the Tower Chimes
December, 2011
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Clergy Corner
Meet Our New Bishop Coadjutor-Elect
Beautiful Voyces!
Christmas Holiday Baskets
A Stewardship Message
Evensong Service
From the Parish Register
Vestry Notes
Food for Thought
Christmas Services at Christ Church
Watch Night
Holly Ball
British Brunch
Around the Parish
Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens
St. Nick's Fair
Clergy Corner
the Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector

The Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New BrightonAt the end of Bob Swanson’s funeral, the late husband of our deacon, Geri Swanson, the entire congregation followed the clergy and casket outside to the oval in front of the church for a military ceremony.  Bob was a veteran of the US Navy, and over 150 people stood in complete silence as two uniformed servicemen removed the flag from his casket, folded it with precision, saluted it, and handed it to Geri.  As a light rain began to fall, a bugler played taps.

Standing in the oval observing the military ceremony, I was reminded how powerful silence is.  Our current Prayer Book was introduced in the late 1970s and its rubrics, in a departure from the previous Prayer Book, called for places of silence, such before the Confession of Sin and at the conclusion of the Prayers of the People.  I remember how uncomfortable it felt when the priest first starting observing those rubrics.  He’s not talking!  What’s going on?  Did he loose his place?  Did he fall asleep?  With time, of course, those brief periods of silence began to feel normal, even welcome.

Christmas, particularly in our hymnody, has all kinds of associations with silence.  In the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem we sing, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given”. And, most famously, silence is extolled in the opening words of Silent Night.  In these carols the silence seems to represent a mystery that is beyond the power of speech.  The silence of Christmas Eve embraces all the deep mysteries of life: Birth, sin, redemption, and death.  On Christmas Eve we gaze into a feeding trough at a baby born in a barn who will die to save the world.  What can our response to such things be except reverent silence?

Christmas is a busy, noisy time.  We have gifts to buy, houses to decorate, family to visit, dinners to cook, concerts to attend, and myriad other activities.  In church we have special services to plan, music to practice, a pageant to rehearse, and candles, hundreds of candles, to light.  But somewhere in the midst of all this activity maybe each of us can take a few minutes to sit in silence with the profound mystery of Christmas. 

Fr. Chuck

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Meet Our New Bishop Coadjutor-Elect

Bishop Coadjutor-Elect for New York, The Rev. Andy DietscheDuring a special election which took place on Saturday, November 19, the Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche was elected the bishop coadjutor-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of New York - a position that gives him automatic right of succession to the current Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, when he retires.

Canon Dietsche, a Poughkeepsie, NY resident who is currently on the diocesan staff as Canon for Pastoral Care, is a familiar face here on Staten Island and visited with us several times when Bishop Sisk made his visitation to Christ Church.

The bishop coadjutor-elect must now receive the consent of a majority both of the other diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church and of the standing committees of the Church's dioceses, before being consecrated in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Canon Dietsche will become the new Diocesan Bishop on Bishop Sisk's retirement, which must take place on or before his 72nd birthday in August 2014.

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Beautiful Voyces!
Beth Johanning

The new Staten Island early music vocal ensemble Voyces will present Wassail!, a celebration of medieval and Renaissance carols at St. Mary's Episcopal Church on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and St. John's Episcopal Church on Friday, Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Fr. Chuck Howell, Fr. Jerry Keucher, Fr. John Walsted and Leslie Thompson are some familiar faces in the 20 voice ensemble directed by Beth Johanning.

Wassail! will feature pieces by Palestrina, Monteverdi and Scheidt, as well as popular carols based on music from the Piae Cantiones of 1582. 

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Christmas Holiday Baskets
Fr. Chuck

holiday food basketWe will be gathering at Christ Church on Tuesday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m. to assemble Christmas Holiday Baskets to be distributed to needy families. Baskets for needy families here on Staten Island. Baskets will be distributed the following day, Wednesday, December 14 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Volunteers are needed both days – to assemble the baskets and help to carry them from gymnasium up to the parking lot.

Sign-up sheets will be posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall.

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A Stewardship Message
Marshall Green

(On Sunday, November 20, Marshall Green shared his feelings about the importance of Stewardship in his life. With Marshall’s permissions we have reprinted his stirring and heartfelt message.)

Hello fellow parishioners, I think you know my children, Marigold and Alice.  They seem so nice and sweet…and they are truly sweet and wonderful girls… most of the time. Like all children and in fact like all people they sometimes find themselves in disagreement, and feelings of anger can naturally arise. And in those moments when they are mad and treating each other unkindly I say to them “The most important thing is to love each other”  And sometimes in a surprising way this works, because the Love we share is so much more important than anything else that it reveals the true triviality of the particular issues of the day.

