The Tower Chimes, April, 2008. April Showers Bring May Flowers.
bullet character Clergy Corner bullet character Staten Island Philharmonic...
bullet character Vestry Notes bullet character Parish Register
bullet character Cookie Sale to Benefit Serenade bullet character Serendipity News
bullet character Making a Personal Connection... bullet character Adopt-a-Room
bullet character Valeri Quinlan to Perform... bullet character A Note of Thanks
bullet character Thank You! bullet character A Taste of Spring
bullet character Plant & Equipment Report bullet character Save the Date!
bullet character It's Spring Fair Time! bullet character Around the Parish
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Clergy Corner

The Reverend Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New BrightonThis month we have two wonderful opportunities to celebrate and give back to our Staten Island Community.

The first is the Interfaith Seder, which this year will be held at St. Teresa’s Roman Catholic Church on April 10 at 6:00pm.  The Interfaith Seder is sponsored by a number of Roman Catholic and Protestant churches and several synagogues.  The Seder is a ritual meal of Judaism at which the story of the Passover is told and interpreted.  The Interfaith Seder is a night of fellowship and fun and makes a powerful witness that what unites us is much more important than what divides us.  By the time you get this edition of the Tower Chimes it will be too late to make reservations, but you can still attend and pay at the door.

On April 12 Christ Church will participate in the Staten Island Community Days.  The Staten Island Community Days are a weekend set aside for the churches, synagogues, and mosques of Staten Island to give back to the community through acts of service.  As we did last year, we will focus our attention on the Staten Island Care Center, just around the corner from the church on Lafayette.  As you may know, since our experience at the Staten Island Care Center last year, we have intentionally been working to forge an ongoing relationship.  Anne Devlin leads a book group there; the Women of Christ Church have begun to make regular visits; and the Sunday school presented their Christmas pageant.  This year for Community Days our Sunday school and youth group will be meeting with the residents and participating in their activities, and we’d also like to organize a work crew to help clean the patio and gardens for spring.  If you’d like to be part of that work crew, please sign up on the bulletin board in the parish house.

During the Easter season we are asked to share the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection with all people.  We can do this with words, but we can also do this with actions.  This month we have two wonderful opportunities to share our faith in acts of fellowship and service.

Faithfully yours,

Fr. Chuck

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Vestry Notes

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Christ Church Vestry took place on Monday, March 10, 2008. The following are some highlights of what took place that evening:

  1. The Rev. Wendell Hutchinson of Trinity Baptist Church was present to answer questions from Vestry members pertaining to the possibility of renting our church space to conduct their services. Following some significant discussion on this issue the decision was made not to rent our space.
  2. Our Treasurer, Dorothy Thompson, reported that our fuel budget allotment was rising fast. With higher fuel prices the budget allowance for 2008 might be too low and the Vestry might have to increase it later in the year.
  3. Plant & Equipment: Tower Repairs – we have exhausted the Property Support grants and with a new invoice for $71,000 from Burda Construction, we are now using the Property Support loan of $59,000 (plus interest).
  4. Pews – Since it will cost $97,000 to replace the pews, Victor Stanwick and Peter Raff have agreed to do piecemeal repairs as needed.
  5. Kitchen Stove – The stove cannot be fixed because there aren’t any replacement parts. Until a new one has been purchased, cooks should be careful to make sure the oven valves are turned off when they have finished their work.
  6. Parish Hall Basement – There are concerns about cracks in the floor and some other small matters that need to be fixed.
  7. Our Fish Supper was quite successful, and made a profit of about $1,000. A Wine Tasting fundraiser will take place at One Pendleton Place on April 19, 2008.  Profits from this event will go to the operating budget of the church.
  8. The annual Acolyte Festival will take place on May 17, 2008 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Arrangements are being made to allow for a group of adults and youths to attend.
We are still investigating the possibility of hiring a babysitter for Sunday morning. There are no insurance restrictions and the person hired would attend the Safe Churches program, a sexual misconduct prevention training provided by the Diocese; the Vestry will assure that this person is covered by worker’s compensation. Fr. Howell said the next step was for him to meet with parents of children likely to attend the nursery, come up with a job description, and set guidelines for interviewing candidates for the job.
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Cookie Sale to Benefit Serenade

On Saturday, April 12, between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m., there will be a cookie sale in the Guild Room to benefit the Christ Church Serenade Concert series.

