The Bell
September 2020
Letter from the Rector

Dear Friends,

This month I wanted to share with you a sermon I preached on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, August 30, 2020

 Holy God, we stand on Holy ground, teach us to honor the gift of your Holy life as you yearn to make us whole.

 "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, 
and those who lose their life for my sake will find."  Matthew 16

57 years ago, on August 28, 1963, in his I have a dream speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., challenged the crowd, "We refuse to believe that the bank of injustice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Who would have thought, yes who would have thought, that 57 years later, as this nation prepares for yet another presidential election, that his words may have a chance of ringing true, even though we still have such a long way to go.

These scripture readings for today, dances on the edge of such hope, yet at the same time challenges the very depth of our souls.

Getting his attention, Yahweh reminds Moses that he stands on Holy ground.
God choose fire; a burning bush to get the attention of Moses, reminding him that he is on holy ground, then Yahweh gives him what seemed an impossible assignment.

This passage from the Book of Exodus, brings back so very many memories, as it is a passage that spoke to many of us during the days of struggle, oppression and injustice in South Africa.

Amidst all of this the hope before us was clear. We knew we were standing on Holy ground, whether in our churches., or on the hallowed ground of the spilled blood of our children, whether on the streets marching for justice, or in police cells visiting or seeking out children or fathers who were arrested. We knew we were on Holy ground.

The Gospel imperative, however tough, is clear. We are challenged to lose our lives in Christ. So, rooted in our call as the letter to the Romans implores us, for love to be genuine, holding fast to that which is good, rejoicing in hope, patient in suffering and persevering in prayer.

The call to lose our lives in this way is a call to action, the living of the Gospel of feeding our enemies when hungry; this kind of losing self in order to be used by God for wholeness, healing, liberation and reconciliation.

Dr. King's dreams and our dreams may one day be fulfilled, whether as he says it is a dream, "that our children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their Character," or a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

God will go to extraordinary lengths to get our attention, yet at the same time God will always gift us with the hope, that no matter what, we stand on Holy ground! We stand on Holy ground, and God will make us whole!

Know of my prayers during these days!

Fr. Alan

 Sermons are available on our website under the worship tab.
Click HERE.
Retirement News
Father Alan to Retire in 2021

On Wednesday September 2, 2020, Father Alan shared the following news with the Parish.
My Dear Friends:
"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens."
Ecclesiastes 3:1
During my tenure as your rector, I have quoted from my dear friend and mentor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, more times than I can remember. In his book an African Prayer Book, under a section entitled "Thanksgiving," he concludes with this one sentence, "Unless we are thankful, we will suffer the leprosy of ingratitude."
I am thankful for each one of you, for allowing me the grace to serve as your rector.
The sacred space, both inside and out, and indeed all the people of God at Saint Mary's, continue to touch my life as I serve here.
After 42 years of ministry abroad and here in the United States, the time has come for Jenny and me to move into the next phase of our journey.
After serious thought, intentional prayer and conversations with our children, we are of one mind that the time is right for me to retire from fulltime ministry.
To this end, God willing, I plan to retire on September 15, 2021.
This is bittersweet, yet I sincerely believe it is time. Time to have quality time with our children, grandchildren, and families scattered around the world. Time to write and explore. Time to rethink and reimagine.
I am filled with gratitude for my time at Saint Mary's, and Jenny and I shall cherish with much fondness and love, the gift of our time with you, and will continue to do so in the months ahead.
I have no doubt that next steps will be communicated by the Parish leadership, whose support I have valued, and for whom I have high regard.
Please know of my prayers as Jenny and I ask for yours.
With many blessings and prayers,
The Reverend Canon Alan G. Dennis 

OUTDOOR SUNDAY WORSHIP: weather permitting 
  • Holy Eucharist Rite II at 9:30 am
Safety Guidelines

We invite you to take note of the following safety guidelines:
  • Wearing masks at all times
  • Sanitizing hands before services, during, before receiving communion and when leaving; please bring your hand sanitizer along with you
  • Always keep safe distancing
  • No coffee hour, for the time being
  • The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated; the people receiving in one kind only (the host)
  • Details of receiving communion will be explained at the time of celebration
  • Live podcasts of the services will also be broadcast during July and August. And beyond, as may be prudent
The church building will be regularly disinfected.
Wardens Corner
News from the Church Warden, John Priscantelli

We are faced with so many challenges today in our parish and sometimes they can feel daunting. It is hard to understand the changes we face but we will get through them together. We have always been able to rally and support one another because as Father Alan tells us; the church building isn't the church we are the church. We are fortunate to have so many good people.

I do want to say we have been fortunate to have Father Alan as our priest for the last four years and upcoming year. We need to support him and his family as much as possible during these uncertain times.

We also need to support each other.

I would hope that next year at this time the worst is behind us all and we can focus on normalcy once again. A simple walk to the store or a dinner out with friends and family without a mask would be something to look forward to.

I do hope this finds you in a good place, a good place with family, friends and at peace with our church. We look forward to seeing everyone at the church in the near future. Every Sunday has become so hard for many of us but it would be great to see you all at some point at the church.
Tom Doss

Tom Doss passed away on August 16th, 2020. Tom will be featured in our Parish Profile in October. A memorial service will be planned at a future date when friends can gather.

Tom's obituary can be read here.

A note from Father Alan:
In Loving Remembrance
From the time I introduced morning prayer on Mondays at 9.30 am, Tom and Barbara Doss, were in attendance, come rain or sun shine. 
I recall as vividly as ever; it was a snowy winter December's morning. I prepared as I usually did, thinking that the weather would not have anyone come out. At 9.30 on the dot, I heard the front door creak open. It was Tom! Barbara had an errand to run, however Tom told me he could not miss it because of a little snow.
In the sanctity of the chapel we solemnly prayed the office of morning prayer. This experience will always rest in my soul! 
It was my humbling honor to anoint Tom at the time of his passing. It was a beautiful moment anointing him with Holy oil and offering his soul to our Holy Lord and God. May his soul rest in peace and rise in glory with the angels and the saints.
Fr. Alan
Meet the Parish
The Ritchie Family

When the Ritchie family; Doug, Jenny, Lee and Ellis, moved to Chappaqua in September of 2009, they were hoping to find a spiritual home much like the one they left behind in Maine ... inclusive, progressive and preferably Episcopal. It did not take them long to discover that St. Mary's checked all the boxes.
After growing up in the same small town in North Carolina, Jenny and Doug both landed in Manhattan in the 1980s to launch their careers, and discovered their friendship had paved the way to marriage. Soon after they married, Maine lured them away for 16 years, where they started a family and joined a wonderful spiritual community at St. Bart's Episcopal Church in Yarmouth.
In 2009 Doug's job shifted back to NYC and they moved to Chappaqua. Lee was entering 8th grade and Ellis 3rd. Lee is now 24 and seeking to turn his passion for music into more than a pastime. Ellis is 19 and starting his sophomore year at WashU studying Mechanical Engineering while swimming on the WashU Bears swim team.
St. Mary's has been the Ritchie's spiritual home for the past 11 years, providing so many ways to engage with the SMTV and broader communities through worship, and fellowship activities such as the Strawberry Festival, Rite 13, Souper Bowls, Midnight Runs, Auction Dinners and the list goes on. If asked to choose one highlight, Doug would definitely say it was serving on the Search Committee that led to calling Father Alan to be our current rector.
Unfortunately, the Ritchies' time at St. Mary's is coming to a close. Doug's job is ending and after four decades in the northeast, he and Jenny have decided to return to their roots in North Carolina in early September. They will miss their St. Mary's family dearly but will "welcome y'all" to visit them any time you are down south!

A goodbye was held for The Ritchie Family at the outdoor service on August 30th.

Father Alan prayed and the congregation was invited to raise their hands to bless their next chapter.


Calendar Notes/Special Events:
Deacon's Corner
News from Deacon Shiane
Some Favorite Things

I miss you all, and I know in my heart that this too will pass, and we all will have learned things we could not have possibly learned had we not gone through this storm together. I miss you and I love you all.

In the mean time, I have some favorite things that make me smile. I am hoping Parishioners will also share some of their favorite inspirations from quotes, poems, shows/movies or jokes. Please send me your contributions to

I continue with a few more of mine.

Inspirational Sayings
Angela Bassett
"Don't settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that's in us."

Oprah Winfrey
"What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have."

Maya Angelou
"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

Janelle Monae
"Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I didn't have to become perfect because I've learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness."

Laverne Cox
"When you put love out in the world it travels, and it can touch people and reach people in ways that we never even expected."
A prayer for the soul of Chadwick Boseman
Depart O Christian soul out of this world;
In the name of God, the Father Almighty
Who has created you; in the name of Jesus Christ
who has redeemed you; in the name of the 
Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace, and your 
dwelling place in the paradise of God.
Truth can only be experienced
It cannot be described
And it cannot be explained.
Truth is beyond your ability to destroy, 
but entirely within your ability to accept.
Do not try to look beyond yourself for truth, 
for truth can only be within you.
Truth lies only in the present, 
and you will find it if you seek it there.
Truth is restored to you through your desire,
As it was lost to you through your desire
For something else.
How can a fact be fearful
Unless it disagrees
With what you hold more dear than truth?
The search for truth is but the honest searching out
Of everything that interferes with truth.
Truth is.
It can neither be lost nor sought nor found.
It is there, wherever you are, being within you.
Yet it can be recognized or underrecognized.
You cannot be safe from truth,
But only in truth.
Reality is the only safety
Merely by being what it is,
Doe truth release you
From everything that it is not.
Reality cannot "threaten" anything except illusions,
Since realty can only uphold truth.
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
When a situation has been dedicated
Wholly to truth,
Peace is inevitable.
I am in need of nothing but the truth.
By:  A course In Miracles
Vestry Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes are available on bulletin board outside of Parish Hall office or by contacting Rich at
Church School News
Grades PreK-7th

FROM COLEEN MACGREEVEY, Director, Church School

We have been busy at St. Mary's getting ready for the beginning of our Church School program. Bins and supplies are being cleaned, sanitized and organized.
Lessons are being prepared and now all we need is YOU!

Our Church School year began on
Sunday, September 13th at 9:30am

Our first week back at Church School was a big success!
It was so much fun to see each other in person (with masks and social distancing)
for the first time since March.
For as long as the weather cooperates, we'll be outside for class.

will be on 
Sunday, September 27 

As was announced in the weekly e-blast, there will be one service at the outside altar (weather dependent) at 9:30am, so Church School will coincide with that service.  We will be under a tent in front of the Parish Hall (weather dependent).  Looking forward to seeing our families again!

Details regarding the upcoming confirmation program will be communicated by Deacon Shiane soon.

St. Mary's embraces Outreach. It is an integral component in the mission of our church family.  We provide financial support, services and donated goods to those in need close to home and on the other side of the world. 
In fulfilling our outreach mission, we enhance the sense of community within our church family - and we enrich ourselves.  We make connections not just with each other, but also with those we help.

During these uncertain times, St. Marys continues to remain available to deliver food to those in need.

Coupled with the Vestry Outreach ministry, headed by Bob Nesbit, our young Parishioner, Alex Fitzgerald recently sent out this plea via Facebook.

Hello, my name is Alex Fitzgerald and I am a junior at Horace Greeley. This pandemic has caused great shifts in my daily life and of those in our community. For many of our neighbors food insecurity is currently on the rise as jobs become more unstable and certain items grow more difficult to attain. From a young age, I have volunteered at the Interfaith Emergency Food Pantry of Pleasantville and recently received news that, although they are fairing better than some other pantries, they are in dire need of various food products. I ask you all to please consider opening your pantry doors or Target grocery list to donate to the pantry.

In order to lend a hand, I am collecting food for the distribution next week. The following items have been the most challenging to receive from Feeding Westchester so if you are willing, it would be greatly appreciated if while you are ordering or in the store buying food, you throw in some additional groceries for the pantry. I will be collecting donations at my house and will deliver them before next week's distribution. Please private message my mom if you would like my address to drop any food. Thank you for your time and note that any donations, large or small, are very much appreciated by our neighbors in need.

From Helena Terilli, one of the directors of the Interfaith Emergency Food Pantry, outlining the current need for a food drive:

With the exception of fresh produce, our pantry has not been able to order food from Feeding Westchester in the last 4-6 weeks. They require us to order a mixed pallet (fresh veggies, frozen food, dry goods) which doesn't work for our pantry for several reasons: 1. transportation of pallet 2. receiving fresh veggies a week before our distribution 3. receiving many items that we know are not popular.

To Feeding Westchester's credit, larger pantries can take advantage of these pallets and this may work out really well for them. Also, FW has mobile pantry trucks visiting all neighborhoods in Westchester.

While your donation to FW serves the greater need, your contribution of food to Alex serves our local pantry.

Needed Food Items:
Shelf-stable milk (not chocolate)
White rice (1 or 2 lb. bags)
Peanut butter
Canned fruit
Canned vegetables (especially corn)
Dried beans (in bags) black, lentils, red beans

Please email my mom if you would like to drop any food at my house. 

*SMTV Organization of the Month is designed to raise awareness
of the Outreach Organizations that SMTV supports.

Calling All Cooks
Please join
The Good St. Maryans

The Christian way teaches us to care for one another, but when someone needs help, we are often at a loss how to best assist.  Whether it is celebrating a new addition to the family, honoring those whose lives have passed or extending a hand while healing, the Good St. Maryan's is here to support the parish community through life's steps and missteps.

Over the years, the Good St. Maryan's, led by Beverley Streeter and Dina Painter, has quietly, discreetly and lovingly extend a hand with meals and rides.  I have been the grateful recipient of meals after the birth of my daughter, Catherine, and after the death of my mother, and like others, I will never forget how helpful the meals were or the kindness that was expressed the extra care the Good St. Maryans took to make allergy-safe meals.

If you have the time and talent to make an occasional dinner to share, then please sign up for this committee.  When there is a need, you will be asked to participate on a specific Meal Train, an organized meal giving around a significant life event for a member of the parish.  You will get a link to the specific Meal Train either from within or via your personal email which has a unique web address which acts like a key for entry to your Meal Train.  For example: Only those who have this unique address are able to participate. Your Meal Train information is not public. To participate, you will click on the 'Volunteer For This' button next to a preferred date/activity and follow the instructions.  There will usually be some specific information about time for delivery, food allergies and meal preferences to help you plan your meal.  In addition, you can see what other volunteers are making so that you can ensure some variety for the recipient.

Our dinners will help ensure that the parishioner (and family) will have healthy, homecooked nourishment and give them strength. Please do not expect or plan to stay and visit or eat with them.

If you would like to sign up to volunteer for the Good St. Maryan's, please contact Dana Fenlon at or 914-238-1151.

If you have a need or know of a family who is struggling in any way and needs pastoral care, please contact Fr. Alan.
Community Bulletin Board

Special Announcements about our Parish
Please send submissions to by 26th of each month

Join us for our fall fundraiser: A Virtual Evening with Bill Whitaker from 60 Minutes!
This will be a live streamed, virtual event. The event is free to attend, but registration is required. To register, click HERE
For more information, contact Eva Kelly, Director of Development and Communications at or 914-666-3410 ext. 114.

If there are any other SMTV parishioners with news to share, please let us know at
The Church of SMTV Info

Click Link to see September  Calendar.

Click Link to listen to past Sermons.

An UPDATED DIRECTORY (August 2018) has been posted to our church website.  (Located in drop-down under Parish Life.)

Click Link to see Updated List of  Staff & Vestry  Members.

Office: 914-238-8751
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
191 S. Greeley Avenue
Chappaqua, NY

Office Contact:
Tel: 914 238-8751


Chappaqua, New York


We are called to be a holy people who witness God's love to the world and serve others.

Our Mission is to provide an environment for worship, learning, and service by encouraging

participation through the effective use of the commissions:
Worship and Music, Christian Education, Outreach, Communications, Parish Life, Finances, and Stewardship.

Submissions for The Bell due by 26th of month to:

Mary Ann Bayer