September–October 2015

PARISH LETTER

SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2015

Dear Friends,

The beautiful summer weather in Manhattan is lingering as we begin our Adult Forum and Godly Play programs on September 20; the Incarnation Choir returns on the same day.

Our first big social event of the autumn will be our celebration of a new ministry and our homecoming luncheon on October 4. Here are the full details from the organizer of the luncheon:

Church of the Incarnation’s Annual Homecoming Potluck Luncheon

By definition, the word Homecoming is the return of a group of people, on a special occasion, to a place formerly frequented, or, regarded as Home.

On Sunday, October 4th, our special occasion is the installation of our new Associate Rector, the Rev. Adrian Danhauser during the 11AM service. The wonderful tradition of our Annual Potluck Luncheon will follow the service; and as Adrian is from Mississippi, we would like to honor her Southern roots with the celebration of Southern-styled Cuisine. Please sign up at the coffee hour or by emailing me at juliewnoll@AOL.com. For all you fantastic cooks out there, please let us know what fabulous dishes you will be bringing, or if you would like a suggestion of what type of food we need, please email me. For those of you who like to join us for the Potluck luncheon, but do not want to cook a dish, your cash donation will be happily accepted. There will be vegetarian and gluten-free options. Looking forward to seeing everyone for this wonderful occasion of Incarnation’s Homecoming!

Julie Noll

FROM THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC:

Ready for fall, and all that goes with it? We are ready for another exciting season of music making here at Incarnation! Here are some details:

As you may remember from my last report, I have been charged by the Vestry to reduce the music budget here considerably. This will primarily be done by a reduction of the choir, to six singers. A number of our regular singers took this opportunity to find different church positions. Julie Dolphin, James Bassi, Kannan Vasudevan and Miriam Kushel have all moved on to different church jobs. I have spent some time auditioning singers for our “new” group here, and am still in the process of putting it together. I am very optimistic that this change will be good for us, and that we will find new ways of making music here that will keep our liturgies charged with energy and beauty.

Meanwhile, here are some dates to keep in mind:

Sunday, November 1: All Saints’ Sunday, with special music

Sunday, November 22 at 2:30 PM: St. George’s Choral Society concert with orchestra.

Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2, “Lobgesang”

Sunday, November 29: Advent 1. We begin the church year with special music for Advent.

Sunday, December 13: Lessons and Carols at 5:00 PM. This annual event is an Incarnation favorite, with strings and choir. A great occasion to bring friends to church!

Thursday, December 24: Christmas Eve “Midnight Mass” at 11:00 PM, preceded by 30 minutes of Christmas music.

As always, it is my pleasure to make music with all of you. I’m looking forward to another year!

Matthew Lewis

MEN’S GROUP

On Monday, October 5, we will meet from 7:00 to 8:30 pm., and refreshments will be served. At the request of a member of the group, we will be discussing the idea of “grace”—God’s power to enter our lives and change them for the better. All men of the parish are welcome to attend.

FROM THE ASSOCIATE RECTOR:

Outreach

This fall we will explore a new area of mission – human trafficking – and discern together whether and how God might be calling our parish community to respond. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world and enslaves thousands in our city. It is happening all around us yet remains hidden in plain sight. Incarnation is offering two opportunities to engage this issue.

At 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 18, I will give an overview of what human trafficking is and what people of faith are doing to address it. I hope you can join me in the Parish Hall for this introductory session.

At 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, I will lead a trip to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for parishioners to experience the United Nations GIFT Box. Launched during the 2012 London Olympics, the GIFT Box is a walk-in piece of public art that is a unique way to raise awareness about human trafficking. The outside is like a giant wrapped gift, inviting you in with promises of a better life, great-paying work, travel and education. But once inside, you are presented with a different reality: Those promises are lures to entice people into situations of human trafficking. Visitors to the inside of the Box learn about the dangers of human trafficking and are invited to take action. In addition to viewing the GIFT Box, there will be opportunity to see other powerful exhibits at the Cathedral. We will pick up lunch along the way.

The GIFT Box is staffed with trained volunteers who guide viewers through the GIFT Box experience. Please let me know if you’d like to learn about becoming a GIFT Box volunteer.

In addition to learning about this new area of mission, we will continue with what has become a signature event for Incarnation – Senior Resource Day! Our next Senior Resource Day will be Sunday, November 22, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., when Incarnation volunteers will offer free technology help to seniors from the parish and neighborhood. Seniors are invited to bring their questions about the Internet, email, cameras, smart phones, iPads, and so on. Please save the date! More details to come.

