Home Parishioner Profiles
PDF Print E-mail

 

 

 

Profiles in Faith - Chris and Andrea Martin

 

chrisandandreamartin

 

 

Christopher (Chris) and Andrea Martin have been members of St. Mary’s since 2003 and were married here on September 25, 2004. The two first met in December 2002 when Andrea was looking to purchase a new home, with the assistance of her then real estate agent, Chris. Their initial meetings to house-hunt and negotiate for a great investment in the future quickly turned into their having found a perfect match in each other.

Chris was born and raised in Burlington and has a long history with St. Mary’s as he is a part of the Taggart family. Ned Taggart, the former chimer of the Bells of St. Mary’s is Chris’s uncle. Chris is a graduate of Burlington City High School and is a real estate agent at Re/Max Preferred in Marlton. He services all of Burlington County but does most of his work locally due to his familiarity with the area.

Andrea spent the majority of her adolescent and young adult years in Hainesport where her parents currently reside, but as a child she moved around quite a bit due to her father’s occupation. She now considers herself a Jersey girl, even though she has been in and out of the state, and has come to settle down happily in Burlington City.  The couple lives just around the corner, within walking distance of St. Mary’s. Together they enjoy the small downtown feel of High Street and the Riverfront activities that the city offers.

Andrea is a Special Education teacher working with small groups of children ranging from first through eighth grade. She is employed through the Burlington County Special Services School District which is based in Westampton.  However, her position requires her to actually provide services at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Maple Shade, Willingboro’s Pope John Paul II Regional School, and Orchard Friends School in Riverton.  Presently, Andrea is also diligently working toward her Master’s degree in Education and Instructional Technology through an on-line graduate program at Rowan University.

On getting to know each other better, Andrea and Chris easily agreed that their place of worship would be St. Mary’s. Each had experienced different levels of individual commitment to attend church in the past, but as a couple they recognized that their shared faith and worship would be a commitment of the utmost importance to their future together. Their shared faith is very important to them and they believe that they can’t have a good relationship without having faith together – they share in the importance of communal worship, uniting themselves with others to acknowledge the saving grace of Christ, and to celebrate the sacraments.  With Chris’s family connection and the long-standing, inspiring history of Christian work and beauty of St. Mary’s, it was their first choice as their parish home. Both have also credited Father Haynes with making their decision easy, due to his warm and welcoming nature and thoughtful and caring counsel.

As parishioners of St. Mary’s, both Andrea and Chris serve as Lectors reading the Old Testament lesson at 9 a.m. Mass on Sundays.  They were called to this ministry of spiritual proclamation when Gerald Gares approached them asking if they would consider sharing in the ministry of the word to enhance the worship experience of our congregation. Each serves with pride and does not take this responsibility lightly. They admit that although at times words may be difficult to pronounce in select readings, they always attempt to be as prepared and poised as possible so they can effectively communicate God's grace and love to everyone in the church.

Several months ago, Chris and Andrea became the owners of 2, three-year-old, brother and sister, short-haired Dachshunds, named Maggie and Rex.  Andrea learned from a volunteer at the Burlington County Animal Alliance that the dogs’ previous owners were unable to care for them.

 

The Martins picked them up and they admit it’s been an adventure ever since.  They quickly learned that their playful Wiener dogs are prone to separation anxiety and tend to bark quite a lot when the couple leaves them home alone, even for short periods. Chris and Andrea have sought training for the dogs and are seeing improvement all the time.

In their spare time, Andrea and Chris enjoy many activities together. They like golfing, skiing, kayaking in the Delaware River, going wine tasting, and visiting the Jersey shore. Five or six times a year they spend time at their second home, a cabin in North Haverhill, New Hampshire.  Andrea and Chris each have their own hobbies as well.  Andrea loves to do all sorts of crafting, gardening, and trying new recipes. She also maintains a Blog about the different quirky and fun things that happen in everyday life. Chris belongs to a band called ‘Captain Jack’ which plays mostly classic rock songs but also some modern favorites. Chris has played the bass for 25 years and practices weekly with his three band mates. The group typically plays for a live audience monthly at places like P.J. Whelihan’s Pub in Maple Shade. They’ve been playing together for several years and always draw a fun crowd of followers. The invitation to come hear his band is always open.

When asked about their vision for their future and what they would like to experience together, the Martins shared that they would love to have children. They would like to move into a detached single-family home, preferably in the Burlington area, and they would also consider becoming involved with potential Bible-study groups at St. Mary’s in the future. Andrea and Chris feel blessed in many ways by the gifts that God has generously provided to them. They pray that God’s grace will continue to work wonders in their lives.

