Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lent's Here (Almost)

Lent begins March 1 with Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday services:

12:30 in chapel
4:30 especially suited for children and teens
7:30 in church with choir

Our Lenten Schedule:

Sundays: 9:30 Poetry Study
with Dr. Robert Murray, St. Thomas Aquinas College

9:30 K-5th grade Class studies "Forgiveness"

Wednesdays: 6:30 Soup Supper
7:30 Service
8:00 Study on The Book of Acts

Thursdays: 10 a.m. Study: The Screwtape Letters
11:30 a.m. Service
12:15 p.m. Brown bag lunch

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Save the Dates

To assist you in planning, here are some upcoming events. . . .

February 26 Confirmation Class 6-8 p.m.

February 28 Pancake Supper 5-8 p.m.

March 1 Ash Wednesday 12:30 service in the chapel
4:30 service especially for kids
7:30 service with choir

March 2 Screwtape Letters 10:00 a.m.
Lenten Service 11:30 a.m.

Stuffed Animals

HELLO EVERYONE! When I was at my sister's in Myrtle Beach last week the sheriff had sent a letter to everyone in the area to donate their stuffed animals (lightly used or new) so that they can be given to children at the scene of a traumatic situation (such as a really bad car accident, a fire, etc)...this means a lot to me because it's a good cause, but especially because it helped my nieces when they were in the accident last February in which they lost their grandfather...I decided to collect for the Orangeburg Fire Department. If you have any stuffed animals that you wish to donate please let me know! Thank you! Vickie

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Food Cupboard News

Spring is not here yet - “Six more weeks”, according to the groundhog- but spring cleaning started early at St. Stephen’s. On Feb. 16, a team of Food Cupboard volunteers equipped with mops, cleaners, and a steam vacuum, set to work on a storage room that needed a thorough cleaning. After moving all the shelf units out of the room, Susan D. started cleaning and disinfecting the floor with a hot steam jet, while Gwyn, Cindy P., and Cristina dusted the shelves and cabinets and sorted the food for expired items. All the shelves were then relabelled and the food put back on them. The Food Cupboard room is now “Spick-and-Span” , smells nice and fresh and is waiting for any donation; the Postal Food drive is not until mid-May and we still need to pack for 21 families for the next two months - we have very little money left to buy food from the Regional Food Bank-. Thank you ALL for a job well done and thanks to Warden Ray, who donated a new cabinet!


Daniel: Again

So to add to the indignity of taking my favorite series off the air, now the executives at NBC have decided not to show the last episode on the internet where I cannot believe it was doing tremendous harm to our young Episcopalians (is this who we are worried about being scarred by this show?) Anyhow, I pass on these five steps to getting this problem resolved so that I can go back to work. Please join me so I can go on to another subject for my crazy rants. Thanks.

Here are five active tasks you can do to help put The Book of Daniel back on the air. Do one or do them all, but we need everyone to help.

1. Send an email, voicing your displeasure, to this e-mail address, which is specific to The Book Of Daniel.

2. Sign the petition.

3. Send the petition address (or this entire message) to as many friends as you can think of and post the petition's address (or this entire message) on as many legal places on the Internet as you can. There are lots of Internet places on which you can do this without being a spammer. Another method is to send this message to five friends, asking each of them to send it to five friends and so on. That methods can be quite effective.

4. Call NBC.212-413-5000

5. Ask HBO to pick the series up!


Sunday, February 12, 2006

It's Official!

We are moving this Sunday's activities to next Sunday. See you all next week for the "Thank you to St. Matthew's", the Youth Group Meeting and Family Fun Night. Hope everybody is having a happy Blizzard day!

You Know It's a Bad Storm When. . . .

This is the first time ever that nobody came to 8:30 and it is the first time that I ever agreed that it's probably best to stay in. This one's a doozy. Big props to Chuck M. who shovelled our walk after shovelling the Y out. Otherwise it's been a "One is the Lonliest Number" kind of morning.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Snow Is Coming!

We have a big snow forcasted for Saturday night/Sunday morning and words like blizzard are being talked about. So we need to regroup a little for this weekend. We are moving the "We heart St. Matthew's Bedell Fund" festivities to the following weekend. So keep your heart-shaped thank yous for another week and enjoy the snow!!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Family Fun Night

On Sunday, February 12th we will have the return of a favorite parish activity, Family Fun Night. It begins at 5:30 p.m. with pizza and then there will be games set up throughout the church. Volleyball in the parish hall is always a favorite, poker in the lounge, and a variety of other board games. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with new and old friends and the kids always have a blast. Join us!

We Heart Bedell Fund!

As most of you know, the St. Matthew's Bedell fund recently gave us a grant for $50,000 to fix our skylights. This Sunday members of that committee will be coming to the 10:30 service so that we may thank them for their generosity. Val has made them a lovely card, some youth are preparing a song to sing, but most of all we can thank them by showing our presence and our gratitude. Please join us on Sunday at 10:30 and help say, "We heart St. Matthew's Bedell Fund!!!"

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Baghdad Days

Baghdad Days, Out and Back

There’s a nice contrast to be observed between the lifestyle of a Baghdad Embassy American and a Baghdad Central Bank Iraqi. I had occasion to sample the contrast as it relates to travel on a recent trip to Beirut.

