Etching of Christ Church by Bill Murphy

February, 2015

Clergy Corner

On Sunday, January 25 the Annual Meeting of Christ Church New Brighton was held in the parish auditorium. For those of you who were unable to attend, we have reprinted Fr. Howell’s Annual Report message which was presented to those who were in attendance that day.

Rector’s Report

During 2014 I learned all kinds of new and frightening words, among them: Injection mortar, structural failure, and the dreaded change order. I am referring, of course, to our Tower Renovation project. After years of planning with Barry Donaldson of Lichen Craig Donaldson, and mounting a professionally run capital campaign with Ruotolo Associates, this fall Seaboard Weatherproofing and Restoration began work on our tower. The goals of the project were to stop water infiltration, repoint, and reconstruct portions of the tower above the roofline. As you know, the deterioration from years of freezing and thawing, poor repair choices made in the past, and neglect, was much more extensive than originally thought. This meant that the project went about $200,000 over budget, and we were unable to do some of the things that we would have liked to have done, such as installing an access ladder and repairing the wooden louvers. The added expense is unfortunate, but the work had to be done, and it has been done well. We can be confident that the tower, while it will need regular maintenance, is in good repair for many, many years to come. I want to pay tribute to our architect Barry Donaldson from whom you will hear later. Barry has been working with Christ Church for about ten years, identifying work that needs to be done, helping us prioritize the work, and overseeing the work. I also want to publically acknowledge Jack Slowik, project manager, and Mark Skiba, site supervisor, of Seaboard. They have seen that this job has been done properly, timely, and, most importantly safely. While I know that contracts are important and necessary, I believe that the world runs on relationships. We have an excellent relationship with Barry, Jack, and Mark all of whom have time and again gone far beyond what any contract requires. I particularly want to thank our construction oversight committee Mark Gherzo, Marshall Green, Beth McLean, Barnett Shepherd, and Rich Whaley for their many hours of service. I’d also like to publically to acknowledge the Property Support Committee of the Diocese of New York for a $140,000 grant, the Sacred Sites program of Landmarks Conservancy for a $30,000 grant, and the Northfield Bank Foundation for a $25,000 grant. Thank you to Barnett Shepherd, our grant writer extraordinaire. Most of all, thank you to you, the people of Christ Church. It is your support and gifts — you’ll recall our capital campaign raised $206,000 – that made this project possible. You have taken on a huge project and have brought it successfully to completion. Well done!

My ministry in 2014 wasn’t all about stones and mortar, however. This past year seemed to call for extra time and attention to matters in the diocese, among the Episcopal churches of Staten Island, and in the wider Staten Island Community.

In the diocese, Christ Church participated in the Indaba program. The Indaba programed put three churches in partnership to spend a weekend at each church, getting to know their communities and ministries, their joys and their stresses. We were in partnership with the Church of Christ the King, Stone Ridge, and St. Augustine’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Our Indaba team, Eva-Marie Black, Mark Gherzo, Alleida Mitchell, and me, visited each of these churches and hosted them for a weekend here at Christ Church. We each found this to be an invaluable and spiritually enriching experience, and Bishop Dietsche hopes that the Indaba experience will draw the diocese closer together as it develops a vision for the future. If I may brag for a moment about Christ Church, we were one of the few Indaba teams to include a young person, so thank you Eva-Marie for making time in your busy schedule.

2014 also saw transitions in diocesan leadership. This year we elected a new bishop suffragan, the Rt. Reverend Allen Shin, and Christ Church hosted one of the get-to-know-you candidate forums. Members of our parish, both clergy and lay, participated in Bishop Shin’s glorious consecration at the cathedral in which our new bishop, a Korean Americanm celebrated the Eucharist in English, Korean, French, and Spanish. We gathered at the cathedral again for the funeral of retired Assisting Bishop, the Rt. Reverend E. Don Taylor, a good friend of Christ Church.

In the summer of 2014, the clergy and wardens of the Episcopal parishes on Staten Island began meeting to discuss the future of the Episcopal witness here. Many of our parishes are struggling, and our diocesan bishop, the Rt. Reverend Andrew Dietsche, says that at this point just three or four of our churches can afford rectors, so we must find a new way of being Church. We met twice with Bishop Dietsche, once in the summer and again last Sunday, and also broke into three working groups: youth ministry, pastoral care, and publicity. Deacon Geri and Deacon Novella serve on the publicity committee, and I serve on the youth ministry committee. We are planning an all-day island-wide youth event at Christ Church on April 18. This is one example of how the parishes working together can strengthen each other: Providing a youth group experience for churches without many youth and a richer experience for churches like our with a modest sized youth group. Running on a parallel track, Bishop Dietesche has appointed the Reverend Roy Cole, Rector of St. John’s Church, to be Canon Missioner on Staten Island. Fr. Cole will be working with parishes to develop some type of cluster ministry in which linked parishes will share the services of a priest and deacons. This is very much a work in progress and just in its initial stages. With Fr. Cole’s appointment, I am once again the Dean of the Richmond Clericus.

