|Parish Christmas Tree||Anniversaries|
|Greening of the Church||Caroling|
|Christmas Services||Church School|
|Volunteers: Vacation Lunches||Advent Calendars|
|Jobs etc. seeks help||Parish Profile|
|Emergency Shelters||Twelve Days of Christmas|
|Police/Community Issues||Advent Wreath|
|Safe House||Bits and Pieces|
|Rector's Letter||Flower Fund: History|
|St. Stephen||Book Review|
|After-Christmas Services||December Schedule|
Advent begins on Sunday, November 28th. It is a time to prepare for Christs birth as well as for His second coming to judge the world. It is a time of watching and waiting and great expectation. Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and penitence, is the color of the season. The Greek letters, Alpha (the first of the alphabet) and Omega (the last letter) combine to make the symbol for this season of the year signifying that God is Eternal the beginning and the end. Come and worship during Advent in joyful anticipation of the birth of our Lord.
Parish Family Christmas Tree
On Christmas Eve it is the tradition of this parish for each new family or
individual to place their offering of an ornament on the same tree at one of
the worship services. The tree remains up through Epiphany (Twelfth Night).
Ornaments are kept and used over and over again each year so that each
Christmas all families of the parish are represented on the tree.
Come to the Church on Christmas and bring your offering for the tree.
Cleaning and Greening of the Church
Help prepare the church for Christmas. On Sunday afternoon, December 19th, beginning at 2:00 pm. We will meet in the Parish Hall to clean the church, polish brass, trim candles, hang the greens, and generally prepare the church for our celebration of Christs birth.
Christmas Eve (Friday, 12/24)
5:00 pm Family Eucharist
10:45 pm Christmas Carols
11:00 pm Festive Eucharist
Christmas Day (Saturday, 12/25)
10:00 am Eucharist
SICM Highlights, November 1999
SICM Highlights are an easy way to alert your congregation to what is new at
Schenectady Inner City Ministry. The Highlights is ready to insert in your
church bulletin or newsletter. It includes urgent needs, current issues,
concerns and notes from the latest SICM Assembly. If you have any questions,
please call Marianne Comfort at 374-2683 or email us at email@example.com .
Check out our new website at http://www.timesunion.com/communities/sicm.htm ,
which will be updated regularly.
Volunteers Needed for December Vacation Lunches
SICM is seeking groups of volunteers to hand out bag lunches to youth at five
city sites during the December school break, Dec. 27-31. This new program
will ensure that children receiving free and reduced-price lunches at school
continue to eat nutritionally during the vacation. This is not a federal
program; food is provided by support so far from the Golub Corporation and
the United Way. The bag lunches, prepared at the City Mission, will be
distributed from 11:30am to 1pm. Sites include Trinity Lutheran Church,
Steinmetz Homes and Yates Village, with two more sites yet to be confirmed.
To sign up, contact Patricia Obrecht at 346-4445.
JOBS etc. Seeks Mentors, Drivers, Computer Instructors
JOBS etc. seeks volunteers to enhance services to job seekers and those newly
employed. Volunteers are needed to follow up with participants by phone (3-4
hours per month), to mentor newly employed participants (3-4 hours), to drive
participants to job interviews (1-2 hours), to offer computer instruction in
the centers computer lab (3-6 hours). Call 347-2562.
Congregations Asked to Serve as Emergency Shelters
Schenectady County asks congregations to consider becoming emergency shelter
sites that would be opened in case of problems at the New Year or any other
potential emergency situations. The Office of Emergency Management has a
survey for congregations to complete to assess their ability to operate a
shelter. A shelter manager course is available in conjunction with the Red
Cross. For information, contact the office at 370-3113.
Police-Community Forum Addresses Issues
Schenectady Police Chief Gregory Kaczmarek agreed to implement
recommendations for improvements in police-community relations at a recent
forum sponsored by the Committee for Social Justice, SICM and the NAACP.
Those recommendations include catching up on the backlog of complaints,
improving communication with filers of complaints and implementing a system
that would allow the Police Objective Review Committee (PORC) to determine
patterns of complaints against any one officer. Cay Raycroft, a member of
Emmanuel-Friedens and former Assembly secretary, serves as SICMs
representative to the PORC.
