The Coastal Star

Finding Faith: St. Paul’s Episcopal bids farewell to The Rev. Canon ‘Chip’ Stokes

The Rev. Canon William Stokes of St. Paul ’s Episcopal Church is surrounded by his family, including, from left, daughter Erin Potter, wife, Susan, and son Richard, as The Very Reverend Kathleen P. Gannon, curate, prays over them as Stokes begins his transition to become bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. The minister, known to the congregation as ‘Father Chip,’ held his last service on July 14. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

View more photos from Rev. Stokes last sermon

By Tim Pallesen   

    It was appropriate that the Rev. Canon “Chip” Stokes chose the story of the Good Samaritan for his farewell sermon.
    St. Paul’s Episcopal embraced poor Haitian immigrants living around the church during Stokes’ ministry. Christ told the parable of the Good Samaritan so Christians will be compassionate to their neighbors.
    “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Stokes reminded his congregation in his final sermon on July 14 before leaving to become the bishop of New Jersey. Stokes has been at St. Paul’s since January 1999.
    “The point we learn is not who deserves to be cared for, but rather the Lord’s demand to become a person who treats everyone we encounter with compassion,” he said. “One must take the same risks with one’s life and possessions that the Samaritan did.”
    The city of Delray Beach honored Stokes on July 9 with a proclamation describing him as an agent for change who celebrates diversity and cultural change.
    “You are truly one of the unsung heroes in our town,” Mayor Cary Glickstein told him. “Most people don’t know how profound the impact that you, your wife, Susan, and the church under your leadership have had on this community.”
Stokes thanked his congregation for allowing him to be a Good Samaritan.
“It is a ministry to the frightened, hurting, alien, naked and defenseless that the Lord and his gospel call us, always!” he said.
    The U.S. Bishop of the Episcopal Church has accepted an invitation to attend the 60th anniversary celebration at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton.
    Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will lead a Saturday night worship service on the beach on Dec. 7 in addition to Sunday worship on Dec. 8, which will be followed by a gala luncheon at the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club.
“We’re honored and thrilled,” said Patricia Jordan, the anniversary organizer who said she never expected that the bishop would select St. Gregory’s when other Episcopal congregations also invite her to their anniversaries.
    “The etiquette is like when a college invites the president of the United States to be their commencement speaker,” Jordan said. “I guess our timing was right.”
    Jefferts Schori was elected in 2006 as the first woman primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion. She was born in Pensacola.
    St. Gregory’s, which began in 1953 and grew to 1,200 members, is known for its vibrant outreach missions and worship services rich with Anglican tradition.

CROS gleaners harvested peppers last February at Bedner Farms to feed the poor. Photo provided

    More than 1,600 volunteer gleaners harvested 319,483 pounds of produce to feed the poor during the 2012-13 growing season.
    The county’s largest gleaning program is run by Christians Reaching Out to Society with volunteers from church groups, school groups and service organizations. The Caring Kitchen in Delray Beach is one of its major food recipients.
    Because of bad weather, the harvest fell short of the record 345,225 pounds of sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and other crops gleaned from local fields in 2011-12.
    Too much rain in October and a freeze in February hurt this season’s sweet corn production. “We were off 75,000 pounds in sweet corn alone,” gleaning director Keith Cutshall said.
    But a new alliance with the owners of Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market west of Boynton Beach, yielded 66,000 pounds of produce this year.
    The Bedner family has farmed 900 acres west of Boynton since the early 1960s. They are the only farmers in Palm Beach County who sell their produce at their own farmer’s market. “We’re a small business giving back to the community,” said Bruce Bedner, one of three brothers who farm the land.
    “They really opened their fields to us,” Cutshall said.
    Even better, CROS volunteers were allowed into the Bedner Farms processing plant to rescue cucumbers, cantaloupe and sweet corn rejected because they were not pretty enough. “It’s perfectly good produce that doesn’t look too good at the supermarket,” Cutshall said.
    The volunteer gleaners celebrated this year’s harvest with a picnic at Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market on July 27.
    CROS could get even more produce from the Bedner Farms processing plant from next season if more volunteers sign up during late March to mid-May.
Anyone interested can call Cutshall at (561) 233-9009, Ext. 107.                                            

    Catholic schools take pride in the achievements of their graduates. So much so that St. Joan of Arc Catholic School recently tracked its graduates to see how they fared in high school and beyond.
    The Boca Raton school, begun in 1960 with nuns from the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland as teachers, has grown to 550 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
    The school emphasizes technology, language and math, with high school courses in Spanish and Algebra. St. Joan has been named a Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
    St. Joan’s list of successful graduates includes both the valedictorian and salutatorian this year at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale and the salutatorian at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, where a St. Joan graduate was the valedictorian last year.
    St. Mark Catholic School in Boynton Beach had graduates named the valedictorians at both Pope John Paul and Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach this year.
St. Mark closed, but the remaining three K-8 Catholic schools in southern Palm Beach County stay proud of the foundation they give students.  
“We’re still very strong,” said Vikki Delgado, principal of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic School in Delray Beach, where graduates often excel at American Heritage High School in Delray Beach.
    “Students with a Catholic education are prepared,” Delgado said. “They are seen as leaders who take initiatives.”

Tim Pallesen writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Email him at

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