April showers bring May flowers.
Close Window May 2006


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paragraph ending graphic Clergy Corner paragraph ending graphic Christ and the Damaged Elders
paragraph ending graphic Around the Parish paragraph ending graphic Landscaping Plans
paragraph ending graphic Vestry Report paragraph ending graphic Musical Offerings
paragraph ending graphic Women of Christ Church paragraph ending graphic Parish Register
paragraph ending graphic Serenade Baroque Concert paragraph ending graphic The Future is Here
paragraph ending graphic In Memorium - Richard Dickenson paragraph ending graphic Christ Church Spring Fair
Clergy Corner

One of the happier developments in Anglicanism over the past century has been the way the Church has looked at its calendar of saints. Roman Catholics have always viewed the creation of saints as a kind of on-going affair. Certainly the late Pope John Paul II was very enthusiastic in this regard having supported the canonization of hundreds of people from all walks of life. The Anglican Communion has always been a little more reserved.

Perhaps because we lack a formal canonization process, perhaps because our more Protestant members have mixed feelings about the whole concept of sainthood, we have tended for a long time now to stick with the classics: the Apostles, the more famous martyrs, and the early English saints like Richard and Anselm.

Thankfully, the church has begun to recognise the fact that sainthood is a vocation of every age. And recent revisions of Prayer Books the world over have begun to add "local fare" to their litany of saints. The Canadian Church, when they published their Book of Alternative Services in 1984 included a woman by the name of Hannah Grier Coombe. Mother Hannah was the founder of the Sisterhood of St John the Divine in Toronto, the largest order of Anglican nuns in the world. The British have recognized people like William Wilberforce, one of their greatest sons. It was Wilberforce who tirelessly advocated the abolition of slavery in the whole of the British Empire, well before Lincoln's emancipation.

And the Episcopal Church is no exception to this trend. With every General Convention there appear to be more and more names added to the greatly expanded calendar of saints published in the Prayer Book revision of 1979. We now remember people like Jackson Kemper (May 24) who was a missionary bishop in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota as well as the southwest. Kemper (long before it became politically correct-this was around 1850) designed a liturgy for the Oneida Indians that used images of their culture.

And there are many more: Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., and Absalom Jones to name a few.

This all speaks very clearly to my belief that sainthood is, in fact, the true vocation of all Christians. It is easy to confuse sainthood with perfection. None of the people I've listed above were perfect-some were far from it. But in their lives there existed a spark of God's grace that shone brighter than most. They each became a unique (and timely) channel through which people could see God more clearly. And for this the church honors their witness.

Check out Hymn 293 in The Hymnal 1982. There's a great little hymn there with a catchy melody. The last verse is this: They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still, the world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus' will. You can meet them in school, or in lanes or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea, for the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too.

Fr. Clarke paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

Easter Sunday at Christ Church was a sight to behold! Special thanks to David and Daniel Wood for selecting and arranging the beautiful array of Easter lilies and pink azaleas; to the altar guild for all of their time and preparation; to Tom Sarff and the choir for the glorious music; to the many parishioners who contributed to the cost of hiring the brass players; and of course, to Fr. Clarke for his inspirational Easter message. It was a special treat to have his mother with us that day as well.

However, the day would not have been complete without the traditional Easter Egg Hunt, organized by Sheila Hewitt, Connie Black, Christine Szczepanik and the Sunday School parents, and also, the terrific reception that followed the 10:30 a.m. service, which was organized by David and Dan Wood. A wonderful time was had by all!

Some members of the parish were not able to be with us that day, but were observing Easter Sunday in other ways: Carol and John Brown, with CJ and Greg in tow, were off to Vancouver for a week of rest and relaxation. David Holt and his wife, Laraine spent Holy Week in Indianapolis and had a chance to visit with their son, Daniel. They also had the opportunity to worship there at All Saints Church, where they are both good friends with the rector.

Dorothy Rapp has asked us to extend her thanks to all of our wonderful parishioners who helped her get through her recent hip surgery with cards, flowers, visits and phone calls.

Johanna Gilbert has been quite busy these days as she continues her education to become a Physician?s Assistant. Although she devotes many hours to studying, and hospital assignments, she finds it to be very rewarding. Keep up the good work, Johanna!

And speaking of career changes, congratulations to Paul Smith who has taken on a second career as a realtor with Weichert Realtors.

That?s it for now. There will be lots more to report next month, especially with the May Ham Dinner this month and the Spring Fair on June 10th. Hope to see you there! paragraph ending graphic

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Vestry Report

The Vestry met on April 10 for its regular monthly meeting. The following is a brief outline of the items that were discussed and decided during the meeting:

Following the service on May 7, City Councilman McMahon will unveil the street sign at the corner of Filmore Street and Franklin Avenue, which will read ?Christ Church Way.

