Recently I was reminded anew how tired and played out the old conservative/liberal divide is. I was listening to a commentator on afternoon talk radio who identifies as a conservative, and I was surprised by his coarse language. This is a man whose bread and butter is bemoaning the supposed decline of America. His conversation was not obscene, this was broadcast radio after all, but he used derogatory and demeaning words and expressions. Listening to him made me reflect on how poorly understood our Church, the Episcopal Church, is.
The Episcopal Church has taken positions that might generally be considered liberal. We ordain women to all orders of ministry; with the bishop’s permission we allow people to remarry after a divorce; we work for civil rights and the protection of the environment; we support the United Nation’s Millennial Development Goals; we support marriage equality; and we allow great latitude in the interpretation of Scripture and doctrine. We pride ourselves on being a thinking person’s Church – open to questions and independent thought.
The Episcopal Church also, however, might be described as quite conservative. We celebrate dignified, historic liturgies that go back over seventeen hundred years. The structure and government of the Church is equally ancient. Our Creeds and core beliefs were established by ecumenical councils, which convened during the early centuries of the Church. And, if we take our baptismal covenant seriously, it requires a rigorous life. We are supposed to pray regularly, attend church, and receive Holy Communion. We’re supposed to examine our lives, and if we find we’ve sinned, “repent and return to the Lord.” We’re supposed to exemplify the Gospel in what we say and do. Just as Jesus told us, we’re supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to work for justice and peace, and to “respect the dignity of every human being,” which, among other things, I assume means not describing other people with derogatory and demeaning language. Living this kind of religious, thoughtful, and restrained life might be considered conservative.
Philip Jenkins, a scholar of global Christianity, says that Western concepts of liberal and conservative do not apply in Africa and the developing world. Church leaders there may hold theologically conservative beliefs and radial cultural positions at the same time. I think that traditional concepts of liberal and conservative probably are no longer relevant for us as well. As Christians and Episcopalians, the things we believe and the positions we hold are not determined but what is liberal and what is conservative, rather they are determined by our sincere attempts to discern the will of God – guided by the triumvirate of Scripture, reason, and tradition – and to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
A few weeks ago I was in an office in a beautiful, modern building on Staten Island. One of the staff members was giving me a tour as part of my orientation for a Chaplain’s project I will be working on. There were several cubicles on the floor, each one very spacious and beautifully decorated according to the preference of its occupant.
As we were passing by one of the cubicles something caught my eye. It was an 8x10 poster that read in bold print:
Today I woke up.
I apologize for all my complaining
When viewing that prayer, we could add or substitute so many other blessings to that list. I asked the occupant if I could make a copy but she had had a few copies in a basket on her desk. This happened to be a religious organization, and so she gave me a copy. We can have similar things in our own homes.
How many of us can remember seeing a picture of the Last Supper, Jesus, or a plaque with the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, or even a Cross hanging up in full view in our grandparents’ or parents’ living room or dining room? These images not only can be very comforting, reaffirming and welcoming but they can also bear witness to “Who we serve.”
The Christ Church Community Youth Choir has started its fifth season. Our new director is Jana Ballard, a parishioner and the vocal music teacher at LaGuardia High School. The assistant director is Kristin Reiersen-Parrish, a long-time member of Christ Church and a section leader and soloist in the adult choir.
The choir is open to any child aged 7 to 14 who has a treble voice and lives on Staten Island. Rehearsals are held every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Parish House.
The cancer walk will be held on Sunday October 19, 2014. The Christ Church Team is looking for walkers and sponsors.
We will be looking for your support before the walk at our October 12 coffee hour and we’ll be soliciting any additional donations during the October 26 Coffee Hour (the Sunday following the Cancer Walk).
If you wish to sponsor us you can talk to Connie Black or Sheila Hewitt.
The Evangelism Committee now has coffee mugs to give to visitors to Christ Church. Each mug will contain information about our church and will be a lasting reminder of their visit.
Mugs are available to parishioners for purchase for only $5.00.
It’s NOT too early to think about signing up to host – or sponsor – a Sunday coffee hour in 2015. This is an important and rewarding ministry and many of our members truly feel that it is a continuation of the Sunday worship service.
Sign-up sheets have been posted on the bulletin board of the Parish House and I hope that you all will give some thought to being a Sunday host. For those of you who are unable to host the coffee hour, you still have the option of sponsoring the coffee hour and providing the food - arrangements will be made to serve the food that day.
This is also an opportunity for parishioners who wish to host their own special coffee hour to celebrate a special date or occasion.
Regardless of which date you choose please keep in mind that coffee hour is presented as seen through your eyes. Christ Church supplies the plastic tablecloth, sugar, sweeteners, hot cups. cold cups, plates, napkins, coffee, tea, small plates, napkins, decaf coffee, decaf tea, and cutlery.
For more information Contact Sheila Hewitt 718-447-8049.
Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, November 2.
Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour the night before!
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, September 8, 2014. Following are highlights of what took place that evening:
Plant & Equipment
Christ Church Community Outreach
Sunday, November 2 is All Saints’ Sunday. If you have a departed loved one that you would like remembered in prayer on that day, please contact Cathy in the parish office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-727-6100.)
