St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church:

Annual Meeting

September 28, 2014

Reports to the Annual Meeting of 2014 will be posted in the order in which they are submitted, following the (unapproved) minutes from the previous year's annual meeting:

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church

Minutes of Previous Year's Annual Meeting

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church

22 September 2013

The Call to Order, Report of the Nominating Committee, and Call for Nominations from the Floor took place just before the start of the 10:00 a.m. service.  Maureen Ghent, Senior Warden, read the slate of nominees.  The meeting was re-convened at 11:30 a.m. in the parish hall when the elections took place.  Forty adults and two children were in attendance.  There was a break for lunch.  At 12:00 p.m. the meeting continued.  Prayer was offered and Father O’Flynn thanked the members of the Parish Life Commission who prepared the meal.  Thunderous applause ensued.    


Reporting on behalf of the Nominating Committee, Father O’Flynn read the slate of nominees.  There was a motion to proceed with the election and the motion was seconded; the nominees were elected unanimously.  The incoming vestry members will be Tom Brackett, Rick Geier, Kathy Jensen (for three-year terms), Jana Laxa (for a two-year unexpired term), and Anna-Marie Kuiper (for a one-year unexpired term).  Continuing members will be Michael Clough, Maureen Fox, Nancy Heck, and Amy Jerome.  Melissa Davies will serve as junior warden and Jerry Brown as senior warden.  Nancy Schult continues as Treasurer and the Clerk continues as the Clerk.

Clerk’s Report

There was a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes; it was seconded.  The minutes of the Annual Meeting on September 23, 2012 were approved as written.

Treasurer’s Report

Nancy Schult presented the Treasurer’s Report for 2013 (ytd) and the Balance Sheet comparing August 2012 with August 2013.  She pointed out the significant aspects of each and was pleased to report that the parish is in good fiscal health. 

Wardens’ Report

Jerry Brown and Maureen Ghent had nothing to add to their written reports.  In Maureen’s report she emphasized what a rewarding experience she had had as Senior Warden; she characterized the parish as “generous and productive” and she thanked everyone who had contributed to it during the past year.  Jerry underscored his enthusiasm for the year ahead, concluding his written report with the statement “thank all of you for giving me the chance to be one of your wardens.  I look forward to seeing where the Holy Spirit will lead us in the coming year.” 

Rector’s Report

On behalf of the entire parish Father O’Flynn thanked Barbara Bartlett, Jane McKnight, Ed Sitts, and Lynn Staley (our outgoing vestry members) and Maureen Ghent (our outgoing senior warden) for their excellent service.  Everyone applauded.  He then highlighted various aspects of his extensive written report, mentioning, in particular, the new Donald L. Berry organ restoration fund.  Noting how grateful the parish is for Wanda Warren Berry’s donation, which will fund phase 1 of the renovations, Father O’Flynn added that he is hoping that more renovation work can be undertaken in the future.  Finally, he expressed his gratitude for the work that the Rev. Elizabeth Gillett has done in the parish over the past year.  He announced that there would be a special prayer of blessing for her on September 29th in honor of her new status as interim pastor in Chittenango.  

Commission Reports

Budget & Finance:  Jerry Brown (chair) reported that the parish’s investments and income have improved over the past year due, in part, to a healthier stock market.  And also, he mentioned, the new diocesan fund managers are very good.  He then commended the Audit Team (Ed Sitts, chair, with Karen Baase and Adger Williams) for their “wonderful presentation.”  “The bottom line,” Jerry said, “is that we’re fine.”  Other hard-working members of the Budget & Finance Commission are Liz Brackett, Maureen Ghent, Nancy Schult, Deede Van Der Mandele, and Ed Vantine.

Buildings & Grounds:  Ed Page (chair) explained that he had submitted a lengthy report for the sake of completeness.  “We have a lot of work ahead of us that needs to be done,” Ed commented.  He then explained that the sexton’s current schedule (twelve hours/week, all that is allowed Kevin Roberson, given his work status) is proving insufficient to maintain the property.  Consequently, Ed has been putting in many hours of work in the garden and on tasks related to our parish buildings.  He commented that he appreciated the support that B & G has been given by the rector and vestry, and that a physical walk-around is coming up soon.  Father O’Flynn added that Ed and Barbara Page have done an incredible amount of work already, and that he and the vestry have been listening attentively to their interim reports.  Moreover, the vestry has approved the idea submitted by Ed and Barbara to start a parish Wish List that will be overseen by the members of the vestry.  The Memorial Garden, thanks to many persons (and especially Lynn Staley) continues to flourish.  Lastly, Ed thanked the many persons who have helped with B & G issues, great and small.

Music and Worship:  Father O’Flynn announced that the Music and Worship commissions had combined their written reports this year.  He and the others attending the Annual Meeting were thrilled at the “amazing series of musicians” that Dianne had brought into the services over the summer.  Father O’Flynn offered thanks, once again, to Christian Clough for his willingness to play the organ on his visits to Hamilton.  Father O’Flynn reviewed the many special worship services, together with the more predictable seasonal liturgies, that had occurred during the past twelve months. (All are described and discussed carefully by Dianne Adams McDowell in her thorough report.) He mentioned that incense has been added to some services. There was a round of applause for the Music and Worship Commissions and all who make liturgical events “happen,” whether on special occasions or during our normal weekly worship services.       

