January / February 2015
FROM OUR RECTOR
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
2014 was a year like no other here at Christ Church. There is a sense of expectancy and vibrancy here that reminds us that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work at Christ Church. At our recent Annual Meeting we reviewed much of our life together. I would like to highlight just a few areas now.
Worship - We continued to offer four worship services a week during the program year and three during the summer months. Our Saturday service grew in attendance due in large part to the new Courtyard Chapel worship space. This December we continued our Lessons & Carols service and our new tradition of the Longest Night Service, a service of remembrance and hope, recognizing life’s transitions during the holiday season. Our Choir under the able bodied direction of David Crone and our Organist Debbie Schofield continued to bring our worship experience to new heights with their talent and dedication. We are fortunate to have them as a part of our worship team. Overall, our average Sunday attendance for 2014 was 170 an increase from last year.
Perhaps the most dramatic thing to impact our worship here is the addition of the Courtyard Chapel between the church and the rectory. The funds for this construction were provided by 5 anonymous donors from our parish. This new space was completed in the summer and consecrated by Bishop Shin in September. On snowy days like now we can look forward to warm weather and worship in the courtyard June-September.
Christian Formation - Christian Education had an important place here in 2014. Our latest confirmation class wrapped up in May and celebrated at their confirmation at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This class, led by Mother Beth and myself was a lively and wonderful group to work with. I began an 8-week New Testament Bible study on Thursday nights in the spring and in the fall, led an 8-week Old Testament study group. I will be offering the New Testament class again during Lent 2015. Mother Beth continues a yearlong Thursday noontime Bible Study on the lectionary for each Sunday. On any given Sunday 19 volunteers give of themselves to make sure all 3 services are fully staffed and run smooth. Add the choir and the number of volunteers jumps to 34! Our program year continued with the Rotation Sunday School program. Preschoolers through 4th grade have participated in this exciting program. Children have the opportunity to learn Bible stories over a 4-week rotation through learning activities using art, drama, video and games. Our Middle School group continues to learn on Sunday morning in the youth room through the dedication of their teachers and the use of the RE:form video and interactive program.
Mission - The Thrift Shop continues its decades’ old tradition of providing a dignified shopping experience at a reasonable price. Much needed donations are accepted on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and are greatly appreciated. This year saw the exciting addition of the Black Friday sales event. It was a record day for our Thrift Shop! The Thrift Shop raised $41,166 in 2014 exceeding their goal by $4166 great job everyone!
Exciting new opportunities for mission came up in 2014. In February, 10 adults from our church flew to Costa Rica to continue the work started by the youth the year before. Our work on the Church of the Ascension in San Jose primarily centered around raising the walls for the first floor. New relationships were forged with each other and with our fellow Christians in Costa Rica. We look forward to the second adult mission team heading to Costa Rica January 31-February 8.
Our Saturday free breakfast ministry continued to be served every Saturday throughout 2014 and we continue this schedule in 2015. Nearly half our guests are children who also enjoy Story Time as they are read to by one of our members. This breakfast provides important nutrition for our guests, a sense that others care for them and provides our volunteers with an opportunity to follow in Christ’s steps by feeding others.
Stewardship - Our Stewardship Program saw new records set and I thank our Chairperson, Mark Arnowitz and all the people involved in making this a successful year. To date the we have had 108 families join in supporting the ministries here at Christ Church. In the “second ask” letter sent out by the vestry, members were asked to prayerfully consider raising their pledge by 10% to help us fund ministries here this year. To date 19 families have done so. If you feel the call to increase your pledge, you can do so by contacting Mary Hebel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support.
And finally I would like to thank the entire vestry for their service this past year. We would not be where we are today without them. I’d like to recognize the retiring members of the vestry: Greg, Grasselena, Gina Lien, Richard Bayer, Suzanne Rupp and Pat Simon (who moved in June) for their hard work over the last three years. Each has contributed so much and I thank them.
Our Junior Warden, Bill Schultz is also retiring. It is hard to put into words what this man has done for me and for this parish over the last few years. When I arrived, Bill was wrapping up his 3 years on the vestry with an ambitious renovation program for all our buildings. He said he’d like to help me in my first year but did not want a second 3-year term. Somehow I sold him on the idea of being Junior Warden, lucky me and us! Bill has continued to oversee our facilities and to make sure we are in ship shape!, you are one in a million. We owe you a debt of gratitude. I often state that I do not know the mind of God but I feel confident in saying that when you meet face to face He will say, “Servant of God, well done”.
