St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church:

Annual Meeting

22 September 2013


Reports to the Annual Meeting of 2013 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

Annual Meeting

23 September 2012


The Call to Order, report of the Nominating Committee, and Call for Nominations from the floor took place at the start of the 10:00 a.m. service.  Barbara Frost read the slate of nominees: Michael Clough, Melissa Davies, and Maureen Fox, for three-year terms, and Jerome Brown for warden (two year term). No further nominations being offered business was suspended until 11:30 a.m. in the parish hall.  Thirty-nine persons were in attendance. 



Business resumed in the parish hall as Father O’Flynn requested an election by acclamation. The aforementioned nominees were elected unanimously.  Prayer was offered and there was a break for lunch. At 12:00 p.m. the meeting continued as recorded below.



Clerk’s Report

There was a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes from the 2011 meeting; it was seconded and the motion carried unanimously.  There followed a motion to approve the minutes of 25 September 2011; the minutes were approved unanimously. 


Wardens’ Report

Jim Franklin, our outgoing senior warden, stated that he “had had a great time with the members of the vestry” during his two years as warden.  He was “pleased to meet new people, some of whom he might not have met otherwise.”  Jim Franklin commended Fr. O’Flynn as rector and noted that he made the job of senior warden “a piece of cake.” 

Maureen Ghent, commenting on her year as junior warden, offered grateful thanks for Jim’s service.  She stated, “I have large shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to working together!”


Treasurer’s Report

Jerry Brown noted that the staff compensation line went missing from the 2011 report, giving the false impression that there were surplus funds.  Instead, in examining the corrected statement for the current year to date, parishioners will note that through August 31 we had run a deficit of $7,591.52.  This should not, however, be the cause of concern because the parish budget often shows a deficit in August, and this is normally covered by the end of the calendar year.  Additionally, parishioners will note that staff compensation has been designated in a separate line stating with the 2012 budget report. 


Happily, Jerry continued, the parish’s endowment income ($9,000) is already greater than our estimate for the entirety of 2012.  Then, Jerry noted, the Moses Fund has been taken out of our budget report because the parish doesn’t actually hold the money in the fund.  Instead, the diocese holds the money and disperses the interest on the fund to the parish.  Consequently, it is not one of our institutional assets. 


Tom Brackett wondered about how the UIF Endowment Fund is being managed.  Jerry explained that currently the parish is taking out 4.5% of the income on the fund, a figure that the Budget & Finance Committee hopes to lower to 4.25% in 2013.  (Eventually they hope to reduce this even further, to 4.00%, bringing the level of withdrawal closer to the level of inflation.)  Most notably, the parish isn’t spending down any of the principal at the moment.  In concluding this section of the meeting Fr. O’Flynn explained that the Capital Maintenance Fund, which was reported as $32,383.59 in August 2011, has now shrunk to $2189.88, owing to the many capital improvement projects that the parish undertook following the Capital Campaign to celebrate the 175th anniversary of St. Thomas’. 


Commission Reports


Acolytes:  Fr. O’Flynn, reporting for Debbie Barker (Acolyte Directress), stated that acolyte training continues and three functions of acolyte responsibilities are being maintained:  torchbearer, server, and crucifer.  New recruits are always welcome.  Debbie is looking forward to the annual training and organizing of acolyte vestments.  She wished to thank the parents of acolytes for their continued support.


Altar Guild:  Mea Martineau, our esteemed Altar Guild Directress, was pleased to announce that two new persons have been added to the group: Susan B. Trueworthy, and Barbara Page (who shares the linen maintenance with Bev McKay).  Seasoned guild members continue to work alongside new members.  The customary “polishing parties” are planned for the times just before Christmas and Easter.  In addition to Mea, Bev, Barbara, and Susan, other invaluable members of the altar guild include Judy Brown, Marlene Houck, and June Schaupp.


Buildings and Grounds:  Dave McKay (Chair) reported that “it has been a relatively calm year for a change.”  The year’s activities include the exterior work on the parish hall, renovations on the parish hall restrooms, and repair of the sidewalks outside of the church and the rectory steps.  The alarm systems, overseen by Ed Page, are functioning well.  Not least of all, Ed Page was warmly thanked for the enormous amount of work that he has performed in the yard, which includes tree-trimming, garden watering, and pruning.  Other projects-in-progress include the replacement of the front doors on the church and the investigation of a new water softener for the rectory and parish hall.  Because more insulation was installed in the church a few years ago and last winter’s temperatures were mild, this winter begins with a much-welcomed surplus of heating oil.


A special update on the Memorial Garden:  During the past twelve months, a wonderful addition to the yard has been the installation of the lych gate and the walkway behind it.  These elements have created a genuinely unique place for contemplation and interment, to say nothing of the fact that it looks wonderful from the street.  Over the past summer bushes have been added to define the boundaries of the garden, the work for which was organized by Lynn Staley.  Many thanks are due to all those who have been patrons, planners, and facilitators in this project.  With the ongoing planting of landscaping, and the pouring of many “slow buckets” of water, the yard is turning into a place that continues to grow and develop beautifully. 


The continuing members of the Buildings & Grounds Commission include Dave McKay, together with Ed (and Barbara) Page, Jim (and Joan) Ford, and Jack Martineau.  They are joined by many others who are helping in the side yard, including Lynn Staley and her bucket brigade.    


