B-SAFE 2019

What is B-SAFE?

B-SAFE is a ministry of the Diocese of Massachusetts that impacts a huge number of under-privileged youth. This year, Grace and other parish partners served over 500 young people, 160 teen staff, and 90+ adult staff. During our week as a B-SAFE parish partner (July 22-26, 2019), more than 25 volunteers of all ages from the Grace community came out to help. Thank you for all your hard work, and we look forward to being a partner congregation again next year!

A selfie of some of our amazing 2019 volunteers!

A letter from the coordinator of B-SAFE

Dear B-SAFE 2019 Partners,
Whoot, we did it!!

B-SAFE 2019–our 20th (!) Anniversary summer of B-SAFE–was a HUGE success for our whole community: young people, staff, families and you, our partners! Your time, energy, talents, and energy helped to make all of the magic happen!
B-SAFE is about community and relationships.
Our collective effort and the attention and care you shared during B-SAFE were a big part of building this community of love, reconciliation, and hope.

B-SAFE is about working together.

  • You menu-planned, shopped, cooked, plated, fed, read, chatted, gardened, and played music and games.
  • You planned for rain, prayed for sun, roller skated, led worship, picked blueberries, made art, hula-hooped, relay-raced and scheduled field trips to range of places.
  • You helped us build community together. In these times when stories of separation and divisiveness are lead news reports, you created Good News stories of connection through B-SAFE.

B-SAFE has a real impact.

  • We served about 37,000 meals, with 17,500 being lunches provided by partners. That is not a typo!
  • About 300 volunteers from partner organizations–including nearly 50 partner churches and two interfaith networks–fed 500+ young people, 160 teen staff and 90+ adult staff.
  • We organized about 55 full-day field trips (most thanks to partners), plus over 100 half day trips.

B-SAFE collects those stories!
Want to see some amazing photos and read some great anecdotes?
Please follow us on Instagram or Facebook and read our blog to see lots of awesome stories and photos of our time together.

The B-SAFE spirit keeps going!
St. Stephen’s Youth Program’s academic and enrichment programs run year-round. During the school year, SSYP runs after-school programs every school day, as well as college and career programs for teens, and has a vibrant partnership at the Blackstone School right across the street from St. Stephen’s (where our partnership of partners runs the school library). Might you consider volunteering with us during the school year, too?
Volunteering can fit your schedule and interests.

  • you can volunteer on your own or with a group;
  • you can volunteer once a year or twice a week, and lots in between;
  • you can volunteer during the school day, after school or in the evening;
  • you can volunteer with young people and young adults of nearly any age, from ages 5-25.

Four Shillings Short – “Around the World in 30 Instruments” 10/12 at 4 pm


4:00 – 6:00pm

“Around the World in 30 Instruments” concert with Four Shillings Short

Suggested donation: $15-10 general/$7 seniors & low income/kids free

Refreshments & baked goods available during the intermission


The Celtic/Folk/World music duo Four Shillings Short will be performing a free concert for the whole family. “Around the World in 30 Instruments” is a multi-cultural educational concert featuring Traditional and Original music from the Celtic lands, Medieval & Renaissance Europe, India and the Americas on a fantastic array of instruments (over 30) including Hammered & Mountain Dulcimer, Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki, Recorders, Tinwhistles, Medieval and Renaissance Woodwinds, North Indian Sitar, Charango, Bowed Psaltery, Banjo, Native American Flutes, Bodhran, Guitar, Ukulele, Doumbek & Darbuka, Spoons, vocals and even a Krumhorn.


Four Shillings Short, the husband/wife duo of Aodh Og O’Tuama from Cork, Ireland and Christy Martin from California.  Touring in the US & Ireland since 1997, Four Shillings Short are independent folk-artists who perform over 100 concerts a year, have released 12 recordings and live as full time Troubadours traveling the globe performing at music festivals, theatres & performing arts centers, folk societies, libraries, house concerts and schools.

