the Tower Chimes
December, 2010
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Clergy Corner
Vestry Notes
Arts Committee at Christ Church
Madam President
United Thank Offering
Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens
Sunday School News
From the Parish Register
Christmas Services
Christ Church Holly Ball on Saturday, December 11
Chuckling at Christ Church
Around the Parish
Clergy Corner
the Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector

The Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New BrightonChristmas is often referred to as a Feast of the Incarnation.  Incarnation means to become flesh and is derived from the Latin words in, meaning in, and caro, meaning flesh.  It is the belief that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became a flesh and blood human being in Jesus.  As the Gospel of John says, which we read every Christmas Day, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  What does it mean to say that God became a human being?  Reflection on this question has led to something known as incarnational theology, among other things.

The first thing that incarnational theology teaches is that mundane things can be bearers of the divine.  If flesh and blood can be also Almighty God, then why can’t other things?  They can.  For instance, water becomes the bearer of the divine grace of baptism and, most significantly, bread and wine bear the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.  God is constantly communicating to us through the sacraments and also through the natural world; we only need the spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear.

Incarnational theology also teaches us that Jesus is present to us in other people, particularly in the poor and the suffering.  Speaking of those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters you did it to me.”  Incarnational theology teaches that when the youth group serves Thanksgiving Dinner at the soup kitchen; when parishioners assemble and distribute 200 turkey dinners; when our parish provides for a homeless shelter in our basement, we are serving Christ himself.

This Christmas as we celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, let us remember all the ways that he is still present among us: In the natural world, in the sacraments, and in the faces of the poor.  Let us resolve further not to neglect any of these manifestations of the Incarnation so that the spirit of Christmas may be with us not only on December 25 but throughout the year.

Faithfully yours,

Fr. Chuck

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Vestry Notes
Nick Dowen

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, November 8, 2010. Following are highlights of some of the important issues that were discussed at that time:

Committee Reports

Plant & Equipment

  1. The issue of scaffolding to protect the public from the deteriorating bell cote is unresolved, although a price quote has been received on the construction of a sidewalk bridge.
  2. Several suggestions were made about renting a dumpster to dispose of unneeded accumulations in the church basement, the auditorium balcony, and the outdoors and we are researching the possibility of hiring a crew to fill the dumpster, in addition to hiring a professional site manager to prioritize what needs to be done and to supervise the work of doing it.

Finance Committee

  1. A draft of the 2011 Budget was circulated. The 2011 Budget will be voted on at the next Vestry meeting.

Stewardship Committee

  1. Pledge cards were turned in on All Saints’ Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. Follow-up will be needed for those who have not yet turned in their pledge cards.

Nominating Committee

  1. The Nominating Committee continues to receive nominations for the composition of the new Vestry.

Education Committee

  1. The Godly Play program is running out of space. Accommodating future growth has become an issue.
  2. The Christmas Pageant will take place on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec. 19, during the 10:00 A.M. Service.

Fund-Raising Committee

  1. A report of the church’s fund-raising activities as of Oct. 31, 2010, was submitted.

Christ Church Community Outreach

  1. Thanksgiving food baskets will again be assembled and distributed. Volunteers are needed.

Christ Church Community Youth Choir

  1. Hueldine Webb and Peter Raff are the Vestry representatives to the Christ Church Community Youth Choir.  The choir will next sing in public at the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, Nov. 21.

Churchwarden’s Report

Alleida Mitchell stated that new fund-raising strategies will need to be considered next year.
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Arts Committee at Christ Church
Denise Rompilla

Edvard MunchChrist Church is in the early stages of forming an Arts Committee. The Arts Committee seeks to explore religious experience and expression in the verbal, visual and performing arts, in the context of contemporary culture.

The Committee would organize art projects and exhibitions, transform the walls of the Guild Room into a permanent gallery space, and develop art workshops aimed at young people in the community. The Committee would also present readings, lectures, staged performances, dance, poetry, film, and other events in order to provide insights on society, faith, and personal expression.

If you have ideas for programming, or are interested in joining the Committee, please contact Denise Rompilla.
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Madam President
Nick Dowen

We’re not often invited to share time and space with a Head of State, but that happened in church when Togba Porte offered us tickets to hear an address by Her Excellency Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, President of the Republic of Liberia.