Please come out to support this wonderful event where you’ll have a chance to experience the culinary arts, and support the “musical arts” as well. Come and purchase delicious home made cookies and help support a worthy cause.

The first Serenade concert of the new season will take place at Christ Church on Sunday, June 9. Be sure to mark your calendar!
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Making a Personal Connection to a Faraway Place:
Episcopal Elementary and High Schools in Liberia

Mr. Bill Sherman
Mr. Bill Sherman
Mr. Ernest Bruce
Mr. Ernest Bruve

During coffee hour on Sunday, March 9, Bill Sherman and Ernest Bruce premiered their new video about the struggle to reconstruct two high schools and an elementary school in Robertsport, Liberia. Like all good Episcopalians, they arrived with an excellent spread--salads, corn bread, chicken, cookies, and more.

Bill and Ernie spoke on behalf of the alumni association of the St. John's (boys) and House of Bethany (girls) Episcopal high schools and the elementary school. Bill is the association’s president and Ernie is the public relations director.

The schools’ alumni have joined together--both in person, at yearly meetings in the U.S., and virtually, using their new website-- to reconstruct the schools, whose long tradition of producing quality individuals to serve the nation was interrupted by fourteen years of civil war and strife.

The Robertson House before the civil war.
The Robertson House before the civil war.

The local citizens, who sought safety in other areas of the country, evacuated Robertsport and the campuses of St. John’s and the House of Bethany. Structures were either looted by vandals or simply deteriorated and taken over by the tropical bush. The campuses that were once meticulously maintained and manicured have become ghost towns of dilapidated buildings. For the few individuals who have returned to survey the areas, the experience is described as heart wrenching and disturbing.

The “before and after” photographs that we saw on the video spoke volumes. Before, a high school classroom full of books and students. After, a classroom with no glass in the window frames, few books, no equipment, and only a handful of students. The kindergarten class at the elementary school had 67 students, inadequate supplies, and insufficient chairs for the students, and only one teacher for the entire group.

The Robertson House now.
The Robertson House now.

During the civil war, many educated Liberians fled the country, some of them to Staten Island. This diaspora is now part of Liberia’s future, as its members and friends (like the generous congregants of Christ Church) send money and skills back to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

At the end of the presentation, Ernie, who has a wonderful bass voice and sang with the choir during the service, distributed donation envelopes and then joined with other Liberian Staten Islanders and the choir in singing the national anthem of Liberia. Their voices were full of joy and hope.

If you’d like to find out more about the project, go to the St. John’s and House of Bethany website at You can send tax-deductible donations to EHS/EES Alumni Association, P.O. Box 1650, Germantown, MD 20875. Checks should be made payable to “EHS/EES Alumni Association.”

If you know of an organization that would like to see the video and hear the story, please contact Ernie Bruce or call (908) 380-7618. You can also use the Contact Us page on the EHSEES website (above).

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Valerie Quinlan to Perform
with Staten Island Philharmonic

Mrs. Valerie Quinlan
Mrs. Valerie Quinlan

On Sunday, April 27th at 3 p.m. Valerie Quinlan will be joined by violist Lucy Corwin as soloists performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra. Maestro Jose Alejandro Guzman will conduct.

The program will feature two other exciting works: Rossini's overture to The Silken Ladder, and Beethoven’s magnificent Eroica Symphony.

