Wednesday, July 27, 2016

St. Mark's Appoints New Head of School

St. Mark’s starts school year with new Head of School

Palm Beach Gardens, FL - St. Mark’s Episcopal Church & School appointed Deb Strainge as its new head of school, following the retirement of longtime educator Donna Bradley at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  Strainge comes to St. Mark’s from The Tower School in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where she served as a teacher and administrator for 28 years. Before joining St. Mark’s, she served as assistant head of school and also served Tower as head of lower school and a first grade classroom teacher. She brings expertise in curriculum, experience in administration, a passionate love for children, a deep faith in God, and a breadth of experience in leading an independent school.

“Given the significant physical and reputational growth of St. Mark’s in recent years, the search for a new head of school warranted a national scope,” says the Rev. Jim Cook, rector. “The appeal of St. Mark’s became clear early on in the search, and we were blessed to receive many qualified applicants from around the country. We are grateful that Deb’s skills, temperament, experience, and vision are an ideal fit for St. Mark’s. We couldn’t be more pleased with Deb as new Head of School.”

With Deb’s teaching experience and strong educational background, she is well positioned to lead a population of close to 500 students, ages 2 through 8th grade, and 80 faculty and staff members.  “The depth of commitment to strong academics, principled character, and generosity of spirit is a distinctive quality of St. Mark’s, and I am moved by the way current and former students so lovingly recognize and share their gratitude for the gift of a St. Mark’s education,” says Strainge. “I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this special community.”

Strainge holds a bachelor’s degree from Fitchburg State College and a master’s degree from Salem State College. She and her husband, Bryan, have two grown children.

For more information about St. Mark’s Episcopal Church & School, call 561-622-1504 or visit us on the web

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Cross of Nails: Symbol of Reconciliation

Throughout the years, there have been many different artistic interpretations of the Christian symbol of The Cross.  When the present St. James The Fisherman Episcopal Church (In Islamorada) was built, a local artist was contracted by Fr. Ralph Johnson and asked to create an interpretation of The Cross Of Nails, that would adorn the church’s sanctuary.  Fr. Ralph had taken a trip to England, and was apparently very impressed by this specific Cross that adorns the sanctuary of Coventry Cathedral.  Without getting into much detail, during World War II, Coventry Cathedral was bombed and completely destroyed.  Prior to its reconstruction, a decision was made to make a commitment not to seek revenge, but to strive for forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible for the destruction.   During the BBC radio broadcast from the Cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 the Provost of Coventry Cathedral , Dick Howard, declared “that when the war was over we should work with those who had been enemies to build a kinder, more Christ-like world.”  The words “Father Forgive” were inscribed on the wall of the ruined chancel and two charred beams which had fallen in the shape of a cross were bound and placed on an altar of the rubble.  Three medieval nails were formed into a cross, and The Cross of Nails quickly became a potent sign of friendship and hope in the post war years. 

RECONCILIATION…. Something that is so needed, and so often neglected.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents two poignant understandings of the word reconciliation.  One is that reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations.  Another seems to go a little further and states that reconciliation is the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.  Is any of that possible? I believe so, and apparently many others do also.  This desire for being a beacon of reconciliation has led members of St. James the Fisherman Church to open their hearts and Sacred Space to people of different faiths so that perhaps we can understand one another better and grow in the true love that we are all God’s children. The people of Coventry Cathedral believed this, and out of their vision grew the concept of COMMUNITIES OF THE CROSS OF NAILS.    

If you have interest in learning what is a COMMUNITY OF THE CROSS OF NAILS , we invite you to St. James The Fisherman Episcopal Church on Wednesday, June 15th at 6:00PM.  Rev. Kerby Avedovech (Pastor of Coral Isles United Church of Christ) will be making a presentation on the significance of Coventry Cathedral, The Cross of Nails, and this concept of Covenanted Communities of Reconciliation .  Please consider joining us to learn more about this vision, and to share your visions that can lead to deeper and richer reconciliation  within ourselves, our community and our world.