Serving the wider Staten Island community, Christ Church continues to house a steady stream of mission trip groups, who come to Staten Island to do Hurricane Sandy recovery work. We invited a new Girl Scout Troop to meet at Christ Church on Tuesday night, joining our fabulously successful Cub Scout Pack, which meets on Friday night. Tentative plans are now afoot to form a Boy Scout Troop. Staten Island is, as you know, home to the largest population of Liberians outside of Liberia and home to many others from West Africa. St. John’s Church and Christ Church joined together to host a memorial service at St. John’s Church for victims of the Ebola virus, with a reception afterwards at Christ Church. I continue as a member of the interfaith group, the Building Brides Coalition of Staten Island and as co-chair of the diocesan Adjustment Board.

Our ministry at Christ Church has been greatly enriched by the presence of Deacon Novella Lawrence, our new Deacon for Pastoral Care. With Deacon Geri Swanson, Deacon for Outreach, they are wise and trusted colleagues. I’d like to thank the rest of our staff, Director of Music, Tom Sarff, who last week celebrated sixteen years at Christ Church, parish administrator, Cathy Romano, Treasurer, Dorothy Thompson and sexton, Lester Jean. I hope everyone realizes that we do an amazing amount of work with small, part-time staff. This summer marked the passing of our beloved former Rector, Fr. John Walsted, whose impact on this parish and on Staten Island cannot be overestimated. Thank you also to our retiring vestry members: Tony Colucci, Nick Dowen, Linda Rieersen, and Richard Zayzay. Thank you also to Deborah Lindsay, whose home and work commitments have necessitated her resignation from the vestry. Thank you especially to our retiring churchwarden BethMcLean. This is the second time in my tenure that Beth has served as warden and, as a native Staten Islander and lifelong member of Christ Church; she has an invaluable perspective and advice. Finally thank you my wife. Liz, and my daughter, Georgia who share this journey with me and whom I love without reservation.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles H. Howell

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Deacon's Corner

I will make you fishers of men”

As I have said before, we live in an archipelago, that is, according to Wikipedia, my personal quick go-source for basic information on anything, a group, cluster, chain or collection of islands. Now, I know it is sometimes difficult to have this constantly in our heads, but those of us who have the need to get to that other island in this group…you know, the one we refer to as “the city”, will often find ourselves at the ferry terminal waiting to board a boat to take us there.

The closer one lives to the extreme edges of this island, the more one becomes aware of our status as a place completely surrounded by water, often at the mercy of the same in ways those who live further inland…like in Kansas, have no personal experience.

On this side of the Island, we can see the commercial heart of this city: freighters, barges, tugs, tankers and huge container ships pass us by even as we drive along familiar streets like Bay, Richmond Terrace, and Father Cap Blvd. It seems as we cruise along these roads, we are sharing the space with these massive ships and they pass us on parallel liquid lanes of shipping traffic. And the sounds of foghorns seem as usual here as the chirping of the sparrows in springtime.

And the history of this place as a spot for oystering and fishing is a memory, of sorts.  But there are still places here where one can indulge in the simple joy of fishing. Various piers along the shoreline provide ample space for serious anglers to try their hand at salt-water fishing.  Persistent local fisherman have favorite spots where with others, or solo, with rod and reel, they cast into the unknown of the ocean to tempt a curious fish or two to fall for their bait or lure.  If one prefers fresh water fishing there are several local ponds and lakes that provide the same excitement for those who prefer a quieter, gentler kind of fishing.  But the process is persistent and repetitive: send out a lure, again and again, to attract the unwary.

This idea of using an attractive “lure” to basically engage others is also definite tool of evangelism. Now, I am not suggesting that we go out and snare folks using hooks, worms and lures, but I think we have some better ways of attracting others to this place and its ministries.

Let me give you a concrete example.

Our Christ Church Community Drummers took a hit last year when a few our most experienced drummers went to intermediate schools and could no longer make rehearsals.  Over the summer Father Chuck and I talked about working with the New York City Housing Authority to see if we could recruit more students.  After a conversation with the director at the Carter Center in Stapleton on Broad Street, we were convinced to co-locate our group with them.  We had the financing, the drums and the teacher; they had the children.  So with some real soul searching, fear and trepidation, we decided to make the change of venue. I will not say this was easy, we lost several members and potential members due to the switch, but I am glad we did it.

So, how did we get the present complement of 12 participants?  We lured them in and got them hooked. On the first night we only had two returning drummers, so we set out five drums in the lobby of the center, and the two students and their instructor began to play. Soon we had a crowd around us and several children asked if they could play.  The instructor gently showed them how to play two notes and then incorporated their playing into the songs the group already knew. Some of the parents were stopping by to pick up their offspring, and asked for information about the group.  Within three weeks we had 12 students and 10 drums. The lure worked, and now this group is learning how to work together to make music.

So, what is to be learned from the persistence of fisherman and the lure of music on children? Well, if you have an honest and worthy message, folks will listen and be curious about why you are persistent in your attempt to spread good things with them. Father Howell has talked about the importance of getting the message of our presence out in our community. 

Today I am urging each one of you to think about what “lured” you into this place, what piqued your interest or caused you to walk through the doors for the very first time. Unlike the apostles in today’s Gospel, who each had a personal call from Jesus to begin their journey of faith, we only have our own voice with which to continue to call others to share in the life of this faith community.

We each need to think of ways to share Christ’s message of good news with others. Ask a friend to join you at a parish event; share information of programs others might benefit from; bring someone to church for a special occasion; invite a co-worker or neighbor to worship with us on Sunday morning. Don’t be afraid to share your faith and your commitment to Christ Church with others in your circle who may be in need to prayer or spiritual support. That is what we are here for, and we need to let as many who need the support of a faith community to know we are here.

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Election of New Vestry Members

At the Parish Annual Meeting we elected a new warden and five new vestry members.

(L to R) Richard Zayay, three-year Vestry term Kathleen Galvez, three-year Vestry term Utopia Mennoh, one-year Vestry term Paige Gunther, three-year Vestry term John Gerney, Junior Warden Stephen Gross, three-year Vestry term

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Save the Date

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Heritage Masterworks Chorale to Visit Christ Church on Sunday, February 22

On Sunday, February 22 the Heritage Masterworks Chorale will be visiting Christ Church as part of their weeklong tour of New York City. Members of the choir will be joining with the Christ Church choir that morning during the 10 a.m. service and later in the afternoon they will be performing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

The Heritage Singers, the “sister group” of the Chorale, were visitors to Christ Church in 2003 and 2005 and the group’s director, Tim Knight, is quite excited about returning to Christ Church this month.

We hope you’ll be in attendance at the 10 a.m. service that day for this wonderful “reunion.” You’ll also have a chance to meet members of the Chorale during the Sunday coffee hour.

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Vestry Notes

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

The Treasurer’s Report and 2015 Parish Budget were approved by the Vestry.

Committee Reports

Plant & Equipment

  • The refrigerator in the Parish House kitchen froze, repairs were made.
  • $2,900 was approved to repair the gushing leak above the chapel door to the Choir Room stairway.


  • Beth McLean reported that we have 94 pledgers and that there are 45 pledge increases. The total amount pledged was $143,000 and $145,000 is the pledge revenue listed in the 2015 Budget.

Christ Church Community Outreach and Arts Enrichment

  • Deacon Geri reported that the Christ Church Community Youth Drummers now enroll 12 youths. The program takes place on Friday at the Carter Center of the Stapleton Houses from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Among other assignments, the drummers will take part in the Black History Month Celebration at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
  • Laura Jean Watters, Program Officer of the Staten Island Foundation, has a donor who would like to fund a ukulele instruction program and this will be pursued.
  • The Rector reported that Charlotte Hewitt and Elizabeth Gattullo would like to start a Boy Scout Troop at Christ Church.

New Business

Thrift Shop

  • The Rector reported that we have a parishioner is interested in opening a thrift shop at Christ Church as a source of income.

Children’s Bathroom

  • It was suggested that the bathroom in the basement of the Parish House be cleaned up before Sunday School, possibly by hiring a cleaning service like Good Impressions. This would solve a long-standing problem.

Churchwarden’s Report

  • Kirstin Swanson-Basso will be organizing and chairing conversations about parish fund-raising after the first meeting of the new Vestry in February.

Deacon’s Report

  • Deacon Geri mentioned the Intercessory Prayer Group led on Wednesday by Deacon Novella and Ned Rogers. She also noted that John Gerney now leads the Christ Church contingent of the Second Saturday lunch program at the Trinity Lutheran Church, where 95 people were served last Saturday.

Rector’s Report

  • Father Howell reported that the daily Bible reading program is well underway with a good first two weeks.
  • The Rector pointed out the great importance of letting people know we’re here. We will be having a “Bring a Friend” Sunday in March.

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Special Recognition

Congratulations to our Verger, Paul Smith, who was honored this month at the Staten Island Council of Churches annual dinner for his dedication and service to Christ Church.

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Lenten Activities

  • Shrove Tuesday is February 17, with the traditional Pancake Supper at 6:00 p.m. Bring your palms from Palm Sunday to be burned to create the ashes for Ash Wednesday.
  • Ash Wednesday is February 18, with the services of Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes at 7:30 p.m.
  • February 22 is the First Sunday of Lent. As in past years, at both services we will bless and distribute pocket crosses. During Lent keep your pocket cross with you and think of a person you would particularly like to pray for. Your pocket cross can be a reminder to pray for that person and, at Easter time, you can give that person your cross and let them know you've been praying for them during Lent. The Heritage Masterworks Chorale (see page 5) will sing with the Christ Church choir at the 10 a.m. service.

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From the Parish Register

February Birthdays
2 – Andrew Schneider; 5 – Ali Alfieri; 8 – Wolde Archer; 11 – Hal Reiersen; 12 – Sophia Mekhail; 13 – Lisa Rhoades; 14 – Bruce Liozzi; 17 – Malik Archer; 22 – Joseph GIlman; 22 – Alleida Mitchell; 24 – Trevor Mills; 26 – Nicholas Lettiere, Alexia Richards, Alyssa Richards; 27 – Martin Noel

February Anniversaries
4 – Kevin & Mary Larimer; 15 – Nathaniel and Ela Seeley

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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Tom Sarff Anniversary

Last month marked the 16th anniversary of Tom Sarff as our organist and choir director. Tom was presented with a plaque by Beth McLean, former warden and long-time choir member, in recognition of his many years of faithful service to Christ Church.

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Congratulations to Elizabeth Gattullo, the 2015 recipient of the Christ Church Chi Rho. This award was presented to Elizabeth in recognition of her boundless energy and generosity and for her never ending gift to Christ Church of her time, talents and treasure.

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Wanted: Coffee Hour Hosts & Hostesses

There are still many openings for coffee hour hosts and hostesses for this year.

This is an invitation to share a special occasion by hosting or sponsoring a Sunday morning coffee hour.

No Coffee Hour is TOO small or TOO large Just a reminder…there is no “set” format for coffee hour – you can host your coffee hour however you choose. In addition, if you don’t have time to purchase or prepare the food for coffee hour – or if you’re unable to there on Sunday to serve it – we’ll be more than happy to accept your monetary donation, purchase the food and serve it on your behalf on Sunday morning.

Coffee hour is an important ministry at Christ Church and is really a continuation of the fellowship that we have shared in church that morning. If you haven’t already signed up please consider adding your name to the list.

Thank you.

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Around the Parish

Hope you are all making it through this brutal winter. Thankfully our renovation project has been underway for a while and the cracks in the mortar, leaks and dangerous condition of the tower are close to being repaired.

Congratulations to Daniel Lettiere and Amanda Leigh Eaton on their recent engagement. Daniel is the eldest son of Nancy and Nick Lettiere.

As many of you are aware, long-time parishioners Ellen and Ron Mazzucco have chosen to reside in a warner climate and relocated to Naples, Florida last year. We wish them well in their new home and hope they’ll be dropping by for a visit when the weather gets warmer here on Staten Island.

And congratulations to their son, Peter and his wife, Marissa, who welcomed their second child, Ella Leigh, on November 29th.

Speaking of grandchildren, congratulations to Karen and Paul Smith on the birth of their second grandchild, Sienna. She is the daughter of their son, Ian Sinclair-Smith and his lovely wife, April.

Last month we lost a dear friend and member of the Staten Island community with the passing of Father Richard Markham. Fr. Markham faithfully served at St. Mary’s Church and St. Paul’s Church here on Staten Island will be sorely missed. And condolences to Bill Beveridge, Beth McLean and their families on the passing of his daughter, Annie. It was always such a pleasure to see her at our Fairs and other events.

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Pancake Supper

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