Tower Chimes, December, 2008
bullet character Clergy Corner bullet character Fund Raising Events for 2009
bullet character A Word of Thanks bullet character Stewardship Update
bullet character Vestry Notes bullet character Advent, Christmas and New Year Services at Christ Church
bullet character Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens bullet character Deadline
bullet character Parish Register bullet character Baskets of Cheer
bullet character Report on the Diocesan Convention bullet character Around the Parish
bullet character Sunday School News    
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Clergy Corner

The Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New Brighton
The Rev. Chuck Howell

In the packets given to the delegates at diocesan convention was an attractive annual report from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which described their various ministries.  On the front of the report was a black and white photograph of the inside of the cathedral, showing a formal liturgical procession and the cathedral packed with people.  The caption on the inside cover said that the photograph was taken at the dedication of the Nave and Entire Length of the Cathedral, November 30, 1941.

The world was a pretty dark and scary place in November 1941.  Hitler had invaded Poland in 1939; Denmark, Norway, and France had all fallen; the Battle of Brittan and the Blitz were on; and the Great Depression was by no means over, unemployment in the United States stood at about 14%.  Yet despite all this, I would imagine that no one sitting in that cathedral on November 30, 1941 would have suspected that in seven days their country would be at war:  On December 7 Pearl Harbor was bombed, and on December 8 President Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress – back when Constitutional procedures still mattered – and asked for a declaration of war.

Sometimes I wonder what is in our future.  It’s odd to think that as we go about our daily lives that great joy or great sorrow could be just a few days away.  Like that great throng gathered in the cathedral, we have no way of knowing what the next week, the next day, or even the next hour will bring.  But whatever the future brings we know that Jesus will be there.

The Gospel of Matthew says that, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.  The promise of Advent and Christmas is that in Jesus, God is with us in good times and bad times, no matter what the future may bring.

Faithfully yours,

Fr. Chuck

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A Word of Thanks

Andrew SchneiderJanet Schneider and the Schneider family would like to thank all of you for your support for Andrew, and also for your support of us while Andrew was deployed in Iraq for the past 15 months.  We are so thankful to have him back in the U.S.  He will once again be stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. 

      We also thank all of the people who have chosen to serve, locally and nationally, and who take responsibility for us to live in freedom and safety here in the United States.
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Vestry Notes

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Christ Church Vestry took place on Monday, November 10, 2008. Following are some highlights of important issues that were discussed that evening:

  1. Alleida Mitchell presented a schedule of Fund Raising events to take place in 2009. These events and dates are subject to change and are in no way set in stone. New events for the near term include a Winter Chowder Night in January hosted by the choir, and the possible sale of calendars for raising extra funds
  2. A recommendation of the Worship & Liturgy committee was to purchase about 120 hymnals, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at a cost of about $15 each. It is hoped that can be purchased as memorials or for individual use. They would be used in conjunction with the current blue hymnals and would in some way better address the diversity of our congregation.
  3. One of our new congregants, Kirsten Swanson, has agreed to be our grants person and will be responsible for writing grants, helping to meet deadlines for applications, etc. Discussion included the recommendation that we convert volunteer hours into dollar equivalents when applying for grants, a practice that is being accepted by many grant givers.
  4. Susan Fowler presented a priority list of things needed to be done as soon as possible. These were repointing the walls of the sanctuary in the church, tree pruning and diagnosis of tree health, replacing the rectory cellar door and closing holes and repointing in the rectory basement. Total request: $38,500. She also reported on the removal of dead/diseased trees on the church grounds and the associated costs.
  5. There was some discussion regarding the Proposed Operating Budget for 2009. The amount proposed for all our church programs is estimated at $29,200. Discussion ensued concerning the impact of the economic downturn and whether cuts should be made now in anticipation of worse times ahead; since the church is currently experiencing continuing growth, this not a good time to consider cutting programs; should there be more money given to heat/utilities; and there are doubts whether Serendipity can give any monetary contribution in 2009 to the operating budget.
  6. The 2009 budget will be voted on at the next Vestry meeting on December 8, 2008.
  7. Fr. Howell reported on the meeting of the Education Committee. Lisa Rhoades said that there were about seven children (not always the same ones) attending Godly Play in the Sunday School.
  8. The pledges are slowly coming in. Trevor Mills complimented those who spoke about stewardship and what the church meant to them on a personal level during our Sunday 10 a.m. services over the past few weeks.
  9. There are forms for people to fill in concerning whom they would like to see as a warden or vestry member. Nominations will be closed on November 30 and the slate will be announced in church for the two weeks before the 2009 Annual Meeting.
  10. Alleida Mitchell reported on the Holiday Baskets program. There will be 13 items of food in each basket and there will be 200 baskets altogether. The cost of this operation is $3,100, which will be offset by grants. These include generous grants from Councilman McMahon and Councilman Oddo, which have not yet been received. Since there is only $800 in the kitty as of now, a motion was made to advance CCCO the sum of $2,300 to bring the total amount to the necessary $3,100.
  11. There was a discussion about how the parish can appeal to members of the Hispanic community. Our seminarian, Dave Carletta is bilingual in English and Spanish and expressed interest in helping to integrate any Hispanic people into the English-speaking services and other parish activities.
  12. Victor Stanwick remarked that he was moved by the generosity of Anne Devlin who had made a donation to the parish feeding programs in memory of Connie Ricciardi and Victor’s father, Richard E. Stanwick.
Fr. Howell showed a beautiful Psalm Board made by Victor Stanwick in memory of his father, which will be used in the chapel.
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Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens

fleursFlower Fund Envelopes will be found in the pews. Those who would like to contribute to the memorial flowers and greens for Christmas should list names of individuals to be remembered, include donation, and place the envelope in the offering plate on a Sunday. Names and donations may also be mailed to Mrs. Richard Elfers, 61 North Randall Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301.

      Checks should be drawn to Women of Christ Church. Names must be received no later than December 21 for listing in the Christmas bulletin.
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Parish Register

December Birthdays
1 – Clyve Hutton; 3- Liam Aleman; 4 – Philip Aleman; 5 – Victor Stanwick; 12 – Linda McAndrew; 14 – Ginny Spadaro; 17 – Lester Blair; 18 – Willie Black, Jr, Tovin Hewitt, Iris Brown; 24 – Sunita Massey; 25 – Nick Dowen, Kirsten Swanson; 28 – Nathaniel Seeley II;

December Anniversaries
9 – David & Laraine Holt, Ronald & Sunitha Massey; 13 – Karen & Paul Smith; 27 – Shirley & Willie Black, Jr., Robert & Linda McAndrew;

If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 718-727-6100 so it can be added.
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Report on the Diocesan Convention

On November 14 and 15th I had the honor of attending the 232nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York as your lay delegate, and I would like to share a few of my thoughts and observations about that gathering with you.

It was clear from the start that concerns about the current economic crisis would dominate our discussions of the budget.  Despite economic uncertainty ahead, the budget committee, Trustees and Bishops encouraged us to pass the 2009 budget without changes from the floor.  With faith that the Trustees (who meet on a monthly basis) will follow the situation closely in the coming months and make any adjustments necessary, the delegates passed the budget.

Other business taken up at the convention included the passing of resolutions regarding the minimum compensation guidelines for priests; support of civil marriage equality for same-sex couples in New York State; asking the General Convention to allow the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary to continue as equal choices for worship; and an endorsement of the Earth Charter as a declaration of global ethics consistent with the social, political and economic justice principles of the Diocese of New York and the Episcopal Church.  Resolutions from the floor included those encouraging 100% parish support of the Carpenter's Kids program and the use of learning modules to further discuss and examine the issue of reparations.

Diocesan LogoReports from the Dean of the Cathedral and various Episcopal charities reminded us of the great good works the church was engaged in during 2008 and looked forward to the rededication of the Cathedral later this month.  The Bishops reported on their experiences at Lambeth and were heartened by the reception they were given by the people of the Anglican churches they visited in England, Scotland and Wales. We had the opportunity to attend several workshops including ones on improving Vestry communication, the Carpenter's Kids program, and in support of migrant and day laborers.

