The Tower Chimes, monthly newsletter of Christ Church New Brighton
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In this issue:
Clergy Corner
Wednesday Evening Lenten Program at Christ Church
Fundraising Events and Social Activities for 2012
From The Parish Register
Vestry Notes
Easter Memorial Flowers
Holy Week and Easter at Christ Church
Episcopal Consecration
IPC Lenten Event
Coffee Hour: It's More than Just Food!
Interfaith Seder on Thursday, March 15
Holiday Food Baskets for Easter
Around the Parish
Clergy Corner
The Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New Brighton(Editor’s Note: In lieu of Fr. Chuck’s regular monthly message we have reprinted excerpts from his Report to the Annual Meeting. Many of our parishioners were not able to attend this meeting in January and we wanted to take this opportunity to share his message with all of you.)

When I came to Christ Church five years ago, I set two five-year goals for myself.  The first was an attendance goal, which was so fantastical that I’m not even going to state it.  After a year I set myself a revised goal, which we haven’t met yet, but our average Sunday attendance for 2011 was 126, so I think we will meet the revised goal in a year or two.  If, as I suggested last Sunday, everyone brings a friend to church, then we will exceed my original goal in one week.  The second goal I set for myself was a financial goal: To balance the budget.  I am pleased to tell you that, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, we have met that goal.  How on earth did this happen?

Simply put, expenses were down and revenue was up, most notably, we budgeted $130,000 in pledge income and thanks to your generosity, Christ Church received $146,000 in pledge income. 

As you can see from the agenda, today’s annual meeting is different from those of past years because we will have two presentations: One by Barry Donaldson of Lichten Craig Architects, the architectural and engineering firm we have contracted, and the other by Milissa Else of Ruotolo Associates, the fund raising consultants we have contracted.  To leave ample time for their presentations, I intend to keep my remarks brief, but I do want to highlight, at least by title, a few other matters.

As the scaffolding all over the parish house indicates, we have begun work on masonry repairs; our contractor is Seaboard Weatherproofing and Restoration The work began on October 5, is now suspended during the cold winter months when masonry work cannot be done, and will resume and be completed in the spring.  Barry will have more to say about this, but I want to note that the work that is being done is absolutely essential for safety and to stop destructive water infiltration – there are no extras in this job.  Because this work had to be done, and done now, to ensure safety and to prevent the building from being destroyed by water, the Vestry and I reluctantly approved withdrawing $200,000 from our investments.  This raises, of course, the question of a capital campaign.  Officials from the diocese recommended two fund raising consultants to us, and the vestry interviewed and carefully researched both firms before hiring Ruotolo Associates of Creskill, New Jersey to conduct a feasibility study.  This fall most of you participated in the feasibility study by taking the in-pew survey, or participating in a focus group, or participating in an individual interview.  Last Monday Milissa gave her report to the vestry, which decided to move forward with a capital campaign.  You will hear a summary of the feasibility study in a few minutes.  We cannot raise all the money we need from within our congregation, so we hope that we can leverage the money we raise to apply for grants which will help us move forward with critical repairs and repointing on the main tower of the church.

In addition to our long-time, dedicated staff persons, Tom Sarff, organist and choirmaster, and Cathy Romano, parish administrator, this year we were joined by two new staff members.  In January, Bishop Sisk assigned Deacon Geri Swanson to serve Christ Church.  As is appropriate to her diaconal ministry of serving as bridge between the church and the world, Geri has implemented the next stage of our afterschool program, the Christ Church Community Youth Drummers.  She has developed and hired tutors for the reading enrichment portion of the program, is onsite each Wednesday when the drummers meet, is managing the budget and grant writing, and supervises the drumming instructors.  She has been working with the Holiday Basket program, and, again, writing grants, and through her work as volunteer coordinator for the Trinity Lutheran Church soup kitchen, has strengthened our participation in the Second Saturday Feeding Ministry.  And, of course, Geri serves liturgically as deacon, reading the Gospel, preparing the altar for Communion, giving the dismissal, and occasionally preaching.  My father once told me that there’s nothing lonelier than a one man shop, by which he meant a single priest parish.  I am very grateful to be joined by such a fine colleague.

This year we were also joined by Lester Jean as our sexton.  Lester actually is employed by a cleaning service, Good Impressions, so he is not technically our staff person, but he treats Christ Church as if it were his own home.  I think you’ll all agree that our church has never looked better.  Besides being hardworking, he has a great sense of humor and is a thoroughly admirable person.

I’d like to acknowledge also this year’s retiring vestry members: Willie “Pappa” Black, Jr., Togba Porte, Peter Raff, and Hueldine Webb.  I thank each of you for your service and commitment to Christ Church.  I especially want to thank our retiring churchwarden Mark Gherzo.

