Messenger, November 1999

From the Rector CROP walk
Lenten Small Group Planning Perpetuate weekly pladge
How One Family Approaches Stewardship Bits and pieces
Church School Schedule for November Ichthus dinner
SICM Fund for World Relief
Lenten planning groups ECW Advent breakfast
Church School, November schedule Inquirer's class
Police-community relations Acolytes needed
November Schedule

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From the Rector

Dear Friends,

There is no way I know of to be a Christian without grappling with the mystery of owning and having --and more specifically, with the meaning of our money. The things I own are not just "out there", external to me, as writer Luke Johnson has put it. They are also "in here", inside me, all wrapped up in how I define myself. The clothes I wear, the house I live in, the car I drive, all express what like and value; the books and recreation and entertainment and all the rest are partsof the world of meaning I flesh out for myself. They are both "out there" and "in here", part of who I am. Look at my checkbook and see who I am: there is real truth in that.

Over and over Jesus pointed to this mystery of owning. He understood how important having is for us in making for ourselves an identity, and how readily we use what we own to hide from ourselves and what we don't want to see: that we are fragile creatures who depend utterly on the care and support of others and an God's immense love simply to live from day to day. The danger of owning, Jesus said, is that the more we have, the less we can see our dependence on each other and on the Gracious Source of all our life.

"Where you treasure is, there will your heart be also."

St. Stephen's is trying in these times to wrestle with the meaning of having and of giving. The Episcopal Church has adopted a statement on stewardship of money. In it we endorse proportionate giving--that is, giving a percentage of our income "off the top" in gratitude for all of God's giving to us, and holding the biblical tithe of 10% as the minimum pledge toward-which we all would strive.

We are stirring and growing here, at St. Stephen's, in all sorts of ways, and it is clear that expanded giving will need to be part of the expanded mission toward which we are being called. But I hope all our decisions about our money and our pledges will begin in opening ourselves to God as we struggle with what, owning and our money means to us, as we open our hearts to the world's needfulness, and as we ask what it means for us to respond to Jesus' call to let go of what we're clinging to and follow him.


Lenten Small Group Planning Yields Results

Last year our congregation went through a very thorough look at who we are as a congregation and where we want to be in the next three to five years. The one-year and three-year goals were drawn from the small groups which met during Lent and these have been supported by a large majority of the congregation.

Many new programs were suggested and some are being planned, yet the need for addition lay leadership and for clergy help has kept parish leaders from developing many of the goals. Last summer the vestry proposed to the Diocese of Albany that we received five diminishing grants from covering 3/4 of the salary and benefits for the position for two years, of the salary and benefits for the position for two years, and 1/4 of the salary and benefits for the position for one year. The idea behind this is that by the end of five years we will have achieved our membership goals (increase our average Sunday attendance from 143 to 250, our baptized membership from 320 to 500 and the number of people who pledge to the church from 132 to 175). In five years we should be in the position of continuing the Associate Rector on our own.

Hiring a full-time Associate Rector for Education would allow the Fr. James to devote much more energy to evangelization: home visits to those looking for a church home, non-stop teaching of new members classes on Sunday morning, concentration on new member assimilation, and guiding new lay leadership into appropriate areas of our church life.

Even with a Diocesan grant the hiring of an Associate Rector will mean a substantial increase in our parish budget. Increased advertising, developing additional social / recreational opportunities, and making the church facilities more inviting will all take additional money. The vestry is asking each member of our congregation to prayerfully consider our congregational goals when considering a pledge this November.

How One Family Approaches Stewardship

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

We must remember that all things are given to us by God. First and foremost, God has given us time; this day, this hour, this second. God gave us talents and opportunities. All things come from God. We enter this world with nothing and after our time is over we will leave with nothing. Every material thing we achieve, we receive from God. Whether we understand it or not, we are only the steward not the owner. The question becomes how much of the material things under my stewardship do I preserve for future use, how much do I use for my support and how much do I return to God to support God's work. The answers to these questions are between the individual and God. The following is how Linda and I came to our answers.

Two years ago when Linda and I came to St. Stephen's, we set our pledge equal to what it cost for the three of us to go to dinner on Saturday night to a moderately priced restaurant. No serious thought or prayer was given to the setting our pledge. We did not set our pledge based on a percentage of income or on a review of the Church Budget. At that time, our household budget was based on us both working and it included support for establishing our new joint household and integration of our considerable premarriage obligations.

We underestimated the local area weakness in the Nursing job market. For two years, we had been unable to find suitable full time employment for Linda. We tried nursing positions outside of her specialty, positions as a temp nurse, and part-time positions 50 miles away. Every time we would start to think our situation was stabilizing, Linda's hours would be cut to none or her position eliminated. Needless to say our budget was a disaster.

The bills we both had before we were married still demanded our resources. To make ends meet we cashed in our savings, sold my carpenter's tools and prayed. We paid our pledges to Church even though at times we had to use our bank overdraft account to pay it.

