Staying Connected

Weekday Morning Prayer (Tues. - Fri.)  8:30 AM via Zoom


Worship with us:

Sunday at 9:00 am in person and Live on Facebook

Rector's Corner

Dear St. Mary's family and friends,

Last week I shared with you my excitement over finding the beautiful brass Sacryn Bell. This bell is only one of three different Sanctus Bells belonging to St. Mary's. The one you are most familiar with is the handheld bell consisting of four bells together, to which you have heard at the beginning of service. The other is a group of toned bells attached to the wall of the Sacristy, which I've used quite often before beginning said services.

The Oxford American Dictionary defines a bell “as a hollow object in the shape of a deep upturned cup, made to sound a clear musical note when struck either internally or externally.”

So why do we use bells before and during the service? Is it just to add some musical sound to our worship service? No, the use of a bell has a very clear meaning.

Usually, before the service begins, the Steeple Bell is rung. This is not only a notice that the worship service is about to begin, but the true meaning is that this ringing is a call to the parishioners to come to worship. In fact, in rural England, traditional parish boundaries were marked by how far away a church’s bells could be heard.

During the worship service, smaller bells are rung, which are known as the Sanctus or the Sacryn bell. These bells are used during the prayer of consecration and are meant to draw the attention of the congregation to the

special moments of this part of the service.

One has to ask why bells to draw my attention to what’s going on.

Good question, so let’s look at a bit of history.

An ancient English word for the cross was “Rood.” One feature of many medieval church furnishings was a screen that separated the church's nave from the chancel area. In many churches, the chancel screen was topped with a beam on which rested either a large crucifix or a Christus Rex. As a result of this arrangement, the beam was known as the rood beam, and the screen became known as a rood screen. While the congregation was in the nave, the rood screen prevented them from seeing the worship service and, in many cases, from hearing it. In order for members of the congregation to know what was going on in the service, bells were introduced to draw attention to the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving. Thus the Sanctus bells are rung (usually three times) at the Holy, Holy, Holy. Next time is at the end of prayer “On the night . . . . Remembrance of me”. In some churches, during this prayer, the priest genuflects, elevates the bread, and then again genuflects, the bell is rung at each of these motions for a total of three. Likewise, during the prayer “After supper . . . remembrance of me” the bell is rung. Again in some churches as the priest genuflects and elevates the chalice, the bells are usually rung three times. The final time the Sanctus bells are rung is at the “Great Amen,” which is the end of the consecration prayers and before the Lord’s Prayer.

In many Episcopal churches, rather than the genuflection during the Great Thanksgiving, the priest will make a profound bow at the appropriate time. This is the case here at St. Mary's due to the limited space behind the altar table.

Bells in the Bible

The use of bells is mentioned four times in the Old Testament of the Bible. Exodus 28:33-35 describes the vestments worn by the high priest Aaron as he approached the Arc of the Covenant in the Holiest of Holies:

On its skirts you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, around its skirts, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, round about on the skirts of the robe. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, lest he die.

This description of Aaron’s extremely ornate priestly vestments is repeated in Exodus 39:25-26 and again in Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 45:9 :

And he encircled him with pomegranates, with very many golden bells round about, to send forth a sound as he walked, to make their ringing heard in the temple as a reminder to the sons of his people.

The bells were likely included as part of high-priest Aaron’s vestments for two reasons. First, they created a joyful noise to God, which is something man should undertake as described in Psalm 98:4. Secondly, bells were long thought to possess apotropaic powers, or the power to ward off evil spirits. The bells were seen as tools to be used to avert dangers to Aaron before he entered the Holiest of Holies.

Bells were also used to signify adoration to God during early times, as shown in Zechariah 14:20:

And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the Lord". And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar.

The ancient cymbals mentioned in Psalm 150:5-6 are said to have resembled water pitchers with wide open necks, similar to the bells of today:5

Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Historic Note: In medieval churches, the purpose of the Chancel or Rood Screen was to separate the priests and/or the monks from the laity. Today there are very few churches with Rood Screens since we no longer separate the clergy from the laity. Most Rood Screens that can be seen today have survived the ages and/or have been restored in medieval churches. Although the Rood Screen no longer exists, a feature of the Rood exists in many Episcopal churches today, which is the Christus Rex, a crucifix with Jesus' outstretched arms, in the chancel area.

Church terms:

Nave: The large area of a church, usually where the congregation worships, between the narthex and the chancel.

