The Messenger

January 1998

From the Rector.....

Dear Friends,

In one sense, the church's new year begins in September with the Parish Faire. In another sense it begins in Advent. In yet another sense it begins in January with new vestry wardens and members, and a renewed commitment to the tasks at hand.

God knows, the church is not a static body, but an always growing, changing, challenging gathering of gifts and needs and expectations. Keeping up with it all is a weekly, daily, hourly affair. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don't. Most of the time, we are doing the best we can.

As new members come into our congregation, we need to help them become a part of our parish life. For a long time I have observed a barrier between old-timers and newcomers. Much of that barrier is simply knowledge of the church. The church must never become a secret society. Those of us in the congregation must explain our structure and language to newcomers so that they can enter into our parish life with as much ease and sense of belonging as possible.

When I first join an organization it always seems to me that everyone else knows how "things are done" but me. Sometimes it takes many months (or years!) to become acquainted with how an institution is organized and the language used to describe it. To help this process the vestry, parish council and I have developed a detailed handbook to describe the way things are done at Saint Stephen's. We hope that this facilitates more members becoming involved in the congregation.

The point is this: if you are quietly sitting out there in a pew or pondering in your home why no one has contacted you to do what you do best in the life of the church, it could be for a number of reasons. One is that we are getting our act together yet again and it hasn't quite made it on the road. Another is the unspoken belief that the initiative for your involvement in the church rests in the church's collective hands rather than in your own.

DON'T BE SHY!
Given the overwhelming nature of the ministry and mission of St. Stephen's, your energy, intelligence, imagination and love are sorely needed but sometimes missed. Whether in Christian education, music, social witness, worship, youth, fellowship, your voice and experience and commitment will be welcomed with open arms - we just need to know where you want to jump in! Therefore, don't be shy. Look over the areas of our ministries, and then pick up the phone and call the office. Your life and the life of this parish might be, in this new year, transformed!

Peace,
James

From our Archives

FROM JANUARY 1978The entire year of 1978 issues of the Messenger is missing. John Peatling was interim rector, Marilyn Riddle secretary, Norman Hoffmann and Barbara Dobbins wardens.

FROM JANUARY 1988John Peatling was rector, Pat Jones deacon, Janice Robinson secretary, Jack Feyrer and Bruce Tatge wardens ... the January ecumenical mission series focused on the peoples and churches of the USSR ... the Cathedral of All Saints hosted a metropolitan deanery service of lights for Epiphany with an all-deanery choir and pot luck supper ... St. Stephen's by-laws committee prepared a new draft which was approved by the vestry.

HOLY COMMUNION: If you or someone you know is unable to unableattend church on either a long or short term basis, please call the parish office.

NOMINATING COMMITTEE APPOINTED

In an attempt to be as inclusive as possible in nominating parishioners for elective offices, the vestry has appointed the outgoing members of the vestry as a nominating committee: Suzanne Coonradt, Rocky Bonsal, Pauline Northrop and Sidney Woodcock. They are securing the nominations for the four positions vacant for next year. In addition, nominations will continue to be made from the floor of the Annual Meeting of the parish. The elected offices are:

3 - three year terms for 1998 Vestry

1 - Warden - two year term

1 Warden - one year term

REQUIREMENTS FOR VESTRY MEMBERSHIP

Basically there are only three requirements for vestry membership:

(1) be a confirmed member of the parish church

This can be accomplished through confirmation or reception by a bishop at St. Stephen's or through a transfer from another Episcopal Church.

(2) have been regular in attendance of Sunday Eucharists

(3) have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God

This includes giving of Time Talent and Treasure

WHAT IS THE 'VESTRY'?

The vestry is a group of eleven lay representatives from the parish who are charged with the temporal affairs of the congregation. They meet monthly with the rector presiding. The vestry spends considerable time on income and expenses and on writing the annual budget. They set the salary scales and are responsible for raising the money to meet expenses. The vestry also has the important job of finding a new rector whenever a vacancy occurs. Three representatives are elected at the annual parish meeting for a term of three years. In addition, a Warden (vestry officer) is elected for a term of two years.

THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD

The name "Epiphany" is derived from a Greek word meaning "manifestation" or "appearing." It is also called "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles." This phrase is a reference to the story of the Wise Men from the East. A Christian observance on January 6 is found as early as the end of the second century in Egypt. The feast combined commemorations of the visit of the Magi, led by the star of Bethlehem; the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan; and Jesus' first recorded miracle, the changing of water into wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee -- all thought of as manifestations of the incarnate Lord. The Epiphany is still the primary Feast of the Incarnation in Eastern Churches, and the three fold emphasis is still prominent. In the West, however, including the Episcopal Church, the story of the Wise Men has tended to overshadow the other two events. Modern lectionary reform, reflected in the Book of Common Prayer, has recovered the primitive trilogy, by setting the event of Jesus' Baptism as the theme of the First Sunday after January 6th. Our celebration of Epiphany at St. Stephen's will take place on Sunday, January 4th at 8:00 am and 10:15 a.m. with Eucharist and on January 6th with Eucharist at 10:00 am.

OVERDUE books from the library:

The Creation of the World
Book of Favorite Hymns
A Penny Is Everything
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Old Turtle
My Book of the Church's Year
God's Quiet Things
The Song of the Three Holy Children
The People Who Knew God
Chicken Sunday
The Farmer Takes a Wife
The Last Battle
Ladder of Angels
At Home in Mitford

............. Pat Borden for the library committee

"'Oh how lovely are the flowers.......

... help us take them to the ill or those who are shut-in. Call Kabby Lowe or Jane Tatge if you are interested in helping with this special ministry.

Our special thanks to Honey Morris and Mildred Marks who have helped deliver flowers for many years but can no longer do so.

............ Kabby Lowe

Thank You

Belle Beck wishes to thank all who sent her cards and notes celebrating her 100th birthday, December 14. She is especially grateful to Bishop Ball for his gracious letter and to Father James for framing it and presenting it during the 8 am service.

A Prayer for the Year Ahead

Dear Lord ... Please give me

A few friends who understand me and remain my friends;
A work to do which has real value, without which the world would be poorer;
A mind unafraid to travel, even though the trail be not blazed;
An understanding heart;
A sense of hunor;
Time for quiet, silent meditation;
A feeling of the presence of God;
The patience to wait for the coming of these things, With the wisdom to recognize them when they come.

............. WRHunt

OUR "COMMON" WORSHIP

The Book of Common Prayer is one of the most important features of our identity as Anglicans: it is not part of the "3-legged stool" of scripture, tradition and reason, but it is a sign of our unity, The word itcommon" in the title does not mean ordinary or unsophisticated. It means worship that we do together, in common. It is not primarily a book intended to guide our private devotions, although it contains much that is helpful for individuals- prayers, psalms and other scripture. Rather, the forms that we use when we worship together, whether at Holy Communion, Baptism or some other occasion, are provided to help us work together to offer our Worship with dignity and beauty.

Many things are not spelled out in detail in the BCP: there are no rules about candles, postures, music or architecture. Some features of our worship can be varied: the forms we use for the Prayers of the People, the words of some prayers, the time for exchanging the Peace. But all these elements are parts of our common prayer, that which we off er together. It would be disruptive if some were singing, while others were reading or preaching and still others were receiving Communion. But even small things are important when it comes to our common worship. If we will listen to one another and watch to see what is going on, our words and actions will become an offering that we make together, rather than an assortment of individual actions. The pace of the prayers said in unison is set by the worship leader. Periods of silence following the lessons and the sermon, and preceding the confession, help us to focus our thoughts and slow down our tendency to hurry on.

Liturgy is not a performance by actors and musicians, it is the work of all the people, for which each one of us takes some responsibility. If we will work together, we can enhance the quality of our worship, deepening our own spirituality and giving greater glory to God.

...............Deacon Pat for the worship committee

AGAPE - Friday, January 23 at 6,30 pm. Carole Merrill-Mazurek will speak on domestic violence. She also wishes to thank all those who contributed Halloween costumes for the YWCA.

The flowers on the altar in January are Given to the GLORY OF GOD......

4 - As a thank offering for Barbara Dobbins on her birthday, a gift of her children.

11 - In memory of Allen Pierce, a gift of his daughter, Jeanette Ackner.

18 - In memory of Dawn Schiansker, a gift of her husband Ted Schiansker.

25 - In memory of Loved Ones of Stewart and Naomi Vanda.

WORLD HUNGER

Sunday, Januaty 25, will be FOCUS ON THE FUND DAY.

The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, founded 57 years ago, has brought to many who suffer and need God's help. THE PBFWR was originally founded in 1940 to help refugees and displaced persons and there are still 18 million of them in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.

