Welcome to the February 2015 issue of the Tower Chimes. Select a story from the menu below:
Kirstin Swanson-Basso and John Gerney
Since the unexpected passing of Fr. Chuck in July, the Vestry and Wardens have been working hard to keep things running as smoothly as possible. One of the critical tasks we have been attending to is the search for an Interim Rector which will prepare us for calling a new Rector when the time is right.
Even under the best of circumstances (the planned retirement of a long-time rector, for example), the process of calling a rector takes time, energy, and planning. The first step, which is the one we are currently engaged in, is to select an Interim Rector. How this process works is that the Diocese forwards potential candidates to the Wardens, who then review profiles and resumes to select interviewees. The Wardens choose candidates for the Vestry to interview, and the Vestry approves the final candidate. This is a process that happens relatively quickly (in comparison to the process of calling a Rector), and we hope to have an Interim selected in the fall.
Choosing a Rector is a much longer process, and one that may take longer than usual given the unique circumstances under which we will be conducting this search. It involves forming a search committee, developing a congregational profile, and other steps that, while they will not be addressed in this article, will be addressed in the near future. We are in the process of scheduling a meeting with The Rev. Deborah Tammearu, Canon for Transitional Ministry, to answer questions you may have about this process.
Members of the congregation have approached Vestry members and Wardens wondering about who is going to be on the Search Committee and when that process will start. The search for a Rector will not begin until an Interim is in place. It may not begin immediately – as we have heard preached recently, we are a body that has experienced a loss, and may have some healing to do. However, we should not linger in grief longer than we need to. If you feel a strong call to serve on the search committee, please feel free to send a letter of intention, to the attention of the Wardens, indicating your interest. We cannot promise that those who write will be selected for participation, but we welcome such interest.
Finally, we ask that you all, as a congregation, continue to support the ministry of Christ Church, even in this uncertain time. Many of us are here now because we were inspired by Fr. Chuck’s vision for this congregation, and for our community. And many of us made that vision our own. We can, and will, continue to be what our mission statement says: a community of worship, love, and service.
The Fundraising Committee would like you to join us for a FREE, FAMILY-FUN-FILLED, ALL YOU CAN EAT PICNIC on Sunday, September 13 immediately following the 10 a.m. service. There will be activities for everyone, food from the grill, salads, desserts and much more! A time to catch-up, relax and “reconnect” with other members of our parish family.
This is a FREE event but any donations to help defray costs are most welcome. Please join us as we bid a fond farewell to summer and mark the start of the fall season.
Pack 76 has not just taken the summer off. Our boys have been doing different things.
One of the assignments for our Cub Scouts has been to collect plastic bottles. Why, you may ask? There is a group of female Marine Biologists who will be crossing the Atlantic in a sailing vessel collecting data on the effects of plastic on the marine life and the food chain all the way up to and including our own food sources. They will sail from the Ivory Coast to Brazil. Our Cub Scouts will be collecting bottles to help fund this exploration. In fact, we are hoping that one of the Marine Biologists will be coming to talk to our scouts to explain the importance of this project and what this means to our world and its future. If you would like more information, or would like to help please contact me or visit www.oceantalk.org.
Since May our Cub Scouts have participated in the Flag burning ceremony at Camp Pouch, attended the Staten Island Yankees Cub Scout Day game and slept on the field overnight. On August 22 we went exploring on Governor’s Island, visited Castle William and tried our hand at Bocce ball while enjoying two ferry rides in our harbor.
Registration will take place in the Guild Room on Friday, September 18th and again on the 25th at 7 p.m. for those in 1st to 5th Grade.
If you need more information contact Charlotte Hewitt 707-227-5075 or Elizabeth Gattullo 718-727-6100.
Deacon Geri Swanson
In my various travels, I have had the privilege of visiting the ancient city of Ephesus located near Izmir in Turkey near the Mediterranean Sea. It was built in the 10th century by Greek colonists. During the Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of Rome in 129 BC. Ephesus had an estimated population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia. This number was deduced from the number of seats in the amphitheater and public latrines that were uncovered during recent excavations
The city was known for the Temple of Artemis one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed in 268 AD by invading hordes of Goths. Today one of its pillars and pieces of a carved frieze remain; other pieces are either at the Archeological Museum at Istanbul or in that institution holding many pilfered items, the British Museum in London. You can see the Rosetta Stone, Cleopatra’s sarcophagus and huge pieces from the Parthenon from Athens, and they have no intention of returning any of it, but I digress.
Only 15% of the entire Ephesus archeological site has been excavated, but even as it is, in this incomplete state, it holds much
significance for Christians. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here.
A few miles from the archeological site is a lovely stone house said to be the house in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived as she was being cared for by St John the Evangelist. It has become a place of pilgrimage for many Christians who leave prayer requests stuck in a wall as you leave the property. I am not sure of the validity of Mary’s place, but I understand three recent Roman Catholic popes have visited it…which does give it its own special kind of imprimatur.
The most interesting Christian resident of Ephesus has to be St. Paul, the author of the letters which we have been reading throughout the summer. Paul was born in Tarsus also located in modern day Turkey but closer to Syria along the Mediterranean coast. While living in Ephesus Paul worked at his craft - he was a tent maker by trade, and proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ, a pastime that got him into trouble with the local statue makers who depended upon the cult of Artemis for a living. They made good money selling various sized statues of Artemis to locals and tourists who came to the massive temple dedicated to Artemis. He was prevented from speaking at the amphitheater there by a rowdy crowd of artisans who were Artemis fans, and he later spent some time in the local pokey for his outspokenness.
Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians while in Ephesus; this letter was written while he was imprisoned in Rome. The gist of this letter is rather general in tone. Many biblical scholars feel the pervading theme of this work is the Church as the Body of Christ. I think my favorite description of this letter is from the New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace, who pragmatically stated it as “Christians, get along with each other!”
Additionally, I was struck by the 17th through 20 verses that say: “…be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I recently shared with my boss the various encounters I had commuting by ferry and subway to downtown Brooklyn:
A mother and daughter arguing on the boat about the suitability of both her boyfriend and the girlfriend of a non-present brother/son.
“You’re always criticizing me! You never criticize him!” the daughter shouted and pouted as she banged her fist on the seat.
`“I am concerned about you making bad choices.” the Mom replied with a furrowed brow.
My next encounter was with an elderly man with whom I shared the elevator at the Court Street subway station who began singing an improv'd riff on a well-known children’s hymn: “Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves you!”
My boss told me that I had to think of these encounters as a sign from heaven; I thought about it, and so I did.
I began to think of it in the context of one of Deacon Novella’s recent sermons in which she spoke about the cycle of loss and the all too easy way of dealing with loss by attacking each other, and the upcoming Vacation Bible School, making them mental book ends for continued contemplation.
I know that we are in the midst of change, change we did not want or expect, and many are unable to see the road we are on, let alone trying to get the road map. There is no road map. This is frightening and scary to be walking into the unknown, but we can do this if we work with each other, depending on the gifts we all bring here working together as the body of Christ.
I know that next week when Vacation Bible School is being held, this space will be filed with moments of laughter, moments of joy and many moments of children singing and making melody to the Lord, not just in their hearts, but with their voices.
Let us pray that their joy-filled spirit can help us at this time of unanticipated change; that all of us can and will everyday give thanks to the Father for everything that was done for us in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Deacon Novella Lawrence
The Christ Church Prayer Group has resumed their regular weekly meetings. We gather each Wednesday evening at 7:15 p.m. in the Vestry room, followed by a brief service in the church.
We invite anyone who would like to offer intercessory prayers and reflect on the Holy Scriptures to join us each week at this time. It is a special time, midweek, to experience again the presence of Jesus. Our prayers will also be offered for the peace, stability and future of the Parish.
How often do we think to ourselves things like, “She knows I love her – it goes without saying” or “He knows how much I appreciate all his hard work – it goes without saying”? The truth is, words can be a powerful affirmation, and the absence of the right words can leave a void that really hurts. The truth is, very little goes without saying, and the important things should NEVER go without saying. There are things we know, but sometimes we need to hear them loud and clear.
During the 10:00 am service on Sunday, October 25, we will celebrate an important rite of passage with some of our middle schoolers. This class is named Rite-13 after the special liturgy we will celebrate with them on this day. In some respects, this is a new way of saying to our young people things we have meant to convey all along – things like: “We stand with you as you make your way on the journey; we’re here if you need us; we think you are terrific; we love you.” We often assume that our teens feel appreciated and accepted as a vital part of our parish, but adolescence can be such a time of uncertainty that some things just can’t be said often enough.