All Saints’ Sunday is also the next occasion for Holy Baptism. If a member of your family would like to be baptized, please speak to Fr. Chuck.
Learning about our faith is a life-long process. This fall we are offering a five week class which focuses on the Episcopal tradition
Each session of this video series includes an introduction, a presentation by Frank Wade, a respected priest and teacher, and discussion questions. Classes, which are led by Fr. Chuck, are held in the Vestry room immediately following the 10 a.m. Sunday service. All are welcome to join for one – or all – of these sessions.
1—Julia Kennedy; 2 – Judith Davis; 3- Dylan Scire; 5 – William Sherman, Ronald Massey; 6 – Susan Fowler; 8 - Jeremiah Zayzay, Andrea McIntosh; 9 – Christina Noel, Brandon Thopmson 10 – Iris Colbourne; 11 – Jaime Szczepanik, Kataski George, Eva Black; ; 12 – Katherine Schneider, Charles McLean, Jr., Olisha James. Andrea Raff; 14 – Utopia Mennoh; 16 – Jude Crewe; 18 – Katherine Liu, John Hayes; 21 – Nathaniel Seeley; 22- John Gerney; 23 – Deborah Lindsay, Peter Liu; 24 – Edward Craig; 26 – Hueldine Webb; 27 – Catherine McGough; 29 – Amber James, Virginia Peel; 30 – Hugo McIntosh, Sr.; 31- Marcia Clendenen
1– Fr. Chuck & Liz Howell; 28– Michael & Amy Mazziotti
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added.
Another summer is fading away and school is back in session.
Along with school, our Cub Scout Pack 76 has started its 2nd year. Several of our troop members brought a friend to our first meeting Friday Sept.12. Over the summer our cub scouts met for a fishing trip to Allison Pond and picnicked at Snug Harbor.
We are looking at an exciting year of hiking, camping, knot learning, birdhouse building and so much more. We welcome new members at any time. If you have a son or know someone with a boy in 1st grade to 5th grade who would like to enter into our adventure, we meet on Friday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Parish House. We encourage parent participation and still have openings for leaders. It’s just one hour a week. Help us mold the future!
Family Boo Bash,
Friday, October 31,
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
The Evangelism Committee has been very busy these days!
On Sunday, September 14 we honored the members of our Ushers Guild, which is chaired by Connie Black. Many thanks to John Gerney and Steve Gross for preparing and serving homemade waffles and other goodies during the Sunday coffee hour that day. New members are always welcome for both our Adult and Youth Ushers Guild. Please see Connie if you are interested in participating in this important ministry.
Christ Church Coffee Mugs have been designed and ordered and are ready to be presented to visitors to our parish. They will also be available for purchase ($5 per mug) during the Sunday coffee hour.
Plans are also underway for an Usher’s Manual, an Evangelism brochure, missionary outreach and several other interesting projects.
The committee will be meeting on Tuesday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Parish House. New members are ALWAYS welcome.
I would like to thank Elizabeth Gatullo, John Edwards, Marshall Green and Steven Gross for their help in organizing our first Christ Church Picnic. Although there weren’t any specific folks signed up to help me with the games at the picnic all of these individuals stepped up to the plate to make this event a big success.
Without help it is difficult to achieve success. I believe their help enabled our children and families to enjoy an old fashioned church community experience. Not only did they help with setting up and running the balloon toss and tug- of- war they also stayed behind to help clean up.
The Holly Ball
A Staten Island Holiday Tradition
6:00 to 11 p.m.
Christ Church New Brighton
Call 718-727-6100 for more information
Members of the Stewardship Committee met last month to make plans for this year’s Stewardship Campaign.
Stewardship is more than just filling out a pledge card at the end of the year – it’s a time when we celebrate the gifts we have been given and a time to think about how we want to share those gifts (Time, Talent and Treasure) in the year ahead.
The Stewardship campaign will begin October 26.
It didn’t take long for things to start getting busy after our summer break. There’s lots to report this month:
Congratulations to Peter Mazzucco and Marissa Oliverie who were married on August 1 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Port Richmond. Their daughter, Ava Grace, was also present to celebrate their special day as well as Peter’s sisters, Tara and Laura Jean and their families. Peter is the son of Ron and Ellen Mazzucco, who were also pleased to report that the happy couple is expecting their second child (a little girl) on December 2.
An update on Tovin and Mark Hewitt, the sons of Charlotte Hewitt, who grew up at Christ Church and have been making their mark since their college graduations.
Tovin graduated this year from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach with a degree in Air Traffic Control Management. He is currently working in Oklahoma City.
In August his brother, Mark, competed in Staten Island’s Tri/Duathlon in Midland Beach. Both Mark, and his girlfriend, Melissa, came first. This is the third year in a row Mark has won.
Condolences to Fr. Chuck and his family on the passing of his dad, Father Joseph Howell, last month, and also to Shirley Black, on the passing of her sister, Caroline. May light perpetual shine upon them.