Etching of Christ Church by Bill Murphy

May, 2016

Christ Church Begins Formal Rector Search Process

Christ Church formally entered the Search Phase of the current transition in clergy leadership during April. The Vestry has affirmed documents reflecting internal work on ‘Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love’ and respectful conversations. The Rev. Canon Deborah Tammearu, Transition Minister for the Diocese of New York, then invited the Vestry to prayerfully select a Chairperson for the Search Committee.

The Vestry announced recently that Mr. Barnett Shepherd has accepted that call. Now the Vestry and Search Chair will invite applications from any interested member of Christ Church who discerns that God might be calling him/her to this ministry. The capacity for confidentiality and prayerful discernment are required of all who enter into this ministry.

Christ Church’s Search Committee will consist of 7-9 persons, including the Chairman. One-third of the Committee will be current Vestry members, with four or five members of the congregation being chosen by the Vestry from the applications received. The Vestry will discern whom God is calling by considering all information available, seeking to have a cross-section of the parish represented.

The application and list of gifts and skills necessary for applicants are now available here and on the church’s website. All applications are due by Tuesday, May 17 at noon. There will be a basket in the front of the church near the pulpit to put a completed application in, or you may submit it directly to the Parish Office.

Parish input into the vision of Christ Church and desired attributes of the next Rector will be solicited by the Search Committee shortly after they begin meeting late May - early June.

Please pray for the Vestry’s discernment and blessings on this transition for Christ Church and all who are involved.

In Christ’s Love,
Your Wardens and Interim Pastor

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We Need Your Updated Information!

As the Rector Search process gets underway we will be sending out many important updates to you by e-mail, (and by mail to those of you who don’t use the Internet.)

Please be sure to let us know ASAP if you’ve changed your e-mail address or if there are any other changes, i.e., home address, phone number, etc.

You can send your info to the parish office ( or leave a written note in Cathy Romano’s mailbox in the Parish Office.

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Spring Fair Pops Up June 4!

Susan Fowler, Chairperson

The Spring Fair will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, with set-up starting at 8:30 a.m. We intend to involve as many parishioners as possible in running the Fair, so please don’t be surprised if you get a tap on the shoulder.

We’ll have a White Elephant sale, a book sale, raffles (baskets and 50-50), baked goods, lunch room, and vendors. Victor Stanwick is working with Barbara Lee, our organist, on a secret musical project (shhh! if you’re in the know).

All donations for the White Elephant and new items (toys, non-perishable food items, wine and liquor) to be added to the raffle baskets will be accepted starting Sunday, May 15. They should be marked “White Elephant” or “Baskets” and placed just inside the door of the upstairs auditorium.

If you know of someone who should be a vendor, send him or her to Alleida Mitchell, 917-514-2407. To help with set-up and break-down, talk to Sheila Swigert, 347-628-6751. For all other questions, please feel free to contact Susan Fowler at 917-734-3746.

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RV For Sale!

Several years ago, a grateful friend of Christ Church donated this used RV for our use. Since that time it has been parked in the back lot behind the Parish House.

The decision has been made to find a new home for the RV and it is now up for sale. Asking price is $2100 or best offer. The battery will probably need to be “jumped” and the tires filled with air. Please speak to Steve Gross if you’re interested, or know someone who is.

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Serenade Concert Series Presents Duo Moderno

Valerie Quinlan

Serenade is pleased to present the Duo Moderno, featuring Brad Repp, violin, and Nathan Brandwein, piano. Their concert will take place on Sunday, May 22 at 3 p.m. at Christ Church New Brighton, 76 Franklin Avenue. A meet-the-artists reception follows the concert. All spaces are handicapped accessible. The concert is free to the public

An exciting and varied program will include Fantasies on themes from Puccini’s operas, La Boheme and Madame Butterfly. It will also include Massenet’s famous Medittion from his opera, Thais. Other works will include selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and works by Messiaen, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Sarasate and Arvo Pärt.

Duo Moderno has appeared throughout Europe, the United States and the Orient.