Aodh Og O’Tuama grew up in a family of poets, musicians and writers.  He received his degree in Music from University College Cork, Ireland and received a Fellowship from Stanford University in California in Medieval and Renaissance performance.  He plays Tinwhistles, Medieval & Renaissance woodwinds, Recorders, Doumbek (from Morocco), bowed Psaltery, Native American Flute, Wooden Spoons and sings both in English, Gaelic & French.

Christy Martin grew up in a family of musicians and dancers.  From the age of 15, she studied North Indian Sitar for 10 years, studying with Tony Karasek (a student of master Sitarist Ravi Shankar) and Rahul Sariputra (a student of Allaudin Khan).  She began playing the Hammered Dulcimer in her 20’s and has studied with Maggie Sansone, Dan Duggan, Cliff Moses, Robin Petrie, Tony Elman and Glen Morgan.  In addition she plays Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki, Banjo, Guitar, Bodhran (Irish frame drum), Andean Charango, Medieval Psaltery, Ukulele and sings in English, Irish and Sanskrit.

We’re hiring! Could you be our next Music Director?

Job Description: Music Director

Grace Church seeks a Music Director to continue our long tradition of inspiring music
for worship. We are a vibrant parish of about 120 households in the section of Newton
bordering Watertown and Brighton. We love to sing and we love great organ and piano
music. We are blessed with a beautiful sanctuary and an impressive G. G. Hook &
Hastings organ. Our choir of 10 to 14 singers is led by four professional section
leaders. We value participation in sacred music for the families involved in our Sunday
School of 50 children. We also have a small carillon in our bell tower, and a committed
group of volunteers who play hymn tunes on the bells before and after worship.
The Music Director will work closely with the Rector, the Worship Committee, and the
parish choir to create an engaging and spiritually uplifting music program at Grace.

Responsibilities include:

  • Directing Choir rehearsals on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings during the academic calendar year
  • Planning and leading music at the 10:30 Service of Holy Eucharist (9:30 in the summer) and other services throughout the year
  • Planning and leading special services and events such as Lessons and Carols, occasional evensongs, requiems for All Saints Sunday, and Christmas Pageant
  • Providing music for weddings and funerals (extra compensation)
  • Participating in weekly meetings with the Rector and parish staff
  • Working with our Minister for Christian Formation to include music in our Christian Formation program for children and youth
  • Supervising Choir section leaders and managing music budget

Desired qualities include:

  • Excellent musicianship on organ and piano
  • Excellent choral conducting skills
  • Ability to work with all levels of musicians: professionals, amateurs, and children
  • Familiarity with the Episcopal tradition
  • Understanding of the important contribution of music to liturgy and celebration of liturgical seasons
  • Familiarity with and willingness to include a broad range of music for congregational singing
  • Collaborative and collegial approach to music ministry
  • Personable, friendly, and interested in community life

This is a 15-hour/week position beginning September (with possibility of a summer
start); compensation will be negotiated according to experience. Please send cover
letter, résumé, and contact info for two references to: The Rev. Dr. Regina Walton,
Pastor and Rector, pastor@gracenewton.org. Please submit applications by May 31, 2019.
Interviews will begin a.s.a.p.

Instrument details:
Service music in the main worship space is supported by the Church’s original 1873 E.
and G. G. Hook & Hastings organ with 28 ranks and a two-manual console. The organ
was last rebuilt by Petty-Madden Organbuilders, Inc. of Trenton, New Jersey, in 1991,
restoring many of its original tonal qualities, and replacing the electric action in its
console with a more modern solid state electronic action. To enhance the organ for
congregational hymns, an antiphonal division with four ranks of pipes was added at the
west end of the church. Ongoing maintenance of the organ is important to the parish.
Music in the main worship space is also supported by a Petrof grand piano located in
the south transept where its sound projects easily into the nave.

