’RE from!

The crew also transformed the vestry room into a parishioner’s living room for at least one scene, going to the trouble of building a false wall with a working wall sconce light outside the door so that the camera would not see the horrible carpeting in the hallway or Jim Angone’s back yard. They have done quite a bit of filming in the rectory as well, displacing Clarke and Sally for hours at a time. I hope they’re using the time to explore the cultural resources of Staten Island, or least, going to a bar.

I have heard several people say that they hope this show will not reflect badly on the Episcopal Church. The show is a dark comedy, and we will probably have to keep our tongues planted firmly within our cheeks. I haven’t seen any episodes as of this writing (late October, 2005), but judging by my conversations with Mr. Kenny and Ms. Sovel, I’m sure it won’t be any more offensive than most of the stuff I see on television. We will simply have to not take the show (or ourselves) too seriously. I’m sure that some folks will be offended by Jesus Christ interacting with a drug-dependent clergyman, or by the presence of a Log Cabin Republican on prime-time TV (Republicans – brrr!). However, I’m equally certain that many people will see this show, and it will cause them to think about topics that they may never have thought about before, and perhaps let in a little light and fresh air. And maybe that won’t be such a bad thing.

As for me, my thinking has already been shaken up. I overheard one of the extras (our own Anne Devlin) mention that it was an odd feeling to be in the church with Jesus standing in front of her and Jesus’ stunt double standing behind her. Personally I wouldn’t have thought that Jesus would need a stunt double, but hey, He’s pushing two thousand years right about now. I’m only forty-seven and I can’t do the stuff I did when I was thirty, either.

The film crews will be with us off and on until about February. They intend to create twelve episodes of the show for now, which means they’ll need to accumulate about 552 minutes of film “in the can” (that’s Hollywood talk for bathrooms, I think). If the show becomes popular, there will be more on-location filming. So far, their schedule has not disrupted the church in any significant way. In fact, the money they are paying us for the use of our property will go a long way towards restoring our priceless windows, which are in serious shape and in need of extensive restoration. The new landscaping you see around the church is their handiwork as well.

They have performed many smaller, less-noticeable little jobs around the church and parish hall, such as replacing door stops, fixing light fixtures, and fixing the threshold at the front door of the church. The good they have done substantially outweighs any inconvenience at this point. Let us continue to show the television people a warm Christ Church welcome, and pray that the show they are creating is successful and popular.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a limo waiting out front to take me to a party…. paragraph ending graphic
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