Help! Safe House.
Each month we request toiletries for Safe House from our congregation; if the
staff there inform us of a special need, we pass this request on via these
pages. Quoting from the Safe House literature, Safe House is the only
shelter in Schenectady County that serves the runaway, the homeless and the
sexually exploited. It offers temporary shelter to males and females between
the ages of 16 and 20. During their stay at Safe House, clients work with a
counselor to find more suitable long term placements. The shelter is licensed
by the Division of Youth, and is a thirty day facility.
If any member of the congregation would like to take over the monthly
delivery of goods donated to Safe House, please contact:
From the Rector
As Advent begins, we look at two great examples of waiting: Mary and John the
Mary is the one whom we love to picture as a tender, welcoming woman...Mary,
the mother of Jesus. Mary welcomes the Word of God in faith. Through her our
whole history of salvation is radically changed.
Even men can understand that carrying a child is difficult, but we can also
envy this extraordinary experience. In a woman, in the secret recesses of
her body, another life has made its home and develops; a life that is already
different from hers. The waiting of pregnancy couldnt be passive. From what
Ive seen, it is filled with both biological and psychological intensity. In
spite of discomfort and changes in outward appearance, a mother knows she is
incredibly alive. She literally is multiplying herself, creating life, and
even beginning a dialogue with the child growing in her womb.
Living Advent as Mary did means receiving the Word as a child, carrying it
within oneself, allowing it to germinate, to inspire and make demands it is
the work of a lifetime. A hope-filled Mary is a prototype of the Christian
life strengthened by hope.
John, on the other hand, is rough, a desert-dwelling prophet - a man who
through his dress, manner and words reminds us of the coming of the Kingdom
of God and of the necessity for repentance. John the Baptist, the desert
ascetic, the almost violent orator. John, who will die beheaded for speaking
honestly to Herod, an action which the members of the court could not
John, the Forerunner, proclaims the Kingdom of God. His words surprise and
seduce us. They are strong, courageous, and almost violent. Faced with the
baptism of repentance preached by John, everyone asked: What should I do?
John gave three answers to three different groups of people: to those who are
well-provided for - share; to tax-collectors - justice; to officials -
'honesty and uprightness. Only that! And all that! He doesnt speak of
mysticism or mention the sweet pleasure of inner joy or even the God who
speaks to and consoles the heart. But rather, strict, rigorous justice -
sharing, righteousness, not abusing the power one has. John is the
Forerunner. He proclaims the coming of Jesus, the fulfillment of the Kingdom.
I love the immortal words of John, the Desert Preacher, who ceaselessly
unmasks us and convinces us that for Jesus to come, the one thing necessary
is for us to put our efforts into correcting what are the fundamental
conditions of injustice and lack of faith.
Holy Scripture, however, doesnt weave any guilt into the festivities for
which we are preparing; Christmas is Christmas, the ultimate Good News. And
the day after Christmas, we remember Stephen, our Patron Saint, the first
witness, the first martyr. Then we understand the depth of the Incarnation
when we see the strength of the resistance to evil created by the birth of
Jesus and the power it gives us.
A blessed Advent and
a Merry Christmas,
Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
The patron saint of our parish is St. Stephen whose life we will celebrate on
Sunday, December 26th.
Stephen was called one of the seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit
and of wisdom (Acts 6:3). He was chosen by the apostles to relieve them of
the administrative burden of serving tables and caring for the widows. This
became what the Church traditionally considers to be the work and ministry of
Stephens activities involved more than simply serving tables for the Acts
of the Apostles speaks of his preaching and performing many miracles. These
activities led him into conflict with some of the Jews, who accused him of
blasphemy, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. His powerful sermon before
the Council is recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts. His denunciation of
the Sanhedrin so enraged its members that, without a trial, they dragged him
out of the city and stoned him to death.
Saul, later called Paul, stood by, consenting to Stephens death, but
Stephens example of steadfast faith in Jesus, and of intercession for his
persecutors, was to find fruit in the mission and witness of Paul after his
conversion. The Christian community in Jerusalem, taking fright at the
hostility of the Judean authorities, was scattered; so that for the first
time the Gospel of Christ began to spread beyond Jerusalem.