For info call 718-273-3668 or visit Serenade’s web site:

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From the Parish Register

May Birthdays
1 – Lindsay Kennedy; Jessica Szczepanik; 6 – Carolyn Hodnik; 9 – Victoria Gilbert; 11 – Shirley Elfers, Etta Johnson; 13 – The Rev. Victoria Duncan; 13 – Chloe Lee; 14 – Tara Mazzucco-Smock; 16 – Connie Black;  17 – Kelly Collins; 18 –Richard Jackson; 19 – Agnes Thompson; 22 – Natalie Wynter; 23 – Tracy Williams;  28- Roxanne Ingoe, Fidel Zayzay;  30 – Jay Szczepanik; 31 – Cesar Gardiner, Dick Riley
May Anniversaries
2 – Daniel Mackta & Adrienne Abbate; 5 – David Nygard & Lisa Rhoades; 9 – Lester Blair & Hueldine Webb;
11 – Sam & Tracy Williams; 12 -  Hugo & Andrea McIntosh; 22 – Kevin & Paige Gunther;  26 -  Scott & Arryn Samarisi; 28 – Leighton & Marsha Wynter

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Deacon's Corner

the Rev. Deacon Novella Lawrence

This is a portion of an article I wrote for the Spring 2016 "Jesus Issue" of the Episcopal New Yorker In response to their request as shown below:

"We invite your contribution whether ordained or a lay person."

  • Have you ever experienced a "conversion" moment, in which Jesus has manifested himself to you? Tell your fellow Episcopalians about it.
  • Is Jesus clearly present in your life? What does that mean to you? How does it affect your thoughts and actions?
  • How does the presence of Jesus show itself in your parish life? Has it ever been absent, and what did that mean?
  • Do you tell people about your relationship with Jesus, or keep it quiet?  In either case why?

From my childhood, I have always loved the Episcopal Church.  I loved the Liturgy,  the Beautiful Vestments,  the Hymns and the bells and smells (Incense and bells of High Church.)  I left the church at age 19 and except for my children’s Baptisms, I would not return until they reached school age.  I became deeply involved in every aspect of the church from fund raising to the choir.   I knew the “BCP” but not much about the Bible.  As the lessons were read each week my mind was usually focusing on what I was making for Sunday Dinner.

In September 1979, everything changed.  If I knew how wonderful that change would be I would have remembered, the day, the hour and the minute.  I’d met a woman at work from another faith tradition.  As we became friends, she began to ask me about a relationship with Jesus.   I thought she was a bit strange to ask me such a thing.  I told her all the things I did for the church and that I took Holy Communion.  She commended me but said that there was much more.   She read her Bible on her break at work.  It looked worn out.  At times I was annoyed with her. She invited me to her church.  It was totally different from mine.

Somewhere around that time, I was faced with two very serious problems. One in my family and the other at work.   Each of these problems were horrific and try as I might, I could not resolve them.  So, I asked my friend if she would pray for me, since she had this “personal relationship with Jesus.”   She told me that she already was.  
One morning, during the middle of that ordeal after many sleepless nights and stressful days.  I decided to pray as my friend had suggested.  It was a simple prayer of surrendering my life to Jesus and acknowledging who I was as a person. It was the most difficult prayer I have ever had to say because after years of being a good and active church member, I realized that I did not believe everything in that prayer.  “Dear God, I believe you exist, I believe you sent your son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for my sins and I believe you raised him from the dead.  I ask forgiveness for my sins and ask you to come into my life as my personal savior.”

I had so many doubts that I knew that I could not truthfully say those words that I could not lie to God.   To me, church was just a normal part of life, like school and work.  We always went.  And so, instead I said “I want to believe (for each line) I had a hard time asking forgiveness for my sins.  What sins I thought? I go to church.  Instead I prayed, “I’m sorry if I have ever done anything against you or anyone else.”   (How blind I was.) I ended with “Jesus Christ, if you are real, come into my life.” Amen.

Nothing spectacular happened that day.  But soon, things became miraculously resolved in   my family and then on the job and I began to experience the presence of Jesus in my life. I wanted to learn more about him and so I turned to “The Bible.”  It began to make sense and I wanted to read more and more.  I thanked my friend and even considered leaving my church and joining hers.   I would give up the bells and smells, but God in His mercy, led me to the Church of the Ascension that was at that time in the “Renewal Movement” in the 1980’s.  It placed a heavy emphasis on Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures.  And so I had it all, including the “bells and smells.”  I also went to Cursillo, another major Faith and Worship builder.   The Liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer and the Scriptures became even more meaningful, as did the awareness of the Living God.
Since that September/Conversion experience, Jesus has been very present in my life.  He informs my daily actions. I often tell others about what a difference that simple, heartfelt prayer has made in my life and what   hope it brings.  Jesus has been faithful to me through difficult times and good times.  He is never absent.  I tell others about my relationship with him because I want to share the joy and assurance only He can give.  When people come to me with a problem, I give them practical advice according to their situation but I often add the need for a relationship with Jesus in our lives.  Some accept and some don’t.

