Etching of Christ Church by Bill Murphy

December 2015

Interim Corner

The Rev. Tori Duncan

The Rev. Tori Duncan, Interim Pastor of Christ Church New BrightonAn Advent Message to Christ Church, 2015

This is a time of giving and receiving of gifts, coming together as friends and family, exchanging cards and letters with those we don’t see often, and offering greetings of the season with many we encounter casually each day. It is a time of joy, hope and love. Everything around us from the music in the stores to the lights on the houses and trees calls us to be of good cheer.

Yet this year Christ Church carries sadness in its heart. Not seen by most, and our unique experiences not understood by even the person sitting next to us in the pew. We miss our rector, our friend, our spiritual leader. We also miss our family members and friends who are no longer with us for different reasons this year. We have had multiple life changes, not all of them welcomed or desired.

The call we have as Christians is to carry in our hearts the complex reality of sadness with the promise of joy, grieving with celebration, people now unseen with the promise of a glorious reunion in the future in a realm we cannot see or touch.  We hold our hope and faith in God like a candle in the darkness, trusting that the light of the Resurrection will be enough to see us through. And it will. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

Allow yourselves to grieve. And allow yourselves to celebrate, as well. Both hold a piece of truth in our lives at this time. God, who calls each of us “Beloved” has promised to swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from all faces. God with us. Emmanuel. Let us give God thanks and praise.

In Christ’s Love,

Mother Tori

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Keeping the Faith

Sam Williams

(Last month, Christ Church parishioner, Sam Williams, shared with us his story and many compelling reasons to continue in the footsteps of Fr. Chuck Howell as we undertake our Stewardship Campaign for 2016. For those who were unable to hear Sam’s talk, or those who would like to relive those moments again, it has been reprinted for you here.)

Let me start by saying that I’ve been politely asked to refrain from any mental multiplication exercises until after the coffee hour.

As most of you know, I’m a math teacher by trade. Some of the feedback after last year’s  speech was that, look, Andrea, we High Mass Episcopalians can take a lot of things -- lengthy sermons, confessing our sins in front of God and everybody, the children’s homily-- but, please, ya gotta take it easy with that math stuff. Maybe that’s for the best, because the math staring us down this year is a little sobering.

If you read Andrea’s letter at the start of this year’s campaign, you’ve seen the numbers. Even after a hugely successful 2014 campaign -- with 20 new pledges and more than $20,000 in new monies raised thank you very much -- we’re still about $40,000 shy of what the diocese considers the breakeven mark for a church of this size.
In other words, we’d like to double last year’s success -- this in a time of major uncertainty. We’re asking you to pony up at a time when we don’t have a permanent rector, don’t even have a committee in place yet to find a new permanent rector. We also have a stock market doing a major belly flop and a Presidential campaign gearing up that’s kinda like one of those reality shows where everybody starts throwing wine in each other’s faces right before the commercial break.

Keep the faith, indeed.

This congregation has faced tough times before, so I don’t want to overstate the challenge before us. Still, before I ask you all to dig a little deeper, or just dig, I want to use my time here at the podium to answer another piece of feedback from last year’s campaign.

This one came in the form of a question: So… I give you my money, what do I get in return?

First off, let’s admit it’s a great question. If I you offered me a gym membership at the same price as my week Christ Church pledge, I’d want to see a little more than a couple elliptical machines in the window.

It’s such a good question, in fact, that it makes me wonder why we don’t START pledge season by asking it. Maybe it’s because we’re in a church. What with all the stained glass and organ music and the 30 or so prayers we’ve offered up to an invisible deity who I’m told is lurking right behind me as a deliver this speech, it all feels a little, well,...taboo.

It’s like asking God for a Quarterly Report.

So, let’s use our imaginations to step out of this sanctified setting for a moment. Let’s take a mental drive down Richmond Terrace, past the ferry. Take a left when you get corner of Victory and Bay, by the new Key Food, and meet me at the front door of the Flagship Brewery right by the train station.

I am what you might call a beer connoisseur, so the opening of a brewery so close to my Stapleton home was a moment of mixed emotions. Staten Island used to have a half-dozen major breweries, so I appreciated the historical significance. I also looked forward to performing the necessary due diligence on their beer selection. At the same time, I worried about it turning one of those Staten Island establishments you find yourself supporting because, hey, at least they’re trying and they’re close.

I’m a firm believer that life is too short for mediocre beer.

Much to my surprise, the beer was pretty good. Especially the APA. What’s more, the vibe was welcoming, family friendly even. No squeezing past three guys in Jets jerseys smoking and cursing about the over-under. Just come on in. Order a beer. Sit at one of the picnic tables. Hang out.

In other words, Flagship It isn’t one of those establishments trying to be five things at once -- Hey, we’re a brewery that also does catering and, oh yeah, when times get tough we might turn into a tax prep service or a notary public. Do you want an espresso with that?

No, Flagship is keeping it simple: We just sell beer. Period. You want food? Here’s a flyer for Pier 76. Better yet: Bring your own food in. We’ve got vending machines with soda and seltzer if the kids get thirsty, too.

The approach is so relaxed; in fact, it’s sort of become the go to spot for families in our economic stratum on Fridays. Not to name names, but I’ve run into more than a few Christ Church parishioners there. Some are just coming in to fill up their growler for the weekend. Others are like me, parking their kids with the coloring books and iPads at one table, while catching up with friends, coworkers and neighbors over a pint at the other.

So, what’s the lesson here, teacher man?

I guess you could draw two lessons from this mental field trip.

Lesson # 1 is if you’re not doing anything on a Friday night, feel free to stop by. Things usually start up around 6 and end around 8 p.m. That’s when the band starts and it gets kind of tough to hold a conversation.
Lesson #2 is when I wake up on Saturday morning and open up my wallet to find it $50 or $60 lighter than it was the night before, I don’t generally find myself feeling bummed or asking “What did I get in return?”

Maybe that’s because I already know what I got in return: I got a chance to connect with friends and neighbors. To blow off steam. To laugh and gossip and, given the events of the last year, maybe even commiserate with people who feel the same pain. I got a chance to make up for lost time and sustain the many friendships I’ve built up in my 12 years on this island and a chance to watch my wife and kid do the same.

I needed that, is generally what I find myself saying afterwards.

This is why I moved to New York. Lord knows I didn’t come here for the 60 hour work weeks, intermittent trash pickup and the potholes. I came here to be a part of something I wasn’t experiencing elsewhere. The moveable feast. I didn’t expect to find it on Staten Island, but now that I have, the people I meet regularly at Flagship and, yes, here at Christ Church are the pillars that sustain it.

I know that Friday night and Sunday morning are two totally different animals. On the one hand, you’re celebrating the end of a marathon. On the other, you’re steeling yourself for the race to come. Still, there’s a symmetry that needs to be discussed.

There have been times when I’ve left Christ Church with an attitude adjustment so profound it left my head reeling. Two weeks ago, when Canon Tammerau was at the pulpit, talking about the two women whose faith helped get her through seminary; it was like a blow to the forehead. I came in with a list of gripes as long as my arm and left with a resolve to toughen up and dig a little deeper.

Two years ago, when Father Chuck reminded that me “the Lord uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines,” driving home that it is our imperfections that make us Christian not our perfections, I thought to myself, that one just might get me from here to Memorial Day. And it did.

I needed that, in other words.

What one gets in exchange for the time and money one gives over to Christ Church is, in other words, a deeply personal matter. It could be possible that, in our attempt to satisfy so many subjective needs, we’ve been guilty of trying to do too many things instead of keeping it simple like the folks over at Flagship. Still, the fundamentals of this church are sound. As a wise man once said, action is the way we do evangelism here at Christ Church. We put out the welcome mat with the service we do and the mood we project into a community.

Projecting a positive mood can be tough at a time like this, but then finding hope in the midst of grief is a central theme of this religion, is it not? We ask for your pledge this year not with any ironclad assurance that what you give will be returned seven-fold, but with the promise that what you give will sustain a church whose services are vitally needed. By us. By the community. And by a God who teaches his own lessons in mysterious fashion.

We ask, simply, that you keep the faith. Thank you.           

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Vestry Notes

Rita McGough

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, October 12. Following are highlights of what took place that evening: 
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, October 12th, 2015.

Plant & Equipment

  • Robing room is looking to be upgraded
  • Wheelchair lift needs work
  • Viridian energy was contacted regarding the energy uses of the church. They will be coming to answer legal questions.
  • Regarding Project Hospitality, we are still looking at bids to fix downstairs bathroom.
  • Waiting for Country Tree to take trees down damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
  • RV in back parking lot will be auctioned off and tractor will be removed from storage container.

Nominating Committee

  • Looking for 4 new Vestry members and 1 Warden


  • Godly Play needs more teachers


  • Ukulele classes need music stands
  • Looking for an additional teacher for African drums
  • Christmas Eve Family Service will have all 3 music groups performing
  • 70 people were fed at the Saturday Morning Feeding program on October 10


  • Jazz Night was a great success
  • No committee chair for St. Nicks Fair which is 12/5/15

Pastoral Care

  • People being called and visited; greeting cards sent out as well for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.


  • Starts 11/1 with a speaker. Speaking about deficit in capital campaign and Fr. Chuck’s legacy


  • Committee looking for new members. Looking to reaching in rather than reaching out
  • Usher recognition 11/22.
  • Plans to host an evening for young adults in our Parish ages 18-25.
  • Possibly have an Evangelism campaign, similar to Stewardship campaign, to draw in new members


  • Fund raising ideas to get more funds for camp and college scholarships – possibly a  fashion show; Taste of Liberia made $975

Old Business

  • Committee is auditioning candidates to fill Organist position
  • Project Hospitality being asked to defray costs, i.e., pay for lights, energy, liability, construction of bathroom, cleaning

New Business

  • Space rental agreement changes, security deposit increased to $250, renters responsible for recycling tickets, 3 hour window for decorating, partygoers must stay in hall and leave premises only to smoke outside
  • Fundraising Event Application has been designed for a proposed event – when event starts/ends, people involved, etc.

Warden’s Report

  • Kirstin Swanson will be attending the Diocesan Convention on 10/24
  • Mother Tori will be with us for the next 18 months; she will celebrate her first Eucharist with us on November 1

Deacon’s Report

Deacon Geri and Deacon Novella will be remaining with us during this time of transition.

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Deacon's Corner

The Rev. Dn. Novella Lawrence

We are still in the season of Thanksgiving,   although we may have memories of the day still in our hearts and have finished all of the leftovers.  We must admit that the days and weeks leading up to that day are the busiest and will remain so up until the end of December.

Many people think, and rightly so, of ways to help the poor and unfortunate - that also keeps us very, very busy.  So when do we have time to give thanks to God?  When do we have time to reflect on the blessings we received and the trials that God brought us through? (i.e., the Footprints poem).

“Where were you Lord when I needed you?” “I only saw one set of footprints when I was walking through the desert.” His answer; “The footprints you saw were mine for I was carrying you.”

It would seem that in order to give thanks, we need to have time to sit and reflect on both the good and the bad as we are to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  (1st Thess. 5:18.)   Some may say, “I give thanks every day.”  If you are anything like me, this can sometimes be when we are on the run.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving on page 836 in the Book of Common Prayer is a good guide to use in that quiet time where we may eke out of our busy schedules. We can make it personal by using “my,” ”me” or “I.”