Flower Guild: Rose Novak (Chair) commented that this year’s report reflected a steady stream of busy-ness.  It details, amongst many other activities, the creation of a larger wooden cross for use on Holy Cross Sunday.  Fr. O’Flynn thanked Jim Ford and Ed Page who created the new cross, and its decorators, Rose Novak and Barbara Frost.  (Photographs of the cross appear on the parish website, courtesy of John Bowen and Ed Page.)  With so many occasions requiring the special touch of the Flower Guild, the list of those who help out periodically (to provide extra support) is considerable.  Nevertheless, Rose reminded everyone that new members are always welcome.  The current guild members are Liz Brackett, Barbara Frost, Jana Laxa, Jane McKnight, Rose Novak, and Deede Van Der Mandele.


Music:  Reporting on behalf of Diane Adams McDowell (Director of Music), Fr. O’Flynn observed the astonishing number of musical activities that occurred at St. Thomas’ during the past twelve months.  He, and everyone present, expressed their warm appreciation for Diane, along with our other church musicians and choristers, all of whom help to make the music “happen.” He also noted that the new sound system in the church makes it possible to record and archive special services.  St. Thomas’s is clearly working hard all the time to distinguish the parish through its musical offerings.  To conclude, Fr. O’Flynn reminded everyone that Christian Clough, one of our “regular visitors” will return again, later in the autumn, to perform at the Baptist Church in Hamilton. 


Outreach: Judy Fischer (Chair), who had already provided a detailed written report of Outreach activities, stated:  “Who we are, as a parish, in our giving, is the subject of ongoing conversation within the Outreach Commission.”  Currently, the commission is deciding how to allocate the final $2,000 of their funding.  Adger Williams wondered whether the parish has a continuing interest in prison ministry.  Liz Brackett explained that the prison in Rome, NY, had been reviewed as a potential site for our tutoring program when Camp Georgetown closed; however, the prison ministry group is not currently ready to work in this kind of setting.  The Outreach Commission is currently guided by its chair, together with Liz Brackett, Maureen Fox, Jana Laxa, Amy Jerome, and Fr. O’Flynn.


Parish LifeNan Schmitt, reporting on behalf of the commission, presented a lengthy list of events (lunches, dinners, potlucks, strawberry socials, special coffee hours, and even “quick lunches”) that were organized, created, and staffed by Parish Life.  She noted, “We work well together and have a lot of fun!”  The magical facilitators of Parish Life are Nan Schmitt, with Millie Franklin, Marlene Houck, Dee Keller, Mea Martineau, and Gina Sakal, who are buoyed up, on various occasions, by Barbara Bartlett, Amy Jerome, Cathy Lamphier, and Deb Radford.  (With good reason, the members of Parish Life received wild applause for having organized the luncheon at the Annual Meeting.)


Stewardship:  Nancy Heck (Chair) had nothing to add to her comprehensive written report.  The parish lost six pledges in 2011, but has gained five pledges already in 2012.  Those who gave so generously to the Capitol Campaign, undertaken as part of the celebrations for the 175th year of St. Thomas’, were thanked.  More excellent news:  much of what had been pledged for the campaign has already come in.  Nancy Heck currently guides the Stewardship Commission along with Marcia Sitts, Liz Brackett, John Novak, and Nancy Schultz.


Sunday School:  Fr. O’Flynn stated that the new “connections space” (on the north side of the church) seems to be working well.  So far, both parents and children seem to like it.


Rector’s Report:  Fr. O’Flynn concluded the meeting by highlighting various parts of his extensive (4 pp.) report.  Most of all, he referred to the end of paragraph one:  “As St. Paul says, when the parts of the body are working together, it is the life of the Holy Scripture energizing and activating them all.”  Much of his report, he noted, is a careful description of the many persons within the parish who create the community that we all enjoy.  And also, not surprisingly to those familiar with St. Thomas’, the rector’s report outlines the many connections (both formal and informal) that its members share with other groups.  From worship services at Crouse Center to the travels of parishioners who interact with outreach organizations in the region (or as far away as Haiti), there is clearly much positive energy emanating from the parish and its members.


During the final round of comments Barbara Frost suggested that perhaps the parish could find a proper stand for the parish Bible, something that will be both attractive and useful when someone is reading from it.  Many concurred that this is a good idea. 


At the end of his report Fr. O’Flynn thanked the outgoing vestry members—Judy Brown, Maureen Fox, and Barbara Frost—and Senior Warden Jim Franklin for their dedication and wisdom. 


There was a motion to adjourn and it was seconded. The meeting ended at 12:35 p.m.  There was a sense, among those present, that St. Thomas’ had been able to achieve a startling number of goals since the last Annual Meeting and that the year in between had brought all of us many blessings. 


Respectfully submitted,

Susan Cerasano

Parish Clerk


The Flower Guild

St. Thomas’ Flower Guild is a group of parishioners who delight in working with flowers. The Guild’s regular membership includes Rose Novak, Jana Laxa, Liz Brackett, Deede Van der Mandele, 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 one or two guild members. On Christmas and Easter, Joan Ford, Jim Ford, Gina Sakal,  Maureen Fox and family members provide additional help. Ed Page has been a tremendous help to the guild with hanging up the Christmas wreaths and vacuuming the needles.

 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 was fun and rewarding for everyone involved.  Jana Laxa, who made the angel ceramics will hold more painting sessions this fall during the coffee hours.   

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

All of the decorations throughout the year are funded by donations from the parishioners. Generally, the donation is $35.00 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 flower” 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 , periodically adding water, and then removing them before the next Sunday.