This event took place on November 9 in the Auditorium of Curtis High School, whose Principal, Aurelia L. Curtis, was herself born in Liberia. Under tight security, after passing through metal detectors we were escorted to our seats by members of the school’s Junior ROTC.

Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, Preisdent of LiberiaStaten Island’s Liberian community, 10,000 strong, was very well represented and we sat next to two men who had driven over from Philadelphia. The audience’s welcome was extremely celebratory, in fact loud, joyful and exuberant, and we were swept up by it all. The size of the crowd was estimated at 700, by one account, but it seemed much larger than that.

Togba Porte assisted Aurelia Curtis as Master of Ceremonies. In the audience we spotted Janet Schneider and Williette Thompson, among other Christ Church parishioners. After performances by the Curtis High School Jazz Band and Chorus, among others, and the presentation to the President of many awards, she spoke.

Ms. Sirleaf-Johnson’s down-to-earth demeanor and speech inspire confidence in her ability to help her country recover from 14 years of civil war. She has experience in finance and banking and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. I was glad to hear her say, "I’m a professional, a technocrat." As a woman president, the only African Head of State to be a woman, she sets a good example to patriarchal governments all over the world.

There are Episcopalians in Liberia, as in many other African countries. Christ Church New Brighton is concerned about the Liberian Episcopal schools, whose alumni we number among our own parishioners. We have collected books for the schools’ libraries and are investigating means of providing the schools with electrical generators.
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United Thank Offering
Linda Reiersen

The United thank Offering will be collected on Sunday, January 30 at the ten o'clock service. We had a good response last year and I hope to get the children more involved this year. The little UTO --what we called "mite" boxes when I was a kid--are in the back of the church.

      This is such a wonderful charity, and Christ Church received a grant from them a few years ago. Here is an opportunity for the children to learn about giving to a worthwhile charity, and an opportunity to open a discussion about why we do this. Thank you!
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Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens
Shirley Elfers

Christmas FlowersFlower 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 19 for listing in the Christmas bulletin.
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Sunday School News
Sheila Hewitt

As the year comes to close I like to put things into perspective for the year, and as I look back I see many good things being done by the Christ Church Youth group. Again I must thank everyone for their assistance in making all the youth group endeavors so successful, such as;

  1. Making Strides against Cancer -  raised $293.00
  2. Donation of gifts to the AIDS program held November 17 at St John Divine
  3. Annual  RED TREE Decorations  

Sunday School News Yes the RED TREE will be back in the Guild Room this year. We are look for “decoration” donations of hats, scarves and socks for those who are less fortunate than us.

SECRET SANTA Program

In the current economy I know I don't need to explain about the reality of families in our community with children who do not have the resources to provide them with a Merry Christmas. We have posted a “Children’s Wish List” on the parish house bulletin board, which represents lists from families in our community who are in need of our assistance.

We are asking that you pick one child on the “wish list,” purchase any of the items on their list and then give that gift to me or Alleida Mitchell. We’ll make sure that your gift is wrapped and delivered to the family in time to make their child’s Christmas a bit merrier. 

Some Calendar Notes

  1. Our final Friday evening Youth Group Activity for the fall will be ice skating on Friday, December 10. We will meet at Christ Church at 7 p.m. More details to follow
  2. Godly Play and Journey to Adulthood classes will start after the Christmas break on January 9, 2011
      And so to our Christ Church Family; A Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night…and a Happy New Year too!
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From the Parish Register
Cathy Romano

Parish RegisterDecember 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; 21 – Cathy Romano; 22–Charlie Nygard;  24 – Sunitha Massey; 25 – Nick Dowen, Kirstin Swanson; 28 – Nathaniel Seeley II;

December Anniversaries
9 – David & Laraine Holt, Ronald & Sunitha Massey; 13 – Karen & Paul Smith, Joseph & Theresa Gilman; 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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Christmas Services
Cathy Romano

Christ Church offers three opportunities to celebrate Christmas.

4 p.m. Christmas Eve, Family Holy Eucharist.
This service is geared toward families with young children and also those who would prefer not to be out late at night. The service will feature familiar carols and music. The Christ Church Community Youth Choir will also sing during this service.

