Saints Cyril (left) and Methodius, from St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Pittsburgh, PA.
Close Window February 2007

Click one of the titles below to read the article:

paragraph ending graphic Clergy Corner paragraph ending graphic Stair Platform Lift
paragraph ending graphic Around the Parish paragraph ending graphic The Sky Is Falling!
paragraph ending graphic Vestry Report paragraph ending graphic Parish Directory Updates Needed
paragraph ending graphic Women of Christ Church paragraph ending graphic Children's Treble Choir
paragraph ending graphic Women of Christ Church Evening Group paragraph ending graphic Celebrating MLKjr
paragraph ending graphic Parish Register paragraph ending graphic Celebrating Our Diversity
paragraph ending graphic Serendipity Report paragraph ending graphic More Staten Islanders Go Hungry
paragraph ending graphic Coffee Hour Hosts paragraph ending graphic Save the Date!
Clergy Corner

The Rev. Charles H. Howel, RectorWorship is at the heart of everything we do as Christians, as Episcopalians, and as members of Christ Church. All of the activities of our parish - the education, fellowship, pastoral care, and community service - are in response to and empowered by our encounter with God in worship. In the Eucharist, we meet our crucified and risen Lord, who commands us to share the Good News with others in word and deed. As I settle into my tenure at Christ Church and as Lent approaches, I intend to offer some expanded worship opportunities.

First of all, I intend to institute a regular weekday celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Thursday morning at 11 a.m.. The Women of Christ Church already gather on the second Thursday of each month at 11 a.m. for a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, so we will have a celebration on the other Thursdays as well. The service on the second Thursday also offers the laying on of hands and anointing for healing. You may also wish to note that the Holy Eucharist is celebrated each weekday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary's, Castleton and at the Church of the Ascension on Friday at 9 a,m. Our Thursday celebration will give north shore Episcopalians another option to attend a midweek celebration.

Lent is coming. Ash Wednesday is February 21, and we will have two celebrations of Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. The second service will have organ music and hymns.

The First Sunday of Lent is February 28 and we will bless and distribute pocket crosses as a Lenten devotional aid. The idea of the pocket cross is that you keep it with you during Lent - in your pocket, in your purse, on a bedside table. You then think of a person that you would especially like to pray for during Lent; when you see your pocket cross as you go through your day, it will remind you to pray for that person. Then after Easter you may, if you wish, give your pocket cross to your special person and let them know that you have been praying for them during Lent.

On the five Wednesdays of Lent - February 28, March 7, 14, 21, and 28 -- we will have a special evening program. The evening will begin with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 7 p.m. At 7:40 p.m. we will have a potluck supper - see the bulletin board in the parish hall for sign up sheets. At 8 p.m. we will have a program and will conclude promptly at 9 p.m. The program we will use is called Groundwork III, which uses the Scripture lessons for the Sundays in Lent as a basis for conversation and study about mission and outreach.

I hope you'll make a note of these new worship and educational opportunities and plan to participate in them.

Faithfully yours,

Fr. Chuck paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

Christ Church is a very active parish! It's amazing just how much there is to report about our parishioners each month.

Since our January Tower Chimes was devoted entirely to the Parish Annual Meeting (more about that in a bit) we did not have an opportunity to thank the members of the Holly Ball Committee, chaired by Beth McLean and Trevor Mills, for another fabulous celebration. A good time was had by all - especially our three honorees for the event: Margaret Harris, Martha Keucher and Colin Reed. John Watson and Victor Stanwick have captured some of the happy moments on film, which can be found on the on the Christ Church website at (

We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Alleida Mitchell and the members of the St. Nick's Fair Committee for a very successful event in December. Photos from this annual holiday event are also available on the Christ Church website.

Our annual meeting took place on January 21. Congratulations to our newest Vestry members: Brenda Baskerville, Judith Davis, Andrea McIntosh, Paul Smith and Victor Stanwick, and to our new warden, Lisa Rhoades.