Jana Laxa


2012-2013 MUSIC & WORSHIP COMMISSIONS - Annual Report

The Fall 2012/Spring 2013 church year was an eventful year for St Thomas’ music program. In addition to our wonderful choir, we were again blessed with numerous instrumentalists, like Adger Williams on violin and Janet O’Flynn on flute, whose musicality added immensely to our 10 AM worship. The 8 AM service once more enjoyed the gifts of Chris Shenkel on cello and Barb Bartlett on flute and oboe, and Cathy Weinell on guitar and viola.

Among this past year’s notable events were:  Our 3rd annual Sunday Holy Cross Day, celebrated with the living Basil Cross, and our yearly tradition of celebrating All Saint's Day - The Jazz Eucharist. 2012 also marked a first for the St. Thomas’ choir, as they joined the University Choruses on the Memorial Chapel stage for Colgate’s breathtaking Advent Lessons & Carols. The Christmas Eve 7 PM service was simply beautiful this year, and followed shortly by our yearly visit from our ‘resident’ guest organist, Christian Clough - who, once again, shared his talents with his hometown parish!

We rang in the New Year (or more specifically, Epiphany) on January 6th with a special church school pageant created by our very own Father O’Flynn. I should add that three of these wonderful, streamlined pageants are now published works and will be available for other parishes to utilize and enjoy. So congratulations to Donnel for his literary successes!

January 6th, 2013, is, in addition to all of the pageantry, a date I won’t soon forget. The Parish decided to celebrate my 20th anniversary as Organist/Choir Director, and what a celebration it was! Never in my life have I been bestowed so many generous and beautiful gifts, as well as praises. Moved to tears many times during the amazing festivities that followed the service, I felt an enormous wave of support, appreciation, and love that will stay with me all of my days. Thank you, again, St. Thomas’!

Late January also marked the loss of one of the most loved and respected members of our parish and community, Reverend Donald Berry. A frequent celebrant and preacher, St. Thomas’ has had the great fortune of having Don in our midst for many years. An accomplished musician himself, it was one of Don’s deepest wishes to have beautiful (and very specific) music, much of it choral in nature, at his Requiem Mass. And so I set out to assemble a choir and had no idea of just how many would come forward. Singers of all denominations wanted to be a part of this memorial, and - in record numbers - overflowed the choir area into the congregational pews! And so on Friday, January 25th at 10 AM, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church paid a very special tribute to Donald Berry’s wonderful life and ministry.

The Lenten Season and Holy Week services all went beautifully. Some highlights of Holy Week were Chris Shenkel’s moving “Sarabande” from Bach’s unaccompanied cello Suite, No. 3, and Tom Brackett and Deborah Knuth Klenck’s haunting Chant of Psalm 22 on Maundy Thursday. The Easter morning services were spectacular, with brass and The Candlelight String Quartet at the 10 AM; and festive instrumental music with sung hymns at the 8 AM service. Even the second Sunday of Easter was festive, replete with incense and the choir’s traditional, “The Lord is Risen Indeed” by Billings. May 5th brought a trio of baptisms (and many Italian hymns!) when the Catania triplets (Adriana, Sicily & Alessandra - whose names alone are like music) were received into the Episcopal Church. Spring of 2013 continued to be lively, with the annual reprise of our Gospel Pentecost service, Ascension Day and Trinity Sunday.

And you would likely assume that St. Thomas’ then settled into an uneventful summer, right? Not so. The Parish continued our summertime tradition of one Sunday morning service at 9 AM. 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.  We enjoyed guest musicians playing Preludes and Postludes, and sometimes Offertories and Communion music, as well, every Sunday throughout the summer of 2013. Our guest performers list reads like a local Who’s Who of talent: Tom Brackett, Gwyneth Davies, Mason McDowell, Kristin Strohmeyer, Chris Shenkel, Barb Bartlett, Colgate student and University Church member - Karl Jackson, Christian Clough, Janet O’Flynn and Adger Williams, The Ward-Wider family (comprised of Bruce, Sarah & Taiward), The St. Thomas’ Youth Trio (Paul & Kevin Schult and Sam Williams), our friends from the Park Methodist Church - Clara & David Lantz, Colgate students from the Newman Community - Emmett Potts and Ewa Protasiuk, as well as Debby Zahn. 

When I reflect upon the many gifts that we’ve been given as a Parish, I feel appreciative of the depth of talent and commitment here at St. Thomas’. There are many, many names that I have omitted from this report - simply for lack of space. But I’m hopeful that you each know how grateful I am for your contributions to our music program and to the life of this little parish. The 2012/2013 church year was wonderful because of you.

I look forward, as always, to the fun of working with our wonderful choir and to, once again, making a joyful noise during the coming year!

With affection and appreciation ~




Dianne Adams McDowell

St. Thomas’ Director of Music

September 10, 2013


Annual Buildings & Grounds Commission


Report 2012-2013


Most members of St. Thomas’, by now, have met and know a bit about me.  For those who have not, I would like to share some of my past.  I was born and raised in Vermont and an Episcopalian for many years, having been a member and acolyte of St. Thomas Church in Hanover, New Hampshire, on the campus of Dartmouth College, and confirmed by Bishop Hall on May 3, 1953.  Upon graduating from Hartford High School, in White River Jct., Vermont, I enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving 2 ½ years in France of my three-year enlistment.  Shortly after separating from the Army, I returned home to seek employment and attend Post-Graduate studies preparing for college enrollment, after which I came here to New York State to attend college at Morrisville.  It was at college where Barbara and I were introduced, and she chased me until I caught her!  It was one Sunday morning during the 1963-64 school year, I brought her to this church to attend the early service, never realizing that one day we would come full circle and become  members of St. Thomas’.  On “Leap Day 2012” I made the “Big Leap” and left my employer, Frontier Communications, after 45 years of service.  Notice I did not use the term “RETIRED”!  I merely provide service in other areas, which brings me to the point of just how did I become involved with the Buildings & Grounds Commission?