Christmas Services10 p.m. Festal Holy Eucharist
This service is in the formal Midnight Mass tradition of Christmas.  It is a candlelit service featuring carols, anthems by the Christ Church choir, and adoration of the Christ Child.  Worshiping in the candlelit church on Christmas Eve is truly a magical experience.

10 a.m. Christmas Day Holy Eucharist
The congregation for this simple, said service of Holy Eucharist sits close to the altar in the choir stalls.  The Gospel lesson for Christmas Day is always taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of John in which the evangelist unfolds the mystery of the Incarnation.  The Christmas Day Eucharist is a quiet, reflective moment amid the hubbub of Christmas celebrations. 

Watch Night
The Liberian community will once again be sponsoring a Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve.  Watch Night begins with a hymn sing at 10:30pm and a service of Holy Eucharist at 11:00pm, culminating with greeting the New Year at midnight.  Following the service there will be a reception in the Guild Room.  All Christ Church parishioners and their friends are welcome to attend the Watch Night service.  What better way to welcome the New Year than in church.

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Christ Church Holly Ball on Saturday, December 11
Nancy Reiersen

Christ Church Holly BallJust a reminder…if you have not yet made your reservation to attend this year’s Holly Ball on Saturday, December 11 there’s still time to make your reservation.

Our honorees this year include Shirley and Willie Black, two hard-working and dedicated parishioners who are well known to just about everyone in the parish.  We will also be honoring Herb Smith, a well known figure on Staten Island and a great friend to Christ Church.

Don’t miss out on the fun this year. If you haven’t received your invitation, or if you need another RSVP card please see Beth McLean our Holly Ball chairperson.

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Chuckling at Christ Church
Colin Reed

LaughterGod laughs a lot when She’s on Staten Island!

In God’s honor Colin Reed has just published fifteen copies of his collection of funny stories “Chuckling at Christ Church” supplemented with cartoons by Victor Stanwick.

Colin’s collection will be on sale for $10 at the St. Nick’s Fair, and at future coffee hours in the coming weeks.

All proceeds will be donated to our church. We know you’ll enjoy a good laugh.
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Around the Parish
Nancy Reiersen

It’s hard to believe that the year will soon be ending…where has the time gone? There’s much to share with you this month so let’s get started.

A belated 80th birthday wish to Bill and Kay Brown. Last month Bill’s daughters held a party in their honor to celebrate this milestone occasion.

And speaking of milestones – Shirley and Willie Black (our 2010 Holly Ball honorees) will be marking 50 years of wedded bliss on December 27. Congratulations lovebirds!

Thanks to everyone who supported the Women of Christ Church bake sale last month. Valerie Quinlan reports that we raised approximately $125 which will used towards our Carpenters Kids project.

The Christ Church Community Youth Choir made their second appearance last month during the November 22 Sunday Service. Kudos to the choir and their director, Beth Johanning, for a job well done!

Members of our Youth Group joined Fr. Chuck and the parishioners from St. Andrew’s Church at the Trinity Soup Kitchen last month and helped to serve over 195 Thanksgiving meals. We commend you all for participating in this very important community outreach project.

The Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island held their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving  Service last month. Many of our local faith communities participated in this interesting and moving service. Please be sure to mark your calendars for their annual Seder at St. Teresa’s Church on Sunday, April 3.

Keep your eyes on CJ Brown, son of John and Carol Brown. CJ is a freshman at St. Peter’s High School here on Staten Island and is a member of the school’s winning swim team.

Condolences to Willie Black, Jr. on the passing of his mother, Mary Black last month.

Some bittersweet news to share with our readers this month. Long time parishioners Glen and Vlasta Jantzi will be leaving Staten Island at the end of this year as they relocate to a retirement community in Indiana. Glen earned his degree at a small university in Indiana, not far from where their new home will be. There are many wonderful and exciting opportunities and experiences that lie ahead for both Vlasta and Glen and we wish them all the best in their new home. You will be missed!

That’s all for now – other than to wish all of our readers and their families a blessed and meaningful Christmas holiday and a happy and healthy year ahead.

We received word from Florence Mills, who is living in Bowie, MD.  She avidly reads the Tower Chimes and enjoys keeping up with the doings at Christ Church.  She says that she is doing well and sends greetings to all her friends at Christ Church.
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