Acolytes:  Reporting on behalf of Debbie Barker, Father O’Flynn reviewed the significant aspects of Debbie’s update.    

Altar Guild:  Mea Martineau, our “eternal” Altar Guild Directress, was pleased to announce that the Guild has had two new recruits (the Eggingtons), in addition to Susan B. Truworthy.  Barbara Page now shares linen maintenance with Bev McKay.  The Altar Guild welcomes volunteers for the annual “polishing parties” just before Christmas and Easter.  Those joining Mea are Judy Brown, Wynn and Everett Eggington, Marlene Houck, Bev McKay, Barbara Page, June Schaupp, Susan B. Truworthy.              

Flower Guild:  Deede Van Der Mandle noted that the members of the Flower Guild are continually busy and they are always interested in welcoming new members.  Those to be thanked for their lovely work during the last year include our regulars (Deede and Jana Laxa (chair), Rose Novak, Jane McKnight, Liz Brackett, and Barbara Frost) who are assisted, on various occasions, by Jim and Joan Ford, Gina Sakal, Maureen Fox, Ed Page, and various family members of the Guild and their associates. 

Parish Life:  The parishioners again (wildly) applauded the amazing work carried out by Parish Life.  Nan Schmitt (chair) stated that they had a particularly interesting time supporting the activities of the Anglican Hour, which scheduled some cooking classes for Colgate students.  Other notable moments included the party to honor Dianne Adams McDowell and the reception following the requiem service for Donald L. Berry. As might be expected Parish Life requires a large group of supporters that includes Nan along with Barbara Bartlett, Millie Franklin, Janice Frutiger, Marlene Houck, Mea Martineau, and Gina Sakal, assisted on select occasions by Amy Jerome and Deb Radford.  

Stewardship:  Nancy Heck (chair) announced that Pledge Sunday will be November 17th.  The number of pledge units remains stable, as does the income of the parish.  The commission is pleased to include Marcia Sitts, Liz Brackett, John Novak, Nancy Schult, and Tom Brackett.   

Youth Group:  Father O’Flynn, reporting for Debbie Barker, was pleased with the “incredible” range of activities that had been planned for the Youth Group during the past year.  He talked about the success of the group’s KIVA account and stated that he hoped that the young people might be encouraged to raise additional funds for that project.

Outreach:  Judy Fischer (chair) reported that the group are supporting seven different groups this year.  Father O’Flynn added that the local Interfaith Group has come together this year to generate even more energy for Outreach activities.  He named last summer’s special picnic for migrant workers as an example of one such place where combined efforts had resulted in a wonderful experience for everyone involved.  The commission is pleased to include Maureen Fox, Jana Laxa, Liz Brackett, and Fr. O’Flynn.

Action Items:  There were no items to present.

Discussion Items:  There were no items to present.

Necrology:  Those at the meeting remembered Donald Berry and Richard Conant with prayer.

There was a motion to adjourn and it was seconded.  The meeting ended at 12:35 p.m. and the room was filled immediately with animated chatter.  Many lingered in the parish hall to talk more about the many blessings that the parish had enjoyed during the previous year and, of course, to begin making plans for the year to come. 

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Cerasano

Parish Clerk 

Reports to the 2014 Meeting:

Christian Education      

The Teen/Pre-teen Group met for three sessions in total. Debbie and Father O'Flynn taught in the fall, followed by Amy Jerome and Nancy Schult.  Rick Geier and Father O'Flynn rounded out the year.  Some of the curriculum was geared toward the preparation of confirmation for Kevin, Geordi and Kristen. However, due to an unplanned illness, the Bishop was unavailable for the planned confirmation date. The three teens were ready to be presented and one (Geordi Geier) was confirmed on May 29 at a District ceremony in Sherrill, while two others (Kevin Schult and Kristen Meadows)  will be presented at St. Thomas' when the Bishop visits on All Saints' Sunday The other younger kids also participated with reasonably good attention.

Beginning in the Spring, Father O'Flynn started to think about re-introducing a curriculum into the younger grades of the Sunday School program. The gravitation of children towards the nursery led to this consideration.   He heard about a program, Godly Play, that was going on at St. James, Clinton.  Following some conversations with Deacon Nick and others, he felt that it would be a good program to bring to St. Thomas.  During the Spring/Summer, Lara Scott was hired to begin leading the Godly Play classroom in September, and with much enthusiasm started planning the instruction.

Amy Jerome

Parish Life Commission 2014

The Parish Life Commission organizes, oversees and provides food and beverages for special events and coffee hours throughout the year including baptism and funeral receptions.

The following is a list of events we hosted this past year:

Annual Meeting Luncheon, Sunday, September 22, 2013, 11:30 AM, Parish House.

Served lasagna, eggplant parmesan, garlic knots and house salad (prepared by VJ’s Restaurant), cookies, and beverages.

