I am so proud of all the programs we have developed at Christ Church. I am thinking both of programs that serve the church – things like the choir, acolytes, lay readers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, Godly Play, Rite 13/Journey to Adulthood, youth group, adult education, pastoral care, coffee hour, and the like. And I am also thinking of programs that serve those outside the church – things like, the homeless men's shelter, the holiday basket program, the afterschool arts enrichment program, the Girl Scout troops and Cub Scout packs, the Serenade concert series, and the like. Of course the lines aren't nearly so clear-cut – many parishioners participate in our outreach programs and many non-parishioners benefit from our internal programs, particularly our worship – but I think you know what I mean. A healthy parish has both programs that nurture the life of the congregation and programs that reach out to the community, and I think we have a good balance of both.
It seems to me, however, that we don't do enough intentionally to nurture our parishioners' spiritual lives. More and more I hear people asking for Bible study, quiet days, retreats, and prayer groups. I am reminded of an experience I had about thirty years ago. I attended a small Episcopal church in Boston – the church where Liz and I met and were married – and was part of a discussion about what programs the church might offer. Many good ideas were suggested: An ESL class, education about the conflicts in Nicaragua and El Salvador (this was in the mid-1980s), and a food co-op. After lengthy discussion one man said, "You know, there are lots of places that I could go to attend an ESL class, to learn about the conflict in Central America, or to join a food co-op, but this is the only place I can go to learn about Jesus and my faith." I think that is exactly right.
I think that the Church should give special attention to those things that only it can do. We may worry that an intentional focus on our spiritual lives will make us make us an inner-focused navel-gazing community, but I think we will find that our evangelism and outreach to the community will be more robust than ever, because we will be in touch with the wellspring that inspires all we do.
I have given this quite a bit of prayer and thought and in the coming year plan to introduce a few initiatives, which will help us broaden and deepen our spiritual lives.
There are two wonderful opportunities here on Staten Island to observe the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Sunday, November 23 an Interfaith Thanksgiving service will take place at 7:00 p.m. at Faith United Methodist in Port Richmond.
A Thanksgiving Day service of Holy Eucharist with sermon and hymns will take place at Christ Church on Thursday, November 27 at 10 a.m.
For several years now we have heard the nay-sayers deplore the state of main line churches across America. The buildings are crumbling; the pews are empty; the coffers need replenishing; the cupboards are bare, and the sky is falling...not necessarily in that order. Not that there are not problems and issues that need to be addressed: aging structures and congregations present challenges to tightly stretched budgets; neighborhoods and demographics change, especially in urban settings where populations are in constant flux due to changing economic opportunities.
But all is not lost, and perhaps those of us for whom organized religion holds value need to think of new ways of doing church. I know this is not a thought I alone came up with. I understand folks of many faith traditions have been thinking and talking about this for several years. But it may be time to seriously consider looking at other models of how church can be done in different ways.
A large city Episcopal Church had been offering a Sunday type service on a weekday for people whose schedules might not be conducive to traditional Sunday worship. In addition, a Sunday evening Eucharist was offered in a more relaxed atmosphere. Closer to home, a rather traditional Episcopal parish began and continues to offer, a low key Sunday evening Eucharist that at first appealed to the LGBT community, but also makes sense for the Sunday morning athletes among us. A local Lutheran church offered a Taize-style Saturday evening worship that had a good following for a while, but disappeared when the pastor retired.
Theology on Tap
Several churches, both in the city and the 'burbs are offering what is referred to as "Theology on Tap" where smaller groups of Christians join together to talk about their faith in local taverns while consuming some adult beverages and pub grub. These were originally designed to attract younger folks, but each one is different, and some seem to attract a loyal cadre of parishioners who just like to hang together and eat good pizza....by the way...nothing wrong with good pizza under any circumstances.