It's always such a pleasure to share the good news about our parishioners, and this month there is a lot to report. As you read through this issue you'll find an award-winning essay written by Hugo McIntosh. His mother, Andrea, reports that this young scholar has also been accepted into the St. Peters High School Honors Program, and also, the Moore Catholic School Honors Program for the fall.

Congratulations to Jill Kanner and Rick Smith who "tied the knot" on December 23. And "kudos" to Alleida Mitchell, who will be honored at the Council of Churches annual awards dinner on February 7 with representatives of other parishes on Staten Island, for their faithfulness and devotion to the church. We also just found out that Alleida has been nominated to the board of Episcopal Charities, where she will devote her time and talents in Manhattan and Staten Island.

We're pleased to report that despite her recent health crises, Virginia Peel has slowly, but surely, taken the road back to recovery and is now living closer to her Christ Church family. Ginnie recently relocated from her home in Texas, and is now living in an assisted living facility in Bridgewater, New Jersey. A special note of "thanks" from Ginnie and her family for your continued prayers and good wishes.

Last month, Fr. Chuck made a special trip back to his former parish, Grace Episcopal Church, in Grand Rapids Michigan to assist at the funeral service for our late President, Gerald R. Ford. Fr. Chuck, who first met President Ford when he gave the invocation at his 90th birthday celebration in Grand Rapids, was asked to return to Grace Episcopal Church to be part of this significant and important event.

And in case you missed it, Georgia Howell was featured as a Staten Island Advance "Weather Watcher" in a recent Saturday issue.

Daniel Lettiere, son of Nancy and Nick Lettiere, has been very busy these days with his college studies and activities. However, we hear that he's also expanded his musical pursuits from trombone to vocalizing with the school chorus. And speaking of musical pursuits, we're pleased to report that our own C.J. Brown, son of Carol and John Brown, is studying organ with Stephen Hetzel, organist and choir director at St. John's Bay Street. C.J. was inspired by watching our organist, Tom Sarff, each Sunday and was thrilled when the opportunity arose to pursue his dream.

And by the way, if you haven't had a chance to visit Brownie's Hobby Shop in Port Richmond, I suggest you do so when you have time to explore this interesting little spot on Bennett Street.

Brownie's is a family owned business catering to the folks who enjoy spending their time building model airplanes, other types of "miniatures", and just about every other hobby that requires a special nut, bolt, spare part or squirt of glue! You'll be greeted warmly by John, his mom and dad, and his brother, and by the time you've wandered through the aisles you'll be ready to take on a hobby of your own!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Robin Beveridge and Valerie Quinlan, who are both recovering from surgeries; to Andrea McIntosh as she recovers from a work-related accident; and to Gregory Brown, who is recovering from a fall. Our prayers are with all of you.

In December we saddened by the passing of Tim Martin, son of our late parishioner, Helen Martin. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

That's it for now. Please keep us posted on your news, so we can share it with everyone. paragraph ending graphic

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Vestry Report

The following is a report on the Vestry Meetings of 8 and 21 January 2007 (the latter being the Annual Meeting):

At the meeting of 8 January, the following occurred:

  • Susan Fowler, Chair of the Plant and Equipment Committee, reported that the rafters, which support the church tower are deteriorating and this could bring a collapse of the tower roof. At the same time, she mentioned that most of the work on the rectory has been completed.
  • The Treasurer, Dorothy Thompson, informed us that the fund raising activities brought in $11,872.79 after $3,678.95 from the Blueberry Festival went to the Landscaping group.
  • The illness of a member of his family has prevented the organ builder from completing the work on the organ.
  • The retiring members of the Vestry, Anne Devlin, Connie Black, and Mark Gherzo, were thanked for their service and they took the opportunity to give their impressions and thoughts on being members of this organization. They spoke of the privilege it had been to serve, the group dynamics, and the concept of service.