The performance will take place at Gateway Cathedral, 200 Boscombe Avenue, Staten Island 10309. For those who have not seen it, the Gateway auditorium is a beautiful performance space. Ticket prices have not been finalized, but we expect that they will be $25, with discounts available to seniors and students. We suggest calling Valerie a few days prior to the program to confirm start time and obtain driving directions. The number is 718-273-3668.
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Thank You!

The following note was sent to Christ Church by Ms. Janet Dorman, the director of St. Mary’s Food Pantry in Manhattan:

Dear Fr. Howell:

As director of St. Mary's emergency food program, I extend our thanks to the members of Christ Church for the incredible amount of clothing given in recent months for homeless people in our neighborhood.  The warm coats, sweaters, gloves, socks, etc., were welcomed by those who live on the cold streets of New York City, and other clothing was appreciated by people who come to our Food Pantry.

I know that such an enterprise is the result of the efforts of many people.  We especially thank Ms. Sheila Hewitt for her role as co-facilitator of the clothing drive. We also thank Mr. Harald Reiersen and Mr. John Watson, whom we had the pleasure of meeting when they come to St. Mary's to help sort and bag the clothing so it could be distributed.

We are extremely grateful to Ms. Kristin Reiersen, who envisioned this partnership between our churches and made it happen, coordinating the project at both ends and transporting many large bags of clothing.  We are fortunate to benefit from her energy and enthusiasm in our weekly Food Pantry and Outreach programs. 

Please share our appreciation with the members of Christ Church.  We are hopeful that there may be other ways in which our two churches can cooperate.

Janet Dorman, Director
St. Mary’s Food Pantry

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Plant & Equipment Committee Report

The following is a brief overview of the current projects and issues that are being overseen by members of the Plant & Equipment Committee:

Tower Repairs
Marie Ennis from our engineering firm, Old Structures Engineering, has reviewed the repointing issue and suggested a two-phase approach: Do the interior repointing and repairs immediately since the need is immediate, and do the larger scale exterior repointing within the next two to five years. The exterior repointing is needed, she said, but can be postponed until we’ve raised the necessary money, approximately $62,000. We have already signed the change order for the interior work and Burda has started it.

The interior repointing costs are $16,090. The scope of work includes the following:

  1. Fill all open spaces between stones inside the tower (total approx. 2,000 sq. ft.), cut and repoint all window arches, fill with brick four open pockets—$13,750.
  2. Shore as needed, take apart shifted bricks and rebuild interior arched windows in two locations—$ 2,340.

Baschnagel Brothers is the subcontractor for the roofing work. Over the next few weeks, they will reshingle the tower, fix the gutters on the parapet, and repair cracked shingles on the roof next to the tower entrance.

P&E met with Fredrick Taggart, Fredrick & Emily’s Church Renovations, about the pews. The pews are not repairable at this point, but they can be replaced with pews that match the look of our current pews. The estimated cost is $97,000. This project will have to wait for a fundraising campaign as well.  

Kitchen Stove
 Joe Kent, a member of the SICSA and a restaurant appliance repair technician, took the stove apart and analyzed the problems we have lighting the ovens. The ovens are okay, he said, but only because someone somewhere along the way turned off the gas to the pilot lights.

He said that, on this old stove, if a pilot doesn't stay lit (and the oven pilots don't, although the stove pilots all work perfectly), then gas continues to flow into the oven and creates a dangerous situation (new gas stoves have automatic gas shutoffs that prevent gas from flowing if there is no flame).

To light the oven, the cook has to hold a match to the holes at the bottom, which are hidden by the rack on top of the floor of the oven (very odd layout), and turn on the oven's gas using the chrome knob with the bars on it. However, if someone turns the oven knob on and doesn't light the oven, gas will flow into the oven and could build up.

Joe said that you can't fix this stove because it's too old. Garland doesn't have the parts. Until we can replace it, cooks should be warned to make sure the oven valves are turned off when they're done with the ovens.