There is so much more I’d like to say, but before I would close I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in December Christ Church hosted the an historic Evensong to commemorate Staten Island’s 350th anniversary.  We received the Sophie Matthews Volunteer Service Award from Project Hospitality for our long-time commitment to the homeless shelter housed in our gym, and we were recognized by the Building Bridges Coalition for our commitment to interfaith work on Staten Island.

I cannot believe that this is my sixth annual meeting at Christ Church; the time truly has flown by.  I read recently that the average tenure for Episcopal rectors is 4 – 7 years, so maybe that’s why people keep asking me if I am planning to leave.  I am not; I have no plans to leave Christ Church; my family and I are very happy here.  With our balanced budget, growing Sunday attendance, afterschool program, burgeoning Sunday school, and outreach ministries, I am convinced that Christ Church is entering into an exciting new era of service to God’s kingdom.  I intend to stick around to see where all this is going, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.  

Fr. Chuck

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Wednesday Evening Lenten Program at Christ Church

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory BoyleWednesday nights in Lent begin on February 29 and will run until March 28. The evenings will begin at 7 p.m. with a service of the Stations of the Cross, followed by a potluck supper at 7:30 p.m.  At 8:00 p.m. the study portion of the evening begins and will end promptly at 9:00 p.m.

For our Lenten study this year we will read and discuss Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle. Fr. Boyle is a Jesuit priest who for over twenty years has worked with gang members in the barrio of Los Angeles. Copies of Tattoos on the Heart are available in the parish office for $10.

Sign-up sheets will be posted on the bulletin board for those of you who would like to provide a portion of the potluck meal on a specific Wednesday evening.

Also, as part of your Lenten journey this year, Lenten meditation guides published by Episcopal Relief and Development are available at both entrances to the church.

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Fundraising Events and Social Activities for 2012
9 Fish Supper
18 Irish Brunch
5 Lamb Supper
22 Scholarship Tea
5 Spring Fair/Flea Market
18 Wine Tasting
19 International Cuisine Dinner
10 Clothing Drive Begins
16 Family Dance Night
24 Staten Island Yankees Game
12 Final Collection Day for Used Clothing
15 Clothing Drive Pick-Up
8 Blueberry Festival
21 Cancer Walk
28 Halloween Brunch
1 St. Nick’s Fair
8 Holly Ball
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From the Parish Register

March Birthdays
1 - Bob Mantz; 2 - Clyve Stephen Hutton; 6 – Betsy Kalfa, Mark Richards; 12 - Alice Wood Green: 13 – Kenneth McLean, William Keck, III; 14 – Maria Gelabert; 17 – Theresa Lettiere; 18 – Troy Richards; 20 – Gene McGough;  21 – Alexandria Kalfa; 22 – Robert Kowach 23 – Nancy Lettiere, Heather George; 28 – Julia Dwikat; 30 – Daniel Lettiere,  Angela Lindsay, Tom Sarff; 31 – Nicholas Kalfa

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

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, February 13, 2012. The following are highlights of what was discussed that evening:

Plant & Equipment Committee:

  • The chair lift to the Parish Hall Auditorium should be operational after its inspection by New York City on February 14.
  • The youth group is planning to renovate the basement kitchen with a new sink and new cupboards. Installation of a washer and dryer there is also under consideration.
  •  The Choir Rehearsal Room at last sees its grand piano, which is having broken strings replaced and being tuned.
  • Susan Fowler has retired from her chairmanship of Plant & Equipment and she was warmly commended and applauded for her years of outstanding service, as recognized recently at the Awards Dinner of the Staten Island Council of Churches. She will remain on the committee as a member.


  • Marshall Green chairs this committee, which submitted a written report. It is proposed for Christ Church New Brighton to organize and host a Godly Play training session.
  • The committee requests that the doors to the Godly Play classrooms be replaced with doors with windows.

Fund Raising Committee

  • Our Warden, Elizabeth Gattullo, reported on behalf of this committee. She stated that the British Brunch raised $1800 and that $200 has been collected in advance of the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper.
  • The possibility of collecting freewill contributions to parish meals was discussed as a source of greater income than charging a fixed amount.


  • According to Beth McLean, Financial Secretary,  90 pledges have been received, reaching a total amount of $136,260, which exceeds the dollar amount of this line in the 2012 Budget.


  • This committee, chaired by Sheila Hewitt, will hold its next Scholarship Tea fund-raiser on Sunday, April 22, 2012. Mr. & Mrs. Vincent Craig will be invited to perform, as will other artists. The committee awards scholarships to High School graduates and to youths attending Incarnation Camp at Ivoryton, Connecticut and other approved summer camps.

Capital Campaign

  • The names of the Capital Campaign leaders, to be appointed by the Rector in consultation with Ruotolo Associates, will be announced in the next few weeks.

Committee Appointments

  • The parish bylaws specify three standing committees, Plant & Equipment, Nominating, and Finance. The Rector, an ex-officio member of each committee, proposed the following membership of Plant & Equipment, to be chaired by Richard Whaley: Kevin Branciforte, William Brown, Tony Colucci, Nick Dowen, Susan Fowler, Elizabeth Gattullo, John Gerney, Marshall Green, Peter Raff, Barnett Shepherd, Victor Stanwick, Valerie Quinlan, Mark Gherzo, William Sherman, Kirstin Swanson-Basso, Sheila Swigert. Appointments to the Nominating and Finance committees will take place in the near future.

Vestry Appointments

  • Dorothy Thompson was elected to serve as Treasurer for 2012; Nick Dowen was also elected to serve as Clerk of the Vestry for the year

Churchwarden’s Report

  • Elizabeth Gattullo reported that the first Sunday of the month features a "potluck" Coffee Hour. Some openings still remain for Coffee Hour hosts this year.
  • It was suggested that two or more hosts might like to work together on one Coffee Hour.

Deacon’s Report

  • Deacon Geri Swanson spoke about the various feeding programs that Christ Church is involved with, with particular mention of the work of Deacon Beverly Neuhaus and the Richmond Senior Services Lunch and Dinner feeding ministry.

Rector’s Report

  • Fr. Howell reported that Andrew Dietsche, our Bishop Coadjutor Elect, will speak at St. Andrew’s Church on Monday, February 27, at 7:45 P.M. This will be a good opportunity for Staten Islanders to meet him. His consecration will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Saturday, March 10. A bus will depart from the parking lot of Christ Church New Brighton to provide transportation for this event.
  • There are two teenagers and three adults in the Confirmation Class. Confirmation will take place at the Church of the Ascension on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 17.
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We’re pleased to share with you some exciting news about a new fundraising program for our church. It’s called “Scrip” and the fun thing is that while you shop, it raises money to help with the church’s expenses.

Scrip” is simply a gift certificate from national and local retailers. “Scrip” is exactly the same thing as the gift certificates that you buy at the store.  Among the retailers that participate in the program are Macy’s, Best Buy, Applebees, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Amazon, Target, Mobil, and CVS.  There are hundreds and hundreds of other participants.

scrip gift certificateAbout this time, you’re asking yourself how these stores help the church to raise money.  “Scrip” participating retailers agree to sell gift certificates to us at a discount. You buy the “Scrip” at face value and redeem them at face value. The church then makes its money in the difference between the cost of the scrip and the face value. Here is an example of how you benefit - and the church does, too

Domino’s Pizza discounts its cards by 8%.  So, if you buy a $25 card, the church has only paid $23 for the card, but you have a $25 card to buy that mushroom, onion, and sausage pizza you wanted. In the meantime, the church has made $2.00 by selling you the card. The benefit to the store?  Cash up front and the likelihood of repeat business The benefit to you? You’ve bought what you needed or wanted while making a contribution to your church.

Members of the Fundraising Committee will be available at coffee hours to answer any questions you might have on this program.  Scrip promises to be a simple and effective fundraising program.

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Easter Memorial Flowers
tiny little flower from Snug HarborFlower Fund Envelopes will be found in the pews during the month of March. Those who would like to contribute to the memorial flowers for Easter 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 Palm Sunday, April 1, to be listed in the Easter bulletin. 
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Holy Week and Easter at Christ Church

Here is the schedule for Holy Week and Easter services at Christ Church. We hope you’ll be able to take part in each of these services.

Sunday, April 1 – Palm Sunday

7:30 a.m. – Morning Prayer

8 a.m. – Holy Eucharist and Distribution of Palms

10 a.m. – Holy Eucharist and Palm Procession

Thursday, April 5 – Maundy Thursday

7:30 p.m.  - Holy Eucharist with Foot Washing and Stripping of the Altar, followed by a Lamb Supper, Compline and Vigil at the Altar of Repose

Easter flowered crossFriday, April 6 – Good Friday

4 p.m. – Liturgy for Children and Families

7:30 p.m. – Good Friday Liturgy and Holy Communion from Reserved Sacrament

Sunday, April 8 – Easter Day

8 a.m. – Holy Eucharist

10 a.m. – Festive Choral Holy Eucharist and Reception immediately following the service

11:30 a.m. – Easter Egg Hunt

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Episcopal Consecration

The Rev. Canon Andy DeitscheThe Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche, our Bishop Coadjutor-elect, will be consecrated bishop on March 10 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.The Richmond Inter Parish Council (IPC) has reserved two buses to take Staten Islanders to the consecration. The buses will leave from Christ Church promptly at 8:00 a.m., and we are requesting that everyone arrive by 7:45 a.m. The cost is $15, which includes the gratuity. Funds are available to defray the cost of the bus if needed, please speak to Fr. Chuck.

Bus reservation forms are available in the parish office, or they can be downloaded from our website ( Please fill out the form and return it to Fr. Chuck.

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IPC Lenten Event

Brother Daniel P. Horan, OFMThis year’s IPC (InterParish Council) Lenten Event will be held on March 18 at 4:00 p.m. at Hemsley Hall of St. Andrew’s Church. 

The speaker will be Brother Daniel P. Horan, OFM, author of Dating God, Live and Love in the way of St. Francis.  His topic at the Lenten event will be: The Place of the Franciscan tradition in Our Everyday Lives. A supper will follow the lecture.

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Coffee Hour: It's More than Just Food!

You’ve heard it more than once: the Sunday morning coffee hour is an extension of the 10 a.m. service. Coffee hour is the time when parishioners who have come together to worship earlier that day now have the time to meet together in fellowship over a cup of coffee and light refreshments.

too much coffeeIt’s the time to catch up on what’s been happening at church, a time to find out what’s going on with friends and their families, or just a time to sit and relax.

Despite what you may think, Episcopalians aren’t the only ones who feel that coffee hour is important and you’ll find that just about every church hosts some sort of fellowship activity after the Sunday service. But at Christ Church we seem to do it a bit better than anyone else!

Elizabeth Gattullo is the Coffee Hour Coordinator and is responsible for coordinating a volunteer – or volunteers – who prepare and serve the coffee and other refreshments on a given Sunday. Actually, many of our volunteers find that it’s much easier to pair up with one or two other friends. It makes the job a lot easier, and after all, many hands make light work!

Coffee hour is a very important ministry at Christ Church and right now there are still some Sunday slots that need to be filled. The sign-up list is located on the bulletin board, and if you have any questions about exactly what needs to be done Elizabeth will be more than happy to give you all of the details.

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Interfaith Seder on Thursday, March 15

Don’t forget to mark your calendars now and plan to attend the annual Interfaith Seder sponsored by the Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island.

This very popular event will take place at St. Teresa’s RC Church at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Manor Road on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m.

A poster and sign-up sheet for this event will be posted shortly on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. 

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Holiday Food Baskets for Easter

Thanks to a generous grant of $5000 from Episcopal Charities and grants from Council Members Rose and Oddo, many needy families on Staten Island will be the recipients of holiday food baskets this year.

Christ Church will be preparing at least 200 holiday basket dinners for needy families and individuals on Staten Island. We will assemble baskets on Tuesday, April 3rd and distribute them on Wednesday, April 4th. Watch for sign-up sheets on the Parish Hall bulletin board. 

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Around the Parish

It’s March already and Easter is right around the corner – this year is certainly moving quickly!

Congratulations to Colin Reed who was the latest recipient of the Christ Church Chi Rho. This well-deserved honor was bestowed upon Colin last month as his many friends and members of his family were there to cheer him on.

Once again, our Diversity Day celebration proved to be the highlight of the month of February. The variety of talented performers, the incredible selection of tasty ethnic foods and the warmth and fellowship that filled the auditorium that day made for memories that won’t soon be forgotten. Congratulations and thanks to the Black familyWillie, Shirley, Buster and Connie – for coordinating this wonderful event!

The Christ Church Community Choir, under the direction of Beth Johanning, just keeps getting better and better. Membership has steadily increased and many of the young probationers have moved up in the choral ranks.

Congratulations to Jessica Szczepanik Nerline and Christopher Nerline, and grandparents John and Christine Szczepanik, on the birth of Jessica and Chris' daughter Christy. Best wishes also to Kristin and Matro Parrish on the birth of their daughter, Sonja Lillian. Sonja is the first grandchild of Hal and Linda Reiersen.

Last month we celebrated the baptism of Zoie Madison Bunbury. Zoie is the great niece of Andrea and Hugo McIntosh

Best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Laura Napolitano. And our prayers and best wishes go out to Nancy Beveridge and her family as she continues to receive treatment at Staten Island University Hospital.

A correction to last month’s mention of the passing of Tom Sarff’s father, Curt. We had inadvertently shown his name as Eric Sarff.

Last month we were saddened to learn of the passing of Herb Smith, a well-known figure in the Staten Island community, and a great friend of Christ Church. Condolences to his wife, Barbara, and his entire family.          

That’s all for this edition. If there is news that you’d like to include please feel free to leave a note in the Tower Chimes mail box or send an e-mail to

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