The Lion's Roar
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Chenango Bridge, NY
June 2013
From the Church Guy
     I know, I know; this opening newsletter article has been called "From the Rector."
    But here's the thing.  I've been thinking about titles, and wonder if "Rector" is the best way to describe my role.  The word is derived from the Latin for "ruler," and comes from a time when the church was viewed in a deeply hierarchical manner.
     I don't think of myself as the "Ruler" of St. Mark's.  I think of myself as a caregiver, a communicator, and a leader(ish)...but not a ruler.
     When I was a priest of only three years, I got my favorite title,  I was visiting a young family from the church I was serving in Wheaton, Illinois, and the 5-year old was playing in the yard as I arrived.  He ran inside and yelled happily, "Mom! Mom! The Church Guy is here!"
     There are some slogans I've seen on t-shirts from a company which promotes optimism and outdoor activities.  These slogans fit how I feel about being your priest: Do what you like; like what you do. Whatever you are, be a good one.  Blur the line between work and play.  Celebrate.  Consider yourself a lucky dog.
     I consider myself lucky to be your church guy. 
                                                                               Father Mark +
 Hey, Youth Group!
     Our final get-together of the school year will be on Sunday, June 2, at 11:30.  Father Mark and the Laines will provide pizza and dessert.
     We hope our teens will set aside Saturday, Augst 17, for our 2013 Ramp It Up project.  (August 24 is our back-up requested date.)  Participants must be at least 13 years old.
     And just so you know: the Vestry voted unanimously at the May meeting to fund our teens' work -- $2000 will go to the Broome County Council of Churches to cover the cost of materials.  We are proud of our young people!
 Summertime Fun & Fellowship
     The Fellowship Commission has set three events for this summer which we hope will interest you.  On June 9, some of us are going to a comedy at the Chenango River Theater in Greene (May 26 is the last day to sign up!)  It's at 2:00 that Sunday afternoon, and is called "Miracle on South Division Street."  The cost is $24 ($21 if we get over 15 registrations in time).  A reminder -- if you sign up, you'll be giving your money to Laura Chestnut for the tickets.
     On July 28, a Sunday afternoon, we're trying something new.  From 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.(ish), we are just going to hang out together at Dorchester Park in Whitney Point.  No sign up needed - low stress, high fun.  We'll gather at a pavilion (look for signs), and just relax together.  Not a meal, but feel free to bring a snack to share.  Bring a canoe or kayak if you want to get out on the reservoir lake; go for a gentle hike with us; bring a Frisbee or ball games; or just a lawn chair to sit and even snooze.  The idea is just to have some relaxing time together.
     Our annual Parish Picnic is set for Sunday, August 18, at Port Dickinson Park.  We will have no 10:00 service at the church that day.  The usual 8:00 Eucharist will take place, but then we'll have the second service at the park itself, at 11:30.  The picnic will follow immediately (at noon).  Bring your own place setting and dish (salad, side, or dessert) to share.  And there will be a cost of $3 per person for the chicken.
     At St. Mark's, we like to eat together, and we like to be together.
Diocesan Day with Nationally-Known Speaker
     Dr. Phyllis Tickle, author and commentator on NPR, PBS, and other venues, is an astute observer of American religion (and a faithful Episcopalian).  She is author of two books on the emergent Christian movement, The Great Emergence, and Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It is Going, and Why It Matters.  She will be with us for an entire Saturday, June 15, at the Holiday Inn of Liverpool.  The event is from 9:00 to 4:00, and will include presentations, Q&A, and lunch.  The cost is $75.  Interested?  Talk to Father Mark.
Just a Note About Notes
     Mary Porteus, of our 8:00 congregation and 9:00 Bible study, has begun a new ministry on behalf of St. Mark's.  It's a ministry of cards.  She will send cards on behalf of the of congratulations, or condolence, or good wishes, or get well sentiments, or whatever seems to be helpful in the name of our parish.  If there is someone you'd like to have receive such a card, let the Rector know, and he'll pass it on to her.  Thank you, Mary!
 Some Extra Credit Reading from Father Mark
      Okay, this isn't news, but it's cool.  Back on May 2, the Broome County Council of Churches had its annual Faith in Action Volunteer Honors Breakfast.  This year, they honored three volunteers, and one of the three was the youth program of St. Mark's.  Our youth have participated in all of the annual summer ramp building prpjects of this program since its inception.  Dozens of our teens have worked in the four summers, led by great adults: Dave Gridley, Dave Sugent, Ben Reid, and Eric Laine (I participate as comic relief).