The Feeding Ministry has purchased two shares in the Staten Island Community Agricultural Group (CSA) at a cost of $800 to provide fresh produce for the needy. The Vestry authorized the Feeding Ministry to receive $2500 from the dividend and interest account of the church to provide assistance to those in need.

With Susan Fowler, the chair of the Plant and Equipment Committee, away on business, Barnett Shepherd outlined the proposal that the Landscape Committee, a sub-committee of Plant & Equipment, had to make the church grounds more welcoming, friendly, and inviting. New plantings, walks, lighting and more would need to be installed — all of which is planned for the future.

Sheila Swigert reported that the stained glass window showing Christ with the Elders will soon be removed by Gil Studios for restoration. Two other windows will also be repaired at the same time, although the work on them will be done in the church. Nick Dowen, a member of the Search Committee, reported that on the Wednesday following Easter, the committee will select three candidates to be submitted for background checks by the Diocese. Once the candidates have passed the background check, their names will be submitted to the Vestry for interviews.

Eugene Darconte, the co-chair of the Spring Fair, which is scheduled for June 10, reported that all is moving along smoothly, although help is needed for setting up.

A journal is to be available at the May Ham dinner and the Vestry members have purchased a full
page ad. paragraph ending graphic

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Women of Christ Church

The Women of Christ Church are leading the Christ Church participation in Bishop Roskam's much-needed project called Carpenter's Kids. At the April meeting many of those present signed up to sponsor a child for a year or two - or three - with a gift of $50 for each year. This dollar-a-week amount will provide breakfast, books, tuition, and a uniform for an elementary school-aged AIDS orphan in Tanganyika for a year. Isn't that incredible? We will be telling you more aboutÿthis program and urging you to join us in it.

The comforting Healing Service and Eucharist began our time together. Changing the date made our attendance smaller, but business was conducted as usual. Our treasurer, Shirley Elfers, reported several donations to the charities we support, including a part of our annual amount to the Church budget.

Spring meetings of the Episcopal Women and Church Women United were announced, and several are making plans to attend.ÿ Sadly we remembered our past President, Joy Woodall, who truly lived up to her name (Joy) as she worked with us in many capacities. Fr. French was with us, and told us of the Holy Week services and other ongoing weekday programs.

A cheerful spring lunch tableÿwas spread by Connie Riccciardi, and we were so happy that our honorary member, Patsy Parese, was able to make our coffee and share our day.

By the next meeting, May 11 (remember our date is almost always the second Thursday of the month), we will have details of how you can take part in the Carpenter's Kids project, when and to whom you can write your checks, and other information. Martha Keucher will be glad to take the names of any of you who want to sign up now.

You are all invited to bring your sandwich and come to our gathering in May which will begin at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel. paragraph ending graphic

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Spirit of the Baroque at
Christ Church on May 7

The Serenade Concert series will be presenting the second program of the current season at Christ Church on Sunday, May 7 at 3:00 p.m.

The program is entitled Spirit of the Baroque and will feature the talents of Edward Brewer on harpsichord, Virginia Brewer on baroque oboe, and Claire Jolivet on baroque violin.

The concert is free to the public and a "Meet the Artists" reception will follow in the parish hall, immediately following the concert.

For further information please call 718-372-3668 or send e-mail inquiries to Serenade228@yahoo.com. paragraph ending graphic

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In Memorium :
Richard Dickenson

(On April 4, 2006 Richard Dickenson passed away. Richard was Staten Island's Boro Historian, and some of you may remember this wonderful gentleman who attended Christ Church from time to time, and sang in our choir. Richard's daughter, Leonore, attended Christ Church in her teen years, was one of our acolytes, and was also confirmed and baptized here by Fr. John.

Mr. Richard DickensonDuring the April 8 Memorial Service at The Unitarian Church of Staten Island, Barnett Shepherd shared his recollections of Dick, which appear below. Our condolences go out to Richard's wife, Toni, and their family)

With the death of Richard Dickenson Staten Island has lost a true friend. We have lost a beloved friend and a dear colleague. Dick was unfailingly devoted to history in general, and to the preservation of Staten Island's history in particular. He was the latest in a long chain of Island leaders, our heroes, who understood the importance of local history: William T. Davis, Charles Leng, Mabel Abbott, Edna Holden, and Loring McMillen. Dick was devoted to their legacies. And through his scholarship he has added to that legacy. Every forgotten incident of our past was grist for his mill.