Having only recently come to know the Martins, I can still say with certainty that St. Mary’s parishioners are blessed to have Chris and Andrea in our church family.

 

Amy Ancharski

 

 

 

 

Profiles in Faith - Judy Burr and Wilson

judywilson

 

 

Can you tell me how Wilson chose you as his owner?

Wilson was very clever with his adoption. At four months of age, he arranged to be found as a stray (he won’t reveal how) near a Little Rock, Ark. shelter. There he wooed a private rescue group and made sure he was placed in a foster family that already owned four dogs. Of course they couldn’t have a fifth, so they advertised him on www.petfinder.org, that fabulous website service linking up millions of shelter animals with new homes. With canine intuition, he posed for the website photo with exactly the same expression as a dog I had recently lost. Hooked! The morning I picked him up from the transport service was our Christmas Bazaar (2009) which he attended even before we drove home, so really he is a parish dog first! It may interest our readers to know that “Schelly” for whom they prayed and tied a prayer quilt last winter, was that foster mother in Arkansas, and she is now in remission from cancer!

How did you both become involved in the Paws for Reading program?

Wilson’s even temperament and adoration for people make him a perfect therapy dog candidate; sharing his talents is great joy to me. Therapy dogs are certified to work with the public in hospitals, schools, retirement homes, homeless shelters, etc. All canine + human teams are evaluated in field tests by trained observers. We came through Therapy Dogs Incorporated (www.tdi.org ), an excellent support network. My own career background is in developing and delivering education programs at the local through national levels; so I always choose to work with children whenever possible. Although reading programs with dogs exist across the country, our library (Mt. Laurel Twp.) had none, so I approached the children’s librarians to ask if we could create one, which we did – Paws For Reading. The goal is to provide children shy of reading with an opportunity to read to a non-judgmental listener in a private setting. We also have evidence that physical contact with a friendly, furry animal lowers stress levels for children anxious about speaking aloud and making mistakes. Each reader in our program is rewarded with a bookmark bearing Wilson’s photo and ‘pawtograph’; Wilson is booked through this month with students, and we are adding a second dog to the program!

What other activities does Wilson enjoy in his free time?

I would swear this animal is a Cub Scout with fur, collecting good deeds. Yesterday, for example, he greeted local firemen testing their hoses, then hopped into the fire chief’s truck where they photographed him for Facebook with the caption “Chief Wilson says ‘don’t forget to check your smoke detector batteries’”. Developmentally disabled adult groups use our park for picnic lunches, and Wilson invites himself among the wheelchairs and walkers, sitting by each person to hear a ‘tory’ about their dog. From time to time we hang out at the IHN (Interfaith Hospitality Network) daycare center where mothers and their children can receive shelter while in the transition process of obtaining housing and jobs. St. Mary’s has greatly supported IHN – donating Code Blue blankets and $1,500 from ECW; and this year readers can watch for Jen Martin’s announcement of a special ‘craftique’ session to benefit the children. Wilson and I hope to start soon at Voorhees Pediatric where wheelchair and ventilator-dependent children are in need of exposure to pets. But like all dogs, just give Wilson a moving squirrel, a rawhide chew and a cushy bed. He’s set!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your association with St. Mary’s?

The family of my father, Norman Burr, has lived in Burlington City since the late 1700’s. Originally Quaker, subsequent generations attended both Baptist and Methodist churches in East Burlington. Eventually a marriage to a Church of England member led to attendance at St. Barnabas, serving that neighborhood. It was St. Mary’s ability to pay boys for choir singing (25 cents weekly!) that led my grandmother to send my father here. My aunt, Gladys Burr Leigh, followed, hired as church organist at the astonishing age of 15. Eventually my grandfather, during the 1920’s, became verger, with the whole family residing in the Guild House. My mother had attended St. Stephen’s in Beverly, so after they married and settled here, I enjoyed my first services as an in utero attendee. It must be an effective orientation method as, despite having visited other parishes, I’m still here!

What roles and ministries at St. Mary’s do you or have you participated in?

It is especially enjoyable to me to participate in seasonal activities, events that mark the liturgical year and create pleasurable anticipation – holding the palm cross weaving sessions; participating in the Maundy Thursday watch; attending the spring and fall Burlington Convocation as one of our representatives; serving at our parish dinners (I prefer the garbage table – great job security!). I was one of those joining St. Mary’s Choral Society in 1998, when it was opened to women, and I feel extremely fortunate to have served as one of its officers since 2006. Another musical joy has been singing in our choirs. As a girl growing up here, that meant singing in the 25+ voice Girls Choir (pity the poor choir director of those years!), as the boys were acolytes and the adults had their own choir.

What is your favorite aspect of St. Mary’s?

A Christian is probably not going to have a particularly easy sail in the seas of this world. Probably he (or she) shouldn’t, if expecting to follow our Lord’s example. But one needs a sturdy boat with those sharing that journey. St. Mary’s is that vessel, steady in the storms of economic hardship, world wars, life’s cycle of birth and death, and – that most insidious of decays – secular disinterest. It is comforting to me to view the graves of my ancestors who have experienced the struggles we experience. It is equally comforting to know our parishioners today agree to be upheld by standards of worship to God and service to others which ask us for our best, just as a loving parent requires the best from a child.

What are you looking forward to in the years to come?

Packed pews. Overflowing classrooms. To continue doing the strong things we do well and to do new things with equal quality is a very good way to nurture this growth. If this seems too big a dream, we need only reflect on the fact that some worship services today fill stadiums.

Wilson, for his part, is looking forward to a celebration of St. Francis’s Day at St. Mary’s, for all our four-footed parishioners He’ll be the one wearing the ‘Greeter’ badge. You can wag on it.


Parishioner Profile  - Jennifer Martin

 

 

jennifermartinsmall

 

Every interaction counts.

Jennifer Martin came to St. Mary’s in 1996, by way of the Methodist Church and, later, a Catholic Church.  She visited St. Mary’s one winter to see one of her students in the Epiphany Pageant.  The warm welcome she received planted a little seed. 

Jennifer and her husband, Daniel, lived in neighboring Pennsylvania towns, but did not meet each other until college.  One weekend, as they were getting to know one another, Dan asked where she’d like to go to church.  Jennifer said, “St. Mary’s, in Burlington”.  Another warm welcome… and St. Mary’s became the site of their wedding… then the baptism of their daughter, Katherine.

Now living in Burlington City, the Martins are active parishioners who contribute to the fabric of parish life.  Dan serves as Chalice Bearer at services, Katherine keeps the Church School on its toes, and Jennifer has found her niche in the newly-created SCI Knitting Group [Seaman’s Church Institute], which she agreed to lead when approached by Ramona McFarland, our SCI liaison.  Jennifer’s participation in the choir – temporarily on hold – is another area close to her heart. 

While Jennifer knitted away in the Guild House library – she knits in the ‘continental’ style, unlike most Americans who use the ‘yarn toss’ style – we talked about her passion for creating things for others and the changes she’s observed at St. Mary’s since joining the parish.

‘Craftism’ is a new buzz-word in philanthropic circles:  people – primarily women – who make things to benefit others.  For Jennifer, it started with an internet blog that she follows, written by a home-schooling mom who wanted to do something to help improve birth-survival rates in Haiti.  She asked her blog followers to sew flannel receiving blankets and infant caps, which would be added to birthing kits sent to this poor island nation. 

Fifty flannel blankets later, Jennifer’s mind was opened to other opportunities within St. Mary’s to help others.  Then came the call from Ramona for hats & scarves for the Seaman’s institute [for more info visit: sciphiladelphia.org].  It wasn’t long before Jennifer organized a dozen or more women for this fellowship-with-a-mission project.  They’re producing scarves & hats that will go into the ditty bags that are part of Ramona’s SCI project.

What does Jennifer like about St. Mary’s?  Her slow, thoughtful reply: “the liturgy is beautiful… the compassion and affection of the parishioners”.

Has St. Mary’s changed since she started coming here?  Decidedly… yes.  “There’s more activism.  People are doing things… making things happen.  Perhaps the economy has contributed to the ‘self-help’ attitude.  Perhaps the concern over doing what we can to preserve the endowment by not drawing it down every year.”

Jennifer is right.  There’s more going on at St. Mary’s than ever before.  Maybe there’s a cycle to activism – and we’re in a BIG one now [see related story: It’s Contagious!].  Whatever it is, people like Jennifer are helping St. Mary’s make a difference in the lives not only of parishioners, but of those who are touched by out-reach programs like SCI Knitting. 

Thank you Jennifer, Dan & Katherine for enriching parish life at St. Mary’s

 


Parishioner Profile - Nicholas Lehman

Profile by Bernadette Boyle

 

nick lehman

 

How many people do you know who can introduce the word ‘schist’ into a conversation?  How many people even know what ‘schist’ means? 

I found this out during coffee hour on a recent Sunday as I interviewed Nick Lehman for this article.

While I’ve seen Nick and his family – parents Annette & Todd, brother Jake and sister Audrey – in church and at parish functions, I’d never met him… nor had he met me.  When I asked that he participate in the first of this new feature in The Chimes, he and his parents agreed.  We sat together drinking decaf coffee in the library of the Guild House. 

Nick’s a 13-year old student at Burlington City Junior School, where he is an excellent student [mostly A’s].  His school day begins at 5:50 am when his alarm goes off – though he may not rise immediately after it is silenced!  Before most of us have had lunch, Nick has been to science, geography, language and band [Nick plays the baritone and aspires to join the award-winning Blue Devil Marching Band, under the direction of St. Mary’s parishioner, Mr. David May].  After a quick lunch, it’s on to math and other classes.  The school day ends at 2:30 pm.

This is a pretty full schedule, but there’s still time for family activities, soccer, Boy Scouts and St. Mary’s. Nick’s proud mother told me he just got accepted to be a member of the National Junior Honor Society, which selects members based not only on grade, but also on their community service and outreach efforts.

Nick’s earliest memory of St. Mary’s is playing in the nursery with the care-giver’s son and his brother.  Now, he’s in Mr. May’s church school class of teenagers and training to be an acolyte.  He was an acolyte-observer during the 9 a.m. youth service on March 20th.  While not aware of many out-reach programs, Ladle of Love came close to home for him recently when his mother referred a neighbor to have a meal at St. Mary’s every Wednesday. 

In the middle of a discussion about the growth of LOL as a parish-supported ministry, Nick enthusiastically interrupted with an idea: “I won Top Chef in 7th grade cooking class!  I could make something for LOL”.  We talked about his culinary interests and several of his recipes – heavy on desserts.  It will not surprise me to see a ‘Top Chef’ contribution to this ministry… maybe a ‘Wacky Cake’! 

What’s interesting about Nick is the way he thinks about things… from how the students who are failing his math class should change their behaviors and involve themselves in activities outside of school, to observations about St. Mary’s church school curriculum.  His mind focuses on a way to make things better, no matter what the topic.

About church school, Nick admits to a fondness for past lessons that featured a “Jeopardy” game format.  He’d like to see discussions about gospel lessons incorporated into current church school lesson plans.  He’d like to see teens more involved with both school and parish life.

Only a year into his teens, Nick has a clear picture of his future: college and graduate school for architectural engineering, a home [alone or with wife and children], and a later Master’s Degree in volcanology [the study of volcanoes, lava, magma & related geophysical/geochemical phenomena].  And this is where schist comes in.  Nick is interested in rocks, among other things.  He and Jake collected rocks at Palmyra Coves one day, including one they thought to be quartz.  A knowledgeable geologist told them it was schist, not quartz. 

It’s always a good day for me when I learn something new.  On this day I learned two things: St. Mary’s is having a positive impact on Nick Lehman and I know what a schist is.  I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to use the word, schist*, but I’m glad I learned about it from Nick.  Say hello to Nick the next time you see him… and ask him what he thinks.

 


*schist: crystalline rock that can be split along parallel lines

 

 

Parishioner Profile  - Kitty Birkett

 

by Amy Ancharski

 

Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Birkett is a lifelong member of St. Mary’s parish.  Kitty lives in Burlington Township, with her mother Mary Birkett, daughter Janice Bovankovich and nephew Jamie Birkett.

 

Kitty grew up on the family farm in Burlington Township. She proudly acknowledges that the Birkett family has been in Burlington for nearly 150 years.  Kitty fondly remembers spending long summer days playing with farm animals and being able to sample the multitude of fruits and vegetables picked fresh by her own hands.

 

Kitty is a graduate of Burlington Township High School as well as the Medical College of Pennsylvania’s Nursing Program.  In addition, she completed the Healthcare Administration Bachelors Program at St. Joseph’s College in Maine.

 

For the past 26 years, Kitty has worked at Wills Eye Hospital, later to become Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience.  Kitty enjoys her position as an Administrative Supervisor and the professional rewards that this career has offered.  Kitty has also worked as an expert witness and consultant to the legal profession in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

 

In her spare time, Kitty likes gardening in her yard and trying her hand at many types of crafting.  She most enjoys, however, get-togethers with her friends and spending time with her three grandchildren - Lauren (7 years), Randall (6 years), and Carolyn (9 months) Ancharski.

 

Since she was a young child, Kitty has been involved in many different aspects of St. Mary’s.  Kitty enthusiastically recalls Carrabelle Faunce as one of her favorite Sunday School teachers.  Kitty has been involved with many Episcopal Church Women (ECW) projects over the years.  Most recently Kitty has devotedly served as a Vestry member and she is currently the Chapter President of St. Mary’s Daughters of the King (DOK).

 

When asked what Kitty’s vision is for the future of this chapter of Daughters of the King, she explains that, “we hope to continue growing in number, attracting ladies of all age groups. As we serve our Lord and pray for all those who ask, we are blessed in manifold ways with gifts of the Holy Spirit.”