The emotional tone of the conference was one of celebration mixed with some sadness as the group acknowledged that Bishop Taylor's anticipated retirement in 2009 meant that this would be his last convention in the Diocese.  He preached a sermon at the Convention Eucharist on Friday evening, and touched on the anniversary of the consecration of Samuel Seabury, first American Bishop, and contained reflections on his own time in the Diocese.  In his remarks on Saturday he shared his plans to return to his native Jamaica where he will serve as Rector of a church in Kingston, teach, and work with the Bishop there to revitalize the church in that country.

In between attending workshops and listening to reports, Father Chuck and I connected with friends new and old.  We offered Roy Coles (who will be Rector at St. John's starting later this month) our best tips on life on Staten Island.  I reconnected with a friend from my childhood who is now chaplain at Trinity School, Manhattan (amazing, since we grew up together in a Presbyterian church!!) and we enjoyed the happy company of John Stubbs, interim rector at St. Mary's, on the drives to and from Mahwah, NJ.  

This fall, as I enter into the last couple of months of my service on the Vestry and as your warden, Christ Church has never been far from my thoughts.  I am grateful for the opportunities to grow in my faith and love of Christ that this parish has extended to me, and I will remember attending this conference as your representative as an incredible experience.
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Sunday School News

Our RED SOCK/BLUE SOCK clothing collection continues through the month of December. We’d like to thank all those who have donated their “gently used” blankets and coats, and mismatched and new socks, which   help provide clothing for the homeless who are supported by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem. If you have any items that you’d like to donate to this worthy cause, please drop them off at the Parish Office, or bring them to church on Sunday morning.

On Friday evening, December 19, the Sunday school will be baking treats which will be distributed to the homeless, through St. Mary’s (Harlem); the baked goods will be delivered on Saturday, December 20.

Our Sunday School Pageant, which takes place this year on Sunday, December 21 during the 10 a.m. service, will focus on the Christmas story.  Mark your calendars!
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Fund Raising Events for 2009

The following is a list of proposed Fund Raising Events/Activities for 2009, which was approved by the Vestry at their November 2008 meeting. Please be sure to take note of the dates and check the Sunday Bulletin, the bulletin board in the Parish House, and future editions of the Tower Chimes for further details:

January 17 – “Winter Chowder Night”
February 1 – Diversity Sunday
February 14 – Valentine’s Day Supper
February 16 – Women of Christ Church Annual Appeal
March 8 – Serenade Concert
March 15 – Serendipity “Soup and Salad” Luncheon
March 27 – Fish Supper
April 2 – Women of Christ Church Annual United Thank Offering
April 18 – Wine Tasting Event
April 26 - Serenade Concert
May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 – 50/50 Raffle during Coffee Hour to raise money for Peter Raff Youth Tennis Tutoring
May 3 – Serendipity Quiche and Salad Luncheon
May 9 – Bus Trip to Paper Mill Playhouse
June 6 – “Pre-Fair” Dinner at Christ Church
June 13 – Christ Church Spring Fair
June 21 – Staten Island Yankee “All You Can Eat” Ball Game
August 10 – Serendipity “Ice Cream Social”
September 11 – Blueberry Festival
September 20 – Serenade Concert
September 27 – Scholarship Tea
October 4 – Stewardship Sunday
October 17 – Chinese Auction
October 18 – Serenade Concert
November 7 – Fall Foliage Bus Trip
November 14 – German Dinner
December 5 – St. Nick’s Fair
December 12 – Holly Ball

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Stewardship "Update"

Thanks to everyone who has already submitted their 2009 Pledge Card. Our Financial Secretary, Beth McLean reports that the overall response has been good; however, about 25% of the 2009 pledge responses are still outstanding.

      If you have not yet returned your 2009 Pledge Card please do so as quickly as possible; your pledges are a critical factor to help us determine our 2009 Operating Budget.
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Advent, Christmas and New Year Services @ CCNB

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for these important services:

Sunday, December 7 at 4 p.m.
Advent Vespers – Sponsored by the Staten Island Council of Churches
Sunday, December 21 – 10 a.m.
Sunday School Christmas Pageant
Wednesday, December 24 – Christmas Eve
4 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
10 p.m. – Choral Holy Eucharist
Thursday, December 25 – Christmas Day
10 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Wednesday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve
11 p.m. – “Watch Night” Service.

