Priest's Letter - July/August 2021
A very dear member of Christ Church passed away this week: Jack Coogan. The news is fresh and I don't have any other details yet. Jack cared a lot about this parish, as he repeatedly told me in the last few years, and he wanted it to thrive. I am encouraged by his support, even now that he is not here with us anymore.
This issue of the newsletter is late because a number of decisions had to be made in order for me to be able to announce them. One of them was taken on July 3, regarding the timeline for the completion and the opening of the garden, which you can find below in the Garden News. Most importantly, save the date of October 16, 2021 for the Grand Opening! Unfortunately (for us), James and Patricia Betzhold, who have been major pillars of our garden effort thus far, have relocated to Arizona. Patricia is still a vestry member and they have promised to visit us once each season, but they are already greatly missed. Mary Roberts has stepped in as the head of the Committee and liaison to the Vestry; it is a very necessary and heavy-duty role, and I am most grateful to her.
Another important thing that is happening is the creation of a Working Board for the Center for Spirituality (see below). I call it a "working board" rather than an "advisory board" because, as I told them in half-jest: "There is nobody to advise; you've got to do the work yourselves!" The Board's work is indeed under way, and that is one of the reason why there are not a lot of new programs ready for the fall: we are spending time to think more in depth how to approach education for all at the intersection of spirituality and ecology. Jim Dunkly has agreed to be the Vestry liaison for this board. Ashanti Smalls and I are an integral part of the board itself, in the roles of director and assistant director of the Center. What has emerged thus far is a good rapport among the members and a very practical attitude with regard to integrating future courses and other educational opportunities with our garden project.
The Vestry has decided unanimously that we could not continue the year without organ music, especially after I said that I was not willing to double at the keyboard and the altar unto the end-times, and we are welcoming back our organist Meg Irwin-Brandon together with her friend Sonia Lee who will alternate with Meg as needed. This is great news for me and many of you who have chosen Christ Church stimulated by our excellence in music. However, because there was no money budgeted for the organist in 2021 (we did not know how the pandemic was going to evolve) I am asking those of you, like myself, who love music, to consider "adopting a Sunday" with an extra donation, in order not to weigh too much on an already stretched budget. I am proud to be the first donor.
It is highly unlikely that I will be able to fly back to my home country this summer, as I was hoping to be able to do after two years of absence. President Trump established in January 2020, and President Biden confirmed in January 2021, that those foreign nationals who have a regular working permit but do not possess a green card cannot re-enter the country because they might help the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. How is it that people with the green card or even American tourists who travel abroad this summer do not represent a risk, but people like myself do? It's a mystery that I leave to you to decipher. Unless - God forbid - we want to think that America has an innate tendency to discriminate against those who work and contribute to its economy and social life, but have less power than others.
Finally, Robin Sanders, the son of the late James A. Sanders, has agreed enthusiastically to join the Vestry at the invitation of the Vestry itself, completing one of the two terms that have become recently vacant. We are blessed with so much good will and good energy! Just think of the 12 people who are rotating in tending Rebecca's Garden or those who are enlisting themselves to help with the staffing of the garden in the near future. It's a season of blessings and growth, despite frustrations, grief, and worries.