As a scholar he was always generous with information, sharing readily with his colleagues. Each time I asked Dick for help on some topic he shared what he knew. Even when I did not think to ask, he would volunteer information on topics he knew would interest me. We have his writings, and his memories of what he said, but it is the man himself we will miss most. His exemplary life, scholarly work and gentlemanly ways are vivid testimonies to the fact that one person can make a difference. His kindnesses, generosity and willingness to be our friend have made our community a better place.

In the face of our feelings of loss and sadness we must now renew our energies for the preservation of Staten Island's history. The fragile resources of history, so threatened at every turn, enhance our community life. We must strengthen our devotion to the work and renew our unity as a group. Some of the great rewards of our work in preservation are the friends and associates we make and our ability to work together. This legacy was enriched enormously by Dick. Richard Dickenson's legacy emboldens us to continue the work with ever more devotion. paragraph ending graphic

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Christ in the Temple with the
Damaged Elders

On April 20, the stained-glass window showing Christ speaking to the elders in the Temple was removed from its frame and taken to the workshop of Gil Studios, a highly regarded stained-glass restoration firm based in Brooklyn.

Missing window.The window is on the left side of the church, the second from the front of the nave. If you had studied the window, you would have seen that some of the glass in the robe of the elder at the front was missing (one part fell out and broke, but two others were removed and saved).

In many of our windows, colors are built up from layers of glass. Sometimes a bright color is muted by an opalescent layer, as is the case with the elder's robe. The glass underneath is bright purple but the glass on top is a translucent greenish-white.

Gil Studios will replace the damaged leading that was just barely holding the pieces of glass together, redo the failing horizontal bars that were supposed to keep the layers flat, and put back the missing pieces. They will also clean dirt off the surface of the window and between the layers of glass. In addition, the studio is repairing two small ventilation windows at the bottom of the Tiffany nativity scene and two windows on the stairway from the chapel to the basement.

These three repairs will cost about $45,000 (with $30,000 of that amount for the elders? window), and will be paid for by the income from the Book of Daniel TV show (thank you, NBC) and a $5,000 grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy?s Sacred Sites program.

According to Peg Breen, president of the conservancy, Christ Church "now joins the nearly 600 houses of worship throughout New York State that have received over $4.6 million in grants from the Sacred Sites Program." This program is one of the few in the country that gives financial and technical help to religious structures.

However, ten more windows need to be repaired (the total estimate is $148,000), and the roof and gutters over the south side of the church need to be fixed as well. If you look at the stonework around the missing window, you can see from the efflorescence (the whitish powder) that there has been water damage.

In fact, according to our consultants, Rus Watsky (roofing) and Ron Isles (masonry), water has been coming in the south side of the building through broken slates and gutters for some time. To fix the leaks around the tower and replace half of the roof will cost about $60,000. (The less-weathered north side of the roof has ten, twenty, or thirty more years, which is pretty good for a 100-year-old roof.)

We have applied for grants that we hope will pay for some of these costs, but we?ll need to match the grants with our own funds. We?re not sure how we?re going to do that yet, but Victor Stanwick is building a suggestion box. Until he finishes it, please feel free to talk to me (718 720-1169), Sheila Swigert (718 447-4185), or the wardens about the windows, roof, and walls. paragraph ending graphic

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Come In, Sit Down! Make Yourself at Home:
Christ Church's New Landscape Plan

April 2 was a big day for Christ Church's Landscape Committee. Joseph and Michael Browne, landscape architects, delivered their plans for the Christ Church grounds.

In 2005, the committee had asked three landscaping engineering companies to bid on our project, and the Brownes came up with the most creative approach.

But before showing you what they showed us, this is what we asked them for: "The landscape should create a welcoming atmosphere for the public and especially the people in the neighborhood. Consideration should be given for a possible Biblical or Interfaith Garden and a memorial garden. The gardens must be low maintenance as well as animal-friendly and use native and/or historical plants wherever possible."

We also wanted the landscaping plan to include:

  1. Redesign of the parking lot to insure proper drainage: Water is running into the neighboring lots. The asphalt that comes up to the walls of the church needs to be cut away from the church (because water is getting caught under the asphalt against the stone walls and is eating away the stone and mortar). Drainage was our first priority.
  2. Handicapped accessibility for entrance to the grounds and buildings.
  3. New fencing or some other method for defining the perimeter.
  4. Environmentally responsible watering systems.
  5. Landscaping plans for the areas in front of and to the east of the church; in front of the parish hall; for the small area between the rear parking lot and the cloister between the church and parish hall (currently planted in grass); for the ?nursery garden? behind the rectory; and for the front rectory garden (replace the trash shed, remove the weed trees hanging over the rectory, and take care of the dogwood and other plantings already there).
  6. Seating along the periphery and inside the gardens, and especially seats along the street for all the neighbors struggling uphill with their groceries, book bags, or children.
  7. An outdoor signage plan.
  8. A lighting system for the stained glass (from the inside out) and on the sides of the church, for both security and aesthetics.