The message of Jesus that I find most valuable is that the most important thing we can do in this life is to Love. We love our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children… and more, of course we love our cousins and aunts and uncles… but wait not just our families but our neighbors, our co-workers and not just the ones who are easy to love because we share similar values and principles or enjoy the same books or movies or TV shows but also the ones who disagree with us on issues that we care very much about, the ones whose interests bore us, even the ones who are rude and offensive and even those whose lives have led them to believe things that we find reprehensible.

Love is the only option that can effect positive change.

The most important thing we can do in this life is to Love.

Some of the hardest times to find Love within ourselves for others, is when we feel that we or our close loved ones are threatened, especially when our children are threatened.  We can even feel justified in our anger and even hate in some situations.

We can all think of examples of this in our own lives. These challenges can happen in a physical way or it can be a subtler thing like when our best interests and efforts are thwarted by someone else working toward their own interest with disregard for others.  Even in these situations, Love is the only option that can effect positive change.

Sure, it is possible to fight back against others or manipulate our circumstances so that our interests are triumphant, and this might seem like a positive outcome from our own personal perspective, but it is not a truly positive outcome from a holistic perspective, in the sight of God.

Jesus said: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone hits you on the cheek, offer them the other cheek. If someone takes your cloak, don’t stop him taking your tunic. Give to everyone who begs, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.  After all, if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:27-32).

Love is the only option that can effect positive change.

The most important thing we can do in this life is to Love.

I love this church. I love the buildings, I love the events and activities, I love the sense of community, I love giving my energy and time to help the church grow and thrive, I love teaching our children, and I love everyone here.  This church is a Community based on the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His word is LOVE.

And this community of love is growing.  This is an exciting place to be.  And this is an exciting time to be here.  In the last few years, our education programs doubled and then tripled, we have a wonderful after school program that innovatively combines academics and arts, and our worship attendance has grown steadily.  New people visit our church, they see and feel the growing energy and excitement and they come back and become parishioners.  And one of these days, God willing, we will have a balanced budget.

This year I have been unemployed. As a result we will be selling our family home.  These are difficult times with tough challenges and difficult decisions to make and sometimes painful choices to follow through on.

Before I lost my job, I was giving a fair amount to the church.  I did not think about it as a percentage of my income.  I am not sure how I determined what a “fair” amount to give was. But this year when money is a very real concern, I have managed to keep my giving at the same level.  I stopped all other charitable giving. We used to give to a couple environmental organizations, a couple of arts groups, a political organization and Christ Church.  The only organization that we felt we could not stop giving to is Christ Church.  Each of us has to weigh our own abilities to give.  But my experience is that when the going got challenging, my real ability to give to Christ Church was considerably greater than I was aware of and that the really important responsibility is to our community.  Our community based on Love.

So, I would like to ask all of you to recalculate what you consider fair. Re-evaluate how much you can really afford to give to our community of love. And if you can give more then give more.  Actually give as much as you can afford to give… and then give a little more.  I think you might find that you are more able than you are aware.   So please, put your money where your Love is.

Thank you all for the love and support you have shown me and my family and thanks for listening.

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Evensong Service at Christ Church
To celebrate the 350th Anniversary of Staten Island

holly leavesDon’t forget to mark your calendars for Sunday, December 4 at 4 p.m. This is a historic celebration of our history that only takes place once every 350 years!

This historic celebration will include a service of Evensong with prayers and music that would have been used during an Evensong service 350 years ago. A combined choir, under the direction of Tom Sarff, will present music from that era, including the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis of Orlando Gibbons.

The ten Staten Island churches that are part of the Richmond Interparish Council will participate in the service that will use the 1559 Prayer Book. Also in attendance will be Bishop Roskam and the Rev. Andrew Smith.

A reception will follow where each parish will have displays with photos and other memorabilia on their histories and information about their current ministries. Light refreshments will be served.

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From the Parish Register
Cathy Romano

December Birthdays

Christmas decoration1 – Clyve Hutton; 5 – Victor Stanwick; 6 – Christopher McGough; 14 – Ginny Spadaro; 14 – Sophia Hall-Belluscio; 17 – Lester Blair; 18 – Willie Black, Jr, Tovin Hewitt, Iris Brown; 21 – Cathy Romano; 22 – Charlie Nygard; 23 – Annalina Hall-Belluscio; 24 – Sunitha Massey; 25 – Nick Dowen, Kirstin Swanson-Basso; 26 – Scott Samarisi; 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.