Twenties and Thirties

The 20s/30s Group attended an outdoor concert on July 29th at Madison Square Park. We enjoyed a fantastic evening of southern funk music and fellowship on the Oval lawn. Thanks to all who came out!

At 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 13, the 20s/30s Group will kick off the fall with a festive reception in the Parish House and a little “scheming and dreaming” about future social events, service projects, and spiritual formation opportunities. All young adults – veteran Group members and newcomers alike – are invited to stop by and dream big. Don’t forget to join us for Candlelight Communion beforehand.

Women’s Group

The Women’s Group sponsored a screening and discussion of the film Selma in the Parish Hall on July 28th. We had great attendance, high energy, and a delicious spread, including sweet potato pie! Thanks to Laurie Mygatt and Jacquelyn Carson for coordinating such a powerful and popular event.

The Women’s Group reconvenes on Tuesday, October 6, at 6:30 p.m.in the Parish House. We will discuss the topic, “Attachment Theory and Concepts of God.” We’ll also spend some time talking big picture in terms of the program year – event ideas, meeting topics, and mission/vision of the Group. Don’t miss this opportunity to reconnect after summer hiatus and talk about God at work in our lives and in the world.

Families with Children

Incarnation’s annual Vacation Bible School was held August 10-14. Twenty-one children gathered for a joy-filled week of ark construction, rainbow painting, meeting Noah’s family, and learning all about God’s promises to us and our promises to God. Our journey through the story of Noah’s ark culminated in a closing Eucharist to celebrate all the children learned and created in thanksgiving to God. BIG thanks to all Incarnation volunteers who helped make this year’s VBS such a success!

Godly Play resumes Sunday, September 20, at the 11:00 AM service. Children ages 3-10 are invited to meet the teacher at the back of the church when the congregation sits for the first lesson. Please note this is a little earlier than in prior years. Children return to the service between 11:45 and 11:50 a.m. We are excited for another year of faith formation with our youngest members of the Body of Christ and grateful for our Godly Play teachers! Please be in touch if you’d like to learn about teaching Godly Play or being a Godly Play greeter. Commitment level is approximately one Sunday every 4-6 weeks.

Finally, all parents are invited to join me this fall for a Christian parenting small group series on The Discipline that Connects, a Biblically based resource that reveals how God’s great mercy and love can be manifest in our parenting. Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, misbehavior is the golden opportunity to remind our children that our love is not earned, just as God’s love for us is not earned but freely given. This is but one of many faith-filled concepts, accompanied by practical techniques, we will explore. Please contact me to learn more, receive a FREE copy of The Discipline that Connects, and discuss scheduling for this series. We will meet 4-6 times and seek to find dates and times that work best for the most parents.

The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser

ST. FRANCIS DAY—OCTOBER 4

For many years, we have welcomed pet owners from the neighborhood to bring their animals to the church steps for a blessing on the Sunday nearest St. Francis Day. This year, we will begin blessings at the steps of the church on at 3 pm on Sunday, October 4, and continue until the 5 PM service. At that Candlelight Communion service, there will be special prayers for pets, including the departed.

THANKS TO:

***Robert Galloway for his years of service as chair of the Hospitality Committee. I’m very glad that Sandra Von Benken will replace him in this very important Incarnation ministry.

***Laurie Mygatt, Sandra Cecchini, and Allen Cohen for joint organizing the Women’s and Men’s Group end-of-the-season dinner.

***Jacquelyn Carson, Sandra Cecchini, and Laurie Mygatt for organizing the showing of the provocative film, about Dr. Martin Luther King, Selma.

PARISH OFFICE

And special thanks to Sandy Cecchini for her many hours of service over the years as volunteer parish administrator. Having done the job so well, she has been hired as part-time administrator of her local parish near Fort Myers, FL. Sandy will remain on the Vestry up to the end of the year and will continue to visit New York.

A Note from the Stewardship Chair

I’m pleased to chair the 2016 Stewardship campaign. The campaign this year aims to support increased outreach efforts, parish social events, as well as our annual operating expenses. Our goal this year is $250K, which will help offset approximately 40% percent of our anticipated $650K budget. As you know, the Stewardship Campaign supports decisions by the Vestry that underwrite our mission to bring the Good News to Murray Hill– as we have for the last 163 years.