All Saints’ Sunday and Baptism (Eden Gwen Hubbard), November 3, 2013,        11:30 AM, Parish House. Provided and served devilled eggs, taco salad, salami & cream cheese, cheeseball, cheese & crackers, and beverages. Cake & cupcakes prepared by Sharon Stevens.

12th Night Christmas/pre-Epiphany Brunch, Sunday, January 5, 2014, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served a large variety of food, including, quiche, French toast casserole, egg casserole, fruit & dip, cheese & crackers, beverages, and Sharon Stevens’ special King’s cake. Music & games were also part of the festive mix.

Bishop’s Visitation Luncheon, Sunday, March 30, 2014, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served sausage rolls, cheeseball, cheese & crackers, hot cheese dip & pumpernickel, taco dip, devilled eggs, fruit, veggies, little hotdogs in chili sauce, and beverages, including a punch. Unfortunately, the bishop was ill and couldn’t make it; but we ate well anyways!

Pentecost Sunday Luncheon, Sunday, May 18, 2014, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served taco salads (one with meat and one without), fruit tart, grape salsa & lime chips, sausage rolls, cheese & crackers, half-moon cookies and beverages.

Annual Parish Picnic, Sunday, August 24, 2014, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Served Holy Smokes pulled pork & bbq chicken with sauce, rolls (Sherburne Big M), salads & desserts (provided by parishioners), and beverages.  Parishioners also helped with set up and clean up.

Thank you to all our members and to those who just pitch in to help when needed.  We are definitely not an exclusive group, so if any of you would like to join us, we would love to have you!

Respectfully submitted,

Nan Schmitt, Chair

Barbara Bartlett

Millie Franklin

Marlene Houck

Mea Martineau

Gina Sakal

Annual Buildings & Grounds Commission

Report 2014

The Buildings & Grounds Commission this year continues to be a work party of two (2), one (1) being my wife, Barbara, who has been very supportive and helpful, especially in the area concerning the grounds, which includes the flower gardens, and insight regarding the many issues I have been faced with.  Thank you to Dave McKay, Jack Martineau, and John Novak  for continuing as advisors.  My main function continues to be supplementing the duties of the Sexton, as his average of twelve (12) hours per week has been, and never was, nearly enough time to accomplish the many needs and demands required to maintain our facilities as they should be kept.  The care of the St. Thomas’ property has slowly improved in some areas. 

  • Since December 2013, there have been two (2) Community Service Volunteers, one serving 30 hours and the other 10 hours, which required someone to supervise them while they were working.  Typically, they assist me while performing various tasks, which boils down to my exceeding their required hours to make preparations and provide tools and material, in advance. 

  • I am pleased to report the Fire System, for the most part, has been trouble-free with only very minor system reports, which continues to be under watch.

  • Parish Hall and Rectory basement clean-up continues to be a “Work in progress”.

  • Parish Hall main entrance, “Great Room”,  and restroom floors remain in very poor condition and require attention.

  • The grounds have seen continued tree trimming with more waiting to be done.  There are many flower gardens which require constant care and upkeep.  Many thanks to John and Rose Novak for continually providing and caring for the flowers along the church entry walkway.  Thanks, also, to Lynn Staley for monitoring the shrubbery in the Memorial Garden. 

  • There have been miscellaneous repairs to electrical fixtures, pews, doors, and a broken window replacement,  as well as numerous other maintenance needs.

  • On July 29th the long awaited installation of a water softener was installed, which now treats water to the Rectory, Parish Hall, and Sacristy.  A maintenance log was developed and presently posted next to the unit.  In addition, the faucet in the small restroom has been replaced, as well as the Parish Hall water heater being improved to meet code. 

  • On June 24th a signed contract agreement with Urben Roofing, Hamilton, and first payment, was delivered for the Rectory and Sacristy roof replacement project.

  • Parish office computer updates and maintenance are being continued regularly.

  • Presently, ongoing preparations, required involving the organ renovation, were not included in the contact.  This meant the relocation of a fire system wire, organist cue light system, and installation of a ‘Computer Grade Electrical Outlet’ required to power the new organ equipment, refinishing the floor beneath the organ console, and modification of the low wall surrounding the console.

I must report the lawns/grounds care and general housekeeping still do not meet my expectations.  Jason’s Landscaping, L.L.C., Hubbardsville, will NOT be providing lawn care services this fall as previously reported, due to their increased workload. Personally, I feel we missed our opportunity to employ their services this past spring when it was decided to continue lawn care as we have done in the past.  With the leaves beginning to descend upon us, a  need still exists.

In closing, on May 19th I submitted in writing to the Vestry, my formal notification and intent regarding my present position as Buildings & Grounds Commission Chairman at St. Thomas’. Upon accepting the position of Chairman, it was unclear to me what the job description and expectations would be.  I made an effort to seek a defined role in which to fill the needs of St. Thomas’ within the B&G Commission since January 2013.  Since then, I have discovered the many physical and maintenance needs of our property.  Hopefully, my past reports and efforts to supplement the limitations of our Sexton has brought to light many ongoing issues of concern, which has been my primary goal.