Parish Hall Basement
During the recent breakfast for our Project Hospitality guests, one guest pointed out that the floor in the room where they’re storing their beds has started to crack (as the floor on the upper hallway cracked before Howard Sohm & Co. replaced it). We subsequently noticed that we need to add more chair rails further along the hallway, now that the beds are stored in the back room.

Other Matters
We will be getting quotes for the following projects:

  1. Replacing the hot-water heater in the parish hall kitchen
  2. Rectory basement: repair ceiling to remove falling plaster, maintain 2-hour fire rating, and remove asbestos
  3. Rectory basement: replace cellar door, repair brick wall
  4. Church basement, ceiling: repair openings in the basement ceiling to maintain the integrity of the 2-hour fire rating between the basement and main level; repair deteriorated floor beams & joists (wood framing for the main floor of the church)
  5. Church basement: replace steam condensate piping in basement
  6. Church basement: Insulate boiler breaching
  7. Church basement: Install a temperature and pressure relief valve on water heater.
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It's Spring Fair Time!

Even though the weather is still chilly and damp, there’s a sure sign of spring on the horizon:  the annual Spring Fair at Christ Church. This year our fair will take place on Saturday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Of course we’ll have our “traditional” events: the White Elephants, hot dogs and hamburgers fresh off the grill, church tours and vendors; but, we’re also hoping to introduce some new ideas as well. And in order to do this we’ll need input and assistance from ALL of our parishioners – young and old alike.

The Spring Fair is your chance to get involved, to take on a new task or responsibility that you’ve never tried before, and to work side by side with your fellow parishioners and get to know them better. Over the next few months we’ll be having Sunday planning meetings after the 10 a.m. service, and we’ll be posting sign-up sheets on the parish house bulletin board as well.

Save the date – Saturday, June 14 – and make it a point to get involved!
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Staten Island Philharmonic to Present La Traviata

Giuseppe Verdi
Mr. Joe Green

If you’re an opera lover – and even if you’re not – the St. George Theatre is offering a wonderful opportunity for you to enjoy Verdi's masterpiece, a concert version of La Traviata, on Saturday, April 5th at 8 p.m.

Maestro Jose Guzman will conduct, and featured performers will include Cynthia Firing as Violetta, Hector Palacio as Alfredo, and Alessando Magno as Germont.

Choral parts, including the great "Libiamo" will be sung by members of the Richmond Choral Society. Tickets are priced at $25, $30, and $35.

Tickets will be available at the box office the night of the performance. To reserve better seats in advance, call Valerie or Frank Quinlan at 718-273-3668. Enjoy a good show and help support a worthwhile cause: a professional symphony orchestra on Staten Island.
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From the Parish Register

April Birthdays
1 – Matthew Ambroggi; 6 – Harry Bernardez; 8 – Karen Long; 10 – Michael Devlin; 17 – Siaber Zayzay, Crystal Bernard; 18 – Celestine Zayzay; 23 – David Seeley; 24 – David Wood, Daniel Wood; 26 – Mary Boody, Mae Seeley; 30 – Nancy Sherman
April Anniversaries
1 – Eugene & Gytha Darconte; 6 – Hal & Linda Reiersen; 12 – John & Carol Brown; 25 – Laura & Henry Kennedy

If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added.
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Serendipity News

Serendipity is proposing a bus trip to New Hope, PA this fall at a cost of $65, which includes lunch.

We’d like to get an idea of how many people would be interested in joining us so we can make the proper arrangements for transportation and food.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you’re interested in attending.
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The Plant & Equipment Committee is pleased to announce the “Adopt-a-Room” program. Modeled after the “Adopt-a-Pipe” program, groups and/or individuals are invited to sponsor the renovation of a room, hallway or outdoor area at Christ Church.

The price for these projects would include time for labor and materials, all at contractor’s cost. Pricing to paint and re-carpet an average-sized room would be approximately $1500 to $2000, and the work would be supervised by the Plant & Equipment Committee.