     I asked Dan Gridley to speak at the breakfast, representing the more than 50 teens from St. Mark's who have done this service project.  And it was my honor to introduce him.  I wish everyone from our parish (especially the teens) could have been there.  But as a second best, here are the remarks Dan and I made:
     My name is Mark Giroux, and I'm a recovering music education major.
     In the 1970's, I got a degree in music education from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam.  Before I finished, however, I decided I did not want to teach music.  I wanted to go to seminary.
     I also decided I did not want to work with teenagers.  All my seminary friends had the same goal.  When we were ordained, we would do anything for the church...except youth ministry.
     It turns out that God has a wicked sense of humor.  Guess what I've done a whole lot of...all through 26 years of priesthood:  ministry to and with teens.  It has been great.  I am introducing to you one of the reasons why.
     For 18 years, I have served St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Chenango Bridge.  For all of those years, we have been blessed with terrific young people.  Dozens and dozens of kids have grown up in the Sunday school, served as acolytes, and joined the youth fellowship.
     And since the start of the Ramp It Up program, our teens have built a wheelchair ramp each summer for someone in need.  I wish they could all be here today -- I admire and love each of them.
     Let me introduce just one of them -- just one of the reasons I love my job.  His name is Dan Gridley.  He is a junior at Chenango Forks High School.  He's a top student, a fine athlete (ask him about golf), and a musician.  He comes from a wonderful family, whose friendship I treasure.  I have had him preach. My parish suggested I might retire now and let him take over.  But apparently he wants to work more than one day a week.
     Dan is here to represent the dozens of kids from our church who have built these ramps and have had fun doing it.  He and the other teens give me hope and optimisn for our future.  Please welcome Mr. Dan Gridley.
     Good morning, I am Dan Gridley, a junior at Chenango Forks High School.  I am here today on behalf of the Ramp It Up team from St. Mark's Episcopal Church. 
     I have been attending St. Mark's for as long as I can remember.  Many of my favorite memories exist because of the church.  One that I will absolutely never forget happened a couple of years ago while working on a Ramp It Up project.  A team of about six adults and twelve teens from St. Mark's spent a weekend building a wheelchair ramp at a house in Union Center.  At the end of the last day, we were putting the finishing touches on the nearly completed ramp. 
     It had rained a lot those few days and consequently we had tracked a lot of mud on to the ramp.  I was put in charge of hosing down the ramp to make sure it was good and clean before we left.  I was on the top landing of the ramp, right next to where it connected to the house, when I noticed that the woman who we had built the ramp for was just on the other side of the door. 
     She proceeded to open the door and step out onto the top landing of the ramp.  At this point I could see that she was choked up.  She said that that was the first time she had been out of the house in years. 
     I was speechless.  That was the point in my life that I realized how much a simple action can affect someone. 
     At the beginning of the project it seemed to me that we were just there to build a wheelchair ramp.  By the end, I realized it was much more than that.  We had changed somebody's life.  We had given her the opportunity to go outside, even if it was only to get some fresh air.  We had given her a simple freedom that most of us take for granted.    Her raw emotion that day showed me that what we did meant so much more to her than I could ever imagine. 
     Then something strange happened to me. I got this geeling of accomplishment that I had never felt before.  It wasn't pride but rather happiness in its purest state.  I was elated that I was part of a group that could make a difference in somebody's life.  It made me want to do more.
     I've since worked on another wheelchair ramp and multiple feeding canteens for the needy.  Every time I work on one of these projects, I get that feeling again.  It doesn't get old.  It amazes me that an action that is really so simple, can have such a major impact on somebody. 
     And so I encourage all of you to get out there and serve our community.  There are so many different ways to get involved.  Surely you can find something that you enjoy doing.  You never know, you might just change somebody's life forever.  Thank you.
 To the Women's Retreat Attendees:
    Thanks to you all for your presence and participation.  We truly fed one another, literally and figuratively, and the result was wonderfully fulfilling and satisfying.
     Thanks to Sue Thomas who helped me plan the retreat and assisted me in the preparations for it and during it.
     Thanks to Caroline Thomas, Janet Zapata, and Sandy Zanker-Nichols for leading us in Scripture interpretation.
     Thanks to Karen Van Kleeck for the gigundo tossed salad.
     Thanks to each of you for enriching our meals & snacks with your generous contributions.
     Thanks for the help you all offered.
     Thanks for stimulating and thought-provoking discussions we all enjoyed.