As of the calendar end of 2014, I request to be replaced as Chairman of the Commission, while continuing to provide maintenance/repair support within my abilities, skill sets, and available time.  The administration and management aspect of the chairmanship would better be served by someone with greater managing skills.  Hopefully, this will allow me more time to pursue personal projects.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward O. Page

  Edward O. Page


Worship Commission


This year we met in person and by email, as that seems to suit our busy schedules.
We follow the church calendar. Father O'Flynn and Dianne Adams McDowell tend
to details. Mea Martineau keeps the schedule for worship and supplies us with all
necessary items and staffs the Altar Guild.
The summer schedule of one nine o'clock service which began in 2011 has become
a tradition, and it has been well received. We have established the basil cross for
Holy Cross Day.
The highlight of our year has been having a Deacon, Curate and now, ordained
Priest. Nick Smith's presence has allowed us to see the parts of liturgy appointed to
those positions and to learn from him. Father O'Flynn referred to his 'fresh out of
seminary' reflections to our Bible Study group and we were delighted with his
preaching and outreach work.
Since Father O'Flynn became Dean of our district, which we now call Deanery, he 
has developed programs to bring all our churches together in an educational and 
fun style. Already we have shared ideas, developed a website, planned future
events and held Choral Evensong at our lovely 'first church' at Paris Hill. Expect
much more as we grow into a really bonded group.
Carol Compton 

Commission for the Common Good

“What Can We Do?” was the resonating message from those attending last fall’s Adult Education Discussion series, which began with the “Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

In December 2013, Irene Brown and Karen Baase initiated the first step by proposing that St. Thomas’ Vestry create a Commission for the Common Good. Its mission would be to explore concrete ways to address injustice and discrimination, in order to transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation. This Commission could work in concert with other Hamilton churches to address local needs.  The Vestry approved that request in December 2013.

Members of the Commission include Tom & Liz Brackett, Everett Eggington, David Struges, Maureen Fox, Irene Brown, and Karen Baase. The Commission met twice during 2014 and sponsored its first discussion in May with John Pumilio, Colgate University’s Sustainability Director.  Other topics suggested for consideration include:

  1. Examining income disparity in U.S society.
  2. Further exploration of Friendship Inn and the Hamilton Food Cupboard. What’s needed? What additional things can we do to help?
  3. Hunger in Madison County.
  4. The Community Garden at Colgate.
  5. Camp Fiver.
  6. How to improve children’s’ access to books, libraries, and other services with the support of local retailers and grocery stores.
  7. Learn about services available from Madison County Community Action.
  8. Learn more about innovation at Madison County’s Solid Waste Dept. and its recycling efforts.

The 2nd action requested of the Vestry was to consider making a commitment as a parish to work in concert with the Cochran-Baker Family to establish A Better Chance chapter in Hamilton. This would be a residential home for high school age scholars of color needing a supportive home and community environment to develop their potential to become well-educated young people capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

In early 2014, a Steering Committee was formed to further study establishing an ABC Chapter in Hamilton in concert with the Cochran-Baker Family.  The Steering consisted of Irene Brown, Linda Leech, Terry Monty, and Karen Baase.

After considerable discussion, study, and consultations with the Cochran Family, leaders at Hamilton Central School and Colgate University, village officials, and visits to ABC Chapters in Clinton and Fayetteville, the Steering Committee decided that “this is not the right time to pursue an ABC house in Hamilton.” 

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Baase

Irene Brown

Altar Guild Annual Report


The Altar Guild is holding its own.  Our work is to set the stage for every worship service according to the wishes of the priest.  Services vary according to the season and reason with special services celebrated as needed.

Our duties also include cleaning and polishing the brass and silver twice a year.  Our altar assignments are two weeks in a row or as requested by the server.

This year we have lost two members due to moving and health problems. We thank Susan Trueworthy and June Schaupp for their years of service on the Altar Guild, and they will be missed. So this leaves our group with seven people, one of whom does the linens and shares this responsibility with another member.

We welcome and encourage new members.  They would train along side a seasoned one so no one is left alone to do the job until it felt comfortable to do so.  Please consider joining us.  We generally meet twice a year for our “Polishing Parties” just before Christmas and Easter.


Respectfully submitted,

Mea Martineau, Altar Guild Directress

Judy Brown

Wynn & Everett Egginton

Marlene Houck

Bev McKay

Barbara Page - linens

Stewardship Report

                                       Come ye Christians, be committed 
                                              to the service of the Lord,
                                       Make your lives for Him more fitted,
                                              tune your hearts with one accord.
                                      Of your time and talents give ye,
                                              They are gifts from God above,
                                      To be used by Christians freely,
                                              to proclaim His wondrous love.

These words from a hymn about stewardship and service capture the essence of giving to the church to honor the Lord. Our congregation is one of generous nature as we support the financial needs of St Thomas’. Many other avenues other than monetary gifts are given daily and freely through committees and personal gifts of time and talent.

This year the Stewardship Committee sent 76 pledge letters to members and friends of the parish. We received 58 pledges for a total of $167,580. Several people who do not pledge still contribute freely on a regular basis.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Heck-chair
Marcia Sitts
Liz Brackett
Tom Brackett
John Novak

2013-2014 MUSIC COMMISSION - Annual Report

The fall 2013/spring 2014 church year was an eventful year for  St Thomas' music program. In addition to our wonderful choir, we were again blessed with our instrumentalists… Adger Williams on violin & Janet O’Flynn on flute, whose music added so much to our 10am worship. And congregants of the 8am service enjoyed, once again, the contributions of Chris Shenkel on cello & Barb Bartlett on flute and oboe, and Cathy Shenkel on guitar & viola.

Among this past year’s notable events were:  Our 4th annual Sunday ‘Holy Cross Day,’ celebrated w/the living Basil Cross, and our yearly Jazz tradition of celebrating 'All Saint's Day.' The St. Thomas' choir, for the second time, joined the University Choruses on Colgate's Memorial Chapel stage for a breathtaking 'Advent Lessons & Carols' service. Advent IV was also made particularly memorable, when the enormously talented Elizabeth (Liz) Bouk,  accompanied by The Candlelight String Quartet, shared with us 3 strikingly different versions of the beloved classic, 'Ave Maria.' Yes, it was Gounod, Caccini, & Schubert, - all within one service! The Christmas Eve 7:00pm service was simply beautiful, followed closely (on Dec. 29th) by the anticipated yearly visit from our 'resident' guest organist, Christian Clough - who shared his formidable talents with his hometown parish!

St. Thomas' cheerfully rang in the NewYear when, on January 2nd of 2014, the youth of our parish presented (in lieu of our annual pageant) a very special Youth Service which celebrated not only Christmas 2, but the arrival of Epiphany.

Speaking of the Epiphany season, we were given a gift (through Holy Cross Day) by the presence of our Deacon Intern, the Reverend Nick Smith. We very much enjoyed having Nick, as well as his lovely wife, Gale, and their family, as a part of our parish family. We wish them all the very best as Nick begins his new position in Oneida.

During the long season of Epiphany,"Candlemas" arrived on a Sunday this year - so we were able to sing hymns suitable for the 'Presentation of Our Lord,' which seems to occur on rare occasion…. and, finally, on the Last Sunday of Epiphany, we closed out the season with the dedication and blessing of St. Thomas' gorgeous new green vestments.

The Lenten Season and Holy Week services all went exceedingly well. Some notable musical moments of Holy Week were: Having Chris Shenkel play on both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday! In addition to Chris's haunting, "Sarabande" from a Bach unaccompanied cello suite during Communion, he delivered a deeply moving rendition of "Were You There." Tom Brackett & Deborah Knuth Klenck once more reprised their solemn chanting of Psalm 22 on Maundy Thursday. The Easter morning services were spectacular, with brass and The Candlelight String Quartet  at the 10am; and festive instrumental music with sung hymns at the 8:00am service. Even the second Sunday of Easter was made special, complete with incense and the choir's traditional, "The Lord is Risen Indeed" by William Billings. On Sunday, May 11th, Mother's Day was made memorable by the sweet singing of a trio of young ladies: Chloe La France, Adrianna & Sicily Catania on, "Jesus Loves Me, this I know."  The Spring of 2014 kept hopping with our annual Gospel Pentecost service, where the choir and instrumentalists reprised, "The Festal Shout"(written in honor of the life of Doris Overholt Christhilf, the late mother of Janet O'Flynn). We closed out the last 'official' Sunday of the church year with our Trinity Sunday service.

Come June 22nd, St. Thomas' continued our summertime tradition of one Sunday morning service at 9am. As a larger, combined congregation, we again shared with each other our preferred styles of worship, alternating between Holy Eucharist Rite I, and Holy Eucharist Rite II - each service utilizing music appropriate to the Liturgy.  During the early summer months, we enjoyed some unexpected musical guests: Gemma & Georgina Godfrey's sweet, 'Amazing Grace,' sung as a tribute to their late grandfather, young Juliana Slocum's lovely, 'En Priere' by Gabriel Faure' and Kristin Strohmeyer's much-requested reprise of, 'The Lord's Prayer.' The Ward-Wider family (comprised of Bruce, Sarah & Taiward) also shared, once more, their multitude of talents.

Mid-summer, I needed to take a leave of absence from my St. Thomas duties, in order to donate a kidney to my sister, Kate. The love & support that I received from the entire Parish during this time was truly moving and unforgettable. For keeping the music program running so smoothly, I would especially like to acknowledge the trio of Chris & Cathy Shenkel, and Barb Bartlett. They not only played beautifully, but really did it all - week after week - choosing Preludes, Postludes, Communion music and Hymns. Also, a special thanks to Janet O'Flynn & Adger Williams, as well as Nancy Heck for all of their musical contributions. At summer's end, Christian Clough gave an appropriate send-off to St. Thomas' organ of many years, magnificently playing 'it's final service' before Ben Merchant began work on Stage One of Wanda Warren Berry & family's generous Organ Restoration project, in loving memory of Donald Berry. 