Several years ago, a deacon friend was involved in ministering to large numbers of gang members in the South Bronx. He and the rector baptized children, officiated at weddings, and began to integrate the local "hip-hop" culture into a well-attended Thursday evening service. It was successful in attracting a cadre of traditionally unchurched people to the church, but unfortunately for them, it was held up by others as a model to be replicated across the city. Well, it quickly became a piece that was taken "on-the-road" and brought into neighborhoods for an "event" that quickly turned it into theater. The deacon and priest moved on to other ministries, and the young men and women of that community drifted apart.
So, it was with much trepidation that I began following a "Dinner Church" in Brooklyn on the internet about two years ago. St. Lydia's is a mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church/New York Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Emily Scott, an ordained Lutheran Minister is the pastor, if you can use that term, of this interesting group of people in Christian community.
During the week, the well-lit and airy storefront offers its table space, wi-fi, printer and leftovers (which are squirreled away in the refrigerator) to folks who would be doing their work at a coffee shop or at home. A suggested offering for the space is used to off-set some of the costs of running the church. They "crowd sourced" the money they needed to do the renovations, and set up a "wish list" on Amazon to stock the place with all the kitchen items they needed, and with books and craft items for the youngsters who come with parents. They have a ten year lease and a bold plan to expand and move forward with their worshiping community.
The gathered group at St Lydia's has a vision and a plan. They have used new ways of raising money, outfitting the space and reaching possible new members. They have shown real stewardship of their property by using it in a smart way to generate income for them when they are NOT using it as worship space. Perhaps those of us who are struggling to work within our personally created parameters of church can learn from them, not by imitating them, but by rethinking what it means to be church. Want to learn more about St Lydia's? Look here: http://stlydias.org/about.php
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, October 13, 2014. Following are highlights of what took place that evening:
Dorothy Thompson reported that $147,573 has been spent to date on capital repairs.
Plant & Equipment
Christ Church Community Outreach (CCCO)
Worship & Liturgy
Scholarship: A Taste of Liberia
We will again be making complete Thanksgiving dinners for needy individuals and families on Staten Island. The baskets will be assembled on the evening of Wednesday, November 19 and distributed the morning of Thursday, November 20.
Lots of help is needed to make this program a success. If you can help please speak to Deacon Geri or Alleida Mitchell.
Cub Scout Pack 76 has been very excited about our new year of scouting. We have been very busy learning about responsibility in the last month. We have worked at fire safety and emergency preparedness. During the month of October we gather for the annual Ghost-a-ree and our Weblos went on a hike to learn orienteering(Map and Compass reading) as well as camp fire making and safety.
In the month of November we plan to go on a hike again with the entire Pack at Camp Pouch as well as doing a Food drive November 8th at Key Food on Bay Street and Victory Boulevard. The food we collect will benefit our food pantry at Christ Church.
As a Cub Scout Master of 76 I am very interested in the Scouting Program. In the next months I will be exploring the idea of opening a Troop to sister with the pack. In order to do this I must have interested adults to aid with a troop as well as young men in grades 6th through 12th who would be interested in the Boy Scout Program. Please contact me Charlotte L. Hewitt at 707-227-5075.
Serenade’s newest concert will be performed on Sunday, November 23 at 3 p.m. It will take place at Christ Church New Brighton, 76 Franklin Avenue.
The program will feature the East End Quartet performing works by Bach, Nagao, Pierne, Piazzola, and other composers. The quartet is made up of four saxophones, featuring Jonathan Wintringham, soprano sax; Myles Boothroyd, alto sax; Matthew Amedio, tenor sax; and Timothy Harris, baritone sax.
The East End Quartet is famous for its exciting and innovative arrangements of well- known works.
Admission to the concert is free and the church is handicapped-accessible. A Meet The Artists reception will follow the concert in the church Parish Hall. For additional information please call 718-273-3668 or visit our website at www.serenadeconcerts.org.