Come celebrate our patron saint on Sunday at both services!
After Christmas Services
Feast of Saint Stephen (Sunday, 12/26)
8:00 am & 10:15 am Eucharist
The Holy Name of Our Lord (Sat., 1/1)
10:00 am Eucharist
Second Sunday after Christmas (1/2)
8:00 am Eucharist
10:15 am Choral Eucharist
Altar Flowers in December
December 6 In memory of Mary E. Daly and Donald E. Atkinson
Given by Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Daly
December 12 As a thank offering
Given by Belle Beck
December 19 In memory of Roger Benton, Jr.
Given by Marty Descaine and Carey Tittemore
December 1 Peter Nevius
5 Louise Peake
7 Mildred Gittinger
8 Vicki Hoshko
9 Tyffanni Adams
10 Leroy Tomlinson
11 Jim Borrowman
12 John Liberis, David Bernard
14 Belle Beck
15 John Peatling
16 Suzanne Coonradt
18 Jed Dare
19 Linda Parillo
20 Daisy Santer, Shirley Gretz
21 Andrew Miller, Jean Greenspan
23 Stephen Sombor
25 Bud Blanchard, Rob Olberg
26 Don Cornell, Patti Wilcox, John Petito
27 Ron Michelson, Stephen Chapman, Hugh Campbell III, Isabelle Jaquith
28 Anne Sombor
29 Joanne Bristol, Olive Maloy, Carl Hatlee
31 Virginia Malmros, Denise Crates
December 2 Dennis & Joan Moss
10 Rob & Andrea Worthington Olberg
18 Dan & Edith Lundquist
22 Jerry & Linda Perregaux
27 Dominick & Robin Izzo
by Ritchie Woodzell
Come caroling on St. Stephens Day, the day after Christmas! After the
celebration of our patronal feast Sunday morning, share your Christmas with
homebound members of our parish who are not able to attend church with us.
We plan to visit not only those in their own homes but also those who live in
nursing homes and assisted living centers. We will meet at the church at
1:30 PM and return by 4:30, with refreshments afterward for those who would
like to stay. We welcome all ages, for as much time as your schedule allows.
No choral experience is required, and carol booklets will be provided. If
we have enough volunteers, we could even have two groups of carolers,
allowing us to visit more people.
Sign up at the shop by December 20, and join us to Sing, Noel!
Youth Sunday November 14 was a moving, inspiring service. We recognize all
those Sunday school students who offered their gifts so enthusiastically in
our worship and fellowship.
Noahs Ark banner: created by pre-school, Kindergarten and first grade classes
Greeters: Christopher Ehler, Megan Price
Acolytes: John Casale, Jonathan Rizzo, Taylor Trawick
Orchestra: Ben Blaufuss, Ethan and Nicolaus Brooks-McDonald, Emery Chapman,Alex Rizzo, Margaret Trawick
Prelude: All Gods Critters Got a Place in the Choir, children from age two through fifth grade
Soloists: Anne and Peter Sombor, Margaret Trawick, Ethan Brooks-McDonald
Lectors: John Casale, Gordon Jaquith, Maeve Healy, Chris Morin, Emery Chapman
Prayers of the People: offered by all students and compiled by the middle school class, led by Taylor Trawick, Travis Reedy, Ben Blaufuss
Childrens Sermon: Nicolaus Brooks-McDonald
Sermon: Emily Blaufuss, with input from high school students
Anthem: Joyful, joyful, we adore thee (Beethoven)- youth choir
Ushers: Britta Kilbourn, Molly Lundquist, Laura Manor, Anne Sombor
Chalice bearer: Jonathan Rizzo
Handbell-ringers: John Casale, Chris Morin, Chenoa Roseberry, Taylor Trawick
Coffee Hour Servers: Philip Manor, Jesse Moss, Peter Sombor
Thank you very much to the Worship Committee, Tim Olsen, the Church School
teachers and all the parents and children who worked to make this happen.
Special thanks also to the several people who have provided extra hands, ears
and laps during classes in November: Gregg & Liz Varno, Mary Smith, Karen
Malcolm & her mother, Marilyn Dare, Melissa Ehler, Shari MacIvor, Charles &
Debbie Trawick, Rick & Carolyn Morin.
