Tag Archives: Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Unsung Heroes #90

We take our firefighters for granted.

No matter what they do — first responders to medical calls, helping out in weather emergencies, or actually putting out fires — we are grateful.

But we also say, “that’s their job.”

The number of folks who take the time to thank the Westport Fire Department after an encounter is waaaay too small.

The other night though, Platoon 3 responded to a call at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. They contained what could have been a major blaze to just a small area near the altar.

Westport Fire Department Platoon 3.

After they left — cleaning up, as usual, in their very professional way — Annie Fasnella wrote the following poem. That’s why Platoon 3 — and the entire Westport Fire Department — are this week’s Unsung Heroes.

Earth angels came
in the middle of the night
Heroes without capes
Oh, what a sight.

The Assistant Chief, Shift Commander
and his team from the WFD
put out the fire
at Christ and Holy Trinity.

How amazing, all of you work
with such wisdom and skill
and below freezing Winter’s chill.

You’re simply the best
Kudos, three cheers and hooray
for containing the blaze so quickly
on Ash Wednesday.

With profound esteem
and your brilliant knowhow
Westport salutes you
The curtain is rising on a new morn
It’s your time to take a bow.

Photo Challenge #187

George Washington was born in 1732. Two hundred years later, Westport celebrated the bicentennial of his birth.

Nearly 100 years after that, he’s created a mini-controversy.

A couple of months ago, Jeff Manchester and his son were out riding bikes. They stopped at the little grass triangle at the intersection of Kings Highway North and Old Hill — across from the Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church cemetery — and discovered a plaque. Dedicated in 1932, it marked the 200th anniversary of our first president’s birth.

The image Jeff sent was last week’s photo challenge. Tom Ryan, Bob Grant and Jill Turner-Odice quickly got the answer.

But Elaine Marino and Bob Weingarten disagreed. They said the plaque can be found at Christ & Holy Trinity Church itself, on Myrtle Avenue.

Elaine offered proof: a 1959 Westport Town Crier article:

According to tradition, George Washington, while en route from Philadelphia to Boston to take command of the Continental Army, stopped at the old Disbrow Inn, which then stood on the present site of the church; he stood underneath the elm which grew before the door of the Inn as he drank from the water of the well close by. This tradition (which is well substantiated by subsequent historical research) marked the old elm as Westport’s oldest and most historic landmark. When the parish was established in 1860, the old tavern was demolished to make way for the church, but the tree was carefully preserved.

During the Washington Bi-Centennial Celebration in 1932, the Compo Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed their bronze plaque at the base of the tree.

The plaque Jeff and his son saw on Kings Highway doesn’t indicate who placed it there.

Nor does the one at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Elaine headed there on Tuesday, and sent a photo.

The plaque is more weather-beaten than its cemetery counterpart. It says: “George Washington stopped for refreshments at this tavern, June 28, 1775.” It also has the bicentennial dates: “1732-1932.”

Too bad we can’t ask George Washington about the 2 plaques. He’d never tell a lie.

(Click here to see the plaque photo; scroll down for comments.)

Here’s this week’s photo challenge. It has nothing to do with George Washington. And there is no controversy over where it is.

(Photo/Lauren Schiller)

If you know the answer, click “Comments” below.

Pic Of The Day #342

It was an interesting Palm Sunday at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

After the procession — 3/4 of the way through this morning’s family service — the fire alarm went off.

Everyone quickly filed out of the church, while the great Westport Fire Department raced over to check things out.

Rev. John Betit improvised, and held communion outside!

The culprit was the incense used in the procession. Thankfully, today was not one of our many nor’easters.

Easter — a harbinger of spring — is only a week away.

(Photos/Amy Chatterjee)

Photo Challenge #164

I’m not a playground person.

But Anne Bernier and Peter Boyd are. Which is why they were the only “06880” reader to correctly identify last week’s photo challenge. It was a closeup of part of the playground at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Click here for Thomas Quealy’s shot.)

Located right downtown — directly across from Aux Delices — it looks very inviting. Little kids romp there during the day.

But no one knows whether it’s open to the public, or limited only to the pre-school.

Maybe that’s why no one — besides Anne and Peter — knew the photo challenge answer.

Here’s this week’s image. If you think you know where — or what — it is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

Halloween Church Horror

Looking for something to do this Halloween weekend, before Tuesday’s trick or treating?

Go to church.

Christ & Holy Trinity is getting into the “spirit.” They’re showing the classic Lon Chaney silent film “Phantom of the Opera” — with a twist.

The soundtrack will be improvised live on the church’s pipe organ by Todd Wilson.

He’s the real deal: head of the organ department at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Moviegoers are encouraged to dress for the occasion, and watch in costume.