St. Mark’s Students Raise $3,200 to Send Kenyan Children to School

Palm Beach Gardens, FL – This spring, the Rev. Jim Cook spoke to St. Mark’s students about the plight of Kenyan school children.  “There are so many young people in Kenya who dream of going to high school,” explained Fr. Cook.  “And yet, they are living in circumstances of harsh poverty, very often unable to afford tuition expenses. These young people often live in large families with a parent or grandparent struggling to provide life’s basic necessities.” 

Fr. Cook challenged students to raise money through the end of the school year to help send Kenyan children to school through contributions to the Mama Ada Foundation. 

On Friday, June 3, during the last Eucharist service of the school year, Ellie Blain and Skylar Hines, eighth grade students and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) officers, presented a check to Fr. Cook; more than $3,200 was raised in support of the challenge! Lower school students have been contributing to the ministry since the beginning of the second semester, and a portion of the proceeds from the middle school snack cart is given annually in support of the Mama Ada Foundation.

As Fr. Cook explained, it costs approximately $350 to send a Kenyan child to school for a year. The goal, between the lower school and the middle school, was to raise enough money to send 10 children to school.  Students were invited to bring in contributions on a weekly basis to be collected at lower school Chapel on Wednesdays and at Eucharist on Fridays for both lower and middle school students.

For information about the Mama Ada Foundation, visit their website at:  Visit and Facebook at to learn more about St. Mark’s School.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

DOK Chapters' Presidents Meeting

On Saturday, April 30, a Workshop was held for presidents of Chapters, The Order of the Daughters of the King, Diocese of Southeast Florida, at Saint James-in-the-Hills Episcopal Church, Hollywood, Florida.  All chapter presidents were invited, together with any officer or member of her chapter that a president felt should accompany her, or might come in her stead if she were unable to attend.  The workshop was designed to help all chapters function well using the guidelines set out in the 2015 revised publications of the Order, including the Chapter Manual, the Handbook, Constitution and By-Laws, etc. but, more than that, it was designed to draw us back fully into the vision of the Order - to be reflections of Christ's love in the be the Daughters Christ is calling us to be.  The Spiritual leader for the day was the Reverend Father Bernie Pecaro; lay presenters included Linda Ramsay, Malvern Mathis, and Angela Culmer. 
View Event pictures here

Your sister-in-Christ,
Joy James Williams

Thursday, May 12, 2016

All Saint's Church 2016 Scholarship Awards

By: Louisa Rudeen Beckett

All Saints’ Episcopal Church is delighted to announce that the scholarship funds operating under its auspices presented a total of $228,900 in scholarship awards to 21 students this year in order to help them achieve their college dreams.

The DeFiore-Glover Scholarship Fund presented a total of $8,400 in scholarships to seven South Fork High School seniors. The award winners included: Joseph Cubow IV, Christina Gonzalez-Soto, Alexis Kirkhart, Jaden Mazariegos, Devyn Prywitowski, Baltazar Tomas, and Cecil Trimble.

The Henry Sumner LeDuc Fund awarded $20,500 in one-year college scholarships to nine Jensen Beach High School seniors. Students Justine Bur, Francesca Gendreau, Briana Giles, Aaron Hawkins, Kaitlyn LaVenture, Mikayla Pickard, and Kiana Sawtelle each received $2,000 scholarships from the LeDuc Fund. The Tony Langran Memorial Award in the amount of $4,000 was presented to Hunter Schoch by Iris Langran in honor of her late husband, and the Jim and Wanda Beymer Award in the amount of $2,500 went to Austin Beard.

The Sirote Foundation, founded by the late Stanley Sirote, awarded five $40,000 scholarships under its Scholarships for College Program ($10,000 each for 2016, renewable for three additional years), to 2016 Jensen Beach High School seniors at Scholarship Awards Night. The award-winning Sirote scholars included: Andrew McAuley, Everett Periman, Jamshed Desai, Ashley Chappele, and Andrew Whitten. 

