Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Episcopal Worshipers Return Following Suit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Episcopal Worshipers Return Following Suit

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg

Reconciliation and healing were the order of the day on Pentecost Sunday at the Church of the Redeemer on the Southside.

Episcopal worship returned following a lawsuit won by the Episcopal Diocese of Florida against Anglican Priest Neil Lebhar, whose congregation broke away from the Episcopal Church U.S.A. over issues concerning gay ordination and same-sex unions.

Attending the service led by Bishop of Florida John Howard and Redeemer's Interim Rector, the Rev. Davette L. Turk, were about 160 worshippers, reminiscent of that first day of Pentecost recorded in the biblical book of Acts.

"Davette breaks through the human boundaries of inequality. She sees people through God's eyes," said civil rights activist Stetson Kennedy, 90, who traveled to the service from St. Augustine with his wife, Sandra Parks.

The next service at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer is set for 10 a.m. Sunday.


Memorial Day was particularly poignant for Southsider A.J. Pionessa, who served with the Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II.

The oldest of 10 children born to immigrant parents in Lancaster, N.Y., Pionessa said he and his five brothers (four Marines, one Air Force and one Army) all came back safely from the war "because our Irish mother stayed on her knees in prayer, God bless her."

Born in 1921, Pionessa learned about survival as a child.

"My dad was a poor Italian laborer, but we never went hungry," he said. "He tilled a half-acre garden by hand and we hunted and fished for food."

The Pionessa family lived near a railroad track, and one day an engineer inquired about the marvelous aroma of bread baking. When the engineer asked to buy a loaf, Pionessa's mother gave it to him.

"After that, every time a train went by, a lot of coal fell on the tracks right by our house."

Growing up in a generous, hard-working family, Pionessa has continued that tradition with his 58-year old Jacksonville company, A. …

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