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.  We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks that demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments that satisfy and delight us.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word and for the example of his Life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Holy Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.  Amen

In His Love,
Deacon Novella

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Christmas Flowers and Greens

David Michael Wood

Parishioners may make donations towards Christmas altar decorations in memory of loved ones or in honor of or thanksgiving for family, friends, special occasions, etc.

Please use envelopes placed in the pews during Advent, giving name(s) or other information or mail to Altar Guild, Christ Church New Brighton, 76 Franklin Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301.

Names will be included in the Christmas service bulletins.  The deadline is Sunday, December 20.

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Pack 76 Out and About

Charlotte Hewitt

Pack 76 has been busy since September learning all the changes the Boy Scouts of America has made to improve the scouting experience.  One of the things cub scouts must learn is the Boy Scout promise and what that promise means:

    On my honor I will do my best,
    To do my duty to God and my country
    And to obey the scout law.
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong
    Mentally awake and morally straight    

Our Cub Scouts are learning to practice these values.

In October our Sr. WEBLOS went to the Aquahongha district WEBLOS–Ree. This is a weekend just for boys in their last year of Cub Scouting and the entire weekend is about scouting skills. We planned a two-night campout using our new tents and a lean-too site. They learned orienteering, cooking, first aid, some wilderness survival, camping prep and safety. This sets the stage for Boy Scouting.  We had great fun and learned a lot.
In the beginning of November our Pack participated in our annual food drive. Thanks to Key Food on Bay St. we were able to collect canned and non-perishable food items for the needy. After our morning of hard work collecting food our Pack visited Pier 76 to enjoy a lunch together of pizza, soda and drawing dragons and other beautiful artwork.

On Veterans Day our Cub Scouts went to the 122 precinct on Hylan Boulevard to learn about our police. The boys had a great time and the policemen where wonderful with them.

This past weekend our Pack went to Camp Pouch on our now annual hike. This event has become a great favorite for all.  Led by the Leaders in each Den, we went to see the Monument of Hero Park inside the camp.  Our boys learned about our veterans and heroes of our armed forces. We then visited the open air chapel overlooking Lake Orbach and afterwards went on a hunt for leaves and identified them. I want to say some of our Leaders like Kevin Coughlin are natural born teachers.  Did you know what leaf resembles a lizard? Ask one of our Cub Scouts they should be able to tell you. Our boys climbed rocks, followed trails, and blazed through the woods exploring nature’s best. Our Weblos prepared a campfire helped by Kevin Coughlin and Elizabeth Gattullo. John Edwards brought hot dogs to roast on a stick and s’mores for dessert.  Could it get better than this?
There is so much more Pack 76 is involved in, Popcorn sales, food collecting, Toy drive.  They are up and about learning to live up to that Boy Scout Promise.

One more final note: our boys collected bottles over the summer to aid in funding a team of scientists who are crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat as I write this, collecting data about plastics in the ocean.  You can find more information about that at

   Pack 76 meets Friday nights at Christ Church at 7 p.m. – new members are always welcome!

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From the Parish Register

Cathy Romano

December Birthdays
1–Jade Hazelwood, Clyve Hutton;
5–Stephen Gross, Victor Stanwick;
6–Christopher McGough; 9–Sarah McLean; 14–Ginny Spadaro; 15–Oscar Hazelwood, Amy Mazziotti; 17– Lester Blair; 18–Willie Black, Jr, Tovin Hewitt, Iris Brown, Sandra Cocks; 21–Cathy Romano; 22–Charlie Nygard; 25–Nick Dowen, Kirstin Swanson-Basso; 26–Scott Samarisi; 28–Nathaniel Seeley II; 31–Christine Gross;
December Anniversaries
13–Joseph & Theresa Gilman; 27–Shirley & Willie Black, Jr.

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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The Holly Ball

It's that time again! Time to dust off your formal attire, polish your dancing shoes, and plan to join us for our annual Holly Ball celebration at Christ Church on Saturday, December 12, from 6 to 11 p.m. This year's honorees are Elizabeth Gattullo and Anthony Colucci, two hard-working and dedicated Christ Church parishioners and active members of the Staten Island community. This will a wonderful of food, fun and fellowship with music provided by our own Karlus Trapp and his merry band of musicians.

We hope that you can join us this year as we celebrate all of their contributions. If you have not received an invitation, please contact the office or Roxanne Ingoe.

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A New Christ Church Ministry

The Rev. Dn. Novella Lawrence

We are pleased to announce a new community ministry which will be conducted by the following Lay and Ordained Leaders of our parish.

Beginning on Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m. they will lead residents of the Harbor Terrace Adult Care Facility (110 Henderson Avenue) in a Prayer of Service and Song which will last for approximately one hour. Services will continue on the 2nd Sunday of each month with a different team member coordinating this service.

Team members include:
Willie Black III
Rosemary Colca
Deacon Novella Lawrence
Utopia Mennoh
Hal Reiersen

If you are interested in joining this team please contact Deacon Novella Lawrence
Cell  347 581-1082


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This and That

Sheila Hewitt

Cancer Walk
The Christ Church Cancer Group raised $510 this year. I would like to thank everyone who helped to raise the money by participating in the actual event, and also the events at Christ Church that contributed to our success. I hope that you all enjoyed our Chili Cook-Off and thanks again for the people who participated. All of the entries were amazing!

Vegetable Garden
I would like to thank the Christ Church Boy Scouts and their Leaders for all their hard work this year in assisting in the maintenance and planting in our Community Vegetable Garden. As you know the vegetables grown in the garden are donated to the Trinity Lutheran Food Pantry.

Bring Your Favorite Dish
I know we are all very busy this time of the year and I am asking everyone to bring their favorite dish for Coffee Hour on Sunday December 20.

Coffee Hour Host/ Hostess/ Sponsor
Anyone who wishes to HOST a Coffee Hour and has a specific date request please leave me a note in my mail box or leave a message on my phone. My number is 718-447-9-8049.  If you wish to Sponsor a Coffee Hour please see me. If you want to HOST a Coffee Hour but would like to share it with someone else you can also leave me a message in my mail box.

Sign-Up Sheet for 2016 Coffee Hour
Will be available starting on Sunday, December 6, 2015.

Thank you to all those who Host/ Sponsored / Assisted with the Coffee Hour for 2015.

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Watch Night

You are cordially invited to a Watch Night Service in recognition of God’s faithfulness, love, care and guidance over all of us during the difficult and good times in 2015 at:

76 Franklin Avenue SINY 10301
DECEMBER 31, 2015

9:00 pm -10 pm
Preaching and Celebration of the Holy Eucharist by Mother Victoria (Tori) Duncan, Interim Pastor.
Music Selections  by Eva Marie Black.

10:00 pm - 11:00 pm
LIGHT BUFFET SERVED  in the Guild Room.

11:00 – 12:00 pm
Praise and Worship led by Deacon Novella Lawrence.
Music Provided by Elvin Vicioso & Kevin Herbert.

Come for one part or all three. Bring in 2016  with friends & family in Christ.

Address – 76 Franklin Ave. 10301
Phone – RSVP  Parish Office 718 727-6100 by Dec. 20, 2015.

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Usher's Guild

Connie Black

On Sunday, November 22 Mother Tori commissioned our wonderful and dedicated team of Ushers, followed by a small celebration in the Guild Room.

If you are aged 17 or older and interested in being a part of this very important ministry we can surely use your help, especially for the many services that will be taking place during the holiday season. There will be an Usher’s meeting on Sunday, December 6 and immediately following the 10 a.m. service. We’re asking that all current members of the Usher’s squad plan to attend – visitors and those interested in learning more about what we do, are welcome to join us.