And Miracles occurred:

Both my younger bothers paid me the money they owed me without me asking (I was too proud to ask).

Without us prompting, the insurance company reimbused us our deductible after they reviewed an accident we had in Kansas.

Even CHP voluntarily informed us of and reimbursed us for office visit fees they had incorrectly collected.

We budgeted and re-budgeted. However, our resources and resourcefulness were ebbing. Then in mid-March, Linda started to work at Ellis full time in ICU.

We rebudgeted again. During that re-budget, Linda and I decide to increase our pledge to St. Stephen's after we felt more secure with Linda's new position. Still we had not given much thought to how much we should be giving.

At the Stewardship Conference in April, three major points were made apparent and they are:

All things come from God, we are not the owners but just temporary stewards of God's Bounty.

Regularly each of us needs to have a frank and candid discussion (prayer) with God and our conscience about how much we should give back to perform God's work.

Whatever decisions come from those discussions with God, those decisions are the best we can do from wherever we are in our journey with Christ.

During and after the conference I wrestled with the second point. Are Linda and I giving enough? Here are the methods, we used.

In a frank and candid discussion with God would I feel we were giving enough?

The answer in my heart was no.

How much more should we give? 20% more. If we gave 20% more would we feel that was enough? Yes

Can we give the new amount joyously? Yes

Finally, be at peace with the decision.

So therefore, we have decided to increase our pledge by 20% starting in May

1999. Linda quoted her great aunt " If you don't first give to God, the devil takes it away from you anyway."

Another aspect of stewardship is that it is dynamic and needs to be considered throughout the seasons. This fall we are again reviewing our stewardship and we will once again increase our pledge by 20% in January.

I invite each of you to join us. Your reflection on your stewardship will bring you closer to God and his works.

Yours in God's Love

Murray and Linda

November Schedule:

  Nov. 7 Nov. 14 Nov. 21 Nov. 28
Altar Guild C A B C
Chalice 8:00 am Causey C. Jones P. Holmes G. Woodzell
Lector 8:00 am L. Stevens B. Neal M. Bishop B. Stratton
Chalice 10:15 C. Jones G. Woodzell N. Hoffman P. Holmes
Lector 10:15 B. Mazurek M. Roseberry L. Emaelaf R. Volker
Crucifer 10:15 Stewart M. Trawick R. Petito J. Petito
Server 10:15 M. Trawick J. Rizzo Chapman R. Petito
Torch 10:15 Roseberry Casale Manor Pierce
T. Trawick Whitney Morin BMcD
Novices 10:15   Rizzo, Sombor   Rizzo, Sombor
Ushers A B D E
Counters E A B C
Flower Dist. B C D A
Care Team A&K Lowe G&R Woodzell M&M Causey R&D May

*Altar Guild:  Your duty week begins the saturday before the above date

**Altar Guild:  Includes Sunday service at 7:00 pm in chapel (Eucharist)

Acolytes:  Please find a substitute if you cannot serve or call Deacon Pat.  You need to arrive at least 15 minutes before the service begins.

Lectors:  Read the first lesson and lead the spalm.

Altar Guild Teams Flower distribution
A Hoffman, Northrup A Lowe
B McDonald, Morin, Reid, Russell B Woodzell, Ackner
C Dipley, Lowe, Tomlinson C Peake
D Tatge
Ushers Counters
A Borrowman, Nevius A M.Spang, D. May, R. May
B Kilbourne, Ehler B Ackner, Gittinger,Molino
C C. Hatlee, J. Hatlee C Belardo,Vanda,Voelker
D Woodzell, Michaelson D A.Spang,Borrowman,Crates
E Dare, Janowski E Cornell,Peake,Small
F Causay, Jones Subs:  Bishop, Holmes

The Church School schedule for November

11/7 Regular Classes - Bring a Friend to Church Sunday

11/14 Regular Classes - Youth Sunday

11/21 Regular Classes - Founder's Day

11/28 Intergenerational Activity (parish hall) - 1st Sunday of Advent

Our classes are growing each week! Nan Blaufuss' preschool class and Vicki Hoshko's Kindergarten/1st Grade class could both use another adult each week, if not as a teacher, then as a helper.

If you can help for a week, a month, or more, please sign the sheet at the shop or the class door, or call Richey Woodzell, 372-9398.

If you would like to sit in on either of the classes, you are welcome to.


Schenectady Inner City  Ministry.  At the October meeting the delegates reviewed and discussed in small groups the individual ministries and programs of SICM. Revised brochures were distributed, and are available on the Welcome Table.

David Carlson from Christ Church passed out a disaster preparedness checklist, which the Service Committee will make available. This is useful in preparing in the event of a hurricane, severe winter storm or any other disruption, such as might occur at the end of this year.