At the Annual Meeting on 21 January 2007, Beth McLean, Chair of the Nominating Committee, presented the slate for Churchwarden and the Vestry and the following were elected:

Churchwarden: (Two-year term)
Lisa Rhoades
Vestry Members: (Three-year term)
Brenda Baskerville
Judith Davis
Andrea McIntosh
Paul Smith
Vestry Member: (Two-year term)
Victor Stanwick

Nick Lettiere presented the budget, which shows a deficit of $100,387. The Treasurer, Dorothy Thompson, cautioned the attendees that we could not continue to call upon our reserves to cover current expenses. In his report, Father Howell stated that outside of his arrival as the rector of Christ Church, there were three significant events that had occurred in 2006: the Vestry retreat, the church's investments being turned over to PEMS, and the forthcoming new Sunday morning schedule. He went on to thank Beth McLean for her work as Warden for the last two years. paragraph ending graphic

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Women of Christ Church

Our meeting in January is unusual because we expect January in New York to be snowy; but this year our weather pattern has been quite different, so we threw caution to the wind and scheduled a meeting. This might have been a mistake because the attendance was disappointing; of course, the lucky ones were there to enjoy themselves!

Fr. Chuck started us off well as he celebrated the Eucharist and led the Healing Service. He told us about Aelred of Rievauix, whom we remember in January especially because his life exemplifies friendship - with God and with each other. This is particularly fitting for us since this is one of the chief reasons that we meet.

Announcements of coming events were noted, in particular the Awards Dinner of the Council of Churches on February 7. Our own Alleida Mitchell will be recognized that evening for her service to our Church.

After the Silver Tea in December the offering of $298 was given to the Goodhue Center in our own neighborhood, and the toys and gifts were taken to Safe Horizons, a refuge for victims of domestic violence on the Island. Both the day group and the evening group of the Women of Christ Church contributed to this project, and Liz Howell played hostess to two Silver Teas at the Rectory.

There was a very pleasant surprise at our meeting with the addition of Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Syracuse, who came to surprise her mother, Brenda Baskerville, for her birthday; so, the cake that Fr. John baked for dessert became a birthday cake with some makeshift candles that Nancy Lettiere fashioned from straws. Connie Ricciardi's stollen added to the desserts.

Now take note: we are assuming our "un-winter" weather will continue into next month, and we're scheduling a meeting for Thursday, February 8 beginning with a service in the chapel at 11 a.m., followed by our meeting. Mark your calendars in red, since this is another month we have often been snowed in. paragraph ending graphic

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News form the Women of Christ Church Evening Group

The evening group of the Women of Christ Church met in the Parish Hall on Tuesday, January 16. Nancy Lettiere, vice president and liaison to the daytime group, reported on the success of the annual Silver Tea, which resulted in a $298 donation to the Safe Horizons Shelter for battered women and children.

There was some discussion about the mission of the Episcopal Church Women, and how we can embody this mission into our future activities. It was suggested that we extend the work of the Parish Care Committee by providing meals from time to time for housebound parishioners; this project would coordinated with Fr. Howell. We also discussed the Carpenters Kids, ideas to increase the awareness of the importance of this project, and ways in which we could help to raise funds to sponsor several children. We will pursue these ideas at our future meetings.

It was reported that Anne Devlin has been selected as this year's Christ Church chairperson for the annual United Thank Offering. This event will take place in the spring, with the date, time and place to be announced. It was suggested that a young member of our parish attend this meeting with Anne, as a representative of the youth of our parish.

The evening group of the Women of Christ Church usually meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.; however, since Tuesday, February 20 is the date of the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, it was decided that our February meeting will take place the following month on Tuesday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.

All women of the parish are invited, and encouraged to attend any, and all, meetings of the Women of Christ Church - whether day or evening. paragraph ending graphic

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Parish Register

February Birthdays
2-Andrew Schneider; 5-Fr. John Walsted, Prince Williams; 11-Hal Reiersen; 13-Gytha Darconte, Lisa Rhoades; 14-Bruce Liozzi, Lois Angone, Vivian Freeman; 19 - Eddie Thompson; 22- Alleida Mitchell; 23-Pat Sxire; 24-Trevor Mills, Nicholas Lettiere.
February Anniversaries
28 - Lois & Jim Angone.