Tickets are $35 for preferred seating, $25 for general adult admission, $10 for general children under 18, $60 per family. Click here for reservations.

The only thing missing is Zacherle.

Photo Challenge #105

I said last week — on Christmas — that that day’s photo challenge was my holiday gift to my readers.

I wasn’t kidding.

A record 26 of you nailed my slam-dunk shot: the lancet windows at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Only 3 readers guessed incorrectly. One said Assumption Church; another thought the photo showed the old Fairfield Furniture Store (now National Hall), and a 3rd said (I hope as a joke) Chartres Cathedral.

Congratulations to Jack Harder, Tom Ryan, Fred Cantor, Nancy Lopresti, Jane Sherman, Shirlee Gordon, Cathy Jones, Roz Koether, Linda Amos, John F. Wandres, Mary (Cookman) Schmerker, Sarah Neilly, Andrew Colabella, Brandon Malin, Mary Ann Batsell, Sue Ryan, Scott Kuhner, Susan Huppi, Linda Parker, Bobbie Herman, Roger Perry, Kathleen Fassman, Rob Feakins, Jessica Branson,  Ginny Clark and Dorothy Fincher. (NOTE: It would have been pretty bad if Sue Ryan and Jessica Branson missed this one! Click here for the photo.)

Today’s photo challenge is tougher. If you think you know where it is, click “Comments” below.

And no, there is absolutely no “New Year’s” tie-in whatsoever. You’re on your own.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

 

Westport Bids Tina Goodbye

Some wore suits or dresses. Others wore jeans and wool caps.

Some were politicians, social service workers, police officers and Westporters who live in very comfortable homes. Others live at the Gillespie Center.

Ushers from Homes With Hope showed down-on-their-luck folks to their seats. Clergy from 3 different congregations conducted the service. The 1st selectman gave a reading. So did a Westport police officer, who spent much of his own youth in shelters.

Over 150 people — some from as far away as Baltimore and Brattleboro — filled Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church this afternoon, for a funeral service honoring a woman some never met.

tina-wessel-funeral-program

Tina Wessel died last month. A homeless woman with a pronounced limp, she was a longtime fixture in downtown Westport.

In her life on the streets — and in the shed near the Senior Center where her body was found — she touched many hearts.

“She gave a lot of people the finger. She dropped a lot of f-bombs,” one woman said. “But look at all these people. They saw beyond that.”

They did indeed. As one woman related in remarks after the service, Tina had another remarkable side. An hour after receiving a donation of food, Tina knocked on the agency’s door.

“Here’s what I don’t need,” she said, returning some of her goods. “Can you give it to somebody else?”

Photos of Tina Wessel, from the program today.

Photos of Tina Wessel, from the program today.

Rev. Peter Powell — who founded and served as the first CEO of Homes With Hope — delivered a powerful, challenging sermon.

“Tina touched many of us in ways that would probably surprise her,” he said.

He noted that many of the readings at the service mentioned bringing bread to the hungry, and giving homes to the homeless.

“She was a challenge to work with,” Rev. Powell acknowledged. “But Tina had a role in Westport — one that we all need to think about.”

Rev. Peter Powell before the funeral, flanked by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Rev. Jeffrey Ryder of Green's Farms Congregational Church.

Rev. Peter Powell (center) before the funeral, flanked by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Rev. Jeffrey Ryder of Green’s Farms Congregational Church.

He recalled similar Westporters whose funerals he officiated at  — though one had only 3 mourners. He told their stories, and mentioned them all by name. They may have been homeless, but they were not faceless or nameless.

“Tina died cold, sick, alone and homeless,” Rev. Powell said. She — and others like her — should be remembered not because they needed us, but because “we need them.”

The town of Westport, police and Homes With Hope tried to help, Rev. Powell continued. Westport — “an amazingly generous town” — does far more for its homeless citizens than virtually any other affluent suburb in the country.

Tina did not accept some of that help. “Her reasons make no sense to you. But they did to her,” Rev. Powell explained.

“It’s not enough to love prodigiously, if people are cold or alone. We admired her pluck, her nature, her independence. But we could not find a way to house her as she wished.”

Calling Tina “an apostle,” Rev. Powell said that she has enabled us to “discover ourselves.”

When the service ended, Tina’s ashes were honored outside, in the church courtyard. It’s in the midst of downtown, where she spent so much of the last years of her life.

Mourners stood outside, as Tina's ashes were honored in the heart of downtown.

Mourners stood outside, as Tina’s ashes were honored in the heart of downtown.

Then everyone — social service workers, police officers, Westporters in very comfortable homes, residents of the Gillespie Center, and anyone else who knew Tina (or wished they had) — gathered downstairs. They shared food and coffee together.