Toward the end of 2012, then former B & G Commission Chairman Dave McKay, asked me to replace him, as he had held the position since 2004.  How could I say No?  Originally, I was invited to do “Walk-Around” inspections with the Commission.  During my first tour, I saw a great need for tree work I felt I could handle.  Eventually, I was asked to get involved with the Fire Alarm System when there were troubles, which led to trouble shooting, repairing, and/or coordinating repairs.  At some point, I was asked to make use of Community Service Volunteers sent our way by the local court, which as been four thus far and another on the way.


The Buildings & Grounds Commission this year has been pretty much 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.  I am grateful for Dave McKay continuing on in a consulting capacity and leaving me well-documented events from his term, as well as Jack Martineau and John Novak, continuing as advisors.  My main function has been supplementing the duties of the Sexton, as his average of twelve (12) hours per week is not nearly enough time to accomplish the many needs and demands required to maintain our facilities as they should be kept.  Therefore, the care of the St. Thomas’ property has been, and is, falling behind.  Yes, we have been blessed by having had four (4) Community Service Volunteers provided over a span of time, which requires someone to supervise them while they are serving.  Typically, they are assisting me while performing various tasks, which boils down to my exceeding their required hours to make preparations and provide tools and material, in advance.  For example, a recent Volunteer provided forty (40) hours of service.


  • I am pleased to report, thus far, the Fire System has been trouble-free, since I found a section of the sensor wiring in the Bell Tower chewed exposing bare wire laying next to a flexible armored electrical wire causing a ground fault within Zone 3.


  • Church interior doors required painting, since the front entrance doors were repaired and reconstructed earlier this year, some with the help of a Volunteer, and completed alone by myself.


  • Coordinated and assisted with Parish House electrical repairs made by Shaw’s Electric, Sherburne.  Plus, Church Vestment Room electric heat panel and stained glass window lighting enhancement estimate preparation.


  • During April, Marty Bonsie made repairs to the Church furnace, which involved internal cleaning of sludge due to recently running out of fuel oil, plus replacing a failed controller.  A follow-up visit and meeting with Marty found the new controller is working properly.


  • Improvements were made in the Sacristy area:  Painting, Cleaning, Organizing, and installing a new step tread.


  • Parish House basement clean-up has been a “Work in progress”.


  • Parish House “Great Room” floor was cleaned and waxed by Mike Briggs, a professional floor person, during May.  This project required clearing the room and setting it back up afterward for Mr. Briggs, thanks to the assistance of Nan Schmitt, Mea Martineau, Jane Marshall with Friendship Inn, and Jim Ford.


  • The grounds have seen two trees removed between the curb and sidewalk, two large trees in the rear lot, plus tree trimming.  The many flower gardens have been maintained and brought back to order.  Many thanks to Lynn Staley, and Rose & John Novak for their gardening assistance.


  • During this past winter, ice backups were dealt with at the Rectory, as the ice was not allowing the rear-side door to open.


  • During June, met with the Hamilton Village Code Enforcement Officer, Paul McGinnis.  No violations were found.


  • This summer, squirrels took up residency in the Rectory attic requiring two (2) locations within the roof edge to be sealed off to restrict their entry.


  • Miscellaneous repairs to pews and furniture.


  • The Church front door threshold was recently varnished, and the side door threshold painted.


  • New outside carpet will be installed at the Church front doorway, and the refinished side rails are ready to be reinstalled upon the completion of the Narthex  work being done by Erik Ingraham.


  • The Memorial Garden Committee has been supported by my installing an Anti-Deer Fence to protect the cedar trees along the southern property line, which spans 100 feet with 42 iron stakes.  This has proven successful this past winter.  During the spring, the garden plantings were edged, weeded, and mulched.  Recently, the back side of the fence line has been moved to allow room for tree growth and maintenance space with Barbara’s assistance.


In closing, I must report the lawns/grounds care, frequency of mowing, and general housekeeping, have not met my expectations.  I have discussed a few of my concerns with Sexton Kevin, who allowed the mowing equipment, generously loaned by Jerry Douglas, is old and does not perform well.  Mowing within the Memorial Garden has caused Kevin great difficulty, given the tight areas among the plantings.  In an effort to improve the grass cutting process, I have provided the use of a self-propelled walk-behind mower, which I have personally used and completed six (6) mowings of the smaller tight areas around the Rectory, Church, and the entire Memorial Garden, resulting in an average of two (2) hours per session. There are pending plans to address these issues as a result of my recent meeting with Fr. O’Flynn, and Warden’s Maureen Ghent and Jerry Brown.


Respectfully submitted,





Edward O. Page



Altar Guild Annual Report


The duties of the Altar Guild are 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.

This year, we will be scheduling Susan Trueworthy and Wynn & Everett Egginton, who have been learning our routine.

Currently, we have two members with health problems causing their leaves of absence.

Our duties 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.