When I reflect upon the many gifts that we've been given as a Parish, I feel so thankful for the depth of talent, commitment, and human spirit here at St. Thomas'. There are, I know, many names that are not included in this report… But I hope that each of you know how grateful I am for your contributions to St. Thomas' music program, and to our life as a parish.

I look forward, as always, to working with our dedicated choir members and making music during the coming year!

With deepest appreciation ~


Dianne Adams McDowell

St. Thomas' Director of Music

Sept. 25th, 2014


Members of the Commission:  Elizabeth Brackett, Jerome Brown, Melissa Davies, Fr. O’Flynn, Nancy Schult, Deede vanderMandele, and Ed Vantine.

The Commission meets monthly to review the financial condition of the parish before the Treasurer reports to the Vestry.  We also prepare and recommend the annual budget to the Vestry and the annual audit.

This year we are taking advantage of a program established by the Diocese whereby a CPA looks at our finances following the guidelines from the Episcopal Church Business Manual.  In the recent past we have used an audit committee made up of members of the parish.  Having someone from outside the parish take a look at what we are doing seemed prudent, and so the Commission recommended this action to the Vestry.  The CPA has finished his work and we will meet with him soon to review his findings.

At the beginning of 2012, our investment funds held by the Diocese were transferred, by Vestry vote, into the new Diocesan Unified Investment Fund.  Doing so has proved a good move.  The Comparison of St. Thomas’ 8/13 and 8/14 Balance Sheets, contained in the Treasurer’s report, shows that over the last year the value of the funds has increased by 11.7%.  (See the UIF line under the donor-restricted funds at the bottom of the report.)

We owe gratitude to Evelyn Hart and Adger Williams for their diligence in recording pledge income.

Finally, Nancy Schult.  I hope everyone realizes, as I do, how fortunate we are to have her as the Treasurer. 

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome M. Brown, Chair


Two years have gone by fast and soon I will no longer be a Warden.  I am thinking about what I will miss and not miss when that happens.

  • Vestry meetings?  Not having to rush back from Syracuse to be on time.  I will miss the people, though.
  • Monthly meetings with Melissa and Donnel to plan?  Much as I enjoy talking with both of them, I am glad to pass that along to Rick Geier.
  • Donnel?  Being the “Rector’s Warden” has shown me new ways to live my faith.
  • Nick?  We all will miss him.  It has been a joy for me to see him grow into his ministry.
  • The Clerk’s reports?  How could anyone not eagerly await and enjoy Susan’s prose?
  • The Treasurer?  Fortunately, I will still be working with her on the Budget and Finance Commission.

Finally, thank you to all the people of St. Thomas’ who go about the tasks they have taken on without being reminded.  You have made this warden’s job a pleasure.

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome M. Brown

Junior Warden’s Report

This year I set a few projects in motion -- some gained more momentum than others. But the beauty of junior wardenhood is that I still have a year to get them done.

Many thanks to Nan Schmitt and Ed Page who tackled  consolidation of church maintenance files. We wanted to make it easier to track recurring tasks and get the particulars on big ones like the formula for the church doors' red paint. They also opened a Google account on the office computer so seasonal and annual tasks pop up automatically.

Speaking of paint, thank you to Hamilton Central School art teacher Ashley Stagner for painting our red church doors and grey rectory porch steps.

The Bible that came with the founding of our church is a spectacular, but vulnerable, specimen. Last spring, Sarah Keen, Colgate University Head of Special Collections and University Archivist, had a look at it. She recommended ways to protect it while still allowing it to "live and breathe." Her recommendations are on the 2015 to-do list.

Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in New York City for the People's Climate March, demanding world leaders to take action to avert catastrophic climate change. In March, I wrote and sent to our Committee for the Common Good a "green statement," to remind us that we are stewards and protectors of God's creation. We're following green practices here in many ways.  But I'm wondering if hundreds of thousands of people think we could be doing more. This issue is also on the 2015 to-do list.

I puttered around the church grounds recently, on a flawless, fall Sunday afternoon. At first, I thought I might rather be elsewhere. But with every stroke of the paintbrush, I thought nope, I'm blessed to be here.

Respectfully submitted,

Melissa Davies

Junior Warden

Rector’s Report to Annual Meeting 2014

I will begin my impressions of a very full year with comments about our staff. Most notable was the presence of a Deacon intern, The Rev. Nick Smith, who began on Epiphany and served until Holy Cross Day. Besides the pleasure of getting to know Nick and wife Gale, the parish benefitted by learning what Deacons are, both in the liturgy and in service to world. In Nick’s case, service centered on a ministry of pastoral care at local nursing homes. It was a privilege for me to work with Nick and also preach at his ordination to the Priesthood on August 13, and I am pleased that we will be able to give them both a proper farewell at this Annual Meeting luncheon.

As noteworthy as the presence of a Deacon was the absence of our music director for two months. Dianne Adams McDowell showed what love really is when she donated a kidney to her sister Kate in July, and we all rejoiced when she was able to return to work in September. The level of musicianship she brings is past all expectation, and I especially congratulate her for her part in this year’s Tony award winning Best Musical! Dianne has met with Christian Clough, by the way, and begun planning a remarkable collaboration with his parish in Chicago for next year’s Gospel Pentecost service. While speaking of music, let me thank our 8 AM trio of Barbara Bartlett, and Chris and Cathy Shenkel, who provided very welcome melodies all year long, most notably when they played for Chris and Cathy’s wedding at the 8 AM service on December 8!