According to a United Nations report on the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, there are 800 million hungry people in the world. In the United States alone, 125% of children under the age of 6 are poor.

As we contemplate the many blessings of our lives, may we remember those less fortunate. Our Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, "thanks God for your compassion ... may we continue to respond to the command of our Lord to give water to the thirsty, food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless."

If each household could give $20 once a year, the amount of money raised would place the Episcopal Church in the front rank of relief agencies. All of the incredible disasters of 1997 have seriously depleted funds for emergency help and relief.

With the Light of Epiphany come particular opportunities for worship and service. The fund, in its annual appeal, offers each of us a chance to do both with joy!

Love boxes and gift envelopes are available on the Welcome Table.

.....Kabby Lowe

ANNUAL MEETING

Sunday, January 18, 1998

11:30 am

ALTAR FLOWERS FOR 1998

The altar guild is taking reservations for Sunday altar flowers for 1998. This is an appropriate way to remember loved ones. Flowers may be given as a thank offering, to celebrate the birth of a new grandchild, for an anniversary, to celebrate a birthday or for other occasions of your choice.

Altar guild members arrange the flowers - a service that makes possible the low weekly cost of $20.00. Following Sunday Services, the flowers are taken by the flower committee, to sick and shut-in members of the parish.

The altar guild appreciates the support represented by donations made in special envelopes marked EASTER, ALL SAINTS'DAY, and CHRISTMAS GREENS.

Through the years, extra donations have accumulated and provided many vestments and linens as well as other altar appointments to further enhance the work of the guild.

Please make checks payable to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and marked altar flowers in "memo".

We thank everyone for support of our flower fund and the work of the altar guild.

........June Russell, Altar Guild Directress ALTAR FLOWERS

January Ecumenical Mission Series - 1998

BRAZIL Life and Hope Among the People

January 6 - UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
1068 Park Avenue,
Schenectady (Parking lot on Wendell- Avenue)
Speaker - Martha Huggins, Sociology Professor, Union College
"Overview"

January 13 FAITH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
811 Brandywine Avenue and Eastern Avenue,
Schenectady
Speaker - Shirley Byers, Coordinator of the Covenant Relationship with the Northeast Missionary Region of Brazil
"Religious Mosaic"

January 20 - STATE STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
5 Catherine Street,
Schenectady
Speaker - Ed Osterhout, Retired teacher and Volunteer in Mission
"Co-Workers in Brazil"

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January 27 - FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
Assembly Hall,
8 North Church Street,
Schenectady
Videos: A Visit to Brazil

ALL SESSIONS will beginwith coffee at 9:30 a.m. The program will begin at 10:00 and end at 11:30 after a brief worship experience.

IN CASE OF SNOW (Schenectady City Schools closed), the meeting will be cancelled.

For questions contact Lois Dodge, 374-1484.

WHEN TO CALL YOUR CLERGY

Many people have the idea that the only time they should call their priest or deacon is when someone is critically ill or when there is a death in the family, and some don't even do that. Here are ten occasions when you should have no hesitation in picking up the phone to call James or Pat:

1. Before going to the hospital: it makes no difference whether you are going to the hospital for major surgery or for a routine checkup - call before you go.

2. When alcohol or drugs become a problem for you or for someone you love: the alcoholic or drug dependent person is not a hopeless sinner - he or she is a person with a disease who needs treatment. There are no easy answers to chemical dependency, but the clergy can help you to understand these problems or to assist families and individuals in locating help.

3. Before you engage a lawyer: this does not mean before you get an attorney for any purpose, but before engaging one when a husband and wife are considering separation. If you take the Christian view of marriage seriously, you will wish to talk through your situation with clergy or other pastoral counselor before matters proceed to the point of seeking legalcounsel.

4. When a baby is born: when a new member of our family is born, James or Pat would like to call while the mother is still in the hospital. This is a good opportunity to rejoice with the family and to ask God's blessing upon the child.

5. When you would like to talk or pray about a difficult decision: the big decisions in life are so important that they should be "talked out and prayed through". Your work, perhaps getting married, a change in jobs - are all included.

6. When you know someone in need of spiritual help: it is part of our Christian responsibility to be alert to the needs of others. If you know of someone who needs help, do not hesitate to call. Together, we may be able to find a way to minister to those in need.

7. When there is a death in the family: no matter what the hour of day or night the clergy should be called at once. Their task is to bring you to strong consolation of our Christian faith and to counsel with you concerning arrangements for the funeral.

8. When you are spiritually depressed: remember, help is available! The finest Christians have all gone through their dark night of the soul. Don't try to fight it through alone. If God seems far off and religion has lost its reality, you are not the first person to feel that way. Don't struggle with spiritual depression by yourself.

9. Before anyone enters the armed forces or leaves for college: Not only will the clergy want to know their address away from home, but would like to opportunity to make a personal visit to assure them of the concern of their home parish while they are away.

10. When you want to share a thanksgiving: when a parishioner wants to share a thanksgiving for all God's gracious gifts, the clergy will be delighted to share this with you.

Parish office - 346-6241
Fr. James - 370-3573
Deacon Pat - 372-5836

EXPLORING A MINISTRY TO THE DEAF AT ST. STEPHEN'S

For many years a community of deaf people in Schenectady met at an Episcopal church for monthly worship. However, in the 1980's this ceased and the deaf community was forced to travel to St. Paul's, Albany for the special services.

In my visits to the hospitals and especially to Sunyview I have sensed that there is still a need of the deaf community for services in Schenectady.

Last summer I contacted the Rev. Virginia Nagle, Priest-in-Charge of the Henry Winter Syle Mission of the Deaf in Syracuse. She also has a ministry to the deaf in our Diocese and comes to the Capital District once a month to lead worship at St. Paul's. Since "Mother" Nagel grew up just west of Schenectady, I asked her if she would like to invite the deaf community here to come to St. Stephen's and worship in our chapel, monthly. She was delighted.

However, she told me that two needs would have to be met by the St. Stephen's congregation for this to happen. First, our members would need to offer transportation for many of those attending; and second, a number of us would need to learn sign language and perhaps provide some Sunday School programs for the children. In other words, Mother Nagel was saying that not only a space was needed, but also the investment of our congregation to help the deaf and hearing impaired feel comfortable worshiping here.

Therefore, on January 18th at 7:30 p.m. Mother Nagel will sign' a special Eucharist for the deaf in our Chapel of the Resurrection for those of us interested in this ministry. Translators will be present to help us.

The deaf community would be invited to come on the third Sunday each month beginning in February. Mother Nagel would be the celebrant at these services. It would be a mix of deaf people in Schenectady and those in our congregation who are interested.

I am working with BOCES to provide instruction to those at St. Stephen's who are interested in learning sign language. I would appreciate hearing from any in our congregation who can sign.

This could be a wonderful new ministry for our congregation. It is a ministry needed in Schenectady. I can imagine some day when Eucharists at Christmas Eve and Easter will be signed by members of our congregation. Wouldn't that be something!

The Episcopal Church can claim a historic first with the first church ever organized specifically for deaf people. In 1852 the Rev. Thomas Gallaudet organized St. Ann's Church in NY City for that purpose. Dr. Gallaudet is called the "apostle to deaf people" because from that base, he set about visiting other cities across the land, organizing congregations of deaf people wherever he went.

Taize Prayer Service set for January 10th

In the last parish discernment of our goals and objectives, increase spiritual awareness was one of our chief goals. In our increasing effort to glimpse the universal dimension of our communion in Christ, we have explored many forms of spirituality: centering prayer, Celtic spirituality, the Daily Office to mention a few.

Another approach to spirituality is found in the Taize community, founded in France just after World War II as an ecumenical Christian community where young people from all over the world are welcomed. Taize has developed a worship service of meditative prayer, scripture reading, the singing of simple short chant that goes on and on and that continues afterwards in the silence of one's heart.

Dan Woodham (Anne's son) has spent time at Taize this past year. He will come to St. Stephen's to share his experience with us, then teach us a few of the chants, and finally gather us in this special worship. We will meet in the parish hall on Saturday at 7 p.m. for sharing and instruction and then conclude with worship in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

Song is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short chants, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words, they can express a basic reality of our faith. Come on January 10th, welcome Dan and experience the meditative beauty of Taize.

PASTOR CLASEN TO RETIRE

Grace Lutheran Church will honor Pastor and Mrs. Clasen on Sunday, January 4 in an open house from 3:00 - 5:00 pm. All members of St. Stephen's are invited to express their appreciation to them upon their retirement after thirty years of ministry in the Schenectady area. Pastor Clasen was a part of the Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue wich was held a year ago between our two churches. Pastor Clausen often coordinated the Inter-faith Thanksgiving Service of the Upper-Union congregations. His warmth and pastoral manner is well known to St. Stephen's.

ECUMENICAL PRAYER SERVICE SCHEDULED FOR UPPER UNION ST. AREA

Feb. 1st has been designated as the date for gathering clergy and members of the neighborhood's Christian congregations for prayer. Please watch the Sunday bulletin for details as they emerge. Father Kane of St. Helen's Church and Pastor Bob Long of Eastern Parkway Methodist Church are the coordinators. The prayer service allow members of various faith traditions to share in common their love of neighbor and their love for God. In so doing, "walls of division are broken down, the Kingdom of God is enlarged, all participants feel stronger in knowing that none of us works or prays in the isolation of our particular faith tradition." We look forward to this important opportunity.

BETHESDA HOUSE PROVIDES A SAFE PLACE

Bethesda is Greek for "place of mercy," or "kindness." The mission statement of Schenectady's day shelter for the homeless says, "Bethesda House is a non-judgmental daytime hospitality center for all who enter and abide by basic rules." However, Bethesda House is much more than that. It is a safe place for those who have no where to go. It is a place of caring and fellowship. It is a warin place, not only as a haven from the cold, but also as a welcome and inviting place. Its guests include the homeless, hungry, addicted, lonely, mentally ill, victims of domestic violence, economically displaced, children, and single parents. In short, it is a place for "the least of these" that Jesus tells us to care for.

By providing a wide variety of services, ranging from a telephone or a place to rest, to activities and referrals, Bethesda House meets the needs of a wide variety of people who don't know where else to go. This means that Bethesda house has many needs. We at Faith support Bethesda House through our donations to Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SIAM). This is an important way in which our congregation serves our neighbors in this city. However, Bethesda House is also in need of many other gifts including clothing, personal hygiene items, food, your time and energy, and most importantly, your prayers. Volunteer by contacting the director at 374-7402.

INSTRUCTED EUCHARIST February 1st

As our numbers increase at St. Stephen's there are more and more people who are not very familiar with our liturgy on Sunday mornings. Others, who have attended services for a considerable time still have questions concerning the symbols in our worship. Therefore, on Sunday, February 1st at the 10:15 am Eucharist St. Stephen's will have an Instructed Eucharist. As you arrive, you will be given a special bulletin. At various points during the liturgy, the service will stop and an explanation of that part of our worship will be read. Then the service will continue until another explanation is read. In this way it is hoped that a better understanding of our Anglican worship will be given.

This 'Instructed Eucharist' has been revised by the Worship Committee so that it is easier to understand and more informative. It would be an excellent opportunity for our members to invite a guest(s) to church. We all know how confusing our worship can be, and this would be a way of 'easing' newcomers into St. Stephen's.

HOUSEHOLD BLESSING FOR EPIPHANY

A custom from Eastern Europe that is presently being recovered in North America is the practice of blessing homes on Epiphany. Members of the household go from room to room expressing thanks to God for each room and asking God to bless the room and its intended use. Some small symbol of the blessing may be carried to leave in each room: a candle, a cross, "gifts" of the Magi.

The procession ends outside the front door where the door's lintel is marked in chalk with the year and the initials C,M,B - each separated by a cross - recalling the traditional names of the Magi: Casper, Melchior and Balthasar. The members of the household are then invited to add their own initials. Also at this time it is appropriate to pledge volunteer time or other gifts for Bethesda House or some local homeless shelter as signs of our thankfulness to God. The ritual ends with a celebration of the Eucharist.

Talk to the rector if you would like to have your home blessed.

THANK YOU......

THANK YOU.....

THANK YOU.....

....to the ICHTHUS, the high school youth group who directed the Christmas pageant and organized the following potluck.....and to the parents who helped it all come together

....to June Russell who accompanied the Christmas pageant and the congregation carol-sing

....to the Alter Guild and to brass polishers par excellence who polished all the brass in the church, and made Christmas beautiful

....to all who took time on a busy Saturday-before-Christmas to help 'green' the church

...To Tim Olsen, the Choir members and all the instrumentalists who helped to make Advent and Christmas beautiful

...To the lectors, chalice bearers and acolytes who made our worship possible

...To all those who helped in the toddler and nursery rooms

...To the ushers and to the offering counters

...To our administrative assistant, Janice, who worked so hard to prepare bulletins and make other arrangements

...To Dave, our sexton who made the church shine and kept the sidewalks clear