And they remembered Tina.

(Donations in Tina’s name may be made to Westport Animal Shelter Advocates or Homes With Hope.)

Photos of Tina and her brother Ludy -- when both were young -- were displayed on a board in the church's Branson Hall.

Photos of Tina and her brother Ludy — when both were young — were displayed on a board in the church’s Branson Hall.

Funeral Arrangements Set For Tina Wessel

A funeral service for Tina Wessel is set for 1 p.m. 2 p.m. on Friday, December 9 at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. She’s the well-known local homeless woman whose recent death unleashed powerful emotions among those who helped her, tried to reach out, or were hesitant to interact with her.

Church staff are donating their time and talents. Tina spent time there during her life, and was welcome to use its facilities.

The public is invited to attend Tina’s service.

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Remembering Elliott Netherton

Elliott Netherton was a tireless Westport Historical Society volunteer.

But the Connecticut plates on his sleek, dark green classic Jaguar always read “KY COL.”

The University of Kentucky graduate and former Kentucky National Guard officer spent 34 years with GE as a financial management executive.

Yet it was his life after retirement that made his death last Thursday at 83 so impactful on Westport.

Elliott Netherton

Elliott Netherton

As CFO of the Historical Society — during the Great Recession — Elliott moved assets into no-load index funds.

Other non-profits staggered, as sponsorships and donations plummeted. But the WHS — which was still paying off a mortgage — thrived.

“Elliott was dealing with very serious heart issues at the time,” then-president Dorothy Curran recalls. “He put his health — perhaps even his life — on the line for us.

“He was not always easy to work with. He knew his parliamentary procedure cold, had no use for wandering conversation, and insisted that board meetings end promptly at 5:30 p.m.”

His chair says it all.

His chair says it all.

But, Curran says, “he was a quiet, principled, tireless force of nature. There never was any question that his moral compass, financial integrity and heart for service, above and beyond, were in the right place.”

The WHS was hardly Elliott’s only volunteer activity.

He was a longtime Boy Scout leader (during and after GE, at the local, district and national levels). He was an avid Y’s Men participant (recruiting excellent retired executives from that group for the WHS financial advisory committee).

He served Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church with his financial acumen. He also was an officer of Westport’s Republican  Town Committee (and spent many Election Days as a poll monitor).

Elliott and Joyce Netherton.

Elliott and Joyce Netherton.

In support of his wife Joyce — a distinguished executive and volunteer in her own right — he worked the “boiler room” of the Westport Woman’s Club during Yankee Doodle Fair crunch time, counting cash late into the night.

Longtime friend and fellow volunteer Pete Wolgast also salutes Elliott’s integrity.

“He could always be counted on to do the right thing,” the fellow church finance committee member says.

“He was highly intelligent. And he used native ability, along with his experience from many years as an internal auditor at GE, to be an extremely valuable member of many non-profits.”

Elliott Netherton, in his military days.

Elliott Netherton, in his military days.

Pete says Elliott “straightened out the church’s accounting and finances, and brought them up to general accounting standards.” When Pete became WHS president in 1995, he did the same for that organization.

Then he did it all over again, for the Y’s Men.

On Sunday, Pete stopped by Elliott’s house.

Seeing Elliott’s Jag with the “KY COL” plates in the driveway, Pete says, “I realized our community had lost an outstanding citizen.”

(A memorial service for Elliott Netherton is set for Tuesday, June 7, 1 p.m. at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Hat tip: Rick Towers and Bob Mitchell)

Thanksgiving Feast Returns Home

Four years ago, a devastating fire forced Westport’s Thanksgiving Day  Community Feast out of its longtime Saugatuck Congregational Church home.

Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church opened its doors and heart on extremely short notice. It happily hosted the next 3 dinners too.

This year, the feast finally returns home.

It truly is a community event. Saugatuck Congregational partners with Temple Israel, the United Methodist church and Unitarian Church to produce the dinner.

Over 100 volunteers are needed. They shop, set up, prep in the kitchen, cook, drive, clean up, and handle dozens of other tasks. They’re the lifeblood of the much-loved Turkey Day feast. Click here to see what jobs are available, and sign up.

Donations are welcome too, to defray expenses. Checks payable to “Saugatuck Congregational Church” can be sent to 245 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Put “Thanksgiving Feast” on the subject line.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Westport. The Community Feast stands at the top of any list.

(The Saugatuck Congregational Church Community Feast takes place Thanksgiving Day — Thursday, September 26 — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For details, click here.)

A small part of last year's Thanksgiving Feast.

A small part of last year’s Thanksgiving Feast.