One of the unique aspects of the Journey to Adulthood program is that it seeks to provide rites of passage that are often lacking in our culture. We help define points along the path to adulthood that tell our young people they are making progress; they are growing; they are becoming adults. Rite-13 is the liturgical cornerstone that lays the foundation for the entire congregations of Christ Church to rise up and in one mighty voice tell our young people, "You matter to us. Your lives are of inestimable value. The journey you are now embarking on is significant." It is a way that we fulfill our baptismal covenant of "seeking and serving Christ in all persons."
The Rite-13 Liturgy is a rite of passage that recognizes the gift that God bestows upon each one of us: the gift of manhood or womanhood. This is a free gift that we cannot earn and need not prove. This gift is the essence of who we are. The same energy that pushes us through adolescence gives us the power to change the world. As these young people grow and mature their knowledge and skills will increase, but the core of who they are remains the same.
Here is a priceless opportunity for us to affirm all that is good in the young people who live and grow around us and to recognize them as young men and women in our midst. Don't miss this incredible chance to say out loud in a very powerful way what we have meant to say to them all along. Remember, NOTHING GOES WITHOUT SAYING!!
2—Evelyn Zayzay; 3- Alayne Gilbert, Calvin Morse; 4 – Catherine Barnett, Ela Seeley; 11 – Madalyn Samarisi; 13 –Kimara Jean-Mary; 15 – Linda Reiersen; 16 – Claire Kennedy; 18 – David Reiersen; 20 – Nancy Reiersen-Scromo; 21 – Mary Larimer; 22 – Matthew Devlin, Bonnie Franz; 25 - Shirley Black, Maya Modzelewski; 27 – Willie Black IV.
2– Kirstin Swanson & Brian Basso; 9 – Garry & Nancy Scromo; 17 – Susan Fowler & Victor Stanwick.
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 727-6100 so it can be added.
Ann Sohm and Pamela Miller, longtime parishioners of Christ Church and former sopranos in the choir, passed away in late August due to complications from – respectively – multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Ann and Pam both joined the choir during the 1970s and remained devoted members for many decades.
Ann Trinita Sohm was born in the former Smith Infirmary and raised on Staten Island. She was a well-known soprano soloist and vocal teacher on the Island, renowned for the clarity and purity of her tone. I recall being brought to the verge of tears many years ago following her performance of Mendelssohn’s “Hear My Prayer” in its entirety on the choir’s final service of the season. In addition to her contributions to Christ Church, Ann was a longtime member of the oldest musical organization on the Island, the St. Cecilia Society, and sang in the choir at Temple Israel for many years. She also was an accomplished visual artist, recognized for her religious icons painted under the tutelage of the late John Walsted, himself a widely respected authority on iconography. Ann was also blessed with a sweet and sensitive disposition that endeared her to everyone who knew her.
Pamela Miller was born and raised in England and emigrated to the U.S. aboard the Queen Mary in 1957. She settled in Brooklyn and worked as an executive secretary for Lehman Brothers. Pam moved to Staten Island in 1970 and became a member of Christ Church, where she soon joined the choir and met fellow chorister and future husband, Irwin Miller.
With Irwin, Pam was an active parishioner, serving on the Vestry and numerous committees over the years until Irwin’s death in 1997. Pam remained active in church and community groups until the onset of her illness 10 years ago. She is survived by her son, two daughters, a brother, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Pam will long be remembered, in particular, for her wry humor and joy of life. She found in me an eager passenger on Sunday afternoon road excursions without plans, maps, or even destinations; we went wherever the spirit of the moment took us, and in her company, even familiar territory seemed new and fresh.
In their own unique ways, these remarkable women – Ann and Pam – made a difference and bequeathed many memories that will not fade anytime soon.
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, June 4th. Here are some important highlights of what took place that evening.
Plant and Equipment
Worship & Liturgy
The next meeting of the Vestry will take place on Monday, September 14.
We are more than half way through the year and there are still Sunday Coffee Hour dates available. You can sign up on the sheet which is located on the bulletin board or contact Sheila Hewitt at 718-447-8049 for additional information.
Christ Church will be hosting “The Great Chili Cook-Off” on Sunday, October 4. Olisha James and Sheila Hewitt are looking for the BEST Christ Church Chili makers. If you want to participate all you need to do is sign up with Olisha or Sheila.
