The Tower Chimes, monthly newsletter of Christ Church New Brighton
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In this issue:
Clergy Corner
In Memorium:
Martha Keucher
Summer Camp Scholarships
Vestry Notes
Great Valley Chamber Music Society to Perform at Christ Church
Play Ball!
Ascension Day & Confirmation
Piano, Piano, Piano
Spring Fair
From the Parish Register
"An Examined Life", a Stage Comedy by Frank Quinlan
Christ Church Community Youth Chorus to Perform on Sunday, May 20
Around the Parish
International Tasting
Clergy Corner
The Rev. Charles H. Howell, Rector of Christ Church New Brighton      On Easter Day the church bell rang for the first time in over a year, welcoming Easter morning and celebrating the end of the first phase of our repair and renovation project. In the first phase all the safety and water penetration issues in the parish house were addressed and corrected. This is not to say that there are no more repairs to be made, but the most critical ones have been finished, allowing us to move onto phase two.

The next phase of our repair and renovation project will address the serious water penetration issues on the main tower of the church. Inside the church, staining from water infiltration is readily apparent on the tower arches, and you may be aware that some organ pipes do not play or cipher (a high pitched sound) and this, too, is caused by water damage in the organ case.

Dust from the mortar and from the granite stones themselves is constantly falling in the church and sometimes pieces of mortar fall, creating obvious safety issues.  Our architects advise us that the tower needs to be repointed and portions need to be rebuilt.

During the children’s homily this past Sunday, the chancel and chancel steps were packed with children.  Everyone, I think, was touched by their insightful and humorous recounting of the Easter story. The legacy our ancestors left us in this beautiful church is shaping the faith of our children – many were baptized and confirmed here and they worship within these walls week after week – and someday many of them will be married here and some will ever raise their own children here. 

We are calling our capital campaign Enhance the Legacy, because we want to leave this magnificent church for our children.  The legacy our ancestors left us is not, of course, just for the members of Christ Church.  For over 160 years Christ Church has been a vital part of our neighborhood.  Countless community groups meet here and count on us to provide safe and welcoming space, which for us is an expression of our faith.  It is for our community, too, that we must Enhance the Legacy.

For the last few months a capital campaign committee has been meeting with our consultant from Ruotolo Associates planning a capital campaign for this second phase of the project.  Committee members currently are being trained to solicit pledges from their fellow parishioners and one will soon be calling on you.  Please make time to meet with a committee member and respond as generously as you can to the campaign.

Faithfully Yours,

Fr. Chuck

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In Memorium: Martha Keucher
(Last month Christ Church lost a dear friend and a cherished member of our parish, with the passing of Martha Keucher.  For those who were unable to attend her Memorial Service we have reprinted Fr. Chuck’s moving homily for this lovely lady.)

Martha, Martha, you are busy with many things.

Martha KeucherIf we know anything about Martha Keucher, we know that our Martha was a Martha. A doer, a server, involved in everything.
The Pi Beta Phi
The American Association of University Women
The Order of the Easter Star,
The King’s Daughters
The Richmond Choral Society
The Nobel Maritime Collection
And here at Christ Church
The choir
The altar guild
The Episcopal Church Women
A willing worker at every fund raiser and fair
And a charter member of the knitting group, but more on that later.

Martha was a Martha. But unlike the Biblical Martha not unhappy or resentful with many things she did.
She carried lightly the curse of being competent.
She was the treasurer or the valued member of every group because
She did what she said she would do,
When she said she would do it.
As a person who spends a great deal of time recruiting and cajoling volunteers I can attest
To how invaluable such a person is;
And how we take advantage of them because we know they will do things right.

If our Martha was unlike the Biblical Martha in her enthusiastic embrace of many things, she was like the Biblical Martha in that she was a woman of great faith.

The Biblical Martha’s complaint about her sister Mary is well-known. But less well known is Martha’s great declaration of faith in the Gospel of John. Upon the death of her brother Lazarus, while delicate Mary wept in the house, sturdy Martha made the great declaration of faith She said to Jesus: “’I know that [my brother] will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’” Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’”

Our Martha shared the faith of the Biblical Martha. As a woman of real faith she modeled her life on the Good Shepherd. In today’s Gospel lesson we hear Jesus the Good Shepherd say “’I know my own and my own know me … I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them.’”

Everyone belonged to Martha’s fold
She had the gift of welcoming and hospitality
She had the gift of making you feel special
She had the gift of making you feel like you were the best you could be.

I experienced this little miracle from the first day I met Martha
We arrived on Staten Island too late to unload the moving van
My wife and I,  and a rambunctious and untrainable beagle.

We stayed 2 nights in Martha’s beautiful home.
By the end of the first evening Martha convinced me that I was brilliant.

The only way a person could be so open, so caring and so genuinely interested in others by dying daily to self.

When she was young her father taught her these words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline:
“patience, abnegation of self, devotion to others”
And that was the watchword of her life. And we remember that Jesus said “’The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’”
Not just once
But every day.

As I mentioned earlier, Martha, as I’m sure you all know, was a knitter.
She knit beautiful, complicated items for her family and friends.
She knit for the Seaman’s Church Institute.
And she knit for the neo-natal unit at Richmond University Medical Center.

Martha, and this is not surprise, was a careful knitter, a bit of a perfectionist.
When she would discover an error, ever many rows down,
She would patiently unravel all the work she had done, correct the mistake, and go on.
What do you expect from someone who loved, loved to untangle, tangled balls of yarn?

I am reminded of the epithet that Benjamin Franklin wrote for himself:

(Jerry’s head may explode for my mentioning  a deist at Martha’s funeral, but bear with me.)

The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms .
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author.

I like to think of Martha as a beautiful, knit blanket, maybe the incredible Tree of Life that she knit a few years ago.

That blanket is now in God’s hands and whatever imperfections and tears have accumulated over 90 years.
The early death of her beloved husband, Werner
The illnesses and hospitalizations of the recent years
A dropped stitch here
A purl when there should have been a knit there.

All the hurts and bruises have been carefully unraveled and lovingly repaired, just as she would do it.  Perhaps a beautiful baptismal garment brought to its perfection.

Martha, Martha, you, too, have chosen the good part and it shall not be taken from you.


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Summer Camp Scholarships
The Scholarship committee will be accepting requests for Summer Camp scholarships. In order to apply you must submit a letter with your request for the scholarship.

summer sunThe letter should include the name of the person who will be attending the camp; the name of the camp; a copy of the camp application, and the total cost for the camp.

We are also accepting applications for Incarnation Camp, the Episcopal facility in Ivoryton, Connecticut.  In addition we are accepting Scholarship requests from the youth of Christ Church who will be graduating from high school this year and are planning to attend college.

For additional information please speak with me, or any member of the Scholarship Committee. 

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Vestry Notes
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, April 16, 2012. The following are highlights of what was discussed that evening:

Treasurer’s Report

   Dorothy Thompson reported that income at the end of March was more than $8,100 ahead of budget.

Committee Reports

Plant & Equipment

Committee Chair, Richard Whaley, reported the following:

  • Burda Construction has been hired to work on the Sacristy roof.
  • Victor Stanwick will be constructing classroom doors with a window for the Godly Play rooms. The doors for all three classrooms will cost only $260.
  • The gardens at Christ Church New Brighton are a collective, cooperative project and it was agreed that Barnett Shepherd is to be coordinator.

Fund Raising

  • Elizabeth Gattullo, committee chair, reported on upcoming fund-raising events: The Annual Spring Fair/Flea Market on May 5; the Wine Tasting at the home of Lester Blair and Hueldine Webb on May 18; the International Dinner on May 19; the Used Clothing Collection, which will begin in June.
  • Elizabeth reported on the Scrips project, noting that L.L. Bean and Land’s End are two vendors that make especially generous contributions to our church, based on consumers’ purchases from them.
  • Sheila Swigert stated that on June 24 there will be a Parish baseball outing to attend a Staten Island Yankees Game
  • The Irish Brunch raised $400. The Rector stated that holding many fund-raisers seems to be a Staten Island peculiarity, among churches of all denominations, and suggested that parishioners’ increasing the size of their pledges would be an effective means of raising funds.
  • The Scholarship Tea, originally planned for April 22, will be rescheduled.


  • Godly Play is going well. Trinity Church, Wall Street, will hold a Godly Play workshop on Saturday, April 28.

Worship & Liturgy

  • Attendance at Easter Day services was greater than last year.
  • The choir’s last Sunday of the current season will be June 10.

Christ Church Community Outreach (CCCO)

  • This committee assembled and distributed 240 Easter food baskets, which included City Harvest vegetables and bread donated by the Christian Pentecostal church.
  • Parish participation in assembling the food parcels was excellent but able-bodied volunteers are especially needed on delivery day.

Old Business: Capital Campaign

  • Plans are moving forward. The Capital Campaign Committee will meet on April 17 for a social event.

Appointment of Standing Committees

  • Elizabeth Gattullo announced the membership of the Nominating Committee, which she chairs. The other members are Charlotte L. Hewitt, Roxanne Ingoe, Betsy Kalfa, Alleida Mitchell, David Nygard, and Jane Sharif.
  • The membership of the Finance Committee will be announced next month.

Rector’s Report

  • Confirmation will take place at the Church of the Ascension on May 17, Ascension Day.
  • A thank-you note was received from St. John’s Church for the participation of the Christ Church Community Steel Drummers in their March 3 Black History event. For the Easter food baskets thank-you notes have come in from the food pantries of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and the Christian Pentecostal Church.

Authorization of Additional Parish House Restoration Expenses

  • It was moved to spend $25,000 from the investments for additional restoration expenses on the Parish House exterior.
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Great Valley Chamber Music Society
to Perform at Christ Church
On Sunday, June 3rd, at 3:00 P.M., Serenade at Historic Christ Church will feature the Great Valley Chamber Music Society. Works by Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Poulenc, Ravel and Saint-Säens will be performed.

I love musicThe concert will be performed at Christ Church New Brighton, 76 Franklin Avenue. It is free to the public. For information call 718-273-3668 or visit Serenade’s web site:

Members of the Great Valley Chamber Music Society who will perform this concert include: Thomas Hrynkiw, piano, Edward Wargo, flute, Thomas Heinze, oboe, and Nick Driscoll, clarinet. Audience members will have a chance to chat with the musicians at a meet-the-artists reception which follows the concert.

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Play Ball!
baseballDon’t forget to mark your calendar for the third annual “Christ Church Day with the Staten Island Yankees” which is scheduled to take place this year on Sunday, June 24. We’ve got seats all together and out of the sun, for the same price as last year. 

This is wonderful afternoon of fun, fellowship and baseball – complete with all the hot dogs, soda, and other “stadium foods” that you can eat!

This event has grown in popularity since we introduced it two years ago and we hope you’ll plan to join us this year.  Tickets will be available for sale in the next few weeks.

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Ascension Day & Confirmation
Our new bishop coadjutor, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, will preside at an Ascension Day service at the Church of the Ascension on May 17 at 7 p.m.  All the Episcopal parishes are invited to attend this service and greet our new bishop.

Of special interest to members of Christ Church, we will present our candidates for confirmation and reception at this Ascension Day service.  It would be wonderful to have a good representation from Christ Church to support these persons as they take the next step on their faith journey.  

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Piano, Piano, Piano
In March we were given donations of two pianos, one a baby grand, the other a spinet. The baby grand was donated to the church choir by former Christ Church parishioners, Dr.  & Mrs. Spero Vozeolas. It needed some repairs and tunings to bring it to playing condition, and is now happily ensconced in the choir room.

pianoA second piano, donated by choir member, Laura Napolitano, is now residing in the Guild Room. It is in good condition and serves as an instrument accompanying the Christ Church Community Choir and at other functions in that space.

The existing piano in the Guild Room was moved upstairs to the auditorium and will be used for functions there.

On Sunday, April 22, with help from a few sturdy men with strong backs, the baby grand in the choir room was lifted on to a "truck" with wheels, a framework which allows the piano to be moved with little effort.

We are indebted to Leslie Thompson who generously paid for the moving and repairs of the baby grand piano, as well as purchasing the truck with wheels on which it is now mounted. A plaque will be mounted on the piano indicating that the piano is dedicated to the memory of Leslie’s father, Arthur Thompson. We also wish to express our gratitude to Laura for her generous contribution of the Guild Room piano.

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Spring Fair
Come one….come all…for a wonderful day of fun and fellowship! This annual event is one of our biggest fund-raisers and somewhat of a tradition here on Staten Island.

Our Spring Fair offers something for everyone: vendors, white elephants, home-baked goodies, raffles, baskets of cheer, a 50/50 raffle, door prizes, hot dogs and burgers on the grille, a tea room, entertainment, and guided tours of our lovely church.  Who could ask for more!

Donations for the White Elephant sale are still being accepted and can be dropped off at the church. We are still looking for volunteers to work at the tables, setting up, cleaning up, selling raffles and lots more. Please see Elizabeth Gattullo if you’d like to participate.

See you at the Fair!

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From the Parish Register
May Birthdays

1 – Lindsay Kennedy; 4 – Jessica Szczepanik; 9 – Victoria Gilbert; 10 – Daniel McCabe;  11 – Shirley Elfers, Etta Johnson; 16 – Connie Black;  17 – Kelly Collins; 18 – David Holt, Richard Jackson; 19 – Agnes Thompson; 23 – Tracy Williams;  25 – Denise Rompilla;  28- Roxanne Ingoe, Fidel Zayzay;  30 – Jay Szczepanik; 31 – Cesar Gardiner, Dick Riley

May Anniversaries

5 – David Nygard & Lisa Rhoades; 9 – Lester Blair & Hueldine Webb; 11 -  Sam & Tracy Williams; 12 -  Hugo & Andrea McIntosh; 26 -  Scott & Arryn Samarisi.

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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"An Examined Life", a Stage Play by Frank Quinlan
Socrates“The unexamined life is not worth living” - Socrates

A new comedy, An Examined Life, will be presented in the theater space at Trinity Lutheran Church, 309 St. Paul’s Avenue. Performance dates are Thursday and Friday, May 11, 12, 18, 19 at 8:00 P.M. Admission $15.00, $12.00 for seniors and students with valid ID. For information, call718-273-3668 or send an e-mail to

2,500 years ago a famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, declared that "the unexamined life is not worth living." The principal character, a philosophy professor, responds to Socrates: "Examining one’s life can be very complicated—particularly if a wife and a beautiful girl are involved."

The story involves three persons: Professor Arno Fluegel, Beatrix, his wife, and Trudy Jones, the Professor’s graduate student. The setting is an American university in the year 1927.

Professor Fluegel has the unpleasant task of informing Trudy that her graduate thesis is not good enough to earn her a much desired fellowship at Cambridge University in England. The fellowship depends upon his recommendation. Rather than accept defeat, Trudy, who is aware that the professor is himself undergoing a psychic crisis, proposes that they enter into an "enlightened conversation." That conversation begins with "with something trivial"—hair styles. It is a topic which Trudy knows has considerable potential: it leads them into a conversation in which inner thoughts and feelings begin to be bared. In the end, with Trudy’s help, the Professor exorcizes his demon, his old mentor, Max, who occupies his psyche as a vivid presence.

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Christ Church Community Youth Chorus
to Perform on Sunday, May 20
On May 20, 2012 the Christ Church Community Youth Choir will be singing in a choral concert with the St. Alban's male group Clerkes of Alban. They will be singing "Ave Maria" by the Flemish Renaissance composer Jakob Arcadelt and will join with Richmond Choral Society Youth Chorus in singing "O How Amiable" by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

The program will also feature a set of a cappella Tudor church pieces and will be led by Clerkes of Alban music director Kenneth Hamrick. Come and support our youth choir on Sunday, May 20 at 3:30 at St. Alban's Church. Admission is $25; youth and seniors $20.

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Pentecost Day, May 27, is the next occasion for Holy Baptism.  It seems that the entire Christ Church baby boom will be baptized on that day, and it’s not too late to get in on it.  If you or someone in your household would like to be baptized at Pentecost, please speak to Fr. Chuck as soon as possible. 
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Around the Parish
The year is quickly passing – spring is here and the church is buzzing with activities – the Spring Fair, the International Tasting Dinner, the Wine Tasting Evening – and all of the other wonderful parish and community events that take place at this time of year. So much to do and so much to enjoy!

Congratulations to Susan Fowler who was honored at the SI Green Awards Luncheon last month. Susan is the Staten Island Coordinator for City Harvest and has been working hard to assure that those in need have access to food and other necessary services here on Staten Island.

Fr. John Walsted was among the four honorees at the Art Lab’s annual gala last month. The Art Lab is the Art School at Snug Harbor, honored Father Walsted for his contributions to the arts and to the Staten Island community.

Congratulations to Laila and Larry Modzelewski, (and grandma, Jane Sharif) on the birth of their son, Noah, last month - this strapping young lad weighed in at over 10 pounds!

Eva Black, daughter of Willie and Connie Black, is quite excited about her summer job – this year she will be serving as a counselor at Incarnation Camp in Ivoryton, CT this summer.

Some sad news – as many of you are aware Christ Church lost a dear friend last month with the passing of Martha Keucher. Condolences to her son, Jerry and their family and to Fr. John Walsted. Martha touched the lives of many people at Christ Church – and the Staten Island community – and she will be sorely missed.

Our wishes also go out to Janet Schneider and her family on the passing of her aunt, Doris Tucher.

Our next issue of the Tower Chimes will be our last – at least until September – as we take our summer break. If there is any news that you’d like to share please feel free to leave a note in the Tower Chimes mail box in the Parish Office or send an e-mail to me at nreiersen [at] yahoo [dot][cpm].

      See you all at the Fair!

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International Tasting
Don’t forget to mark your calendar to attend the second annual International Tasting Dinner at Christ Church featuring authentic ethnic dishes prepared by members of our Parish.

In addition to tasty dishes to please your palate, our own Tony Colucci, in addition to members of the Christ Church Drummers, will provide music while you dine.  The evening will also include coffee and dessert, raffles, and a cash bar.

Suggested donation is $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 years of age; children under 5 admitted for free.

Reservations must be made before Thursday, May 10 and will be taken during the Sunday coffee hour. You may also contact Cathy Romano, our Parish Administrator, if you’d like to make a reservation.

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