We added a staff member towards the end of the year: Lara Scott signed on as director of our newly Godly Play program for our younger children. While it is in the early days, this excellent program shows every sign of great success.

Rounding out the staffing picture are parish administrator Nan Schmitt and sexton Kevin Roberson, who as ever faithfully performed a variety of duties to keep our parish going.

Also virtually on staff were Ed and Barbara Page, whose incredible devotion to duty has become legendary at St. Thomas’. The Vestry recognized their contributions with a gift of a ceramic angel last Christmas, and our thanks will be due again as they come to the end of Ed’s term this next December. Ed’s extensive written report gives only a hint of their total accomplishments.

Continuing the theme of upgrading of our physical fabric, with the repainting of the narthex in January, the official list of projects funded by the 175th Anniversary Capital Campaign of 2011 was concluded. I wish to thank again all who contributed to that Campaign. Important improvements from that effort continue to benefit our common life. The Vestry wished to wait until the 175th campaign was complete before doing any further fundraising, but as soon as the coast was clear, we felt we had to respond to a very generous gift of $50,000 from the family of Fr. Donald L. Berry, given to support extensive renovations of our century-old organ. Beginning in January, we asked for donations in memory of Fr. Berry and to date have received $27,100 from 29 individuals and two congregations Fr. Berry served. Phase One of a proposed three phase renovation has been contracted for, and is underway at present. The monies in hand would fund only about half of phase Two; however, an issue we will have to address in the coming year. The good news, though, is that we will have a new console and greatly improved wiring completed in time for Bishop Adams’ visit this coming All Saints’ Sunday.

A very nice new wrinkle in parish life has been the creation of an official “Wish List” maintained by the Vestry and publicized in the Tidings. I wish to thank the Pages for proposing the idea. The Wish List brought in fifteen Thanksgiving baskets, a new green chasuble, re-upholstering of the piano bench and office curtains, cleaning of carpets and kitchen ceiling, and a substantial pledge towards the new history project.

Speaking of which, I wish to commend Jim Ford for a great deal of work on a book which is scheduled to be published in 2015. Jim has created a number of other books on local history and uses the same approach to detailing St. Thomas’ 180 years. Also very helpful to the project have been Ed Page as photographer and Susan Cerasano as the vestry’s publishing advisor.

Also on line for the new year will be a lovely stained glass window created by local artist Denise Leone, and commissioned after a generous gift. The window will depict Elizabeth of Hungary, notable for her practice of Christian charity, and will be installed early in 2015.

One last new idea for the care of our physical fabric is a Master Plan for maintenance being overseen by warden Melissa Davies. An online calendar of activities has been created on the parish computer and will be updated as needed by the Buildings and Grounds Commission. Melissa has also overseen a much-appreciated painting of the parish doors and lychgate fence.

Moving on from care of our buildings and grounds, let me highlight important activities in the arena of Adult Education. Irene Brown and Karen Baase have been our advisors in this area, and Karen’s impending departure to retire to Western New York in about a month will leave a huge hole in parish life. Irene and Karen have arranged for a number of fascinating discussions, most notably a series last fall in conjunction with America’s observance of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights era. Their reminder of how fragile the gains have turned out to be led us to look for ways to respond as a parish. Extensive discussions of supporting an ABC (A Better Chance) House in Hamilton unfortunately did not pan out, but we gave it our best effort. Karen and Irene also arranged for a fascinating discussion of environmental issues with Colgate’s director of sustainability, John Pumilio.

Other adult education topics were my “Back to Basics” series in preparation for Bishop Adams’ “almost” visitation in March, and presentations on the Living Cross and the art of stained glass in September. Plugging along steadily, and a constant inspiration, to me is our weekly Bible study on Thursday mornings.

We have also reached out to our community. Regular weekly collections of food at Sunday services, and hosting of Friendship Inn, were augmented by parishioners’ participating in the CROP Walk, a summer food collection, and special Lenten financial collections, all over and above our budgeted line item of $6,000 for support of charities at home and abroad. Parishioners also supported interfaith activities such as the migrant worker picnic (including donation of winter gloves), the Interfaith Holiday Project, and the afore-mentioned Thanksgiving basket collection.

And we have worshipped God: our truest reason for being. It has been helpful to me to have travelled around a little, now that I am Dean of the Utica-Rome district, and sampled worship elsewhere. I am deeply touched by the effort and care and love with which congregations that have far fewer resources than St. Thomas’ carry on the liturgies of the church. Still, I can’t help but be grateful for what we have here at St. Thomas’. The music, of course, but also the host of people who faithfully read lessons, serve at the altar, function as ushers, prepare flowers, and care for the linens and vessels, are a joy to behold. It is easy to take for granted, but the frequent expressions of appreciation I hear on Sundays after service remind me not to. Thank you everyone, and let’s keep up the good work in the coming year.