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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Vestry Notes
Nick Dowen

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, November 14, 2011. Following are highlights of important issues that were discussed that evening:

Plant & Equipment Committee

Northfield Foundation grant: Barnett Shepherd’s request to Northfield for $21,000 to replace the chair lift and the church’s sound system was granted, and we should receive a check within the next few weeks.

Parish Hall repairs: Seaboard has done the preliminary work, removing all coping stones that needed to be removed and grinding out bad mortar. They should start repointing this week. They have discovered additional problems—more stones that need to be replaced, for example—that the Vestry will need to address. Project managers will meet soon to discuss this.

Pianos: The choir has received offers of two pianos to replace the piano in the choir rehearsal room and perhaps the piano in the Auditorium. These offers are being evaluated.

Church basement workshop: Victor Stanwick has advised Plant & Equipment that he will close up his shop as soon as he finishes replacing the floor boards at the east entry to the auditorium. He says it doesn’t make sense to spend $5,000-7,000 on a shop that floods in the rain. It is also very difficult to get materials in and garbage and finished products out.

Finance Committee

Willie Black, Jr. reported the following: The Finance Committee has begun working on the 2012 Budget, with the Diocesan Assessment and other matters yet to be determined.

Christ Church Community Outreach (CCCO)

The after-school reading, African-drumming and steel-drumming programs are staffed and will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 16. They are being promoted to Grades 6-9, but the drumming programs might be offered to adults. There are 26 singers in the Christ Church Community Youth Choir. Thanksgiving food baskets have been increased in number from 200 to 240. Volunteers are needed to assemble the baskets on Tuesday; they will be distributed on Thursday.

Stewardship

A preliminary report shows 28 pledging units with a total of $37,482.

Fund-Raising

The 2012 Calendar of Fund Raising Events was reviewed and approved by the Vestry. It was noted that proceeds from all fund-raising events go into general operating expenses, with the exception of the Scholarship Tea. There will be no capital outlay by the parish for this activity. Nominating Committee

This committee’s work is being finalized and a report will be presented at the December Vestry meeting.

Capital Campaign

Individual interviews and meetings of focus groups will be held and a feasibility report will be presented at the Annual Meeting in January 2012.

Parish Hall Restoration Project

Marshall Green and Barry Donaldson, Project Managers, are pleased with the progress of this project. Richard Whaley explained the concept of "Discovery," by which additional needs and problems might be discovered as the work goes on.

Churchwarden’s Report

Mark Gherzo stated that Shirley Elfers was inducted into the Curtis High School Hall of Fame in a public ceremony on Nov. 13, 2011.

Rector’s Report

The Rector mentioned the installation of the Rev. Kevin Fisher, St. Mary’s new Rector, on Nov. 18, and the election of a bishop coadjutor of New York on Nov. 19. Evensong according to the 1559 Book of Common Prayer will be sung at Christ Church on Dec. 4 at 4:00 P.M. in observance of 350 years of European settlement on Staten Island.  

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Food for Thought
Susan L. Fowler

We’ve come to the end of the growing season on Staten Island, but the need for food, and especially fruits and vegetables, hasn’t ended. You may be pleased to know that there are at least four ways to help out this winter:

  • Help at Second Saturday by cooking or serving. You can cook a dish ahead of time—macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with meat sauce, or whatever’s on the schedule for the month—or help out at Trinity Lutheran. Victor Stanwick’s crew always makes a very appealing green salad, so come at 10:30 if you want to help with that. He also needs people to serve lunch between noon and 1 p.m. For details, talk to Victor or email him.
  • Jerry Keucher, Victor Stanwick and Maria IrizarryCity Harvest distributes fresh fruit and vegetables twice a month, on the first Tuesday and the third Saturday, at the Stapleton Houses between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. It’s a lively operation and you’ll enjoy it. For details, call or write me at 917 734-3746 or email me.
  • Meals on Wheels always needs volunteers. If you’re available for approximately two hours, one day a week, please volunteer to deliver meals to elderly neighbors in the community or to work in the office. Please contact Roseann Holt, Volunteer Administrator, at 718 727-4435 for more information. You can also fill in the form at http://www.mealsonwheelsofsi.org/volunteers.htm.
  • All of the pantries and soup kitchens are running low on food this winter, so it’s important to bring food to church on Sunday for our collection. However, remember that some types of dry or canned food are better than others. If you buy canned food, pick low-salt beans and vegetables and fruit canned in its own juices rather than in syrup. Low-sugar cereals like corn flakes and Cheerios are better choices than high-sugar Reese's Puffs, Corn Pops, or Lucky Charms.