November Birthdays 3—Laura Craig; 4 – Ellen Mazzucco, Hugo McIntosh, Jr; Larry Modzelewski; 5 – Paul Smith, Karlus Trapp; 12 – Grace Hazelwood, Lester Jean; 13 – Tamara Christopher, Marlene Elia, Samolu Freeman, Sheila Hewitt; 14 –Annalise Noel; 15 – Jack Elia; 16 – Jonathan Elia; 19 – Rita McGough; 21 – J.P. Sipp; 22 – Varney Freeman, Sr.; 26 – John Szczepanik, Dorothy Thompson; 28 – Kim Davis Sorge; 30 – Christine Szczepanik, Ronald Bell, Mark Hewitt II;
November Anniversaries 16 – Ron and Ellen Mazzucco; 24 – Paul and Janet Schneider; 30 – Stephen & Christine Gross
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added.
St. Nick's Fair
Saturday, December 6, 2014
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Holly Ball
A Staten Island Holiday Tradition
Saturday, Dece,ber 13, 2014
6 p.m to 11 p.m.
Christ Church New Brighton
Call 718-727-6100 for more information.
(The following is a talk given by our Stewardship Chair, Andrea Morse Raff on Sunday, October 26)
I’m told that last year I gave a pretty good stewardship speech, so don’t laugh, I was rewarded by being made Chair of the Stewardship committee. I am an incurable optimist, so I do mean I was rewarded. It is a joy for me to talk about Stewardship.
The theme of this year’s stewardship campaign is “Cheerful Giving”, which comes from St. Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians 9:7. “Each of you should give what you have decided on in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under any compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Every year at Christmas I look forward to two movies. The first is “It’s A Wonderful Life.” George Bailey realizes, after a lot of heartache, that it is a wonderful life and that he is showered with so many blessings and has everything to live for.
But my favorite is “A Christmas Carol.” I love all the versions of it, the old black and white and all the new ones. I even like the Mister Magoo version. The best part of “A Christmas Carol” is where Ebenezer wakes up after the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Future and realizes that he’s still alive. He is ecstatic. He gives Mrs. Dilber a raise, he buys the prize turkey and gives an enormous tip to the intelligent boy, the remarkable boy, and when he runs into the men who had asked him for a donation for the poor at which he had previously sneered “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Ebenezer is delighted to pledge and he says “Will you come and see me? Will you come and see me?” Of course he gives Bob Cratchit a raise and saves Tiny Tim and reconciles with nephew Fred. But for all the people he ends up helping, the happiest one of all is Ebenezer. Ebenezer becomes a happy, loving, generous man.
We here are so blessed and we have so much to be joyful and cheerful about, you and I, we live in America, in New York, in Staten Island, I love Staten Island! and especially we are so blessed to all be part of the Christ Church family and come here and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You will receive a packet in the mail with the pledge card and other information. Whether or not you pledge and the amount you pledge is confidential.
We need to know the amount of the pledges as early as possible so we can start the budget. The pledges provide the bulk of our income, and pay for Father Chuck, the lights, the heat (such as it is!), the cleaning. All of you who previously pledged, please continue. Father Chuck said I should ask you to prayerfully consider increasing your pledge. With all due respect I am telling you to increase your pledge. If you currently pledge $200, increasing your pledge to $220 won’t mean a hill of beans of difference in your own life, but it shows your commitment to Jesus Christ and to Christ Church. I personally have increased my own pledge by ten percent.
For those of you who haven’t pledged yet, I ask you to start this year, even if for a very small amount. I understand perfectly well the anxiety, what if I lose my job and can’t fulfill the pledge? What if my business drops? If that kind of worry is preventing you from pledging, then just make it a small amount that you know you can meet. I myself only started pledging a few years ago. You don’t run a marathon the first time you go running, you run around the block.
You can leave the pledge card in the collection plate, you can mail it in, hand it to Beth or to Father Chuck or leave it in the office.
Over the next few weeks, we will hear from other members about their stewardship journey. November 9 the stewardship committee is sponsoring coffee hour and I say, come hungry, because on that day we are going to really feed you abundantly, joyfully and cheerfully!