The 2016 scholarship winners were honored at All Saints’ Church on Scholarship Sunday, May 1st, and received a blessing from the Rev. W. Frisby Hendricks, III.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Archdeacon Bazin honored by the MCCJ

On Saturday March 12, 2016 Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin was honored by the MCCJ at the Four Season Hotel, Miami. The Miami branch of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (MCCJ) presented Archdeacon Bazin with the Clergy Medallion Award for his long-term commitment to justice and peace especially in the South Florida community.  He was celebrated for his unique ability to connect with and build bridges among the many diverse communities.

 “It felt good receiving this award, because interfaith and reconciliation is my passion. It is an honor for the Diocese, but more importantly for my country, Haiti,” the Archdeacon said, “To honor one Haitian is to honor all. Haitians do not get acknowledge too often, so when it does it is an occasion to celebrate”

Archdeacon Bazin appreciates the support of his family, as well as various members of the clergy, who were there to celebrate with him. He is also grateful for his job as the Archdeacon for Immigration and Social Justice, because it has been an asset in continuing his work for interfaith relationships and reconciliations among diverse communities.

Congratulations Archdeacon Bazin!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cuban Pilgrimage

 By:  Marcia Sweeting-Somersall

The idea of visiting Cuba has been on my "bucket list" for five decades. Unfortunately, for political and legal reasons it has been an impossibility for me. So when US policy on church groups traveling to Cuba changed, and when I read that Bishop Leopold Frade was making a mission trip - his final one - to Cuba, I had to get on board.

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to join 42 others in a pilgrimage journey to Cuba. We visited three different provinces of Cuba: Havana, Mayabeque and Mantanzas. The architecture was spectacular and beautiful, albeit decayed, and reminiscent of New Orleans.

Cuba reminded me in some degree of the island of Key West, only 90 miles away.  It brought back memories of growing up in Key West in the early sixties.  The free roaming dogs in Cuba reminded me of Key West's dogs of the early 60s roaming free around the street just like our chickens and roosters are doing today.  We have similar tropical fruits in common. However, the sugar cane is grown more plentifully in Cuba.   The cemetery is above ground like in Key West.  The Cockfight and domino playing in the street are still prevalent in Cuba; whereas,  cockfights were prevalent for a time growing up, but it is illegal in Key West, now.   Cars that were made in the 1950s could be seen everywhere that we went.  One evening, coming out of the Melia Cohiba Hotel,  the group was surprised to see 14 convertibles, all from the 50s,  lined up in front of the hotel waiting to take us to the Paladar Jardin de los Milagros restaurant.   The smell of the engine was very strong.  At another privately owned restaurant, Paladar Los Guijones, we met the Ambassador to the USA.   At this same hotel, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Executive Producer of “Finding Your Roots” was met him getting on the elevator.  He was very friendly and pleasant.  On a different outing we met the Ambassador of Nassau, Bahamas.

The most  integral purpose of the mission  to Cuba was to bring gifts and financial help and support to Episcopal churches and their communities.  We were greeted with warm, friendly smiles and hugs, from the lay people and Clergy of the various Episcopal churches that we visited after getting off the bus.  We learned about Emilio Planas, an Afro-Cuban born in 1868 and spent his early childhood in Key West.  He was the first black person to be ordained in the Anglican/Episcopal priesthood in Cuba and he founded the Episcopal Churches  since Afro-Cubans were not welcomed in the Roman Catholic churches in Cuba in the 1800s.  Segregation was prevalent between the Caucasian Cubans and Afro-Cubans.   Father Planas  retired 3 months prior to his death in 1937.  –At the Episcopal Cathedral, we watched some parishioners lined up with bags of vegetables and fruits of their labor in lieu of money for their offering.  The crops that they grow were placed in the basket at the altar.  They did not have much, but they gave what they can  afford. 

The very last night that we were in Cuba, after dinner at Cafe del Oriente  in Old Havana, we had a cultural night at a fabulous club where we saw an excellent show with beautiful costumes and very talented Cuban dances and singers.  It reminded me of the fictional Ricky Ricardo from the tv. show "I Love Lucy" when he performed at the “Tropicana” in Cuba; a venue which is still in existence.

I can truly say that I am blessed and thankful to God to be able to fulfill yet another dream on my bucket list.