And then there are the parish leaders, and those who work behind the scenes to administer our common life. How often have I seen Adger Williams, last one to leave the premises on a Sunday, faithfully recording financial contributions, or perhaps it is Evelyn Hart who is last to leave after recording them on the computer. Nancy Schult comes in midweek to do the work of a treasurer, and Mea and Marlene and Janice and Ed fold bulletins, or the Tidings, after Rose Novak and Kerry Linden have creatively pulled it together with Nan’s invaluable skill at Publisher software.

Commissions meet: I’ve already mentioned Ed Page, soon to be retiring chair of Buildings and Grounds, but Jerry Brown and the Budget and Finance crew gather monthly early on Tuesday mornings to review the finances. Nancy Heck and her Stewardship helpers oversee the annual campaign, the Worship Commission chaired by Carol Compton advises on liturgy, and the Flower Committee led by Rose and Jana effortlessly plans each season’s decoration. As long as Mea and Marlene are here every day, there is no worry about the altar’s needs, but even so others assist, and then there is the Vestry.

I’ve never seen a more efficient Clerk than Susan: her Tidings-ready minutes appear in the parish e-mail the day after we meet. Nancy’s treasurer’s reports are just the beginning of all that she accomplishes month by month. The wardens gather with me before each vestry meeting to plan the agenda, and I can’t begin to say how blessed we have been to have had Jerry Brown for the past two years. Not only does he lead our parish, he is also intimately familiar with affairs at the diocesan offices. We are always the first congregation to know how to take advantage of resources at that level. Melissa has giant shoes to fill; but actually, I think she’ll be fine; I thank them both for being such a good team this year.

I am (as you might suspect) involved in virtually all of the above to one degree or another. But I have had some experiences beyond the parish that are worth mentioning, too. One was the extraordinary opportunity of being invited to present my Tree of Life researches at the clergy Quiet Day in April, and then of hosting a similar event for the whole diocese two weeks ago, presented by Dr. Robin Jensen. The ideas we have pioneered here regarding new ways to observe Holy Cross Day have begun to spread. I appreciate the continuing interest of our congregation in these explorations.

I also continue to be active in the Hamilton Village Association of Clergy (HVAC), and also the Hamilton Interfaith Service Group (HISG), which meets here each month. Again, members of St. Thomas’ have been supportive of these groups, and especially I’d like to thank Gina Sakal for helping represent us at HISG. The opportunity to serve as Dean of our district has opened my eyes to much, and again, I appreciate that members of St. Thomas’ have been front and center at all district events this year. The three summer evensongs at St. Paul’s Paris Hill are an important example.

So: thanks everybody! If I’ve left you out, attribute it to advancing age and fading memory and not to ingratitude; I am truly grateful for all the things that so many do. We had a good year, and a lot of things are already underway for the next. With the grace of God, we will continue to serve, love, and grow here at St. Thomas’, Hamilton.

Respectfully submitted,

The Very Rev. Donnel O’Flynn, Rector

The Flower Guild

St. Thomas’ Flower Guild is a group of parishioners who enjoy working with flowers. The Guild’s regular membership includes Rose Novak, Jana Laxa, Liz Brackett, Deede vanderMandele, Jane McKnight, and Barbara Frost.  These members are responsible for ordering, arranging, and watering the altar flower arrangements. Each Sunday throughout the year, fresh flowers and greens are lovingly placed and cared for by the guild members. On Christmas and Easter, Joan Ford, Jim Ford, Gina Sakal, and family members provide additional help. Ed Page has been a tremendous help to the guild for many years with hanging the Christmas wreaths, vacuuming the needles in the church, and removing the wreaths at the end of the Christmas season.

 We take pride in our responsibility to enhance the House of our Lord, especially on festive occasions.  Since 2009, the Flower Guild added a small Christmas tree decorated with delightful handmade ceramic angels. These ornaments were painted mostly by the children of our parish, but also adults. Creating these angels has been fun and rewarding for everyone involved. Jana Laxa, who made the ceramic angels, will hold more painting sessions this fall during the coffee hours for anyone who has not painted an angel yet, and is interested in decorating one.                   .   

In the summer months, the Guild members bring flowers from local gardens or the Farmers’ Market. At Thanksgiving, the arrangement has a harvest time feeling, using pumpkins, gourds, apples, corn, and other symbols representing God’s bounty.

We have a new Memorial Garden where we plant some of our Easter flowers for enjoyment in the following seasons. At Christmas time, Ed Page decorates the area with Christmas wreaths.

Floral arrangements throughout the year are funded by donations from the parishioners. Generally, the donation is $35 per arrangement and is given in remembrance of loved ones or in celebration of a birthday, anniversary, or any other special event.  If you wish to memorialize or honor someone via flowers, please sign up on the Flower Guild chart in the Parish Hall, or call the church office at 824-1745.  Checks are made payable to St. Thomas’ Church with “altar flowers” noted.    

     If anyone is interested to join our Guild, we welcome you. The task is easy. It involves ordering the flowers from Full Bloom Florist, adding water, and removing the arrangements before the next Sunday.


Jana Laxa

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