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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Serendipity Report

Serendipity's January meeting, which followed the previous month's grand event on Valencia Avenue, was unique for several reasons. Many readers are familiar with Molly, the famous cat featured in several articles in the New York Times, who was accidentally imprisoned and later released from the wall of a famous British food store, Meyer's of Keswick.

Colin Reed.
Um, let's see... NOT Stephen Hawking. Definately not Stephen Hawking. Oh, yes! It's Colin Reed.

Before our last meeting began members met Nema, lounging on Beth McLean's sofa. This is another distinguished cat that was entrapped in the wall of a building close to the University of Delaware, which is attended by Beth's son, Brian. He helped to rescue Nema and enable him to become a legal immigrant to Staten Island. The cat, having little or no respect for priests, bishops, archbishops or even popes, Nema didn't move when Fr. Charles Howell stepped in for his first meeting. In order to keep a true perspective of his own importance, Charles has a dog that probably worships him, while cats will ignore him. Now the McLean's realize that cats are kindly masters - just as long as they remember their place.

Paul Smith, who bravely presided over a loud, diverse, boisterous, lively and lovingly cantankerous group for the last two years, deserves the thanks and accolades of all parishioners. Karen Smith was speedily elected to the office of Vice President, while Martha Keucher and Colin Reed retained their positions of Treasurer and Secretary. It's wonderful that once again Marlene Elia agreed to be Serendipity's president.

The organizers of parish activities are asked to work with others to relieve the log jam of canned and other goods in the upstairs refrigerator and freezer, so that other groups may use these appliances.

The Pasta/Pastor Supper organized for January 27 was history by the time Nancy's editorial deadline for the February issue of the Tower Chimes was announced, but we hope that our dreams of another successful event came true.

Although it's too early for Serendipity to announce yet-to-be-made plans for the tenth May Ham Dinner, Monty Python has helped us with a preliminary idea: "And now for something completely different!" More to come.

As we end this account of our meeting there may be parishioners who hate cats and wonder why we should attach so much importance to the fact that a cat attended our meeting. If you are one of them, remember that you may come back as a mouse in your next life! paragraph ending graphic

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February Coffee Hour Hosts

The following people have signed up to host Coffee Hour in February:

February 4 - Diversity Sunday
(Celebration and reception in Auditorium)

February 11 - Carol & John Brown
(with the assistance of young Christ Church bakers
under the direction of Beth McLean and Alleida Mitchell)

February 18 - Elizabeth & Amber James

February 25 - Joyce, Katherine & Peter Liu

If you need assistance, or are unable to host on your date, please give Lisa Rhoades a call at 718-420-0363. paragraph ending graphic

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People with Walkers and Wheelchairs Can Now
Get into the Parish Hall from the Church

In January, Day Elevator and Lift from Lynbrook, Long Island, installed an "incline plane lift" in the cloister between the church and the parish hall.

An incline plane lift is a platform that raises or lowers a person between the levels of the church and the parish hall, a difference of about three feet. The lift we chose accommodates both people in wheelchairs and people who walk but have difficulty with stairs-you can roll onto it with a wheelchair or step onto it and sit down for the ride.

This lift, built by Savaria, Inc., of Quebec, Ontario, folds up against the wall. We considered a less expensive version that didn't fold, but realized that it would then block more than half the stairway, possibly creating traffic jams in the cloister and making emergency exits more difficult.

Thanks Go to Evelyn More

Episcopal Church Women gave us a small grant towards the lift but what really allowed it to happen was a gift from Evelyn More.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1913, Evelyn Berggren became a nurse after training at Bethlehem Lutheran Hospital Nurses Training School in St. Paul. She was assigned by the Civil Service to the U.S. Marine Hospital (now Bayley Seton Hospital) on Staten Island, where she met patient Winfield Joseph More, a merchant seaman.

Evelyn and Winfield were married on July 23, 1938. Winfield retired from the sea when their first daughter Gertrude was born, and he became a bus driver for New York City Transit. After their second child, daughter Marilyn, was born, Evelyn continued her career as a nurse.

Evelyn and Winfield More were faithful members of Christ Church and their ashes are interred in our columbarium. With her early Lutheran background, Evelyn was readily confirmed during the rectorship of The Rev. Andrew Long. She was an active member of the Women of Christ Church.

Three years after Winfield's death in 1988, Evelyn moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to reside with her daughter and son-in-law Marilyn and David Swearingen.

On her death in the spring of 2001, along with gifts to the Women of Christ Church and the Organ Fund, a generous bequest from her estate came to Christ Church. The bequest asked that the money be used to install some sort of elevation mechanism from the church level to the parish hall level, eliminating the use of the steps.

Planning for and installing this lift have been in the works since then. Finding the right lift, manufacturer, and installation company was time-consuming, and getting permits from the city and running electrical current to the lift also took more time than we expected. But now the lift is installed and Evelyn More's request has been fulfilled. No one in a wheelchair, on crutches, or just a bit stiff in the knees will ever have to miss a coffee hour, an annual meeting, a wedding reception, or a concert reception again. paragraph ending graphic

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The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Or in our case, the roof over the tower. And it's not actually falling, but there has been a failure.

First, what are we talking about? The tower is above the front of the nave, from the choir stalls to the first dozen pews. The Boody Babies (the stained-glass cherubs) that you see when you look up are in the tower. There is a wooden ceiling that you can see from the church floor, but there is another floor above this and a slate roof over all.

From outside, you have to stand back a bit to see the tower. It's in an Episcopalian square style with lightning rods and a weathervane at the top and a stone chimney on the Fillmore St. side.

The problem: East Coast Restoration & Consulting had finished repairing the flashing around all four sides of the tower, but there was still a leak into the church. Our sexton Vito DeRenzis then asked them to look inside the tower, and when they did, they found tears in the waterproofing around the gutter at the top of the tower. These tears weren't there two years ago-they weren't in photos we took of the same location in 2004.

Tower gutters in 2004. Tower gutters in 2006.
Gutter on the tower roof, 2004 The same gutter in 2006. Notice the tears in the waterproofing (white arrows).

So we gave East Coast a go-ahead to fix the waterproofing and end the leaks. However, as soon as they started, the foreman stopped the job. He'd noticed that the rafters inside the tower on the Franklin side were hanging loose and the work was too dangerous to continue.

Russel Watsky, a roofing expert who we hired to advise us and supervise the work, went up inside the tower with Andrew Kaczmarek, owner of East Coast Restoration. They found that the rafters on the Franklin side were no longer attached to the sill, because the sill had rotted away.

Tower roof plan. Drawing by Russel Watsky.
Diagram of the roof, looking down from above. Picture by Russel Watsky.

What's wrong with the Franklin Ave. side of the roof: the sill plate is rotten and there are no collar ties to hold the rafters against the wall. Picture by Russel Watsky.

On Russel's recommendation, we immediately asked East Coast to shore up the rafters (to make sure that the roof doesn't fall in from the weight of a snowstorm), which they did.

We have also called in structural engineers to get bids to develop instructions for the repairs. We expect to make a decision early in February and start the work by March. The repairs, the engineers say, will be fairly easy and will probably cost somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000.

What this means to you: Leaks into the nave will not and cannot be fixed until the rafters are back in place. (In fact, the tears in the gutter were probably due to the rafters falling away from the wall.) Otherwise, you shouldn't notice any difference-rain will still fall on the tenth or eleventh pew from the front and some of the cushions will get wet if we don't get pails in place quickly enough.

Tower roof sill elevation. Picture by Russel Watsky.
Tower roof sill elevation. Picture by Russel Watsky.

The problem, of course, is raising the money to fix the tower and then to fix the tears in the gutters. However, the able members of the Finance Committee and Vestry will work out the details over the next few weeks. Please expect ongoing reports. paragraph ending graphic

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The Parish Directory Needs Updated Information!

As is the case with any directory listing, names, addresses, phone numbers are constantly being changed - in many cases, after the publication has gone to press.

Recently we became aware of some necessary corrections, and a copy of the particular page in question has been reprinted as an "insert" to the current Parish Directory.

The replacement page will be available during the Sunday coffee hour, and copies will also be available in the Parish Office.

If you have any questions - about the changes in question, or how to go about receiving a replacement page, please feel free to contact me at 718-981-3495. paragraph ending graphic

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Children's Treble Choir at Christ Church
Beth Johanning-Hayes
Beth Johanning-Hayes

We are forming a children's treble choir under the direction of Beth Johanning-Hayes. The initial plan is that the children will rehearse each week for half an hour while their parents are at coffee hour.

We will be hosting an informational meeting in the Vestry room on February 11 after coffee hour for interested parents and children. Please join us to learn more about his exciting new activity at Christ Church. paragraph ending graphic

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Celebrating the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.Last month, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King was celebrated in a special series of events sponsored by Fellowship Baptist Church here on Staten Island.

We are pleased to report that our own Hugo McIntosh, Jr., son of Hugo and Andrea McIntosh, was one of the winners in the church's essay contest, "What Am I Doing to Keep Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream Alive?"

Hugo has been asked to present his essay as part of the Christ Church Diversity Day observance on Sunday, February 4; however, for those of you who won't be present that day, we've reprinted this award-winning essay:

Living in the 21st century it's rare to find someone who would go out of their way to help others. Everyone is all about himself or herself. It is only once in a while you would find someone like me who does what they can, when they can.

At times in my life, through my actions, I remind myself of Dr. Martin Luther King. For example in the school I attend, which is St. Peters Elementary School, I assist younger students with their homework during my free periods. In helping these students it makes me think about Dr King's view that all people are created equal and no one color or race should stop others from helping those in need. I also work with younger children in showing them good sportsmanship in playing sports and other games, that people should always be fair in everything they do.

I attend Christ Church and am involved in the Christ Church Youth Group. In that group I participate in fund raisers for donations to different organizations like Safe Horizons Domestic Violence Victims. I also dedicate my Sundays to altar services. Every day I contribute money to my tithing box, which will eventually be donated to a needy organization. There are times when I offer my seat to the elderly people on the bus.

I know there are more generous deeds I could do every day like defending others when they are being treated unjustly, or standing up for those who don't stand up for themselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a man of wisdom, justice, equality and peace. paragraph ending graphic

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Celebrating Our Diversity

Every year, members of Christ Church gather together during the month of February to celebrate the diverse backgrounds and traditions that make up the Christ Church family.

This year's celebration will take place on Sunday, February 4, immediately following the 10:30 a.m. service. The theme for this year's program is "Celebrating Diversity: Many Different Members Form One Body." It's a time to share our customs and culture with each other.

This is an afternoon of food (ethnic dishes), music, and a time to share your particular talents, whether it be singing, playing a musical instrument, reading a poem, etc.

All members of the parish are warmly invited - and encouraged - to share in this afternoon of diversity and fellowship. paragraph ending graphic

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More Staten Islanders Are Going Hungry

For distribution to our local food pantries, please bring canned or packaged food, including baby food and formula, to church. The collection basket is at the back of the church--the ushers will show you where to leave your donations. paragraph ending graphic

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Save the Date!

Sunday, February 4
Diversity Sunday Celebration at Christ Church
(Immediately following the 10:30 a.m. service)
Thursday, February 8
Women of Christ Church Meeting
11 a.m. Healing Service and Eucharist in the Chapel, followed by business meeting in the Parish House
Saturday, February 10
Youth Activity - Baking and Decorating
11 a.m. in the Parish House
Tuesday, February 20
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
6 to 8 p.m. in the Parish House
Wednesday, February 21
Ash Wednesday Services
7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 24
"Hands to Work, Hearts to God" Day
8:30 a.m. - Clean Up and Fix Up activities on the church grounds. paragraph ending graphic

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