Last year Bishop Dietsche called on the diocese to engage in an Indaba process as a way of getting to know each other and strengthening our ties. Indaba is a Zulu word for talking or intentional conversation.
Each participating parish was paired with two others, and each Indaba team was composed of three lay people, one of which was to be a young person, and the rector. The Indaba teams spent a weekend at each parish in addition to participating in opening and closing events.
Below are reflections from Christ Church’s Indaba team members.
At their ordination, the bishop charges every priest “to take your share in the councils of the Church.” Practically speaking, this usually means serving on a diocesan committee. For the past four years I have served on the diocesan Adjustment Board, and I am now one of the co-chairs.
The Adjustment Board hears the cases of parishes that are unable to pay their assessments and has the authority to adjust an assessment, forgive an assessment, or require full payment. Sometimes parishes are obstinate and simply refuse to pay their share. Sometimes parishes have experienced a temporary setback – the loss of a major donor, an unforeseen capital expense, or adverse economic conditions – and need only temporary relief and in a few years are able again to pay their full assessment. But in many, many cases the parishes simply don’t have the money to pay their full assessments.
You can’t get blood out of a stone, as they say. Because in my work on the Adjustment Board, every month I see parishes experiencing some level of distress, I sometimes think they represent the whole diocese. The Indaba process reminded me that this is not the case.
Our two Indaba partners, Christ the King, Stone Ridge, and St. Augustine’s, Manhattan, are wonderful, vital parishes. The two parishes and the communities they serve are very different from each other and very different from us. Yet each parish is carrying out dynamic ministries appropriate to their location. While we can certainly learn from each other -- you’ll probably see adaptions of things were learned -- we are not the same.
Each parish has its own identity, history, and gifts, which make it unique. Each parish is making a vital Gospel witness in its place, which no other parish can make. Each parish has its problems, of course, but my overall impression of our Indaba parishes is that they are places of joy and health. It was a joy to experience the diversity of people and ministries united by our common faith and our fellowship in the Diocese of New York.
The people who composed the Indaba teams were great, too. It was heartening to spend three weekends with committed Episcopalians who want nothing more than to see their churches and their diocese thrive. The level of growth, sharing, and honesty among the members of the team was truly impressive. Our Indaba group was especially blessed to have two young adult members: Eva-Marie from Christ Church and Will from St. Augustine’s. After each Indaba weekend, we drew names out of a hat and promised to pray for that person until the next Indaba weekend. The Indaba process opened and ended with Saturday gatherings of all the Indaba teams, and that also was impressive. It was impressive to be with hundreds of people from around the diocese who had all made the same commitment. Bishop Dietsche’s talk at the final Indaba weekend was inspiring. A hopelessly optimistic and faithful man, full of infectious enthusiasm, he shared his confidence in the future of the diocese. Things won’t look the same in five, ten, or fifteen years, but the bishop believes that the Diocese of New York will emerge from this Indaba process with a new configuration and a renewed vision.
Christ Church’s Indaba team was composed of Mark Gherzo, Eva-Marie Black, Alleida Mitchell, and me. Let me publically thank Mark, Eva-Marie, and Alleida for giving so generously of their time and for entering whole-heartedly into this process. Each of us was touched and changed by the people we met and the experiences we shared.
I was honored when Father Howell asked me to join the team that would participate in the Indaba process and happy to hear that Alleida Mitchell and Eva-Marie Black were on board as well. It was huge commitment of time for all of us and having Eva-Marie join us and represent the youth of the parish was a key component to the success of this process.
I have to say that I entered into the process with trepidation and some cynicism that this would be another good idea that might yield little value upon completion. To my surprise it was so much more than I expected. It was a true spiritual and learning experience for all parties that participated and a wonderful way for the Diocese to see what is happening - both good and bad - in the way we as Episcopalians worship, serve our churches, serve the greater communities of which we are an integral part, and the way we interconnect to support the Diocese in its overall mission.
We spent two weekends visiting other parishes in the Diocese to worship with their congregation, learn about the community they serve, understand how they put that service into practice and to have open and honest discussions about the Episcopal Church and our shared mission. Each church that we visited, Christ the King located in the rural community of Stone Ridge NY and St Augustine’s located on the lower east side of Manhattan, allowed us to experience the mission of the Episcopal Church in two very different settings with some common and some varied themes and challenges.
I do have to say that the members of the teams from each church were the nicest and friendliest people you’d ever want to meet. Each group made us feel instantly welcomed both into their churches and their homes and we have made friends for life.
The conversations that were fostered in these settings allowed us to share ideas and concerns about the Episcopal Church and the way we practice our mission. These conversations were necessary to enable us to learn about each other and from each other and to assist the Diocese in discerning what is working and what needs their immediate or long term attention. It helped to raise our awareness that we need to stop thinking of our mission only within the confines of our own church and community, but that we need to start looking at it as the mission of the greater Diocese. We learned that we need to pool the wide range of resources and talent spread across the diocese to address the challenges we face in a time of decreasing revenues and ever increasing needs.
For me, here are some of my thoughts on what I took away from this experience:
In summary, this was a very rewarding experience that enhanced my awareness of the many commonalities and differences that exist between Christ Church and other parishes in the diocese. It also gave me some insight as to the workings of the diocese and their plans to adapt our direction to meet future needs. It was comforting and encouraging to see all the dedicated, talented and spiritual people that make up our diocese and to understand how devoted and committed they are to the mission of the Episcopal Church.
We are not alone; we are one in God and one in God’s mission.
Eva Marie Black
Indaba. A six letter word originating from Africa literally meaning "talk." This is not the only thing we did throughout our campaign. To be completely honest, while I was traveling to the Cathedral the thought going through my mind was “How on earth did Father Chuck convince me to give up my weekend for something like this? It is another church thing to add to my list." Upon arrival, I was pretty intimidated by the arrangement of the Cathedral; - there were several round tables as if we were in a guild hall. Little did I know that I was getting myself into one of the BEST church related things ever.
I noticed I was the youngest member in the group after being told from the start that there would be a youth member in every group. Now, anyone reading this right now probably knows that I love to engage in any conversation that is music related. I made my group laugh when I introduced myself as the girl that literally does anything you could possibly name. I would soon learn that many of our partners were also as passionate about music as I am. This moment is where the connection began. When we figured out when we were going to travel to each parish I thought about how I would break it to my multitude of college friends that I was going on a religious trip not because I was being forced to but because I wanted to.
Our first (and honestly my favorite) stop was Christ the King's Parish in Stone Ridge. Before then I had never been upstate and thought that I was going to freeze to death. Guess again - I was dead wrong. Yes, it was cold but I was greeted by my new family from the Cathedral with warm and open arms. There was a beautiful home-cooked meal as we sat and discussed our travels and what we wanted from the experience. Little did I know that there was a person whom I did not meet at the Cathedral. His name was William. I realized that we had even more than music in common, we are both aspiring poets, we love Japanese things and we both have a love of photography. From that moment, I knew that this young man was someone I could talk to. He is like a brother to me at this point and I feel that I was more comfortable voicing some of my opinions because at least he would understand.
Throughout Indaba, a constant topic came into our discussions. That topic was diversifying our parishes without losing any members. As a youth member, I was ready to voice what I felt needed to be heard. We came to a mutual agreement that we don't necessarily need to change the church but we need to open our minds to the changing diocese. At the closing of our Indaba tour, as we sat and listened to the bishop speak, a young man about my age stood up and made a comment. He touched base on the idea of a youth Indaba because he sees the youth of his parish disappearing. I wouldn't say that our parish has gotten to that point yet but being completely honest, as an active youth I see that there is less and less for the youth to do that we might consider "fun." Of course there comes the idea of what we find fun; to me the answer is simply getting out of my comfort zone doing something such as Indaba and challenging my brain.
It was an honor to be a representative of Christ Church at this ground breaking exercise. Initially, the thought of having to spend a weekend away in a stranger’s home was a bit daunting. That concern was quickly put to rest after we arrived in Stone Ridge, the first leg of our journey, and was greeted by our new friends. Our stay with friends at St. Augustine was also a wonderful experience.
The idea of coming together and sharing ideas, observing and just being in fellowship was a wonderful experience. As a result, we at Christ Church have made new friends and hope to continue in fellowship and support.