Respectfully submitted,


Mea Martineau, Altar Guild Directress

Judy Brown

Wynn & Everett Egginton

Marlene Houck

Bev McKay

Barbara Page - linens

June Schaupp

Susan B. Trueworthy

Outreach Commission 2013 Report

Thanks to the financial support from St. Thomas’ parishioners, the Outreach Committee has once again been able to fulfill our mission of reaching out locally and globally in 2013.  This past year we sent checks to the following organizations:

($1200)  Friends of St. Vincent’s

($1000)  Brackett Foundation

($300)    Educare Africa

($500)    Hamilton Food Cupboard

($500)    Interfaith Christmas Project

($1000)  Community Action Program

($500)    Diocese of Jerusalem

The Commission also recommended that the remaining monies in the Liberia and Autism funds be transferred to the parish Discretionary Fund.

Of the $7000 of the Outreach Funds, we are sending $3000 overseas and $2000 locally with $2000 remaining in this year’s budget.

We also discussed becoming more involved in working together with the Interfaith Group.

Respectfully submitted,


Judy Fischer, Chair

Rev. Donnel O’Flynn

Maureen Fox

Jana Laxa

Liz Brackett

Parish Life Commission 2013

The Parish Life Commission provides, prepares, and/or organizes food (and fellowship) for special events 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 23, 2012, 11:30 AM, Parish House.

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

All Saints’ Sunday, November 4, 2012, 11:30 AM, Parish House. Provided and served a variety of finger foods, cookies, and beverages.

It’s Not the End of the World: It’s St. Thomas’ Day! Party, Friday, December 21, 5:00 PM, Parish House.  Provided beverages and hospitality for a parish potluck.

Epiphany & Appreciation for Dianne McDowell’s 20th Year at St. Thomas’ Luncheon, Sunday, January 6, 2013, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served a large variety of finger foods, beverages, and a special cake prepared by Sharon Stevens.

Reception/Luncheon for Don Berry’s Memorial Service, Friday, January 25, 2013, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Assisted Colgate Inn with a light luncheon buffet.

Newcomer Breakfast (Assisted by the Men of St. Thomas’), Sunday, February 10, 2013, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served pancakes, sausage, biscuits & gravy, eggs, and beverages. Used the warmers donated by Elizabeth Gillett for the first time and sterno donated by Deb Barker.

Pentecost Sunday Special Coffee Hour, Sunday, May 19, 11:30 AM, Parish House.

Provided and served brunch with cheese & crackers, devilled eggs, chocolate covered strawberries, sausage roll, veggies, fruit, cookies, and beverages.

Welcome Back Donnel & Janet Special Coffee Hour, Sunday, July 14, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Provided and served a variety of finger foods, beverages, and a special cake prepared by Sharon Stevens.

Annual Parish Picnic, Sunday, August 25, 11:30 AM, Parish House.  Served Holy Smokes pulled pork & bbq chicken (provided by parishioner Loxie Davie), salads & desserts (provided by parishioners), and beverages.  Parishioners also helped with set up and clean up.

Anglican Hour Cooking Class, Alana Center, Colgate University.  Millie Franklin, Leah Schmitt and I also participated in two of three scheduled cooking classes last fall for interested students as sort of an off-shoot of Parish Life.  (The third class was cancelled because of numerous other activities on campus.) Colgate Student and Anglican Hour Member Carlie Wetzel was our contact person who successfully promoted the classes where we taught cooking basics and prepared simple, but interesting meals with between 5-8 students. We not only enjoyed the meals we prepared, but also the fellowship in getting to know one another.

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

Respectfully submitted,


Nan Schmitt, Chair

Barbara Bartlett

Millie Franklin

Janice Frutiger

Marlene Houck

(Amy Jerome)

Mea Martineau

(Deb Radford)

Gina Sakal



Members of the Commission:  Elizabeth Brackett, Jerome Brown, Maureen Ghent, Fr. O’Flynn, Nancy Schult, Deede van der Mandele, 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 supervise the Audit Committee.

We are pleased that Deede volunteered to join the Commission this year.  Her expertise and experience are most helpful.  Liz and Ed provide continuity with past Commission work.  I am grateful for all they do to keep me on the right track.

The audit shows that we ended the 2012 year with a surplus of nearly $8,000 in the operating budget.  We are fortunate that so many parishioners give so generously to the support of St. Thomas’ and our programs. 

At the beginning of 2012, our investment funds held by the Diocese were transferred, by Vestry vote, into the new Diocesan fund.  Doing so has proved a good move.  Those funds increased in value by 8.5% and income exceeded budget by $6,500 (72%).

I would like to thank Ed Sitts (chair), Karen Baase, and Adger Williams for serving as the Audit Committee.  Without them we would not be able to feel secure that our finances are in order.  Furthermore, Ed Sitts has created a spreadsheet which will be invaluable to future committees.  He deserves special thanks for doing that.

We also 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



Stewardship Report

Stewardship was originally made up of the tasks of a domestic steward with duties to include bringing food and drink to the castle dining room. Stewardship was expanded to include managing the whole household. Commuter stewardship tends to the service requirements of passengers on ships, trains, and airplanes.

Now stewardship is recognized as the responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others. It also can be applied to health, property, theology and economics.

Christian stewardship is taking the resources God gave us and using those resources for the work of God and his people.  With faith and good will, St. Thomas’ has answered the call and provided funds to carry out the work of our church and our world.

Here is a comparison of the last two years of our pledges.