Chancel: The area around the altar.

Narthex: The space or room between the main doors to the outside and the main doors leading to the nave. 

Blessings in Christ,

Mo. Allison+



Meet Bill Handley

Raised in Huron, Ohio, Bill served in Army Artillery in Germany, after which he returned to the US and attended Ohio State. Soon after, at the suggestion of his good friend who he met in the Army, he moved to Bridgeton, NJ and took a job at the Prudential Insurance office in Millville. While working at Prudential, Bill met a coworker, Roberta, who became his wife of 55 years. They married in September, 1960 and raised their son and three daughters in Tuckahoe where they lived for 30 years. Sea Isle City was the next place they called home and they lived there for four years. The last move they made was 18 years ago to the “over 55” community of Windemere in Cape May Court House where Bill still resides. Sadly, Roberta passed away in  2015.

The Handley’s became members of St. Mary’s in 2005. Bill has been a

regular usher and lay reader ever since, in addition to currently serving as a

member of the Vestry. He often says, “St. Mary’s has been a wonderful place to raise my family with the love of Jesus Christ.” Bill also participates in the Adult Forum Book Study on Sunday mornings.

During his time with Prudential, Bill attained a CLU Degree from the

American College of Financial Services. He’s been honored by Prudential for 55 years of successful service to the company and was also honored by the local Masonic Lodge for 62 years of membership.

Favorite things to do? Bill’s daily routine includes walking his white ball-of-

fluff Maltese-Poo, Sparky, 3 miles and swimming at the local indoor township pool. He also enjoys reading and photography . . with a camera!

Bill wants everyone to know how much he enjoys and is energized by being

with people . . . meeting and getting to know them, and making new friends. He attributes his business success to his ability to generate enthusiasm and motivate people. Fortunately for Bill, he’s met and now shares his time with Arla McQueen who joins us often for services and events at St. Mary’s.

What does Bill have to say about St. Mary’s? “St. Mary’s gives me peace

and tranquility”. Sounds good to me!

Safe Church Training in October

We are invited to participate in Safe Church Safe Communities Training at St. Barnabas By-the-Bay on Saturday, October 22, 2022.

This training is grounded in our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and respect the dignity of every human being. It offers an opportunity to increase and enhance our ability to live out our Baptismal Covenant within our faith communities and in the world beyond.

It is offered to anyone who currently has oversight responsibilities for events, programs, or others engaged in ministry and ministerial roles

Please Register:

If you need a ride, please contact Mo. Allison

Adult Forum Book Study -

This Sunday 10:30 am

Lost Christianities: The Battles of Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew 

by Bart D. Ehrman, Matthew Kugler, et al.

Available in Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle or Audiobook


Good fellowship and delicious food was enjoyed by all at our end of summer parish potluck! We plan to have more covered dish suppers, so stay tuned.

Please come out to donate on 9/22. Sign up in the link below and invite friends and family!


CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment.

Feast of St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals Sunday October 2nd at 9 AM

All in the community are invited to our annual Blessing of the Animals and celebration of the Feast of St. Francis on Sunday, October 2 at 9 AM on the front lawn of the church. Invite a friend and their pet and join us for this annual celebration. Whether they slither, purr, bark, neigh, or make no sound at all, all pets are welcome to be blessed. In the case of rain, please join us in the parish hall.

Join us!

Membership at St. Mary's consists of several different groups of "members." Some are Confirmed Communicant Members or who have transferred their membership by Letter of Transfer to St. Mary's. Some are Baptized into St. Mary’s or have requested that their names be entered in the Parish Register. Others are “members” by virtue of the fact that St. Mary’s is their church—the Christian community of which they are a part and where they worship regularly. Still, others are “summer members" or friends of St. Mary's. Many are part of St. Mary’s life, worship at St. Mary’s when in town, and support St. Mary’s financially. Canonically, they are not members in the legal sense, but they are every bit as much members of our parish family as those who are official members.

Please contact the church office if you would like to become a member of St. Mary's and be added to our data base.

We welcome you to join us!


Give What You Have

Give what you have, be it little or much. If you can’t write a book, you can still keep in touch with someone “out there” who is eager to hear from a friend. So send them a message of cheer!

If you can’t preach a sermon, no doubt you can smile and perhaps make somebody’s life worth the while. Or just a small touch in the hour of despair on someone’s faint arm will show that you care.

Some other ways to support St. Mary's

  • Become a member

  • The Sunday collection plate

  • Send a check payable to St. Mary's to:

St. Mary's Church,

9425 Third Ave., Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

(Your envelope and number is not necessary, only your name.)

  • Setting up a personal online banking "bill pay" option. The bank will mail the check for you to the church office.

Please note: Offering envelopes have been discontinued. Only your name is needed in order for the counters to record your giving.

Upcoming Expenditures at St. Mary's

This fall, St. Mary's must address two important issues requiring large expenditures. First, the air conditioning unit at the rectory is on its last legs, and must be replaced at a cost of approximately $7,000. Second, it is necessary to eradicate the pigeon population that has taken up residence under our solar panels. After exploring all available options, the most effective and humane method is to shoo away the pigeons and simultaneously clean the surface of the roof, immediately followed by placing netting around the gap under the solar panels to prevent their return. This is a labor intensive process that will cost over $11,000, and will save our roofing from any further damage.
St. Mary's has many blessings and we are able to proceed. However, these costs were unforeseen and will put a significant dent in our savings. If you are able, please consider a special financial gift to help St. Mary's offset these costs as we work toward our future together. 
If you have any questions, please contact Lillian Armstrong, Treasurer at 609-425-1582. 

St. Mary's This 'n That Thrift Shop

Gold Winner of the 2022 Best of the Jersey Shore

Come check out the GOLD Winner of the 2022 Best of the Jersey Shore thrift shops - St. Mary's This 'n That Thrift Shop!

When you're doing your fall cleaning, please remember This 'n That. Household items and clean usable clothing are welcome!

And while you're there, look around. You may find a bargain you can't resist!

Store Hours:

Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm

Donation days: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 am - 3 pm

Location: St. Mary's This 'n That

1304 Rt. 47 So., Rio Grande, NJ 08242    609-886-7272

Follow them on facebook at:

Thank you Vanessa Gumm

Vanessa Gumm, a new member of St. Mary's, and realtor at Sotheby's in NJ and FL, will donate 10% of her commission to St. Mary's for anyone who is a member or attends St. Mary's who refers her for a sale.

Could you help

The Branches Student Food Program

Branches is supplying 80 back packs a week for 40 weeks to some local schools. The back packs will contain two nourishing weekend meals.

If you would like to help with this project, we are collecting the items in the picture. The milk should be in individual sized servings.

Children have always been a priority at Branches. This project is our way of helping to make sure that they are properly nourished. The need is great and growing. Thank you in advance for your help!


Donations may be dropped off to The Branches Food Pantry Monday, Wednesday, or Fridays from 9 AM to 12 noon, at 1304 Rt. 47 So., Unit AJ, Rio Grande. Or you many bring things to St. Mary’s and they will be taken to the Food Pantry for you.

The flowers on the altar this Sunday

are given by David DeHart

in memory of Capt. Gerard V. Palma

Happy Birthday to

Dee Pettit on September 23rd,

Joseph Hampel on September 24th, Barbara Cleffi on September 24th and Soren Hagstette on September 24th!

On our calendar

Sundays after worship (except on Vestry Sunday)- Adult Forum Book Study - Lost Christianities

• September 17th-23rd – Mo. Allison and Lisa will be on Vacation

• September 22nd - Blood Drive 10 am - 3 pm

• October 2nd - 9 AM on the front lawn The Feast of St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals

• October 6th-10th – Mo. Allison is away for the Bishop's Discernment Retreat

• October 20th - Branches Grand Opening Celebration

• October 22nd - Safe Church Training

• October 29th – Fall Family Fun Day

• November (Date TBD) Thanksgiving service/breakfast

• November 25th-26th (Women’s Club Festival of Trees Donation)

• December 17th – 7:30 pm at Cold Spring Presbyterian Production of Handel's Messiah with John Curtis, and Mo. Allison as Narrator

• December 21st – Blue Christmas

12 Step Meetings in the Church Hall

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Monday at 8:00 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Tuesday at 8:00 pm

Alanon Friday at 10:00 am

CHECK OUT OUR CALENDAR on our website for all activities taking place throughout the week.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost:

Proper 20

Amos 8:4-7

Psalm 113

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Luke 16:1-13

Worship Services

Tuesday - Thursday 8:30 am Morning Prayer via Zoom

Sunday 9:00 AM in person (church)

Services, studies, and service bulletins may be accessed on our website: