February – March 2014



Dear Friends,

Before I describe the new programs for Shrove Tuesday and Lent, I want to give you the latest news on the Spire Restoration.

The Vestry has signed a contract with Preserv, a well-known building company that works with historic buildings. Some years ago, Preserv installed the handicap access entrance and ramp in the front of the church. The various approvals from the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission look to arrive more quickly than expected and we plan to begin erection of a new sidewalk bridge and scaffold quite soon.

Generous initial gifts, grants and legacies have been received and we have more than a third of the $550,000 required in hand. The Vestry is now planning ways to raise funds for the rest of the work. Mark Lulka, an engineer from the parish and I are meeting regularly with Preserv and our long-time architects from Jan Hurd Pokorny Associates.

When a stone fell on the Madison Avenue sidewalk on December 28, 2012, I knew we had a big problem. We received bids for the work last year as high as two million dollars—a sum far beyond our means. Now it appears that the work can be completed by autumn—a perfect way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the construction of our church building!

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We begin Lent with a new way to celebrate Mardi Gras, known in Anglican churches as Shrove Tuesday: Incarnation’s first Mardi Gras Potluck. Join us on Tuesday, March 4, at 7:00 PM, in the Assembly Hall. We suggest that you bring something delicious, decadent, and thoroughly un-Lenten! Crockpots are welcome. See the enclosed flyer.

If you do not bring a dish, the cost of admission is $14. Friends attend for free. When you reserve via phone (212 689-6350) or email (info@churchoftheincarnation.org,) be sure to let us know what dish you plan to bring (or that you’ll give $14) and which team you will be a part of (Set Up, Serving, or Clean Up).


Ash Wednesday brings more visitors into our church than any other day of the year. Ginger or I will be in the Church to offer ashes throughout the day, March 5.

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.


Ginger and I have also changed the format of our traditional Lenten lectures. This year, they will be shorter, with more lecture and less discussion. They will take place in the Parish Living Room from 12:30 to 1:00. Afterwards, anyone who wishes to discuss the topics can accompany the clergy to a local restaurant for a Dutch treat brunch.

The general topic is “Experience of God.” The individual topics are: “Making room for Experience” (March 9), “Nature Mysticism” (March 23), “Crisis Spirituality” (March 30), and “Experience and Doubt” (April 6).


On Sunday, March 16, the Bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche will make his first official visit to Incarnation. He will preach and confirm during the 11 am service; then he and the confirmands will be honored at a gala reception in the Parish House.


How to stretch your Incarnation gift

If you are thinking of selling appreciated stock in order to make a gift to Incarnation, give the stock directly instead. By donating the stock itself, you avoid tax on the appreciated amount. And, you still use the total amount as a charitable gift deduction for calculating income tax. Every brokerage is prepared to transfer shares of stock electronically to a charity. Remember, the stock gift must be made from the brokerage to the charity directly in order to avoid taxation on the appreciated amount. To obtain the church’s bank transfer account number or for related questions, please leave a message at the church office or email to “info@churchoftheincarnation.org“.


Christopher Stromee


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 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, entitled, “ is available at the entrance to the church, or in the Parish House, or via mail or email from the parish office.

Every year, we also remember with gratitude those who have recently made bequests to Incarnation, such as Dusty Pierce and Gladys Newbery. This year, Legacy Sunday will be observed on March 30.


***Anne Perkins writes from New Mexico that she has found a good church and made friends but still misses New York.

***Fran Cobb wrote to me after my wedding; she reminded me that she met her husband, Steve at Incarnation 36 years ago!

***Theresa Banfield writes from Southern California that the eldest of her six great-grandchildren will be graduating from college this spring.

***Faith Abrams writes from Florida after a visit to our church: “No matter how much time has passed, thanks to you, Incarnation feels like home.”

***Rose Petito Evans reports from the DC area that she is recovering from a fall but is now doing fine.

We are so lucky that people stay in touch with Incarnation for decades after they leave New York. Here’s one final comment that was posted on the web site by a former parishioner: “The rites and rituals can be reproduced any Sunday at any church. What makes a service special is the sermon. I left New York more than a decade ago, and missed those sermons since then. Thanks for the pod casts. I plan on being a regular!”



The next meeting of the Men’s Group will be on Monday, March 10; we are one week later than usual because of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday the previous week.

Our topic will be “Was Jesus married and does it matter?” Ginger Strickland will review new scholarship on Jesus’ marital status and what is at stake in the debate. This issue has generated much press and I’m sure Ginger’s reflections will be of great interest to us. Refreshments from Diet Coke to martinis will, of course, be abundant.


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

***The Women’s, Men’s, and 20’s/30’s Groups for decorating the church, and to everyone who gave so generously for the Christmas decorations and music and for the Christmas Fund.

***Anna Holmgren and the many parishioners and friends who participated in Operation Santa. Anna reports:

First of all, thank you for your support for year three. It did end up being a smaller event this year. I think having the event on the same day as Lessons and Carols made it hard for some people to attend.


Despite that, we sent gifts to about 50 children. I would estimate over 200 gifts.We had about 20 parishioners participate and about8 non-parishioners. This year we also scanned the letters we filled, I’ll forward a sampling in case you want to make them available for people. Let me know if you have any questions.


***Laurie Mygatt and everyone else who worked so hard on the Christmas Fair. Thanks to the many donors and workers, we realized nearly $8,000 to support parish work in the year ahead.


Christmas was, for me, a wonderful and memorable season here at Incarnation – so many moments that were special! I particularly enjoyed our Service of Lessons and Carols, which featured an extended piece by Philip Glass, and all the wonderful choral music with strings we did that day. I would like to thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm over the past 20 years. I look forward to more Christmases to come!


With Epiphany about to come to a close, we are already looking at the season of Lent. I always like to program a big music day for the Last Sunday in Epiphany, which is March 2. That day will feature music of Franck, including his rousing setting of Psalm 150, and the Organ Choral in E major.


The First Sunday in Lent, on March 9, will include the Great Litany in procession. This is an Anglican tradition we haven’t done for a few years. I am pleased we will be doing it again. It concludes with a poignant choral “Kyrie” by Jean Langlais.


Looking ahead, we will continue with our series of contemporary music. Watch for works of Pendercki and Larry King (former music director at Trinity, Wall Street, and one of the most creative musicians to come out of NYC).


St. George’s Choral Society will present their Spring Concert at Incarnation on Sunday, May 4 at 3:00 PM. This will be an incredible concert, with orchestra, featuring the monumental Great Mass in C minor, by Mozart. This work doesn’t get performed often – you will not want to miss it! Tickets are $25.00, available at the door.


Wishing you all the best,

Dr. Matthew Lewis



Those wishing to add a special devotion for Lent are welcome to join Ginger and me and a group of parishioners who gather in the Chapel of the Nativity for Morning Prayer at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. Coffee and pastry follow the twenty-minute prayer service, and everyone is on the way to work before 9:00 a.m. Enter by the side door at 25 East 35th Street.




In the last year, Incarnation has hosted 4 Senior Resource Days. Each event has attracted more neighborhood seniors than the last. Attendees, volunteers, and area agencies working with seniors have been enthusiastic and appreciative. We are thankful to Pippa Loengard for serving as lead volunteer for these events and to John Ousley for his hard work.


Our next Senior Resource Day will be on Sunday, March 30, from 1-3pm. Incarnation volunteers will offer free technology help; Seniors from the parish and neighborhood should bring their questions about the internet, email, cameras, smart phones, ipads, and so on. A representative of Citymeals on Wheels will offer a short talk and Q and A on Healthy Eating for Seniors. Bethany Medical Clinic will also offer blood pressure screenings, and refreshments will be served. There is no cost for the event, but please RSVP before March 28 to 347 886-6532, or to info@churchoftheincarnation.org. Volunteers are needed; there is much to do that doesn’t require tech savvy.


Twenties and Thirties

The next meeting of our Twenties and Thirties’ Group will be on Tuesday, March 11 from 7:00-8:30 PM. Drinks and a light dinner will be available for a free-will donation. The group will meet at the Parish House. Please RSVP by calling the church office at 212-689-6350 or emailing me. We’ll continue the discussion started during our Lenten Series focusing on “Faith and Doubt.”


On Saturday, April 26 at 6:30 pm, Incarnation 20s/30s are invited to compete in a 20s/30s Trivia Night at Saint James’ Church (Madison Avenue and 71 Street). Those of us who participated last year had a great time with hundreds of 20s/30s from churches all over the city…but we lost; come help us win. The cost is $25 per person and includes dinner, and all money raised will go toward the Diocese’s work in Haiti. Please let me know if you are planning to attend.


Women’s Group

The next meeting of the Women’s Group will be on Tuesday, March 18. We will meet in the Parish House at 7:00 p.m. A light supper will be provided. Our topic will be “Dealing with Disappointment – Where is God when things don’t turn out as we expect?”


Families with Children

The children of the Parish (and their friends!) are invited to participate in a special way in the Palm Sunday Celebration on Sunday, April 13. They will lead the procession into the church, waving palms and then head to the Godly Play room for a special Palm Sunday story and feast. If your child would like to participate, please arrive at 10:45 am sharp. Please also join us at our annual Easter Egg Hunt after the April 20th 11:00 am service. There will be baskets available, but your child is also welcome to bring his/her own. The hunt will begin in our newly renovated Godly Play and Nursery Rooms. Families are invited to come check out these refreshed and refurbished spaces for children at Incarnation. Special thanks to Dana Fern Ousley and Ellen Gardiner for their hard work! Children are also welcome at our Parish Brunch on Easter Sunday.


Please also mark your calendars for Incarnation’s Holy Saturday Retreat. Please join us for a short retreat focused on ways to step away from the busyness of life and experience God. We’ll meet on April 19, at 2:30 pm, in the church. After the retreat, we’ll have light refreshments then decorate the church before the Easter Vigil service begins at 6:30 pm. Please enter the church at 25 East 35th Street, and try to arrive promptly at 2:30 pm, or shortly before.


Looking ahead, Vacation Bible School this summer will be held Monday, August 4, through Friday, August 8, 2014. The program is open for children ages 3-10 and will run from 9:15 a.m. until 12:00 noon each day. Our focus this year will be on exploring Biblical Story through the visual arts.


the Rev. Ginger Strickland



On January 9, Barbara Holbrook died of heart failure, following a number of years in a nursing home; she was 91. Barbara and her late husband, John (“Skip”) joined Incarnation in 198 . She was a lay reader, an officer in the Episcopal Church Women, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Ethics in Media Forum for Professionals. in the

Recently, I was also informed that former parishioner, Edith Rae died in November, near her home in New Hampshire. For some years, Edith would travel to New York just to work on the Christmas Fair.

Both women were faithful members of our church who served our community with enthusiasm and commitment.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.


At the Annual Meeting on January 13, Janet Loengard was re-elected Junior Warden, and, and were re-elected to the Vestry. Juliana Attwood was elected to replace Stephen Ju, who reaches mandatory retirement after two full terms. Sandra Cecchini and John Chadwick were re-elected to second terms. Vestry biographies will appear in the next Parish Letter.

and were gain elected delegates to Diocesan Convention

Many thanks to Stephen for his Vestry service, and to all the parish leaders who submitted their annual reports (copies available from the Parish Office.)

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Now is the time to think about enrolling your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren in the Incarnation Summer Camp program. Situated on 700 acres with its own spring-fed private lake, Incarnation has been providing the classic summer camp experience for diocesan young people since 1886. It is the oldest church camp in America and one of the largest.

Our church is the camp’s founding parish, and our Vestry constitutes the Incorporators of Incarnation Center, the umbrella organization for the children’s camp, two day-camps, seniors and adult programs and facilities, and a nature center. I am Vice-President of the Board of Directors, and Ann Churchill and Susan Ridgeway are also members of the Board.

The main Center web site is www.incarnationcenter.org. From there, you can find the appropriate summer program. Scholarships are available for children from sponsoring parishes and also from our parish. Early signup is recommended because the most popular sessions fill quickly.

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All newcomers to Incarnation are invited to a Newcomer’s Brunch in my apartment after the 11:00 AM service on Sunday, March 23. Please let me know if you are interested.




Even though the Parish Garden will be partly filled with scaffolding this summer, it will still need some attention from volunteers. Brian Lamb will be stepping down as Chair of the Garden Committee after many years of quite spectacular success. We need a new chairperson and new volunteers—especially, perhaps, folks whose urban dwelling lacks room for them to exercise their horticultural talents. Please let me know if you are interested.


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My trip to London with the Bishop of New York was a great success and I will report more about that in the next newsletter. Spending a lot of time with the Bishop and his wife, Margaret in the UK has made me all the more eager to welcome him to Incarnation for his first official visit on March 16. I hope you will invite friends and neighbors to meet Bishop Dietsche, see our newly-restored Parish House, and hear about our work in Murray Hill and beyond.




The Rev. J. Douglas Ousley

Enclosure: Potluck and Lent flyer




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