2012                                                                2013

58 pledge units                                                 57 pledge units

total = $171,083.00                                         total = $171,030.00

Gained 6 pledgers                                             Gained 7 pledgers

25 pledges went up                                           23 pledges went up


Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Heck, Chair

Marcia Sitts

Liz Brackett

John Novak

Nancy Schult

Tom Brackett


2012/2013 Annual Report - Youth Group

The Youth Group at St. Thomas continued to schedule a series of events/activities that include our focus on food, fun and fellowship.  Our group is open to young people who are 12 -18 years old and we encourage all our young people to invite a friend to any of our functions.  Our calendar of events began in September and ended May as has been our typical season for the last few years.  Father O’Flynn continues to be the second adult leader whenever we have an event/activity. The number of youth attending each activity did waiver from 1 – 5 attendees as many of our youth have a variety of outside commitments that make their availability limited. Over the past year, we continued to meet our goal to hold at least 1 event and/or activity each month.  Below is a summary of all the activities/events that occurred over the past year:

September: We kicked off the year with one of the group’s favorites, game night. The youth bring in some of their favorite games to play although Father O’Flynn’s choice of Dudo (liar’s dice) has gained a lot of popularity with the group.  We also use this gathering to discuss what kinds of activities we would like to plan for the group.  One other activity that was incorporated in this gathering was to look for borrowers on the Kiva website and relend any of the dollars that had been repaid to us from prior recipients.  Kiva is nonprofit organization involved in micro lending and the youth have been provided dollars to help support the efforts of Kiva.  The group really enjoys reading about individuals from around the world who can improve their lifestyle with the aid of a few dollars to borrow. Much discussion surrounds who the lucky recipients of our support should be.

October:  Several Youth Group members once again participated in the Annual Crop Walk. This year the weather was optimal for the beautiful 3 mile stroll through Hamilton.  This was a great community service event that helps remind our young people how widespread hunger issues are throughout the world today.

November:  This month we hosted our first movie night of the Youth Group year.  Youth were encouraged to bring along their favorite DVD (not rated over PG-13) and by majority vote, we determined which movie would be featured. In addition, I always come prepared with an arm full of DVDs to add to the selection. We also used this time to discuss plans for an upcoming church event on December 21 and how the Youth Group might be able to bring some entertainment to the rest of the parish as we celebrated “Not the end of the world day” combined with St. Thomas Day. 

December:  As part of the entertainment for our “Not the end of the world day” on December 21, the group had choreographed a dance routine to perform a “flash mob” during the celebration. Some other members of the parish who are not part of the Youth Group joined in to get the formal training of the dance steps while several others from the congregation just joined in the fun as the group began performing.

January:  Movie night was once again selected as the activity for this cold, snowy month. The Sunday School room kept the group warm and cozy as everyone sat back to enjoy the selected movie of the night. Of course there was plenty of popcorn and other treats to keep the movie ambiance up to par.  We also took time to go into our Kiva account and relend out dollars that had been paid back by some of our borrowers.  

February:  As has come to be our standard for this month, the group participated in the Souperbowl of Caring Event that is held on Super Bowl Sunday.  Members of the group armed themselves with soup pots at the end of Sunday service to collect donations that were passed along to the Hamilton Food Cupboard.  This is a national event that the St. Thomas youth continue to participate in with the generous support of the congregation.  It gives our youth the opportunity to stand united with young people throughout the nation in our fight against hunger.

March:  The group participated in the indoor Annual Mini Golf Event sponsored by the Chenango United Way that was held at the American Legion in Norwich.  The group started our excursion with a lunch outing to ensure everyone was fully charged to optimize their golfing success.  Once we arrived at the Legion there were 18 holes of play that had been provided by local businesses within Chenango County. Our youth had a great time enjoying these creative holes and also had a chance to help support a worthy cause.  In addition to playing the 18 holes, all participants got to vote on their favorite hole. 

May:  For our last event of the year, we engaged in the group’s all-time favorite activity, a pizza and game night!  During this evening we also had the chance to spend a lot of time lending out dollars through our Kiva account since in addition to the borrowed money that was paid back to us, the parish had generously provided $500 to our Kiva account so we could make an even bigger impact on helping individuals with their lending requests.  It was amazing to see how much care and conversation went into making choices as to whose needs the group felt moved to address.  Of course the pizza and games were a success as well!

The past year was once again full of fellowship experiences and great fun!  Many thanks go out to the parents who encourage and support their children in our activities.  We continue to welcome any new members to the group and hope you encourage your children who have reached the age of 12 to come and try us out.  As a reminder, if working with youth is a ministry you are interested in, please consider volunteering some of your time.  It does not mean a full time commitment to the group.  If you would like to just help for specific events/activities, we are more than happy to have the assistance. As we look to the year ahead, our focus will continue to be on food, fellowship and fun!!

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Barker


2012/2013 Annual Report – Acolytes

We continue to maintain 3 distinct functions of acolyte responsibilities at St. Thomas’ as follows:

Torchbearer - 2 torchbearers are assigned to the service and are responsible for carrying the torches on either side of the crucifer.

Server - the server lights and extinguishes the altar candles (and any other candles that may be used for special occasions), holds the Gospel Book for the reading of the Gospel, takes the bread and wine from the ushers to hand to the celebrant and assists the celebrant with preparing the altar for the Eucharist.

Crucifer - carries the bronze cross to lead the choir and celebrant during the processional and recessional hymns.

As in years past, we have had new recruits, advanced some young people to another level of acolyte responsibilities and lost some who have moved on from St. Thomas to pursue college or jobs.  Over the past year we have had 4 youth participating as torchbearers and 7 youth who are trained and regular participating as server’s and crucifers. As a result of the small numbers of youth we have trained, we frequently rely on the server to assist at the second torchbearer for our Sunday service.

We once again held training in the Fall for any new acolytes and for our existing acolytes who required training on the additional acolyte duties of crucifer and server. Some of our seasoned acolytes were present and assisted with training the youth moving up in the ranks.  Some one-on-one training was also help with those who were unable to attend the formal training class. 

During our training session we also take the opportunity to reassign vestments with each youth to provide larger sizes as needed.   We continue to ask that the parents of each acolyte be responsible for ensuring that their vestments are routinely laundered, pressed and looking presentable for the child’s role in the service.

We are once again looking forward to our annual training and organizing of acolyte vestments this Fall.  As always, we welcome any new young people that have an interest in this ministry to speak to Deb Barker or Father O’Flynn.

Heart felt thanks once again go out to the parents of our acolytes and the members of the parish who support and value the important contribution our young people make to our services!

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Barker

Rector’s Report to Annual Meeting

I will organize my reflections on the past twelve months around a format I learned years ago. According to this scheme, everything in parish life relates to worship, education, and action, with administration touching each of these three areas.

Beginning then with worship, to me the most notable development in this aspect of parish life was the creation of the new “Connections” area in the front left of the sanctuary. This area was arranged so that families with younger children could sit together during worship without unduly distracting other worshippers seated in the main part of the nave. A major motive for putting the Connections area near the front was so that children would feel involved in the service. Many churches designate a family area at the back or off to the side, with unobtrusiveness in mind. However, this has the disadvantage that children, especially smaller ones, can feel cut off from the action of worship. We found what I expected to find, that when children are exposed to worship on a regular basis and feel part of it, that they take an interest in it. This is the best of all possible results, because when they are mentally engaged, they are learning and worshipping, and not distracting anyone else at all. From what I can tell, the new approach has been popular with families, and we are continuing the arrangement for a second year.

Another worship highlight also involved children, this time from other Hamilton congregations. We invited youngsters from other churches to join us for the Epiphany pageant in early January. This worked perfectly because the same children had collaborated on a Christmas play in December, presented at First Baptist Church. With a full cast, we put on the third and final pageant in our “instant pageant” series. (The other two are for Advent and Christmastide.)

Worthy of note also is the development of a plan for regular occasional use of incense at the offertory at 10 AM. While preparing for the funeral service for Fr. Berry (who had specifically requested incense), I realized that I had never trained anyone in the use of incense. I ended up asking the preacher, Fr. Ferlo, to be our thurifer for the service. The lack of trained parishioners struck my conscience, especially since I myself came up in a part of the Episcopal Church where incense was used every week. So we decided to train youngsters in the use of incense and to employ it four Sundays in the year. The first two were St. Thomas’ Sunday (Easter II) and Trinity Sunday. With advance notice, those who love incense were able to attend, and those who dread it, could make other arrangements. On the whole, the first two occasions were satisfactory, and the next two are planned for Christ the King Sunday (November 24) and Last Epiphany (March 2).

Many other individual services are mentioned in the combined music/worship report elsewhere in the packet. All were lovely and satisfying. Let me just highlight that I was very impressed by the parade of local musical talent that graced our summer worship. There might be a temptation to write off summer worship as sleepy liturgies that don’t need much attention. Far from it: the combined 9 AM services were every one of them inspiring and uplifting.

Before moving on, let me thank all those who make our worship truly a festival of the Spirit week by week: members of the Worship Commission, Dianne and the musicians, all our acolytes, ushers, readers, Eucharistic ministers, flower and altar guilds and far from least important, those who faithfully attend and worship in the pews. All of us are needed to praise God worthily.

Moving on to education, the new Connections area should be mentioned here as well. For the younger children, being in worship is education. For the older youth, in the teen and pre-teen ages, we have continued to offer classes at 9 AM. Beginning this September, we are combining all children from ages 11 or thereabouts to 16 or thereabouts into one class. The curriculum is the Episcopal Curriculum for Youth, and I am sharing the teaching role with Debbie Barker, Amy Jerome, Nancy Schult, and Rick Geier. Many thanks to them, and of course also to the young folk themselves, who make it all worthwhile.

We continued to offer thought provoking adult education, too. Weekly Bible study Thursdays at 9:30 AM is a year round inspiration. As I have often said, to me this weekly gathering is the spiritual heartbeat of the parish. Before reading the Bible and discussing it, we take time to pray for an extensive and confidential list of persons in need, and also to give thanks for life’s blessings. This study is open to all; not vast experience of scripture is needed.

Partially motivated by a desire to emulate the Bible study, a new gathering for the men of St. Thomas’ has come into being. Although its purpose reaches beyond education, I mention it in this section because its programs have been highly educational. We have had sessions on prayer, on the economics of inequality, on the impact of fathers in our own lives, the history of St. Thomas’, and the meaning of “new age” Christianity. I thank Ed Sitts for being the catalyst of these efforts.

Adult education on Sundays has also been varied. We have had some individual sessions on topics such as the church in Haiti and the meaning of the Cross. Last September, we  had a series of discussions on the book, “American Grace.” In Lent, Elizabeth Gillett led a fascinating series on the film, “I Am,” which we viewed together at the Hamilton Theater.  Last, but not least, an experiment intended to see whether adult education is possible in the summer gave good results. A four-part series in June considered Rowan Williams’ new book on the C.S. Lewis “Narnia” series.