Be at Peace, Faithful Friend

As I announced on Tuesday, Grace Church lost a beloved friend this week, with the passing of Jim McAlpine, rector at Grace from 1984-1994. About a year and a half ago, I visited Jim at his small apartment full of books in the assisted living facility in York, Maine where he had moved in 2015. As we visited, various staff came in and out to do this and that, and as Jim greeted them it was clear that they all knew and liked him. This did not surprise me at all. Jim had an easy way about him, a contagious friendliness that put people at ease. I love this picture of him at St. Francis Day in 2014, bringing a stuffed animal up to be blessed! It is a good depiction of his sense of fun. Jim faced the decline of his last years bravely and faithfully. He was full of praise for his daughter Holly, and the loving way she helped care for him. He was full of affection for Grace Church. I know he received a number of visits from Grace folk during his years in Maine, and that they meant a lot to him. Jim was a faithful pastor and friend to our parish, and he will be deeply missed. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

In Christ,

p.s. If you have photos of Jim, please bring them into the office and we will scan them and return them, or email them to office@gracenewton.org. Jim’s funeral isn’t until June 8, but we will remember his ministry at our Annual Meeting on January 27th.


Jim McAlpine Blessing of the Animals 2014

Grace’s Not-So-“Blue” Advent Vespers

At this time of year, many churches offer what is usually called a “Blue Christmas” service, for those who are experiencing depression, grief, anniversary of a death, or otherwise not feeling like Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s called a “Blue Christmas” service, I assume, because of the song “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You.”
My confession is that I really, really dislike this name for this kind of service, and I also tend to dislike the way they are done. So many people must re-confront their losses at the holidays; this is not “feeling blue.” This is called grieving. Also, the services of this name that I have attended or read the liturgies of often seem to lay it on pretty thick: prayer after wordy prayer naming every kind of possible loss someone might feel. One service like this I attended a few years ago left me feeling far worse than when I arrived! I don’t think that what those facing loss want is for a worship leader to name their pain in prayer and music over and over again.
Lacking any models for this service that I would actually want to attend, a few years ago I thought, “What kind of service would I want, if I was carrying a heavy emotional load this time of year?” I decided that I would want 1) beautiful music 2) silence in a sacred space 3) a simple ritual and 4) quiet solidarity with others, and only optional sharing. In other words, an hour of beauty, prayer and togetherness that names loss but also hope.
So here’s what we’ve done at Grace the last few years: our service is called “Advent Vespers,” vespers being the old name for evening prayer. We gather in the Chapel, and once again we will be joined by cellist Hannah MacLeod, playing her soulful instrument in this intimate space. We will have a few short readings from the scriptures, hear a poem, and not hear a sermon. We will pray together, and sing some Advent hymns. We will have the opportunity to light candles on the altar, and to name someone on our hearts as we do so, if we choose. We will be together in prayerful silence. Then we’ll go our separate ways, knowing we are not alone.
I hope that if this speaks to where you are, you’ll join us Monday December 17th at 7 pm in the Chapel.
In Christ,

Crafting a More Life-Giving Advent

Crafting a More Life-Giving Advent

One of my favorite picture books is “Christmas with the Mousekins” by Maggie Smith, about a family of mice that prepares for Christmas by baking, skating on a pond, caroling, and making presents for each other. There are lots of craft instructions and recipes included, and the Mousekins are pretty adorable. Before I actually had kids, I think that is what I imagined December would be like with children at home: preparing for Christmas by doing fun, simple, relaxing activities together.

So, that’s not really how it’s turned out. Maybe Smith will write another book, about the secrets of the Mousekins’ work/life balance! However, I believe that one of the roles of the Church is to push back against the practices of our dominant culture that are not life-giving. And that’s where Advent Crafternoon comes in!

For three hours this Saturday, you can claim your inner crafty Mousekin. Crafts and cookies are provided, or you can bring your own. Sit and knit with friends and listen to carols; sip hot cocoa and make an ornament. This is for all ages—baby Mousekins and Grandma/Grandpa Mousekins are all welcome!

The Mousekins aren’t very religious, but I do think they have something important about Christmas (and Advent!) figured out—this is a season to treasure each other, to be with family and friends, to enjoy the blessings we’ve received, and create some blessings to give away.

In Christ,