The Bishop informed us that the Episcopal Church is going through changes and it is not his intention to close any church regardless of the number of parishioners in the pews on any given day. His hope is that we continue to improve on the things we do best, be kind and welcoming. Money is important but should not be the reason we do things. We should continue to reach out to others including parishes that are struggling and through this love we can hope to make changes and draw others in.
"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?" -Acts 1:11
As do many of you, I live in New York City, a place that is more often than not, overrun with tourists. And the summer season is soon upon us when as many of us as can escape to quieter venues and our beloved town becomes overrun with what often appear to us as aliens from a strange place. They wear shorts and fanny packs, sunglasses and aromatic sun screen…many of them underestimate the brutality that can be summer in the city; they carry cameras and I-phones and are constantly looking up.
One of my adult children works in the downtown financial district and is oftimes heard complaining of the folks from out of town who randomly stop on Fulton or Wall Street pointing cameras and fingers up to the sky to admire and photograph for posterity a significant, at least to them, signpost they wish to forever remember. She, on the other hand, in the words of “Johnny T” (that eclectic NYC tourist guide of You-Tube fame), just wants them to “GET OUTTA THE WAY.”
But sometimes it is nice to look up, as when I recently took a trans-Atlantic cruise to Europe and got to see some wonderful sunrises and sunsets as I walked on the deck. Or when we stopped in England, we took a side trip to Canterbury and its magnificent cathedral viewing its spires as they rose above the city and admiring the vaulted gothic ceiling with its slender criss-crossing ribs that give it a look of intricately woven lace.
I often love to watch the moon rise over Brooklyn from the balcony of my new condo in St. George. The way the moon rays just sort of glisten and dapple on the moving water of the bay is a delight to the eye and a calming influence upon any restless spirit.
But, as with the apostles of long ago, it is also important for us as members of the Church to stop looking up and start looking out. And what can we see if we do that? Perhaps different ways of being church.
Well, if you look over in Brooklyn there are several interesting ways that folks are doing “church”. St Lydia’s is a Dinner Church in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. It is a contemporary congregation with ties to both the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Metropolitan Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. They meet on Sunday and Monday evenings for a shared Eucharistic meal. They are, in their own words: “… people who tell the story of Christ's dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.” Not a bad way to live one’s life. http://www.stlydias.org/
Travel further along the BQE and you will stumble upon Bushwick Abbey, another congregation supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island located in a bar on Wycoff Avenue meeting on Sundays at noon, they describe themselves as:”… Christian community celebrating faith, art, and justice on the L line in Brooklyn…” Their mission statement includes these words: “We believe that the truth of the universe is love incarnate. Our response to that love is to live lives of holy curiosity, generosity and creativity with grace in gratitude.” Who could argue with that? http://www.bushwickabbey.org/
And in our own Diocese there are three unhoused congregations in Manhattan under the umbrella of Ecclessia/NY that met on Sunday afternoons in three locations in Manhattan: Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, Madison Square Park in 23rd Street and Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Each of these caters to a distinct homeless community providing a caring spiritual community that offers a shared meal each week and much needed spiritual direction and referrals to social agencies when appropriate. http://ecclesiany.org/
So what does this all mean for us, for those of us in comfortably traditional houses of worship? It gives us insight into different ways different folks are embracing the saving grace of Christ; the same grace that we know gives us both strength and comfort as we live our lives. This is the same grace that is working in different ways in different faith communities throughout His wondrous Church. And it is wonderful to see.
Members of the Vestry met for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, May 12. Following are highlights of important topics discussed that evening:
Plant & Equipment
Committee Chair, Rich Whaley, reported the following:
Fund Raising Committee
Christ Church will be hosting Vacation Bible School this summer from August 18 through August 22. The theme for this year’s program is “Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus.” Additional information on the program times, age limits, etc. will be made available in the weeks to come.
We’re looking for teachers, assistants and other “behind the scenes” volunteers to help make this program a success. Please speak with Alleida Mitchell if you’d like to volunteer.
Contact the parish office at 718-727-6100 to register your child (children).
Christ Church is hosting fitness classes on Thursdays from 10 -11 a.m. and also from 6:45 – 7:45 p.m.
The program, “Nia: Joyful Movement for Body & Soul” is a combination of martial arts, dance arts and yoga that encourages people to find the joy that lives in their body.
Cost is $10 per class; subscribe to 10 classes and get one free. For further info please contact the Parish Office at 718-727-6100 or you can call the class instructor, Toni, at 917-324-5025.
On Saturday, May 24 the Diocese of New York – and the Episcopal community – lost a great friend with the passing of the. Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor. Bishop Taylor will be remembered by so many for his many wonderful acts, but here at Christ Church he will be fondly remembered by all of us who shared in his Staten Island ministry.
Bishop Taylor always had a fondness for Christ Church and expressed it during his many visits here for confirmations, baptisms and attending funerals for several parishioners (Rick Boody, Helen Martin and Andre Black.) He presided at the Celebration of a New Ministry for Fr. Howell as the tenth rector of Christ Church. He was always here to talk and lend support in times of trouble and was always here to celebrate our accomplishments and special events.
Our condolences go out to his daughter, Tara, and other members of his family. He will be sorely missed.
Nick Lettiere, a long-time parishioner and former Warden of Christ Church has graciously offered to share his memories of Bishop Taylor:
Jun 8 at 8:11 PM
E. Don Taylor, Priest, Pastor, Bishop and most all, friend:
I would like to express my thoughts on the passing of this man of God and a true friend to me and all at Christ Church. I first met Bishop Taylor when Christ Church hosted an acolyte conference. The Bishop was scheduled to attend and give one of his insightful and motivating talks to this group of young people. Being a caterer and foodie I called his office to check if there was food that he could not eat and if there was anything special that I needed to know before his visit. This started a long term relationship with Mrs. Price, the Bishop’s secretary and the person who ran the office and his schedule.
On the Saturday morning of the conference, without thinking, I happened to put on a shirt that was the same magenta color as Bishop Taylor’s. When he arrived and saw me he said, in a very stern and proper tone was “Who elevated YOU to the rank of Bishop? Taken by surprise I saw the color of his shirt and mine and I quickly responded “Bishop Taylor, glad to meet you. Here is your tea in a bone China cup. For lunch there is nothing being served with mayonnaise or mushrooms and I have your Coca Cola in a real glass and three ice cubes.” He smiled and said that I did my homework and he was happy. I then told him “this is why I am the Bishop of the Kitchen and you are the Bishop for the church-side of the building.” He roared with laughter and this was the start of a long friendship filled with wonderful memories.
Bishop Taylor was a good friend to all of us at Christ Church, when we were going through the hard times between Rectors; and we had problems or questions that needed his help or guidance he was always there. I could call his office and Mrs. Price would find him and he gave the advice or answer we needed. I remember an occasion when he called me at work three or four times in one week. One of the ladies in the office came and asked what my position in the church was and when I asked why she said that she didn't even know who her Bishop was, and I had one calling me at work. I could go on and on with Bishop Taylor stories but suffice it to say that not only I was blessed to have known him and call him my friend but we at Christ Church were very blessed to have him in our midst.
At his funeral many great things were said about E. Don Taylor but the one thing that sticks in my mind was that Egbert Don Taylor was truly a PASTOR and GOOD SHEPHERD of his flock. May God grant you a well-deserved rest and may the angels lead you into Paradise.
Your friend from your Cathedral on Staten Island
On Sunday, June 15 Christ Church New Brighton we will recognize Bill Beveridge and Bill Brown who between them have 142 years of service in the Christ Church choir. Bill Beveridge joined in 1929 at age 7 as a treble in the boys choir. Bill Brown joined as a young man in 1957. Both men will be recognized at the 10:00 a.m. service and the choir will host a reception in their honor.
Well, planting season is back and so are the gardeners. The Christ Church Community Gardeners are looking for volunteers to help care for the raised beds and the vegetables growing in them. We are also looking for back yard gardeners, especially, to share their knowledge or tools of the trade to help sustain these beds that help provide additional produce to neighboring soup kitchens and senior centers.
This project is a great way for the Youth to ”Pay it Forward” as well as earn community service credits. It is also a great teaching tool when introducing children to the healthier side of growing their own vegetables.
If you are interested in helping with the CCCG just let us know the next time you see us. You too can be one of our “Secret Gardeners“.
Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: W humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our use the harvest of the land and of the seas and may prosper all who labor to gather them, that we who are constantly receiving good things from your hand, may always give thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
BCP p. 258
4 – Christopher John Brown, William Marcus; 6 – Arryn Samarisi; 8 – Richard Whaley; 9 – Kristin Parrish; 10 – Brian Basso, Sean McLean; 11 - Kit Gerney; 12 – Anne Beveridge; 13 – Peter Raff; 15 – Claire James, Charles McLean III, Richard Zayzay; 16 – Romeo Zayzay; 18 – Eleanor Larimer, Gabriel Mackta, Laila Modzelewski; 19 – Annabella Colucci; 22 – Elizabeth Gattullo; 24 – Matthew Mazziotti; 25 – Liz Howell; 25 – Joyce Rowan; 28 Evelise Leila Hutton; 29 – Gregory Brown, James Massa, Leslie Thompson,; 30 – Togba Porte;
2 – Matro & Kristin Parrish; 8 – Joseph Ambroggi & Dorothy Thompson; 12 – Frank Hodnik & Caroylyn Garnder Hodnik, 16 – Roxanne Ingoe & John Gerney; 17 – Peter & Dorothy Sipp, Richard & Yassah Zayzay; 20 – Robert & Christina Mantz; 23 – J.P. & Stephanie Sipp; 27 – Edward Sorge & Kim Davis Sorge
5 – Monette McIntosh; 8 – Isabella Rhea Massey; 9 –Sam Williams; 10 – Williette Thompson; 13 – Brian McLean; 14 – Togba Porte II; 15 – Nick Lettiere, Bonnie Nygard; 16 – Carol Brown, Ryan Johnson; 17 – Marigold Daley Green, Paige Gunther, Gabriel Noel; 18 – Justin Hazelwood; 19 – Sydney George; 21 –Matilda James Sipp; 22 – Charlotte Hewitt; 23 – Sheila Swigert; 24 – Michael Mazziotti; 25 – Cora Gross; 26 – Ann Sohm, Barnett Shepherd; 27 – Sydney McIntosh, Evelyn Hernandez; 30 – Titus Zayzay
30 – Constance & Willie Black III;
2- Ted Schneider; 3- Joseph Ambroggi; 4 – Dennis Douris, Theresa Gilman, Edwin John, Anthony Williams; 5 – Jane Sharif, Victoria Noel; 8 – Kevin Larimer; 10 – John Watson; 12 – Anne Devlin; 13 – Erin Rose Basso; 14 – Frank Hodnik; 15 – Joseph Zayzay; 21 – Luke Larimer; 24 – Yassah Zayzay, Robert Hayes; 25 – Elizabeth McLean, Laura Mazzucco-Gambino; 28 – David Nygard; 30 – Troy Richards;
9 – Ed & Laura Craig; 15 – Charles & Elizabeth McLean, 20 – Nick & Nancy Lettiere; 22 – Martin & Christina Noel; 23 – Dick Riley & Marcia Clendenen; 30 – Clyve Hutton & Evelyn Hernandez; 31 – John & Christine Szczepanik
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added.
Members of the Evangelism Committee have been meeting on a regular basis this year to discuss ways to reach out to members of Christ Church and the neighboring community.
Here is a brief recap of what the committee has been doing this year:
We’re always looking for new members – if you’re interested in being a part of the Evangelism please speak to Catherine Barnett, our committee chair or to Father Howell.
This will be our last column before our traditional two-month “hiatus” (summer vacation) – lots to report so let’s get started.
Congratulations to Brian Basso who was awarded a BS in business, management and economics, with a concentration in accounting, from Empire State College.
Welcome to Eric Alexieff, our new tenor soloist. Eric resides in Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) and is a graduate of NYU in Manhattan. During the week, Eric teaches in the Summer Music Program at Leif Ericson Day School in Bay Ridge.
Congratulations to Annalise Lynn Parish, Daniel Zen Trapp and Jermain Micahel Trapp, the newest members of the Christ Church who were baptized on Pentecost Sunday.
Congratulations to our fellow parishioner, choir member, author – and most recently, playwright, Dick Riley, on his most recent work, “Fierce Vanities,” a drama which takes place during the reign of Henry VIII.
Congratulations to Anne Devlin who was recognized by the New York State United Teachers with the Community Service Award. Anne runs a literature discussion groups at the Staten Island Cares Center, is the advocate for the Port Richmond Library, and of course, is active at Christ Church
That’s all for now – hope you all have a happy and restful summer – see you in September!