Joe and Michael Browne met with the committee three times, and the result was extraordinary, not just because their plan meets the requirements and looks interesting, but because it pulls our entire landscape together into one whole.

Maybe you've never thought about it, but "outside the church" and "the grounds" seems to mean the oval in front of the Parish Hall. We only occasionally use the front walk to the church, and only three or four of us ever walk along the side of the church from the parking lot. Christ Church sits on nearly three acres, in other words, and we use only a few square yards.

When you look at the drawings, you can see what the Browne brothers did: They created one long sweep of grass and garden visually tied together using ovals and, on the north side of the church, a spiraling meditation walk.

The landscape still has an edge?—a low fence?—but it's interrupted with entrances and, in front of the Parish Hall, with a relocated flagpole and a set of benches.

Our magnificent old trees also come into their own. It's hard to see right now, but someone planted two rows of trees, one along the street and the other a few yards in. The Brownes' plan gradually trims away the "weed" Norway maples that grew up between the lines and lets more light onto the grounds.

The plan is divided into three phases over three to five years, depending on how quickly we can raise the funds:

  • Phase 1 solves the drainage issues in the parking lot, and replaces the old chain link fence and ratty shrubs around the perimeter with a new low metal fence. The stained-glass windows are lit from inside at night. This phase costs $156,000.
  • In Phase 2, we plant the new meditation garden and reconstruct the Oval lawn, move the flagpole, and add the street-side seats. A certified arborist moves donor trees and starts trimming away the Norway maples. New signs and lights that wash up the walls of the church are installed. This phase costs $166,000.
  • In Phase 3, we finish all the plantings and replace the Oval pavement. Lighting for the tower and for the Oval is installed. This phase costs $143,000.

The plan is ambitious, but Michael Browne has worked on bigger projects with worse odds?—for example, the new fishing pier at South Beach, the visitor's center on Rockland Avenue, and the Tuscan garden and pond at Snug Harbor.

However, the vestry will need your help, your ideas, and your contacts with potential donors. Please feel free to talk to the wardens and to the Landscape Committee members: Anne Devlin, Nick Dowen, Susan Fowler, Laura Patrick, Valerie Quinlan, Bill Sherman, Barnett Shepherd, and Leslie Thompson. paragraph ending graphic

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Musical Offerings

Several people have asked how to make donations toward music at Christ Church, having assumed that a portion of their pledge could be "redirected" into the music fund upon verbal request. Unfortunately, that method is not possible. Any donation for a specific fund needs to be designated as such by a separate check—otherwise the entire amount goes into the general operating fund.

So, for instance, to make a donation for the Easter brass quartet, you would write a separate check and mark on the bottom of the check "Easter Brass - Music Fund." Similarly, donations to help support our paid section leaders or assist in purchasing sheet music for the choir should also be made to the music fund. Donations for the organ restoration, however, should be made to the Organ Fund. (More about this in the next issue of the Tower Chimes.)

Contributions to either fund are greatly appreciated, no matter what the amount. Donations need not coincide with a particular event, but are accepted at any time with hearty thanks from your organist and choir director! paragraph ending graphic

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Parish Register

May Birthdays:
1—Lindsay Kennedy; 4—Jessica Szczepanik; 6—Kla Thompson; 7—Dominic Elia; 11—Shirley Elfers, Etta Johnson; 14—Tara Mazzucco; 16—Connie Black; 17—Nancy Beveridge; 18—David and Bob Holt, Laura Farr; 19—Agnes Thompson; 28—Fidel Zayzay; 30—Jay Szczepanik.

May Anniversaries:
5—Lisa Rhoades & David Nygard;9—Heuldine Webb and Lester Blair.

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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The Future is Here!

Clarke and Jack French, Jerry Keucher.On March 15th, Fr. Jerry Keucher hosted a "book signing" at the Diocesan House to celebrate the release of his book, Remember the Future.

As you can tell from this photo, Jack French is a very real symbol of what that "future" is all about. paragraph ending graphic

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Spring Fair 2006

Spring Fair 2006

Saturday June 10th. paragraph ending graphic

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