At the Annual Meeting we elected new members to the vestry: Mike Tooey, Jeff Wilson, Tammy Prince, Polly Vander Kruik, Cathy Gubar were elected to serve as members of the vestry and Thom Woglom was elected to be our new Junior Warden. I look forward to working with this vestry and to the coming year and all that God has planned for us. My prayer is that we will each find our way of fulfilling his will in our lives and in our church community.
Keep the faith,
FROM BETH PHILLIPS, OUR ASSISTING PRIEST
Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Christmas has passed and the Light has come into the world. While the new church year began over a month ago, many of us make resolutions for the new calendar year now. I have been thinking about what kind of resolutions I can make that would be pleasing to God and have God’s blessing. To me, this means my resolutions need to go beyond a mere goal or accomplishment although they certainly can overlap. A goal might be to learn Spanish to make one more marketable. However, if we want to make a resolution that will be pleasing to God, it should be motivated in love and focus on building our relationship with God, each other and/or ourselves. Thus, a resolution might be to learn some Spanish before our mission trip to Costa Rica so I can connect more deeply and share more fully the Word of the Lord with others while there.
If you are still contemplating your New Year’s resolution here are some to consider:
1. Read the Bible this year.
So many times when I was little I would resolve to read the Bible and start with Genesis 1:1 with the intent to read it straight through. I do not recommend this. I always seemed to stall somewhere in the book of Numbers. It is helpful to have a guide. This year, I am doing the Bible Challenge and there are three tracks from which to choose. Go to this website for more information: http://thecenterforbiblicalstudies.org/the-bible-challenge/what-is-the-bible-challenge/?_cldee=YnBoaWxsaXBzQGlnYy5vcmc%3d&urlid=2.
2. Pray every day.
Being a person of prayer can change your life. You don’t have to start big, you can start small, and we all pray in different ways. You can start with praying over one meal consistently every day, or your morning coffee. My spiritual director once told me that he prays for all the people on his prayer list every morning while he is brushing his teeth. The point is to try and incorporate some sort of prayer every day.
3. Memorize at least one scripture verse each week.
Sadly, I learned in seminary that if you want to win in a game of Cite That Bible Verse, it is better to have Baptists or AME friends on your team than Catholics or Episcopalians. It would be great to change that because the Bible is the owner’s manual for life. The more you know it, the richer and fuller your spiritual life will be and the more you can converse with God. Here is an app that can help you: http://scripturetyper.com.
One new thing I would like to start in this new year after repeated requests on the heels of our Youth Group movie outings is a God In Films group. This group will see the occasional Sunday matinee together and then gather afterwards to discuss it through a theological lens. I hope you will consider joining in one of these afternoons.
I pray that you have a blessed new year and that God’s Spirit empowers you and God’s Word guides you in your resolutions,
LENTEN HAPPENINGS AT CHRIST CHURCH
February 17: Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day before the penitential season of Lent begins. Traditionally, it has become a feast day when many indulge in eating rich food before the season of fasting begins. Please join us from 6:00-7:30pm in the parish hall for a delicious pancake feast and wonderful fellowship. The Christ Church Youth Group will be helping and using the proceeds for this year’s mission trip. A $5 per person donation is suggested. Bring your palms from last year for the burning of the palms in preparation for Ash Wednesday!
February 18: Ash Wednesday
Services with Holy Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes at 12:00 & 7:30pm.
Saturday Afternoon Stations of the Cross: 4:30pm
Join us each Saturday in Lent (February 21-March 28) for Stations of the Cross at 4:30pm in the church; followed by Eucharist at 5pm.
Thursday Night Adult Bible Study: 7pm
Father Jim will be offering an 8-week New Testament Bible Study during Lent on Thursday evenings at 7pm. Each session will be approximately 90 minutes long. Classes will begin on February 26 with a break during Holy Week. Contact him at email@example.com to register.
Thursday Night Meditation Experience: 7-7:30pm
This service will start up again and continue during Lent. Why not consider adding it to your Lenten practices this year?
You will see: A softly lit church with lovely twinkling candles on both sides and some welcoming pews filled with comfy brightly colored pillows.
You will hear: Soft instrumental music and recorded prayerful chants as you enter to be seated and while you ready yourself for prayer. A chime will be used to call you in and out of the prayerful experience.
You will smell: Spicy incense that has been used to bless the entire perimeter of the church to welcome the Holy Spirit.
You will be expected to: Relax into the space and follow along with one short page of prayers. Fifteen minutes of quiet meditation takes place in the middle of it all. Just watch your breath, pray and don’t feel badly if your mind wanders. Just gently call it back.
You will leave with a feeling of being sheltered, protected, and of having spent some time just for you and God! Join us Thursdays during Lent from 7-7:30pm. This service is layby Prayer Team members.
HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE
Mother Beth is leading a 14-day Pilgrimage to the Holy Land November 27-December 10, 2015, with local guide Canon Iyad Qumri, one of the best known guides in Israel. The cost of the trip from door to door with airfare and all but two meals included is approximately $4000. Itineraries are available on Mo. B’s office door. Save $250 with the early bird special when you register with your nonrefundable $500 by February 20. We will walk in the footsteps of Jesus in this small custom designed tour for our group. We will read the relevant scripture as we go. Each site will burst to life with the benefit and expertise of our local guide and scholar Canon Qumri placing it in its historical context. Additionally, we will have three evening lectures to understand and examine why three major world religions call this the Holy Land: one on Islam, one on contemporary issues from a Palestinian perspective, and one from an Israeli perspective by a professor from Hebrew University.
Renewal of Vows
February 14 - 5pm
On February 14 during our 5pm service we will be inviting married couples to renew their vows. This is a wonderful opportunity to give thanksgiving and reaffirm the sacred relationship created by and through the marital covenant. This event is for the entire community as we lift these couples in prayer.
After you have recommitted to your life partner at the 5pm service, support our Youth Group by taking advantage of our babysitting service that evening in the Parish Hall while you and your loved one dine out at one of Warwick's many romantic eateries. Our Youth Group and adult leaders will be hosting a pizza and movie party for your little ones from 6-9:30pm, which gives you plenty of time to moon and spoon for a donation toward the mission trip.
ADULT MISSION TRIP TO COSTA RICA
Thirteen adults will be in Costa Rica from Jan 31-Feb 8 helping to construct the Episcopal Church of the Ascension. Father Jim will lead this intrepid group as they live out their call to be the hands of Christ in our world.
You can follow our activities and view photos on our blog at:
Please keep these people in your prayers:
Robert Biscardi, Laura Carras, Steve Carras, Jim Erwin, Mary Hebel, Barbara Lattimer, Ellen Metzger, John Metzger, Sally Mitchell, Diane Nicholson, Jeff Rouse, Suzanne Rupp & Bill Schultz.
This year we launched the Christ Church Youth Group (CCYG). Our mission is to help our youth experience and share the love of God and in turn learn to love God, each other and themselves better. Our program fosters fellowship, service, and spirituality all while having some fun.
This year the CCYG mission trip is going to Costa Rica. Mission trips are a form of transformational travel with lasting lessons that will influence our youth for the rest of their lives. We rely on the participation and generous support of the entire congregation in these activities. We encourage you to support CCYG by using the babysitting service here at the Church on February 14 and by attending the Shrove Tuesday Pancake dinner on February 17. It takes a village to build a church. Let’s help the youth build Church of the Ascension in Costa Rica!
FEED YOUR FAMILY & SUPPORT YOUR CHURCH
Every Sunday immediately following each service (and most times during Coffee Hour) you can visit with the weekly gift card seller and purchase gift cards to Shop Rite, Price Chopper or A&P. At no cost to you, Christ Church earns a percentage that goes to supporting church programs.
CHRIST CHURCH RECTOR’S SCHOLARSHIP: 2014-2015
The Christ Church Rector’s Scholarship is given to a graduating high school senior who has been accepted into a post-secondary program of study. The $1000 scholarship will be awarded in the spring; the check will be sent directly to the institution where the student will enroll the following fall. The primary criterion for this scholarship is involvement in and service to Christ Church, Warwick.
Applicants submit 1) a brief essay (500-1000 words) about their relationship to Christ Church, 2) a CV that includes all Christ Church activities and service, and 3) a list of post-secondary institutions to which he or she has applied, indicating acceptances.
Applications should be submitted in an envelope clearly marked “Rector’s Scholarship” to the Christ Church Office (50 South Street, Warwick, NY 10990) no later than May 1, 2015. Entries will be photocopied and have names removed so that they might be read anonymously. A small committee will meet to read the applications together. They will try to reach consensus about the most-deserving candidate. When consensus cannot be reached or when the Rector disagrees, the Rector makes the final decision.
The Scholarship will be given in its entirety to one student.
Criteria for Evaluating Applicants
1. Completed application by due date.
2. Deep (rather than broad) involvement in one or more areas of the church.
3. Clear growth in Christian faith and character.
4. Intention to pursue post-secondary education, substantiated by acceptance to a post-secondary institution.
The candidate should address the following: 1) Participation in Christ Church, 2) Witness to Christian faith in word and deed, and 3) growth in relationship with God in Christ.