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Please take note: the January Tower Chimes will be devoted entirely to our Parish Annual Meeting, which takes place on Sunday, January 11, immediately following the 10 a.m. service.

Deadline for the February Tower Chimes is Sunday, January 18.
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Baskets of Cheer

Mrs. Marcia Novey and Fr. Chuck Howell.
Mrs. Marcia Novey and Fr. Chuck Howell.

Christ Church was buzzing with activity last month when several groups of dedicated volunteers met in the Parish House gymnasium to assemble Thanksgiving food baskets (actually plastic bags) which contained all of the fixings for a full Thanksgiving meal to be distributed to Staten Islanders who are unable to provide a holiday meal to their families.

Almost 200 hundred bags of food were assembled and distributed over a two-day period (November 19 and 20) under the auspices of the Christ Church Community Outreach Program.

This year’s Holiday Basket Program was dedicated to the memory of Fr. Joel Novey, one of the founders of the Episcopal Feeding Ministry here on Staten Island. Fr Novey’s widow, Marcia (shown here with Fr. Howell), was also part of the volunteer crew.

On Thursday, December 18 and Friday, December 19, volunteers will be meeting once again to assemble and distribute Christmas Holiday Baskets. If you want to be a part of this rewarding and important ministry at Christ Church please be sure to put your name on the “sign-up” sheets which are located on the bulletin board in the Parish House.    

The Christ Church Community Outreach Program is one of several programs available to those in need here on Staten Island. For a full list of those organizations please check the “Contact Us and Related Links” section on the Christ Church website at  (
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Around the Parish

Things have really been busy at Christ Church and there is much to report this month.

Last month we observed All Saints Sunday on November 2 with a “Parade of Saints” during the 10 a.m. service. If you weren’t able to attend, or if you’d just like to relive this wonderful event, you can find some terrific photos taken by our own John Watson on the Christ Church website (

Miracles happen at Christ Church – and little Miracle Smith is living proof! We’ve been praying for this little “preemie” whose birth weight was just little over 1.7 pounds. Father Chuck, and all who were present at the 8 a.m. service on November 16 were delighted to see Miracle and her mom, Kimbra, in attendance that morning. Miracle now weighs in at over 6 pounds, and her mom has asked us to thank everyone at Christ Church for their prayers and their support.

Our soprano soloist, Ann Sohm, was humbled and honored to be invited to speak at the 25th Anniversary of her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies graduate program at the College of Staten Island on Saturday, November 15. Congratulations, Ann, on this wonderful recognition.

We were pleased to see Bill Beveridge in his regular seat in the choir stalls last month. Bill underwent a rather delicate, but successful, procedure to repair some damage to his lower back and we are pleased to have him back where he belongs.

Gail Bernardez recently returned from a 9-day bus trip across the southern part of the United States and was very impressed with what she saw. The next time you see her in church make sure to ask her about it – she’ll be pleased to share all of the exciting details with you.

Last month we welcomed several new members into the Body of Christ when Fr. Chuck baptized them during the Sunday morning services. Congratulations to our newest “members” and their families:   Amelia June Vitek, the daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Kennedy Vitek: Kimara Jordan Jean-Mary (“Kikki”) the daughter of Kidert Jean-Mary; and  Colin Bryce Stewart, the son of Erin and David Stewart.

Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to our Warden, Victor Stanwick, who was admitted to Veterans Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn with a severely damaged toe. Victor underwent surgery and is currently “on the mend.” We miss you, Victor, and hope to see you back in action very soon.

Condolences to our sexton, Vito DeRenzis, on the passing of his dad, Robert, last month. Our prayers and best wishes go out to Vito and his family.

Please be sure to take note of the many exciting holiday services and activities that will be taking place at Christ Church over the next several weeks. “Around the Parish” will not be published in January, but we’ll be back again in February. Until then, best wishes to you and to your families for a healthy, happy and wonderful holiday season.