Where does the time go. It’s already November and you can feel the energy and excitement of all of our activities and ongoing projects as soon as you enter the building.
This year we went all out as we celebrated Halloween and All Saints Sunday. Thanks to the efforts of so many parishioners the first annual Halloween Boo Bash for our young members was an overwhelming success. Over 100 people were in attendance (this included members of our parish as well as neighbors and friends.)
On Saturday, November 1 Christ Church and St. John’s Church met for a joint service to remember the victims of the Ebola Virus. Following a lovely service at St. John’s a reception was held at Christ Church. It was a heartfelt and meaningful day of love and remembrance.
On All Saints Sunday our Godly Play classes processed through the church in their annual Parade of Saints. In addition to the individual posters, a magnificent mural was presented during the service.
The Christ Church Community Youth Choir performed on Sunday, October 26 under the direction of their new director, Jana Ballard and assistant director, Kristin Parrish. Their performance was met with rave reviews and we are looking forward to seeing them again this month, and also at the Family Service on Christmas Eve.
For those of you who may not be aware, our young chorister, Bonnie Nygard (daughter of Lisa Rhoades and David Nygard), is now performing with the Trinity Youth Choir in Manhattan. And congratulations to Catherine Barnett who was honored last month by the Urban League, and also to Romelle Horton (daughter of Agnes Thompson) who received her Doctorate and is living and working in Botswana.
Condolences to the James Family and to Deborah Lindsay and her family on the passing last month of their mother/grandmother, Angela Longford. Angela was an active parishioner at Christ Church many years ago and a familiar face at many of our events.
A “thank you” to Bill Beveridge and Beth McLean from the members of the Christ Church choir for the lovely choir folders which were donated by Bill and Beth in memory of long-time parishioner, Nancy Beveridge, who passed away last year. Nancy was a member of the Christ Church choir many years ago and their gift is a lovely reminder of this wonderful lady.
That’s all for now. Best wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving.
In a couple of weeks we will be celebrating our Annual St. Nick’s Fair. Our Boys Scout, Girl Guides and Daisies along with their troop leaders all plan to have breakfast with Santa at 9 a.m. to be followed with picture taking with the “jolly fella” and gift giving to all children in attendance.
Stephen Gross, John Edwards, Sam Williams, Kevin Larimar and Layton Wynter will be the chefs on duty. Cost is a free will offering. Please join us for breakfast and get an early start to your holiday shopping.
There will be a repeat of our traditional features, vendors, raffles, books, home baked goods, lunch room, white elephant, gift table and much more.
Volunteers are needed to help at various sections on the day of the fair, Saturday December 6, as well as decorating the halls and setting up prior to the event starting Friday, November 28, and cleaning up after the event. Please use the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board to indicate your availability.
Donations to help defray Santa’s gift giving cost, i.e. cash, new or unused toys for boys or girls (toddlers to 15 yrs) as well as items for the raffle baskets would be appreciated and can now be brought to the church.
Fresh pine wreaths will again be on sale and will be available for pick-up at the fair. Orders can be given to Alleida Mitchell or by calling the office – 718-727-6100.
Service Participants for Sunday, Nov. 16Altar Guild: Linda & Hal Reiersen, Mark Gherzo, Nancy Reiersen-Scromo
Service Participants for Sunday, Nov. 23Altar Guild: Shirley Black, Jane Sharif, Elizabeth Gattullo, Bonnie Franz
Service Participants for Sunday, Nov. 30Altar Guild: Shirley Black, Jane Sharif, Elizabeth Gattullo, Bonnie Franz
Service Participants for Sunday, Dec. 7Altar Guild: Nick Dowen, Laura Kennedy, David Wood, Agnes Thompson, Paige Gunter
Service Participants for Sunday, Dec. 14Altar Guild: Roxanne Ingoe, Mary Larimer, Elizabeth Howell