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Our Newest Lay Eucharistic Minister

Congratulations to Richard Whaley, the newest member of the Lay Eucharistic Minister team. Rich was commissioned by Mother Tori on November 15 and will be part of the Sunday morning team that serves during the 8 a.m. service.

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Advent and Christmas Services

December 20, Last Sunday of Advent
10 a.m. Sunday School Christmas Pageant
December 24, Christmas Eve, 4 p.m. Holy Eucharist featuring the Christ Church Community Youth Choir, the Christ Church Community Drummers and Christ Church Ukele Players
10 p.m. Candlelit Choral Holy Eucharist with the Christ Church Choir
December 25, Christmas Day, 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist
December 31, Watch Night
9 p.m. – Midnight

Praise, Worship and Fellowship

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Nominating Committee for Vestry
and Church Warden Convening

As is the usual tradition, outgoing Senior Warden Kirstin Swanson is convening a committee to nominate Vestry members and candidate(s) for Junior Warden. The qualifications are as follows:

For vestryperson (three year term):

  • Aged 18 years or older
  • Baptized
  • Regular attendance at worship
  • Contributing member for at least 12 months prior to the annual meeting

   Current vestrypersons finishing a full three-year term may not be elected as vestryperson until a year has passed between the end of their term and the next annual meeting. Current vestrypersons finishing a term of less than three years may be nominated for a three-year term.

For church warden (two year term):

  • Aged 18 years or older
  • Communicant in the Episcopal Church
  • Regular attendance at worship
  • Contributing member for at least 12 months prior to the annual meeting

   The senior warden may not run for either junior warden or vestry person until a year has passed between the end of her term and the next annual meeting.

      Nomination forms for vestryperson or church warden are available in the church office.

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Around the Parish

Nancy Reiersen-Scromo

The season of Advent has begun with the Christmas and New Year holidays quickly approaching. Where has the time gone?                                                                    
   Wedding Bells are Ringing! – Congratulations to Claire Kennedy and Major Nathanael Emerson Joslyn on their October 16 nuptials at Trinity Church in Manhattan. Claire and Nate first met when she was serving with the Peace Corps in Mali. Claire is the youngest daughter of Laura and Henry Kennedy.
   On Saturday, November 21 Daniel Lettiere and Amanda Leigh Eaton were married at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, NJ. Daniel is the oldest son of Nancy and Nick Lettiere. Daniel and Amanda met while attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute and currently reside in New Jersey.
   On the Mend – get well wishes to our Financial Secretary, Beth McLean, who underwent knee replacement surgery last month. And best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to long-time parishioner and choir member, David Seeley, who is recuperating at Eger Nursing Home after a brief hospital stay.
   Bonnie Nygard, daughter of Lisa Rhodes and David Nygard, made her television debut during the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center this month. Bonnie is a member of the Trinity Church (Manhattan) Junior Choir and was one of six choristers selected to perform. Brava, Bonnie!
   In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve made some cosmetic changes to the Parish Hall. A new paint job in a lighter color has made things a lot brighter.
   That’s it for now. Our January 2016 will be devoted to the Parish Annual Meeting, and our regular edition of the Tower Chimes will be issued in February. If you have any news you’d like to share please be sure to leave a note in the Tower Chimes mailbox in the parish office or send an e-mail to with your news.

      Best wishes to one and all for a blessed Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.

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Christ Church Annual Meeting

Please make sure to mark your calendar for the Parish Annual Meeting which will take place on Sunday, January 24, immediately following the 10 a.m. service.

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A Prayer for Peace

John Birch

God of wholeness, God of Grace,
to you we bring our thanks and praise.
To a world that searches
you are a lamp that shines,
to a world that is hungry
you are food that sustains,
to a world that suffers
you are hope of release,
to a world that’s broken
you are one who restores,
to a world full of hate
you are love that forgives,
to a world that denies
you are truth that endures.
To you we bring our thanks and praise,
God of wholeness, God of Grace.

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