From the Rector.....
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
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,
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.
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
Basically there are only three
requirements for vestry membership:
(1) be a confirmed member of the
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
(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
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
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
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
My Book of the Church's Year
God's Quiet Things
The Song of the Three Holy Children
The People Who Knew God
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, January 18, 1998
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.
Altar Guild Directress
January Ecumenical Mission Series - 1998
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
January 13 FAITH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
811 Brandywine Avenue and Eastern Avenue,
Speaker - Shirley Byers, Coordinator of the Covenant Relationship with the Northeast Missionary
Region of Brazil
January 20 - STATE STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
5 Catherine Street,
Speaker - Ed Osterhout, Retired teacher and Volunteer in Mission
"Co-Workers in Brazil"
<January 27 - FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
8 North Church Street,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
BETHESDA HOUSE PROVIDES A
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
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.
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
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 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.
....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
....to the Alter Guild and to brass
polishers par excellence who polished all
the brass in the church, and made
....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
...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