One of the things that farmers do in the cold season is plan for the spring, and you, too, can help plan next summer’s crops. The Staten Island Hunger Task Force, now led by Deacon Beverly Neuhaus, is working with GrowNYC, Snug Harbor, the Castleton Moravian Church community garden, and other community gardeners both to create new gardens and to get extra produce from the gardens to food pantries and soup kitchens during the season. Connie Black and Sheila Hewitt are the Christ Church contacts.

There will be a one-day conference about this project in January, and a planning meeting on Dec. 15. For more information, call me at 917 734-3746 or write me. To help with Christ Church’s vegetable garden, talk to Connie and Sheila. Kevin Branciforte also has two lush beds of vegetables on the Fillmore Street side of the church, so feel free to talk to him about that project as well. 

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Christmas Services at Christ Church

snoflake graphicChrist 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 Godly Play Choir and the Christ Church Community Youth Choir will also sing during this service.

10 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. Since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year there WILL be a coffee hour immediately following the service. 

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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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Holly Ball

Holly Ball 2011 wreathJust a reminder…if you have not yet made your reservation to attend this year’s Holly Ball on Saturday, December 10 there’s still time to make your reservation.

This year members of the Reiersen family – Hal and Linda Reiersen and Nancy Reiersen-Scromo have been selected as honorees for this annual holiday event. 

Don’t miss out on the fun. If you haven’t received your invitation, or if you need another RSVP card please see Bonnie Franz or Roxanne Ingoe, our Holly Ball chairpersons. 

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British Brunch at Christ Church
Sunday, January 29
Colin Reed

british foodDon’t forget to mark your calendars for another afternoon of continental cuisine. Previous brunches have taken us to Ireland, Germany and Italy…this time we travel “across the pond” to sample the foods that have fed the royal monarchy for years.

Further details to follow in your Sunday bulletins. 

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Around the Parish
Nancy Reiersen

Another year has come…and is almost gone! Hard to believe that 2011 is almost over. There is much to report in this issue so let’s get started.

Congratulations to Shirley Elfers, who was inducted into the Curtis High School Hall of Fame on November 20. Shirley was recognized for her dedication and devotion to Christ Church.

Best wishes to John and Christine Szczepanik on the marriage of their daughter, Jessica, to Christopher Nerline.

On November 6, we welcomed Noah Sando Maggett into the Christ Church family. Noah is the son of Nancy Sherman and David Maggett; Noah’s proud grandfather is our own William Sherman. Congratulations to you all on this wonderful occasion.

And since we’re on the topic of blessed events…congratulations to Paul and Christine Elia on the newest addition to their family, John Michael, who weighed in at 10 lbs. 2 oz. Paul is the son of Marlene Elia. The Keucher family has also increased with their newest member, Adam Michael, who weighed in at 8 lbs. 2oz. on November 19. Adam is the great-grandson of Martha Keucher and the great-nephew of Jerry Keucher.

 We are pleased to report that Xander Raff, son of Peter Raff, has returned from Iraq and is currently stationed in Texas. Both Xander and Peter have asked us to extend their thanks to you all for your prayers and concern.

 Three Christ Church choir members – Hal and Linda Reiersen and David Seeley were spotted on the stage at Avery Fisher Hall last month in a special performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” It’s not often that one has the opportunity to perform under the direction of Maestro Jonathan Griffiths, and rumor has it that a wonderful time was had by all.

Condolences to Deacon Geri Swanson and her family on the sudden passing of her husband, Bob. This wonderful gentleman was an active parishioner at Trinity Lutheran Church here on Staten Island and was a “fixture” at the Second Saturday Lunch Program. Bob also spent a great deal of his time as a Scout Leader there as well.

That’s all for now. Best wishes to you all for a blessed and joyful Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.  

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Christmas Memorial Flowers and Greens
David Wood

poinsettiaFlower Fund Envelopes will be found in the pews during the month of December. Those who would like to contribute to the memorial flowers for Christmas should list names of those to be remembered on the front of the envelope and place your envelope with donation in the offering plate on Sunday morning.

Checks should be drawn to Christ Church New Brighton. All names must be received NO LATER than Sunday, December 19 to be listed in the Christmas bulletin. 

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St. Nick's Fair
St. Nick's Fair Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
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