The payments project has recently added another module: a system to automate the issue, handling, transfer, and redemption of Government Securities. The idea is that this will simultaneously improve the current largely manual process, provide credit support to the settlement of payments, encourage the development of a secondary market, and give the Central Bank important monetary policy tools. The provider of the software is reluctant to travel to Baghdad and has adopted a practice of meeting with Iraqi counterparts in surrounding countries. Amman, Jordan had been a favored site but the terrorist attacks on Amman hotels have made it difficult for Iraqis to obtain visas. Fortunately Iraqi Airways has recently resumed service and includes Beirut as a destination. The Iraqis will travel to Beirut.

The trip has been planned around the days Iraqi Air flies. They fly out on Tuesdays and back on Sundays. This will stretch what would have been a two day conference to four days with one of the four, a Friday, set aside to observe the Moslem holy day. The stretch is a distinct advantage to the Iraqis who will each receive a $50 per diem allocation and will enjoy some stress-free days out of Baghdad. From the American perspective, the trip merely reduces the number of days that could be spent at the Central Bank in face to face meetings. As it turns out, however, the Governor is in Switzerland, the first Deputy Governor is in Istanbul, and the Central Bank will be closed for two holidays that week anyway. On balance it makes better sense to accompany the Iraqis out of town.

The Bank’s travel service offers travelers abroad an excellent facility for changing arrangements but it is not clear that the service extends to travel on Iraqi Air. Tickets on Iraqi Air are to be purchased with cash in person at an office in Baghdad. We decide we will have to take care of this locally. Our office assistant and translator makes cell phone contact with the local Iraqi Air rep. The rep is out of the office but she thinks we can book a seat if we promise that we will pay for it. There is no question of offering a credit card number. If credit cards were an option I suppose we would not be building a payment system. We are face to face with the reality of a cash economy without ATMs and we scramble to assemble $700 to pay for the round trip ticket. A colleague offers to lend me the money but the military finance unit will cash only one check a week for a maximum of $300. He turns to a friend in PCO who lends him the last $400. We recruit an Iraqi employee in Baghdad, to pick up the ticket. He does and we meet him at the 14 July bridge check point to exchange cash for the ticket.

I will take the Rhino to the BIAP because we have a late conference call that extends later than the last likely Blackhawk flight. Showtime is 2315. The bus leaves at 0130. We arrive in time to get 3 hours of sleep in the travelers’ tent on the military side of the airport. The handy Blackberry alarm clock works and we get a ride to the commercial side of the airport. The eleven Iraqis meet me there, having taken taxis to the airport down the BIAP road that morning. When I say I rode the Rhino to the airport last night, an Iraqi remarks that that is dangerous. On the way back he acknowledges that he is concerned about making too many trips to BIAP because there are people watching for those who make too many trips and are suspected of working with the foreigners. That puts him at risk of kidnap and ransom demands or worse.

At the commercial terminal the security is robust. There is a Global checkpoint as we approach the terminal. Then we line up the luggage on the ground outside the terminal for the bomb sniffing dog. The luggage is x-rayed before we enter the terminal and then again when we go to check in. Our carry-on bags will be searched one more time before we get on the plane.

There is also a surprisingly active flight schedule from the commercial terminal. Our flight is delayed about three hours and as we wait flights for Dubai, Amman, Cairo, and Damascus are announced and depart. Iraqi Airways, Royal Jordanian, Emirates Air, and others are all flying into and out of Baghdad.

In Beirut the meetings are productive. The software vendor explains the functionality of the GSRS and asks the CBI and MOF representatives to describe how securities are currently issued and redeemed in Iraq and any special requirements needed to address unique practices. It is gratifying to hear the Iraqis describe their implementation of the laws and regulations put in place during CPA days.

On the last night we go to dinner with two Iraqis and the software team at Abdel Wahab on Abdel Wahab Inglisi Street in the Ashrafiyeh district. We leave the selection of dishes to the waiter who will bring us a mezze feast that includes hummus, fattoush, tabouli, kibbeh, falafel, garlic paste, three kinds of kebabs, and a variety of other dishes all accompanied by Kefraya wine and the Lebanese version of pita that arrives warm and puffy. It is wonderful. While walking back to the hotel, one of the Iraqis turns to me and says that someday he would like to walk down a street in Baghdad with me like this. I think I start to understand what the trip means to him.

The next day we are in the departure lounge at the airport waiting for our flight to Baghdad. Across from us sits Brent Sadler, CNN’s chief Beirut correspondent. He tells a colleague by cell phone that a demonstration is expected in the Ashrafiyeh district. Shortly thereafter the local TV station broadcasts video of the demonstration that will result in the burning of the Danish consulate in Beirut. The cartoons again.

Be well.
February 6, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Diocesan Youth Event

“HAPPENING” in the Episcopal Diocese of New York
Friday-Sunday March 24-26, 2006
Incarnation Center, Ivoryton, CT

Happening is a spiritual retreat weekend designed to deepen the Christian experience of youth in grades 9-12. The weekend which includes worship, prayer, youth talks, group discussion, fellowship, activities, games and singing will be supervised by clergy and youth leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The cost is $60 per youth. Financial assistance is available. A bus will be provided which will leave the Cathedral at 2 p.m. on Friday March 24 and return on Sunday evening. All registration forms and further information are available for downloading and copying on the youth page of the Diocesan web site.

Space is limited. Registration deadline is Friday, March 10. For further information, contact The Rev. Canon Patricia Mitchell at 212-316-7433.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New Website!

Check out our new website: