February 2018

Dear Friends,

“The new year has gotten off to an excellent start.”

So I wrote at this time last year. Unfortunately, 2018 has gotten off to a rocky start.

Literally, “rocky.” On January 12, a large piece of stone fell off the façade of the church near the entrance—in an area that was not addressed when we restored the steeple. The Vestry will be working on both an emergency response and a long-term fix. Meanwhile, we are reminded that the care of landmark buildings can never be taken for granted.

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Every clergyperson in Christendom has to note this at some point, so I will take my shot and get it over with. This year, Ash Wednesday is on February 14, Valentine’s Day, while Easter falls on April 1, April Fool’s Day. No doubt, some will find mystical significance in this coincidence.


The next meeting of the Men’s Group will be on Monday, February 5. I will begin a discussion of Jerusalem–a holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We meet from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. Refreshments will be served.


Before Lent begins, we will enjoy our customary Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. The supper will be served in the Parish House from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on February 13. The supper is open to members and friends of the parish. The suggested donation is $10 for adults; this year, children are free. Volunteers are needed to assist with set-up, serving, and clean-up. Please let Adrian or me know if you would be able to help.


Ash Wednesday brings more visitors into our church than any other day of the year. Adrian and I will be in the Church to offer ashes throughout the day; clergy from the nearby Church Pension Group will be assisting us. We will have celebrations of the Eucharist at 8:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.; there will be hymns and organ music during the 12:15 service.

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Every Lent, I remind members of Incarnation of the duty of every Christian to make plans for our eventual passing from this world. These plans should include filling out a healthcare proxy and a living will so that your designated relative or friend can make medical decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them yourself.

Also, be sure that you have an up-to-date will for your material estate. Your will and other last wishes should be recorded and kept in a location outside of your apartment and accessible to your heirs. Our Treasurer, Michael Linburn has written a clear and concise guide to making these decisions. The booklet is available from the parish office and includes information on including Incarnation in your will. Through planned giving, we help assure the continuing witness and work of the Church and other institutions that have sustained and nourished us during our lifetime.

Every year, we also remember with gratitude those who have recently made bequests to Incarnation. This year, Legacy Sunday will be observed on March 18.


On Sunday, February 18, our guest preacher at 11 o’clock will be the Rev. Christopher Cullen S.J. Father Cullen is the Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is also the Chaplain of the Sons of the Revolution, who will be with us at that service for their annual visit.


Another new activity this Lent will be what we call, the Incarnation Book Challenge. We hope members of the parish will read or re-read C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. The book is short and humorous and it is filled with spiritual wisdom. There will be opportunities to discuss the book on three Sundays—February 25 and March 4and 11—after the coffee hour; you will be able to buy the book on Sundays in February.


On February 26, at 6:00 PM, Incarnation’s ushers will gather in the church for a review of current procedures. We will then go to my apartment for a party. I hope as many ushers as possible will be able to attend.

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Here’s a repeat of a notice from the last newsletter:


We normally hold a class in the winter or spring for those who are interested in the Episcopal Church’s understanding of the Christian faith. The six sessions prepare for church membership those who are from Protestant denominations, people with no religious background who wish to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church, Roman Catholics who wish to be received into our Church, and Episcopalians who wish to renew their baptismal commitment as adolescents or as adults. Some people who just want to learn more about the Episcopal Church also attend, and long-term members of Incarnation come for a refresher course on the Bible, church history, theology, liturgy, ethics, and prayer in the Anglican tradition.

If we have a class this year, it will be held in the autumn of 2018. Through a mishap at the diocesan office, Incarnation will not receive visit from a bishop this year. However, if there turns out to be sufficient interest, I will schedule the class and find a bishop from outside the diocese who could come to officiate at Confirmation in 2018. Please let me know if you think you would like to be part of this class or if you have any questions about it.


Mission and Outreach

On January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Incarnation’s Anti-Trafficking Group had an exciting day in Washington D.C. We lobbied for the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a bill that would curb the sale of trafficking victims online. The Group is also getting ready for another wave of visits to local hotels to raise awareness about trafficking recognition training for hotel employees. All are invited to help with these efforts on Sunday, February 11. I’ll make a brief presentation during Coffee Hour about the trip to D.C. Then we’ll sign letters to Congress in support of SESTA and assemble folders for the Anti-Trafficking Group to take to hotels.

Last fall, we put on a rousing Halloween party at Moravian Open Door, complete with bingo, prizes, and way too much chocolate. Parishioners and residents of MOD had such a good time that we’re doing it again, this time with a Valentine’s Day theme. Come to MOD (347 E. 18th St.) on Friday, February 9 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to join in the fun. RSVP to me. You can also help by donating refreshments or bingo prizes (worth approximately $10). If you need help thinking of a prize to donate, I have plenty of ideas.

20s/30s Group

Sushi Friday returns February 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays in Lent (year-round in fact) are traditionally days set aside for prayer and fasting, or abstaining from meat. The Incarnation 20s/30s Group will host Sushi Friday for the first Friday in Lent and invite young adults from other Episcopal parishes to join us. New York Suffragan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Allen Shin will be here as well! We will gather in the Parish House for dinner and close with Compline in the Chapel of the Nativity. Cost is $10 per person; bring your own beverage. Please RSVP to me.

Women’s Group

The Women’s Group will meet on Tuesday, February 6 in the Parish House from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. In anticipation of Lent, we will look at the temptation of Jesus in the desert, the examples of the Desert Mothers and Fathers from early Christianity, and what “desert spirituality” is available to us today. Refreshments will be served.

Children and Families

The Christian Parenting Group is back in full swing. We’ve started a new series on preventing entitlement and growing gratitude in our children. The Group meets every other Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Parish House. The current series will run February 1, February 15 and March 1.

We have an exciting new event coming up on Saturday, March 3 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Families are invited to the Assembly Hall “turned art studio” where children and youth will paint the Stations of the Cross. The Stations, also known as the “Way of the Cross,” depict 14 scenes from the last events of Christ’s life. I’ll spend a little time teaching about the Lenten tradition of praying the Stations, and then we’ll get to painting! We’ll also have plenty of refreshments – coffee, hot chocolate, bagels, donuts and fruit. The artwork will be displayed in the sanctuary and used in a special Stations of the Cross worship service on Wednesday, March 21 at 6:00 p.m. RSVP to me.

—The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser


As part of last year’s RenewalWorks process, the RenewalWorks Team recommended that Incarnation “develop practical means for spiritual growth” and “concentrate on spiritual practices.” In view of this recommendation and in light of the Lenten theme of spiritual discipline, Adrian and I are coordinating a Lenten Spiritual Practice Group.

Participants will covenant to regularly engage in one or more spiritual practices throughout a portion of Lent and gather on Wednesday nights to discuss how their chosen practices are feeding them spiritually. We will focus specifically on the practices of lectio divina (a form of meditative scriptural reading), the Daily Office, contemplative prayer, and writing as a spiritual discipline.

Our first meeting will be Wednesday, February 28 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., and will include an introduction to these practices with an opportunity to try some of them together. Subsequent meetings will be held on March 7, 14 and 21. We hope you will join us—ideally, for all four sessions if possible.


Former Vestry member Tory Nagle, now dividing her time between Wyoming and Massachusetts, writes, “I love you and I miss you all.”


You may have noticed the new “spiritual tips” found in the Sunday leaflet and the E-minder. These come from members of the Spiritual Development Committee and other parishioners. Here’s a good example from Breandan Ward:

I’ve been wrestling a lot lately with priorities. When we are commanded to love God, our neighbor, and the stranger, it’s hard to know where to start and how to keep up Christian love every day. Rather than letting my mind wander among all the competing “to do’s,” I have tried to start each day thinking about one thing I can do for a friend, family member, or neighbor, and one thing I can do for a stranger. I’m amazed at what happens on the days when I succeed – suddenly my own priorities and pressures seem less heavy and burdensome.


At the Annual Meeting of the Parish on Sunday, I expressed a wish that the Church–specifically, our parish–could provide a safe place where Christians with strong conflicting opinions about politics might discuss their differences. At least three parishioners have left Incarnation because they were uncomfortable with the liberal political stances of the national Episcopal Church. In each case, I urged them to stick around, assuring them that our parish includes conservatives as well as liberals. But they still felt they couldn’t remain at Incarnation.

As we see even North and South Koreans to be talking to each other, is it too much to hope that Episcopalian Christians could find enough in common that they could put their differences aside long enough to talk to each other?


***Uche Akwuba, Master of Ceremonies, Padmini Abeywickrama, Altar Guild chairperson, Ted Harrison, Head Usher, and all the chalice bearers, readers, acolytes, altar guild, and ushers who helped with the Christmas services.

***Those who decorated the church, and to everyone who gave so generously for the Christmas decorations and music and for the Christmas Fund, as well as the many parishioners and friends who participated in or donated to Operation Santa.

***Laurie Mygatt and everyone else who worked so hard on the Christmas Fair. Thanks to the many donors and workers—especially Monica Quinn Culoso, who chaired the Silent Auction.

***Adora Akwuba and Kelvin Fofanah for bringing refreshments to the coffee hour following the baptism of their daughter, Adaeze Fofanah.

***Parish leaders who submitted reports for the Annual Meeting. Copies of the reports are available in the Parish House.

***Julie Noll for providing the pot pie luncheon after the Annual Meeting.

***Joe Basset for an excellent presentation to the Men’s Group on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.


Only the second official visit of a Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the last half-century took place on December 6. The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry was the celebrant and preacher at a service celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Church Pension Fund. The fund insures most clergy and fulltime lay employees in the Episcopal Church; its corporate offices happen to be located in the building diagonally across the street from our church.

This was a great honor for our parish—one of the few of the 10,000 Episcopal churches to be able to welcome a Presiding Bishop to our pulpit.

As always, best wishes for a holy Lent.



The Rev. J. Douglas Ousley

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