All chili should be brought in a crock pot on the morning of the cook-off before 10:30 am. We ask that you bring enough chili for approximately 75 to 100 people to taste. The host of the cook off will provide all of the classic chili fixings.
Chili will be judged by all of those in attendance by ballot. Competitor’s entry is free. Prizes will be awarded for the hottest chili and the tastiest chili. Cash proceeds will to go to the American Cancer Society for Breast Cancer. Non-Perishable donations will go to the Christ Church Pantry.
All competitors must register by September 27th. To register to compete please contact;
Olisha James: Phone: (347)-244-6145
Shelia Hewitt: Phone (718)-447-8049
Connie Black: Phone (917)-453-2196
I would like to thank everyone who helped with the vegetable garden, especially the Boy Scouts and their leaders. The Boy Scouts of Christ Church helped to clean and mix the compost into the raised boxes. They also helped to plant the vegetables.
If you wish to volunteer in the Garden you can contact Sheila Hewitt at 718-447-8049 or Connie Black at 718-876-0667.
Rehearsals for the Christ Church Community Youth Chorus will resume this month. Our first rehearsal will take place on Thursday, September 17 in the Parish House from 6 to 7:30 p.m. There will be a parent/guardian meeting that evening from 7 to 7:30 p.m.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
I would like to thank all the ladies of Christ Church who helped with the Father’s Day Brunch Coffee Hour. I would also like to thank the young adults (OLD YOUTHS) who are attending college or have finished college and came back to the Christ Church to help with the Coffee Hour.
The past few months have been difficult for us all. We are so fortunate to have two capable Wardens and a strong Vestry in place; two incredible Deacons, a wonderful parish staff, and hard-working parishioners who have kept the momentum going with Vacation Bible School, coffee hours, fund raisers and all of the things that have bound us together this summer as a loving and active parish.
We are grateful to Bishop Dietsche, Bishop Shin and the Diocesan Staff for their compassionate counseling, to our Supply Priests and to members of the Staten Island clergy who have been there to lend a hand when it’s needed.
Father Chuck left us a wonderful legacy and there is much to be done as we continue where he left off. Our fall and winter activities will kick off on September 13 with our Parish Picnic as everything else falls into place – choir, Godly Play, J2A, Drummers, Community Chorus, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Daisies, fund raisers – and the beat goes on!
Some sad news last month with the passing of two long-time parishioners: Ann Sohm and Pamela Miller. Condolences go out to their families. Tom Sarff has written a wonderful tribute to these two lovely ladies, which you’ll find in this issue of the Tower Chimes.
It’s going to be a busy year at Christ Church and we’ll try to keep you updated each month on all of the “doings.”
If you do have something that you’d like to include in that issue please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a note in the Tower Chimes mailbox in the Parish Office.
The Federation of Lofa Associations in the Americas (FLAA), a 501 (C)3 organization, is appealing to all parishioners and friends of Christ Church, New Brighton, Staten Island, through the vestry to please donate sneakers for more than two hundred needed students (ages 10-18) in Lofa County, Liberia, a rural Northern region of the Republic of Liberia.
We wish to thank you in advance on behalf of the National Board of Directors, National Executive Committee, the Advisory Council and the membership of FLAA for your kind donations in assisting students living below the poverty line in Lofa County, Liberia. May God bless you all. Our goal is to collect 100 pairs of sneakers!
Please give donations to Richard Zayzay or leave them in the box in the Parish Office.
Parishioners & Friends of Christ Episcopal Church:
The organizing Committee of the "Taste of Liberia" (Traditional foods from the West African country of the Republic of Liberia), is pleased to inform you that the program will be held on Sunday, September 27, 2015 (Fourth Sunday), immediately following the 10:00 A.M. Worship service at Christ Church at 76 Franklin Avenue, Staten Island, New York.
Please note that the program is held annually in support of the scholarship fund at Christ Church. The committee is dedicating this year's program in loving memory of our late Rector, The Rev. Fr. Charles Henry Howell, a dedicated servant of God, who was so passionate about the holistic needs of the parishioners and the Staten Island community.
The committee is targeting to raise a minimum of $2,000.00 with your support. Please contribute generously to this program in support of the Education Committee's budget of the church.
The Organizing Committee
"Taste of Liberia"