From the Rector.....
When I left for my summer sabbatical all of the Episcopal Churches in Schenectady were in the
process of looking for new rectors. I am following closely their progress as the congregations
examine and profile themselves in order to find a rector who will be best for them. Though it is
much work, I think the process of mission discernment is an exciting one!
During my travels this summer I had time to pray and think about our own congregation. I
reflected that in the last nine years we have accomplished much that was not able to be done
over the last fifty years (the chapel, office space, a meeting room for high school students, etc.)
and we have expanded that which the congregation said was most important to it (youth work,
Christian education, outreach to the inner-city). This past year we celebrated seventy years as a
congregation and fifty years as a church. Now we are at a crossroads and a novel idea occurred
to me: What if Saint Stephen's went through a rector's search without the pressure and stress of
having to find a new one? In other words, let's ask ourselves those fundamental questions of
Why does the congregation of Saint Stephen's exist?
What are we to be as a church?
What does God want done in the world and what is Saint Stephen's part in that?
How are we as a congregation to do it?
Of course, those questions could be asked individually as well as corporately. I propose that we
take this month of October to prepare ourselves to ask those questions. What are our goals, both
individually and collectively here at Saint Stephen's and what strategy should we use to work
toward them? To that end I will devote the first three Sunday sermons in October.
Remember, it's Christ's Church and the scriptures make it fairly clear that a Christian
community's purpose is already established. Our duty is to understand the purposes Christ has
for Saint Stephen's congregation and to implement them. While programs may change every
five or ten years, the purposes never change. We may be innovative with the style of ministry,
but we must never alter the substance of it. I will try to preach on the substance and then I will
need your input.
On October 25th in place of the sermon, I will ask everyone in the congregation to fill out a
professionally developed survey (an opportunity to do it after church on Nov. 1st will also be
given). The completed serveys will be placed into a box (by you) and mailed to an organization
in California who will compile the data and compare it to data collected about the general
communities of Schenectady, Niskayuna and Scotia. When they mail us their report we will
make copies and hand them out at small group gatherings meeting in homes of our parish
leaders. The purpose of these meetings will be to have the entire congregation participate in the
reshaping of our congregation's vision and mission.
This strategic mission planning program has been endorsed by the Episcopal Church, as well as
other denominations. It has a good track record' and I experienced it, first hand, when my wife,
Viki, used it at Loudonville Presbyterian Church several years ago.
I believe it is time to re-examine ourselves and to vision again' who we are, why we exist and
what we ought to be doing. It will be similar to the process that search committees use to call a
rector, however, the nice part for me, is that I will be here to help implement the plan we
EDUCATION FOR ADULTS
The Episcopal Church continues to explore the language of our common prayer, and how
that language expresses our Beliefs about God and about our relationship with God. New texts for prayers and new
canticles to expand our music in worship have been drawn from varied sources, both ancient and modern. During October 11-25 in the morning sessions, we will look at some of the new texts and discuss the importance of the language we use in
worship. Church school children will participate in part of the program.
An Agape' will be held on Friday, October 23. The evening will begin at 6:30 pm with a
potluck supper and will be followed by a presentation given by Keith & Christine Nelson
who will speak on their recent trip to India. A sign-up sheet is available at the Shop.
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
AND ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
On Saturday, October 3rd at 9:30 am, we celebrate the life and work of St.
Francis. He is probably better known for preaching to birds than for the poverty
he embraced in his passion to be like Christ. Yet, Francis' love of God's
creation has given his statue a place in many church and home gardens.
No mere nature lover, Francis saw in nature's paradoxes and mysteries a revelation of the
presence of God. He marveled at the simplicity and obedience of the birds, fishes, rabbits,
doves, the falcon who wakened him for Matins, the famous wolf of Gubbio who gave his
pledge of peace to Francis and kept it. Because of St. Francis' connection to God's
creation, and especially to animals, a tradition arose in England whereby the parish priest
would bless the villagers' animals on St. Francis' Day.
Here's how it will work:
On October 3rd, the congregation and any animals (on leashes!) will gather next to the
church behind the parish hall. WE WILL REMAIN OUTSIDE DURING THE ENTIRE
SERVICE. The rector will begin a brief worship service and then will bless each animal
saying: "O God, who has made all things for yourself, bless, we pray you, this animal; that
it may be a source of love and joy to those with whom it dwells."
It's quite a sight!
ALL SAINT'S DAY
All Saint's Day is one of the seven
principal feasts of the church. This day
is a celebration of Christ in His whole
mystical body. We are reminded that
the saints still support us by their
witness and example and surround us
with their love and prayers. All Saint's
Day is the one day set aside each year
when our faithful departed are
remembered. If you would like to have
a particular person remembered by
name, it is not too late. Please call the
parish office as soon as you receive this
newsletter. We will remember them on
Sundays, November 1st. We will celebrate special Eucharists at 8 am & 10:15 am here at St. Stephen's. The later
service will include first communion for
some of our young people.
ALL SAINTS' DAY FLOWERS
Everyone is invited to participate, and any amount will be gratefully received by the altar guild.
So that we may list the names of those to be remembered at the altar, please fill out your All
Saints Day envelope or use the coupon below. Make checks payable to St. Stephen's Church
and place the envelope or coupon in the offering plate or send it to the parish office. The
deadline for receiving names to list in the bulletin is Sunday, October 18th.
LOVED ONES OF:______________________________________________________
ENVELOPE NUMBER: _________________
DON'T FORGET TO SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK AN HOUR ON OCTOBER 25th
25TH!!HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!!!...
October marks the beginning of the 29th
THE MESSENGER. We may have grown a bit from the first issue of 1- 2 pages, but the
intent remains the same: "a monthly newsletter to be a means
communicating church news and views between members of
parish - an open forum to express ideas on various subjects."
grateful to Fr. Sitts for his leadership in establishing this
important parish tool, and hope it will always continue to fill a needed
the life of St. Stephen's.
If you or someone you know is unable to
attend church on either a long or
short-term basis, please call the parish
office if you would like to have
communion brought to you.
ALTAR FLOWER DISTRIBUTION
Volunteers are needed to distribute flowers to the sick and shut-in. Flowers that are taken
off the altar after the Sunday 10:15 am service are brought to those in our parish who are
ill or can't get to church. If you would like to help in this special ministry, please call Kabby
The flowers on the altar in October are given to the Glory of God.
Oct. 4 - in memory of the Loved Ones of Jesse & Betty Dipley
Oct. 11 - In memory of Jeffrey Knight given by William Bonsal
Oct. 18 - In memory of Lawrence Peterson, William & Johanna Earle,
Justus & Anna Peterson and Elizabeth Card, given by
Oct. 25 - In memory of Leigh & Dorothy Lydecker and Jennie and Alfred Lowe, Sr., given by Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Lowe Jr.
Ingathering of the United Thank Offering will be held
on Sunday, October 18th. Every cent of
Ingathering money is awarded in grants.
Envelopes will be available in the pews for
REMEMBER OUR VISITORS - PLEASE WEAR YOUR NAME TAG