     Thanks for creative and exciting ideas we need to pursue.
     Thanks for the great fun we had and the delight of shared laughter.
     Finally, thanks to you all for richly feeding me.  You challenge me, inspire me, engage me, encourage me and give me both purpose and directon.  That is pure gift for me and hugely meaningful to me.
     I can't wait until next year to do it all over again.
     Blessings on you all.
May Birthdays
Kristen Bertram  6/2 Tom McRoberts 6/15

Sara Abbey  6/3/05 Laura Chestnut  6/18
Sandy Zanker-Nichols  6/3 David Surgent  6/18
Cecilia Kasmarcik  6/4/10 Arden Meier  6/19
Stacey Gridley  6/5 Libby Graham  6/20
Maxwell Johnson  6/6/00 Audrey O'Brien   6/20
Elaine James  6/8 Lian Allport  6/20/97
Maddie Arnold  6/8/95 Alexis Hill  6/21/04
Karen George  6/8 Edie Baker  6/23
Sabrina McHale  6/9 Ben Reid  6/25
Abbey Meier  6/13/09 Dorothy Lasicki  6/27
Gary Henderson  6/13 Daniel Gridley  6/28/96
Felix Boyce  6/13/12 Jack Roberts  6/28/11
Shaylee Meier  6/14/05 Joshua Black  6/30/01 
Michelle Marinich  6/15 Mary Porteus  6/30
Ben Carr  6/15
*  *  *  *
Anniversaries in June
 Justin & Richelle Abbey 6/6/09
David & Diane Pierson  6/7/75
Arden & Kim Meier  6/9/01
Marty & Sabrina McHale  6/9/12
Mark & Sue Phelps  6/14/80
Fred & Jo Doolittle  6/15/57
Bob & Judy Peterson  6/16/62
Yassin & Shanna Laroussi  6/22/12
Robert & Vickie Weiner  6/23/12
Tom & Carole Cirmo  6/27/81
Gary & Libby Graham  6/28/75
Glenn & Carole Williams  6/28/57
Matthew & Kristy Surace  6/28/03
Dave & Melissa Rowley  6/30
*  *  *  *
For Your Calendar for June
8am     Holy Eucharist Rite I & Healing
9am     Bible Study
10am   Holy Eucharist & Healing
10am   Church School
11:30   Choir
11:30   E.Y.F. meeting
June 3
7pm      Al-Anon
June 4
9am      Guy's Breakfast at Red Oak
June 6
7am      Men's Group at Red Oak
7:30am Women's Group at Denny's
9am      Morning Prayer
6pm      Weight Watchers
June 7
1pm      Singles Ministry
6pm      Quilters 
June 9
8am & 10am  Holy Eucharist
9am       Bible Study
10am     Church School
11:30     Choir
2pm       "Miracle on South Division Street" @
              Chenango River Theater in Greene
June 10
7pm     Al-Anon
June 11
9am      Guy's Breakfast at Red Oak
June 12
12 noon - Prayer Shawl Picnic
June 13
7am      Men's Group @ Red Oak
7:30am Women's Group @ Denny's
9am      Morning Prayer
6pm      Weight Watchers
June 15
9am - 4pm  Diocesan Day at Liverpool - Phyllis Tickle
11-1 pm  Bridal Shower
June 16
8am      Holy Eucharist - Baptism - Felix Boyce
10am    Holy Eucharist
9am      Bible Study
10am    Church school
11:30    Choir
June 17
7pm      Al-Anon
June 18
9am      Guy's Breakfast @ Red Oak
6pm      St. Mark's Table
June 19
1pm      Women's Luncheon @ Cortese Restaurant
June 20
7am      Men's Group @ Red Oak
7:30am Women's Group @ Denny's
9am      Morning Prayer
6pm      Weight Watchers
June 21
1pm      Singles Ministry
6pm      Quilters
June 23
8am & 10am  Holy Eucharist
9am      Bible Study
10am    Church school
11am    Trinity Feeding Canteen
11:30    Choir; Vestry meeting
June 24
7pm      Al-Anon
June 25
9am     Guy's Breakfast @ Red Oak
June 27
7am      Men's Group @ Red Oak
7:30am Women's Group @ Denny's
9am      Morning Prayer
6pm      Weight Watchers
June 28 
Father Mark begins vacation - back July 23
June 30 
8am & 10am Holy Eucharist - Judy Kessler officiating
9am      Bible Study
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 458, Chenango Bridge, NY,