A suggestion from the Vestry Retreat in March has led to the reinvigoration of the adult education committee. Karen Baase and Irene Brown agreed to serve on this team and will be leading a series on the book, “Gospel of Freedom,” starting September 29. I thank them for their leadership.

Action embraces all the work of the congregation that makes a difference in the world. Stewardship is part of this, as is outreach. Both commissions have reports in this packet, and I thank them for their good work. I would like to highlight something new that is steadily growing in importance, namely the emergence of a new interfaith group in Hamilton. Called by the ungainly name of HISG (Hamilton Interfaith Service Group) this energetic new arrival has catalyzed a number of important efforts already. I thank Gina Sakal for helping me represent St. Thomas’ in these settings. The Outreach Commission has decided to make St. Thomas’ involvement in interfaith service be an important focus for their work.

In the past year, HISG has sponsored (and St. Thomas’ has participated) in several important activities. Two years in a row we have been part of special food collections in the summer, when school lunch programs are closed. We promoted a discussion of the film, “A Place at the Table,” on the subject of hunger in America. St. Thomas’ members supported a very dynamic Mardi Gras fundraiser at the Hall of Presidents, whose proceeds went to the Interfaith Christmas Project. We supported a picnic for migrant farm workers, and are actively working on the Hamilton CROP walk scheduled for October 6. In all these activities, the experience of working collaboratively with others in our larger faith community has been energizing.

The HISG meetings have been held at St. Thomas’, and I am pleased that our congregation thereby makes a tangible witness to our desire to serve.

Let me also mention the ongoing support of the congregation for the Friendship Inn weekly community meals. This, too, is a critical witness to love of neighbor. Individual members represent us in community activities such as Worn Again, the Food Cupboard, and Victims of Violence. In ways too many to mention, we put our energy and our resources to good use for the Kingdom of God.

Administration covers the parts of parish life that are needed so that worship, education, and action may proceed without hindrance. The maintenance of parish facilities, led by the Buildings and Grounds Commission, is central, as is the oversight of parish finances, led by the Budget and Finance Commission. I thank them both for their work. Two key staff persons work industriously, sexton Kevin Roberson and parish administrator Nan Schmitt. Most parishioners do not see what they do, but I can vouch that their efforts are critical, and much appreciated.

At the center of our administrative life, of course, is our vestry, and let me say what a true pleasure it has been to work with Senior Warden Maureen Ghent. She was very tentative about taking on the role, but I assured her that she has the gift I value most in a warden, namely wisdom. And the event has proved me right. I leaned on her especially heavily when I was being considered for another job recently. Maureen responded with real grace in a difficult position, and I thank her very much for her kind support.

I acknowledge with appreciation the other members of the Vestry whose times of service are now ending: Ed Sitts, Barbara Bartlett, Jane McKnight, and Lynn Staley. This group has been through a number of important discussions, not least the implementation of the 175th anniversary capital campaign and plans for organ renovations. I testify that each one has made significant suggestions and contributions all along the way and thank them as they move on, hopefully to focus on other aspects of parish life.

The continuing members of the vestry have been valuable, too. Let me thank Jerry Brown for his patient and steady leadership as junior warden. When I asked him to stand for election last year, his immediate response was, “Of course, I’ll do anything for the church.” What a lovely thing to say! And it turns out he meant it. I thank Melissa Davies for being willing to succeed him in this election. What we would do without our very experienced Clerk and Treasurer, heaven only knows. One day, I fear, Susan Cerasano and/or Nancy Schult will say they have had enough. Thankfully, that day hasn’t come yet, at least to my knowledge, and I thank them both for all the years they have made indispensable contributions to parish life. I’ve seen what they do; I know its value, and St. Thomas’ is greatly in their debt. The other continuing members certainly deserve a word of thanks as well: Amy Jerome, Nancy Heck, Michael Clough, and Maureen Fox. I look forward to serving with them again in the coming year.

Other roles are not year round, but still well worth being acknowledged. Our audit team of Ed Sitts, Karen Baase, and Adger Williams put in heroic hours of service, to confirm the integrity of financial operations and to make suggestions on improving them. Our delegates to diocesan convention, Barbara Bowen, Janice Frutiger, and Maureen Fox give significant time and attention to our connection with the larger church. They are to be commended as well.

I always wonder, is there anyone I forgot to thank? Probably. If so, chalk it up to human infirmity and not to lack of appreciation. There are so many who pitch in around here that nothing is more likely than that someone will go unmentioned. Whoever you are, take heart; God certainly knows, and your good deeds will not go unrewarded.

Having issued this blanket acknowledgement, let me close with a special mention of appreciation for Elizabeth Gillett and her very matter of fact willingness to offer priestly ministry. As most of you know, she will be serving as an interim priest in Chittenango for the next year or so, beginning in two weeks. Contemplating what we will need to do when she is not available to fill in here made me realize what a true blessing it has been for us to have her at St. Thomas’. When I missed a Sunday for surgery, she was there. When I wanted to go on vacation, she was there. Very few parishes or rectors have this kind of backup readily available, and I know it will be missed. Good luck to her in the coming year.

So: worship and education and action have continued, and will continue, with careful administration holding the pieces together. We all have roles to play, and I thank one and all for supporting me as I do what I can in mine.

Respectfully submitted,

Rev Donnel O’Flynn, rector

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