Community Crisis Network

The Community Crisis Network reports that crisis intervention counselors have worked with 360 individuals since its dorrs opened in March.  The counselors have helped individuals avoid eviction, get safely out of domestic violence situatins, enroll in substance abuse counseling and navigate the social services system. An emergency fund has provided assistance with prescription medication, rent payments, transportation and food, when no other community resources were available.  The network seeks financial contributions to bolster the emergency fund. To support this project, call John Steele at Catholic Charities of Schenectady County at 372-5667

SICM joins in call for inprovement in police community relations

SICM has joined the county Human Rights Commission, the NAACP and the Social Justice Committee in calling for improvements in city police-reported relations in the wake of reported police misconduct.  The groups recommend reinstituting the position of city police commissioner and strengthening the citizens' Police ObjectiveReview Committee.

CROP walk tops more than $65,000

Proceeds from the 1999 CROP walk continue to grow, now nearing ^65,000, with more contributions continuing to come in from the hundreds of walkers who participated in May.   This is well above any previous record set by the Schenectady walk.   Contributions may still be brought to Key Banks's downtown branch or to Schenectady Inner City Mission at 930 Albany Street.

Schenectady County Embraces Diversity: Pilot Dialog Program

SICM, the YWCA and the Humna Rights Commission of Schenectady County are ready launch a few five-session study groups on Embracing Diversity and Ending Racism.  This is a structured program aimed at encouraging open dialog about a difficult issue and defining action steps that might easy racial tensions that exist in our community.  The pilot study groups will lead into a community-wide study circles project next year.  To participate in the pilot groups this fall, contact the SICM office at 374-2638.

Adult Inquirer's Class

The next adult inquirer's class (called "The Anglican Ethos") will be held from Dec. 5 - Jan 9 on Sunday mornings during the adult education hour from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in the Parish Hall.  This is a basic course in the Faith which is taught by the rector.  It is required for all adults who wish to be confirmed or received into the church, but is open to all members of the parish family.

How to perpetuate a weekly pledge

$1000 endowed by will to a trust will equal a pladge of $1.20 a week.
$5000 endowed by will to a trust will equal a pladge of $6.00 a week.
$10,000 endowed by will to a trust will equal a pladge of $12.00 a week.
$20,000 endowed by will to a trust will equal a pladge of $24.00 a week.

Bits and Pieces

Agape  will meet on November 12. Jeanie Pokrwandt will speak on long-term care.

Messenger deadline is Sunday, November 21.

World Community Day is November 5 at 9:30 a.m. atEastern Parkway United Methodist Church.  The topic is "God's Passionate Love: Holy Laughter, Holy Tears.  Child care can be provided if needed.  The day is sponsored by Church Women United.

Furniture needed.  The middle school youth group/Sunday school class is looking for useable (but not necessarily wonderful) chairs and sofa for our room at the church.  If you have a sofa or chair that you've wanted to replace, here;s a perfect opportunity! Contact George Woodzell or Sheila Boyce.

Over the Hill Gang.  Are you retired?  Do you have time to devote to specific, small projects at the church?  Do you enjoy working at your own pace, doing things in your own way?  If your answer is "yes", we have aplace for you... the Over the Hill Gang!

The Over the Hill Gang is a group of trouble-shooters which can deal with broken windows, peeling  paint, non-functioning telephones, recalcitrant sprinkler systems, or other nuisances that Father James delegates to us. The only requirements are a willingness to help, occasional blocks of free time, a sense of humor, and a humble attitude.

Interested?  Contact Dick Causey or George Woodzell.

You're Invited

On November 13, at 6:30 p.m., Ichthus will host a dinner at St. Stephen's to thank those who contributed to our work camp in West Virginia this past summer.  The evening will feature a sumptuous dinner, slides of the West Virginia workcamp, and thrilling presentations by the work campers.

Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief

c/o Bankers Trust Co, Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.

The fund continues to respond generously to the namy tragedies around the world that occur almnost daily: Turkey, North and South Carolina, Greece, Nassau, the Bahamas and more. The PBFWR is now seeking offerings for relief for "the unfolding tragedy in East Timor, another agonizing example of the inability of the human family to live in harmony."

The Job of Your Dreams

by Don Reid

Have you always wanted your own seat in church, especially on holidays like Christmas, Easter, Palm Sunday and those other days when someone takes your favorite seat?  WELL, here's your chance!  Be part of the fabric of the service:   light the candles, hand out the collection plates, serve Fr. James, and extinguish the candles when the service is over.

The 8 o'clock service needs some acolytes.  When Don Reid is not there, some of the congregation feel that are, at times, small wrinkles in the fabric of the service, such things as candles unlit, etc.  If you wouyld like to serve at the 8:00 service, please contact Don Reid at 869-5845 and leave a message.

Remember, today's acolytes are both male and female.  With enough volunteers (and we already have one, who was an acolyte at St. Stephen's fifty years ago), each acolyte would only have to serve one Sunday a month.  Voluntees willbe trained.   Teams of two each Snday would be ideal and spousal teams are welcome.

ECW Advent Breakfast

Dec 5, Immeadiately following the 10:15 service!  Family-friendly!   Low price of $5.00 maximum for families with two or more children.

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