In the next few weeks you will hear more about what we have planned, as well as ways to pledge and give (look for pledge cards and envelopes around the church, in the pews, and in the parish house). We look forward again to your commitment to Incarnation in 2016. Please mark your calendar for our 4 October potluck lunch and our annual parish dinner on Friday, 6 November, and many thanks, in advance, for your support.

Mark Lulka

FROM THE CHAIR OF THE CHRISTMAS FAIR:

I’ve begun to collect great things; everyone should have a fun time helping out in the first week in December. This year’s Christmas Fair will be held on Saturday, December 5, from 11 AM to 6 PM.

Laurie Mygatt

* * * * * *

I will also note that Monica Quinn Culoso is once again looking for donations to the Silent Auction associated with the Fair: restaurants, holidays, professional services as well as jewelry and other valuable items.

FROM THE BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS CHAIR OF INCARNATION CENTER:

Our chapel has won the highest honor a religious building can obtain! Faith &Form is the only dedicated architectural awards program of world wide reach – receiving hundreds and hundreds of entries and giving out precious few awards: WE DID IT!

–Duo Dickinson

I’m happy to say that the Church of the Incarnation contributed to the restoration and expansion of the Chapel of the Incarnation at the camp we founded in 1886 and still support.

R.I.P.

***Barbara Lord died in Florida on July 30, 2015, at the age of 75. She was was an active member of our parish until she was confined to her home by a number of illnesses. Most recently, she was living in Florida. Barbara’s funeral will be here at Incarnation on Thursday, October 29 at 4 PM; a reception will follow in the parish house.

***My father-in-law, Dr. Warren Johnson died on August 3, 2015, at age of 88, having suffered a brain injury in a fall on July 30. Warren enjoyed the Men’s Group and the Coffee Hour since moving to New York City last Thanksgiving. His funeral was here on August 21.

I would also like to thank staff members for covering for me during the final illness, death, and burial of my mother, Nancy Ousley. She died on June 21, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

May all these people rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

A note from a friend of Tom Southworth, who died on May 4; the friend works in our neighborhood and often helped Tom cross Madison Avenue:

Rev. Ousley… Tom was such a special person….I am glad I got a chance to meet and spend time with him over the past year…..His work ethic, true integrity and wonderful kindness is something I will work to emulate in my life…May he rest in peace…

You and your congregation are very special people too…..Tom so much loved you, your congregation and his very special time with the
Church…..Warmest and most sincere thoughts to you and yours on Tom’s passing….Respectfully, Ned.

DON’T FENCE ME IN

People occasionally ask about the church garden fence. Yes, it slants slightly and could stand some paint and repair.

We will get it painted again in due course.

But full restoration of the landmark fence would require removal of all the dirt in the church garden (and the plants along with it) and a vast expenditure to recast and install new portions of the fence in a new foundation. Following that installation, any garden would be a couple of feet below the fence and therefore most of it would be invisible to passers-by.

So far, there has not been sufficient interest in that solution, nor do we have the several hundred thousand dollars the work would cost. Perhaps an easier fix will suggest itself.

* * * * * *

I conclude with a recent item from the Rector’s Blog. (All blog posts are accessible from the home page of www.churchoftheincarnation.org.)

Clergy looking to upgrade their positions will ask a church seeking a rector what their “ASA” is. “ASA” stands for “average Sunday attendance.” The figure is calculated for every Episcopal parish’s Parochial Report that must be submitted each year to the national church offices.

Of course, each church is free to count attendees as they like. Some will count anyone who enters the church during the time of a service; others will count only those who are present for the whole service. An early mentor of mine said such figures aren’t really much good; what is valuable is having the same person making the count year-in and year-out. Trends over time will probably signify growth or decline.

But students of the most recent downward trends in the Church of England have argued that attendance isn’t always the best criterion for whether a church is effective. After all, attendance in virtually every volunteer activity–from bowling leagues to Little League to Junior League–has been declining for many years. In fact, compared to these secular organizations, the church is not doing so badly.

I’m not sure I agree with this analysis. It still sounds like an excuse. For what it’s worth, Incarnation’s ASA increased 5% in 2014 over 2013. But from my point of view, we could still do far more to invite people into the fellowship of Christ.

Yours,

The Rev. J. Douglas Ousley


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