As a Deacon in my new and vibrant Parish of Christ Church on Staten Island, I try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, by my actions, my preaching, co-leading a Prayer Ministry with Ned Rogers, with whom I was in another prayer group from 1980 – 2000, to encourage others to know Jesus and to develop a relationship with him. Co-leading the Bible Study Group with Deacon Geri, with whom I was ordained with in 1997, is another way to share the Good News.

Our beloved Fr. Chuck Howell said he brought me on staff, specifically, to assist in adding more spiritual offerings to an already vibrant and active Parish and to develop the Pastoral Care ministry.     I believe that every aspect of my life has been ordered by the Lord since that fateful day in September 1979.  For me in the spring of 1980 Easter would never again be just a nice story but instead a “Glorious Reality” for which there is absolutely no doubt.

In Christ’s Love,
Deacon Novella Lawrence

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In Memory of Pappa Black

Last month, Mother Tori blessed a cross which was designed in honor of our dear parishioner and former Warden, Willie Black, Jr., who died in February of this year.

The cross will be placed in the “Victory Garden” of his son “Buster” (Willie Black, III) alongside that of Buster’s brother, André.

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A Pilgrimage

Lisa Rhoades

On March 13, the Rite 13/J2A students presented their vision for a pilgrimage to take place in early summer, 2017.  Over the course of their study in late 2015, they learned what differentiates pilgrims from vacationers and other travelers spoke with Christ Church members who have been on pilgrimages, and studied, debated and prayed about themes and locations.

The class came to a consensus decision to travel to France to learn more about Joan of Arc. On the 13th, they decorated the weekly bulletin with images of Joan of Arc, participated in the 10 a.m. Eucharist as acolytes, readers, crucifer, officiant and ushers, picking the hymns and offering a sermon outlining their plans. Since then, their parents have come together on a variety of committees including fundraising, logistics, and spiritual preparation.

This trip represents a great amount of work for these young women. They have come up with a system of accounting for their participation in preparing for this event so that the work doesn't fall to only a few. They are fully invested in fundraising from a wide variety of sources to defray the cost of all students (chaperones will pay their own way) for this travel.  Look for their poster in the Parish Hall and watch "Joan of Arc Airline" move across the Atlantic from Staten Island to France as they meet their fundraising goals.

All parishioners are invited to serve on a pilgrimage committee.  See one of the teachers, Lisa or Catherine, if you would like to help this first group of our young people on their pilgrimage.

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Christ Church Community Garden

Connie Black & Sheila Hewitt

Well the season is back and so are the gardeners.  We would like to personally thank all the volunteers who helped make the Christ Church Community Garden, CCCG, a success last year.

We are currently looking for volunteers who would like to help maintain the raised beds and our new adventure addition of using one of the raised beds to plant plants for a butterfly garden. We usually meet on Wednesday and/or Friday from 6-8 p.m.  We are also looking for volunteers to help maintain Christ Church’s 3-Bin Compost.  The compost bins are valuable assets to the gardeners. If you would like to learn more about these bins and how it helps the soil to produce more healthy plant growth please feel free to ask us any questions as well as Susan Fowler.

Thank you to Tony Colucci, Liz Gattullo and the Scouts who have been a tremendous help with the building of a mobile green house and the planting of seedlings to be placed in the raised beds. Just to give you a little bit of history about the CCCG it was put into play to provide home grown vegetables to the community. Simply put: what we grow we give.

CCCG is a part of an organization called G2G, Grow to Give, which is under the umbrella of a very well-known organization spearheaded by Susan Fowler and a committed number of hard working individuals working to provide fresh produce in the most needed areas of Staten Island.   Donations of fresh vegetables go to Trinity Lutheran, and the Richmond Senior Services.   The produce included cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and collard greens.

If anyone is interested in helping with the CCCG just let us know the next time you see us.

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Vestry Notes

Rita McGough

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton took place on Monday, March 14. Here are some highlights from that meeting:
Interim Rector’s Report

  • Matters were discussed on steps going forward in preparation for search.

Treasurer’s Report

  • Finance Chair, Mark Gherzo reported on behalf of our Treasurer, Dot Thompson.
  • Organ funds are being depleted and it is time to consider if current maintenance is cost effective.

Plant & Equipment

  • Post Exterminators came to look at the Chapel regarding the squirrels. We need to get into the attic and Tower to see where they are getting in.
  • Ned Rogers fixed the clock in the Vestry Room. Peter Raff made repairs in the Rector’s office.
  • Barnett Shepherd has procured a grant of $1,300 for planting and lawn maintenance.

Finance Committee

  • Still need more funds for capital improvement.


  • Discussion of Sunday service led by members of J2A explaining their planned pilgrimage to France and asking for congregation’s prayers and support.
  • Sandra Cocks will be the new Godly Play administrator and will take on this responsibility in September.


  • The ukulele class played at the IPC Service at All Saints Church on March 13
  • 240 food baskets went out for Easter.
  • Grants for Arts and Feeding Ministries have been submitted.


  • Committee met in February to develop scheduled events for the year.

Pastoral Care

  • Home visits, calls, and meals were made and Sunday taxi service was implemented. On February 14 a visit was made to Harbor Terrace with several parishioners. 30 people took part of the service that day.


  • 145 pledges to date.

Worship and Liturgy

  • Adding Tenebrae service to Holy Week schedule this year. Maundy Thursday foot washing will be handled a bit differently this year to accommodate all in attendance.


  • Bring a Friend Sunday will take place in the spring. Also considering an event to bring more young adults to church.


  • Awards will be presented to three high school graduates this year. Looking at current resources to see if camp scholarships will be offered.

Old Business

  • Fire Detection System estimates are far above amount budgeted.
  • Robing Room renovation estimates still under consideration.

New Business

  • Discussion of the feasibility of Rectory rental until a new rector is found.
  • RV sale – we will be selling the RV which has been sitting in the church parking lot. Stephen Gross will take charge of these arrangements.
  • Counters: Willie Black III noted the severe shortage of counters and asked that each Vestry member become a counter.  This was agreed to by consensus.
  • Vestry/Congregation Documents - a new telephone tree is being worked on.  The difficulty of reaching parishioners by telephone was mentioned.
Donation of Vestments – some older, donated vestments will be given to the New York Altar Guild to put them to good use.          

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Scouting News at Christ Church

Charlotte Hewitt

A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous,
Kind, Obedient, Cheerful,
Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

These values are The Scout Oath. Look over them and ask yourself are these values part of our youth’s lives today? Are these values obsolete? While I find myself asking those questions. I know I will also find the answer. Our Scouts will be asking themselves how to apply these values as we head on the trail of Scouting.

Pack 76 has come far this year with a roster of over 20 children and a full program for each age group. This winter we trekked to Pouch Camp to do our yearly family outing. Our youngest cubs only come for the day and leave after our dinner and campfire but our oldest Scouts stay from Friday night and set up till Sunday and break down. Some of the things our Cub Scouts did while at camp were fishing, hiking, archery, S’mores making, fire building, laughing, scary storytelling and skits and more. One weekend every year together being Cub Scouts - who could ask for better? Our program offered so much more this year.

This winter we headed west to New Jersey for some railroad fun by Flemington N.J. Our New Scout Master of Troop 76 loves trains. Tony Colucci led the way to the most amazing train show in a huge warehouse 4 or 5 stories full of all kinds of model train displays. The Cub Scouts "oooed' and giggled at each display for hours. In the end we rode on a real steam locomotive before heading home.

I must say Tony Colucci has incredible energy and it shows. Teaching the Webelo scouts in his garage about cars, tools and how to build birdhouses. Tony took it one step further and built 2 large birdhouses to raffle off to help fund our Scouting program. One birdhouse you saw in the hall by the kitchen. The other birdhouse Tony brought to work at Con Edison.

Tony donated all the wood and labor as far as I know. Our parishioners where very generous and purchased many raffle tickets; Tony’s coworkers at Con Edison have also been very supportive and have purchased lots of tickets. Barnett Shepherd was the winner of our birdhouse Christ Church. May you enjoy many happy years of bird watching! The birdhouse at Con Edison will be raffled off this week. I would like to thank all of you for the wonderful support you have shown not only with our raffle but through the whole year.

During the last week of March our oldest Cub Scouts traded in their scarves for new ones. Five Senior Webelos advanced to the next level of Scouting. Their advancement ushers in our New Troop 76. This is both scary and exciting. How did we come from a small little adventure to this leap of faith and determination to go the next level? These 5 Scouts attended all of our activities - all the meetings, camping and outings not to mention fund raising, bread making etc. They are a remarkable bunch and I am so proud of them. Our New Scout Master and I are waiting to go the distance to see and apply that Oath I talked of in the beginning.

I want to thank Elizabeth Gattullo who worked so hard to run the Pack and struggled at times to get things done. Without her this pack would not run. Thank you to our Leaders, John Edwards who took time from his busy schedule to run two different programs for our cubs, and Betsy Kalfa for teaching and building a great program. To their families who gave them up to give their time to our scouts thank you.

We are not done. There is still some scouting to be done this year as we head into the summer. Look for us at the Memorial Day Parade.

Till We Meet Again.

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50 Years an Episcopalian

Nick Dowen

In March 2016 I celebrated 50 years as an Episcopalian. Since 1966 this church has been my happy spiritual home. The many wonderful people I’ve met in and through the Episcopal Church are a constant inspiration to me. Christ Church New Brighton is to me an earthly as well as a spiritual home, for our many weekday activities and our extensive buildings and grounds provide ample opportunities for meaningful daily activity. If religion is described as “a harmless leisure-time activity,” our parishioners might well assert, “So this is leisure!”

I have seen changes in my time but I am more aware of consistency and continuity in our church life together. Since 1966 knowledge and experience of the worldwide Anglican Communion have increased. Other changes include women’s ordination, the 1979 Prayer Book and the 1982 Hymnal. I would have preferred a more conservative Prayer Book revision, in traditional language and with fewer alternative options, but I like the three-year lectionary and the present version of the Psalms. The Psalter is a spiritual and literary powerhouse. The revival of the diaconate as a distinct servant ministry has been a boon to both church and society.

The Episcopal Church today remains the best embodiment of the liberal American Christianity that I was brought up in. It gave me a new outlook, a new lease on life, and I am grateful.

Christ Church Scholarship Committee

Sheila Hewitt

The Scholarship Committee is seeking applications from active parishioners who are prospective graduates from high school during this summer as well as parents wanting scholarships to fund summer camps for their children. We would like to advise those graduating from high school to please include in their application letter the school they will be graduating from, intended major in college and the prospective college of their choice.

For parents applying for camp scholarship, please state the name of the summer camp program and attach the forms including the cost for the summer camp. Please note that the committee will make its recommendation to the Vestry through the Interim Rector based on the available resources. 

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Search Process Input Requested

Please plan to attend the all-parish listening session sponsored by the Vestry and Search Committee of Christ Church on Sunday, June 12 after each service. The session after the 8AM service will be in the Chapel, and the session after the 10 AM service will be in the auditorium and include light refreshments.

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Around the Parish

Nancy Reiersen-Scromo

The Tower Chimes is back! Following a short hiatus in publication earlier this year it’s a pleasure to greet you all with news about our parishioners, parish activities and things that are happening in our community.

The first few months of 2016 had their ups and downs. We lost some dear friends, and there were leadership changes at our sister parishes here on Staten Island. One of the most noteworthy events was the passing of Willie Black, Jr. on February 3. “Pappa Black” was a long-time member of our parish family, former Warden and a man whose faith in God was an inspiration to us all.

In January we said goodbye to our organist and choir director, Tom Sarff, and welcomed his replacement, Barbara Lee. We also held our Parish Annual Meeting and added several new members to the Vestry. We recently announced that we would begin the search process for a new Rector and under the leadership of Barnett Shepherd, the committee chair; things will start to get underway this month.

Our intrepid traveler, Deacon Geri Swanson, is at it again! In addition to some recent sojourns in the United States, and a trip to Cuba, Deacon Geri is now enjoying a brief trip to England. Safe travels, Geri.

Babies are Us - congratulations to Peter Raff on the birth of his first grandchild, Ajax Kingman Raff in April. The proud parents are Xander Raff (Peter’s son) and his wife, Alice.

Congratulations to those who will be confirmed and received at the Cathedral on Saturday, May 14. We’ll publish a list of their names in the June issue of the Tower Chimes.

Although this column is a bit shorter than usual I promise that the June column will be a bit more “newsworthy.” Speaking of which – the June issue will be our last before we take our annual “summer hiatus.” If there is anything you would like to include in the June issue please be sure to email me or leave me a note in the Tower Chimes mailbox in the Parish Office.

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Save the Date!

Belle Nuit’ Concert Opera Series
Christ Church New Brighton
An Evening of Famous Opera Highlights
Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m.

Christ Church Bus Outing, Saturday July 2 3
The Sight and Sound Theatre and Kettle Village, Lancaster PA
Samson & Delilah

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