In you are interested in this innovative way of improving our church by making the interior spaces as attractive as the exterior, please contact Susan Fowler, Fr. Howell or me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.      
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A Note of Thanks

Dear Fr. Howell:

On behalf of the nursing staff at NICU and the patients we care for, we would like to thank you and all involved for your thoughtfulness and generous contribution of blankets for the babies. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

Loretta Dolan, RN,C
Nurse Manager
Richmond University Medical Center

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A Taste of Spring

wineOn Saturday, April 19, David Wood and Christina Mantz, in collaboration with members of the Christ Church Fund Raising Committee, will host “A Taste of Spring,” an afternoon of wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and raffles.

The event will be held at One Pendleton Place, the home of Fr. John Walsted, Fr. Jerry Keucher and Martha Keucher, and will feature a selection of wines from Staten Island’s own Midland Wines. Bob Marks, a wine expert and representative for several wineries, will be present to explain the different wines, their origins and distinct tastes.

Tickets for this event are $50 per person, and may be purchased from any member of the Fund Raising Committee, or you may call the parish office at 718-727-6100 to reserve your tickets.

All proceeds for this event are to benefit the Christ Church Community Outreach projects.
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Save the Date!

Apples and pumpkinsOn Saturday, September 27, Christ Church will be hosting its very first Pumpkin and Apple Harvest Festival. Activities and events are being planned to focus on the younger members of our parish, and include a three-part competition for children 11-15 to be named Harvest King and Queen, hayrides and square dancing.

      Look for further announcements in the Sunday bulletins, the parish house bulletin boards and the Tower Chimes.
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Around the Parish

The weather might not necessarily be a current reflection of the season, but according to the calendar it is officially spring. In fact, we’ve taken the liberty of replacing the “winter” photo of Christ Church with the more appropriate seasonal version in this month’s column.

Holy Week and Easter at Christ Church was a very special time. The Sunday morning and weekday Lenten programs saw an increase in attendance, and actually helped to draw in a few visitors as well. The Black Family (Shirley, Connie, Willie and Buster) prepared and served what has become their “traditional” Maundy Thursday lamb supper, which was an occasion for parishioners to come together for a meal and fellowship before returning to the Altar of Repose in the chapel for Compline and favorite hymns.

Easter Sunday was glorious: the altar resplendent with the lovely hangings and fresh linens thanks to Shirley Elfers and the members of the altar guild; the lovely arrangement of lilies and azaleas by the talented Wood brothers (David and Dan), as well as the lovely Easter Sunday reception that followed the 10 a.m. service; the music of our adult choir (under the direction of Tom Sarff) and our Treble Choir (under the direction of Beth Johanning Hayes); the Riverside Brass; the new “flowering cross” built by Victor Stanwick; many visitors and old friends in the crowded pews; and most important, Father Chuck’s wonderful sermon. You’ll find some marvelous photos here. Hope you enjoy them!

Congratulations to Katherine Liu on being accepted to the summer music program at Tanglewood. This is a great honor for this talented young violinist, who currently attends LaGuardia High School in Manhattan. Katherine’s brother, Thomas, is completing his third year at Vassar College, where he is majoring in Science, Technology and Society (STS). Tom is also captain of the swim team.

It was good to see Willie Black, IV (son of Connie and Buster Black) during Holy Week. Willie is completing his first year at Five Towns College in Long Island, a school dedicated entirely to the pursuit of music. 

Get well wishes to Andrew Schneider who was transferred to a base in Qatar to undergo abdominal surgery. We wish him a speedy recovery. And congratulations to Edward (Ted) Schneider on being commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. For the next two years Ted will be assigned to Vandenberg Air Base, which is headquarters for the 30th Space Wing. The 30th manages Department of Defense space and missile testing, and places satellites into polar orbit.

We’ll close for now and join our fellow parishioners as we await the warmer weather, green grass and blooming flowers in the church oval.