Church School Schedule
11/28 Sun 9:00am First Sunday of Advent - Intergenerational in parish hall
12/5 Sun 9:00am Regular Classes, assigning of pageant roles
12/12 Sun 9:00am Regular Classes, distribution of pageant costumes
12/18 Sat 9:30-11am Christmas Pageant Rehearsal, directed by Ichthus
12/19 Sun 9:00am Regular Classes
4:30pm Preparation for Pageant
5:00pm Christmas Pageant, followed by carol sing and pot luck dinner
12/24 Fri 5:00pm Christmas Eve Service
12/26 Sun 9:00am No Classes -
10:00am St. Stephens Day celebration
ICHTHUS presents the Annual Christmas Pageant
put on by all Church School students
Sunday, December 19, 5:00pm
followed by carol sing and potluck supper
** Sign up for potluck at church shop **
A note will be sent home with each child on Dec. 5 with role assignment and details.
Costumes will be passed out Dec. 12 to be taken home for pressing and possible altering.
The only rehearsal is Saturday, Dec. 18, 9:30-1am.Children should arrive by 4:30pm on Dec. 19.
We will need some more costumes for the pageant. If anyone is willing to
sew, or otherwise devise an angel, shepherd or sheep costume by Dec. 12,
please contact the church office, 346-6241.
The Advent Calendar helps us count days. We await a Savior, the Lord Jesus
Christ. This cardboard calendar has a window for each day in Advent and a
door for Christmas. Shutters close over the window and keep secret the
picture or message hidden inside. With the passage of each day an additional
window is opened and contents revealed.
Advent calendars are available at the Church Shop. Also available are prayer
books, Bibles, jewelry, and small articles that would make good stocking
by Louise Peake
Michael and Lois Valerio reside on Covington Court, Niskayuna. They have been
married for twelve years and are originally from Westchester County. Michael
and Lois are the parents of two boys: Michael, who is 11 and in 6th grade at
Iroquois Middle School, and Nicholas, who is 9 and is 3rd grade at Rosendale
Michael Sr. works for General Motors and Lois is currently a stay-at-home
Mom. Michaels work has required many moves for the family. They have lived
in Washington, DC, Michigan, California, and Texas.
While they lived in California, they attended St. Patricks Episcopal Church
in Thousand Oaks. The Valerios were impressed and grateful for the support
and compassion of the people at St. Patricks when Lois parents in
Westchester became seriously ill and she had to fly back to New York to help
After their arrival in Niskayuna, the Valerios started church shopping for
a church similar to St. Patricks. They came to services at St. Stephens for
the first time on Palm Sunday. The warmth and size of St. Stephens impressed
them, and so did Fr. James sermon and the choir and the bell choir. As they
left the Church at the end of the service, Michael and Nicholas gave their
parents the thumbs up sign. The decision was unanimous! The Valerios would
make St. Stephens their home.
Lois said that there life has been a little hectic lately. Now that they live
1/2 hours from their roots, they can attend family functions on weekends.
Michael has been busy traveling. Lois has expressed interest in the Sunday
School Program, and hopes that things will settle down a bit so that the boys
Welcome to St. Stephens Michael, Lois, Nicholas, and Michael!
The Twelve Days of Christmas
People often think of The Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding
the festival. Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that
lasts for the twelve days beginning December 25 and lasting until January 6 -
the Day of Epiphany, when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as
the Light of the world and recalls the journey of the magi.
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice
their faith openly. During that era someone wrote 'The Twelve Days of
Christmasas a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without
the risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: the
surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church.
Each element in the carol is a code word for a religious reality.
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
The five gold rings recall the Torah (Law), the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing? These are the nine fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5).
The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
The Advent Wreath
Pre-Christian peoples who lived far north and who suffered the archetypal
loss of life and light with the disappearance of the sun had a way of wooing
back life and hope.
Primitives do not separate the natural phenomena from their religious or
mystical yearning, so nature and mystery remained combined. As the days grew
shorter and colder and the sun threatened to abandon the earth, these ancient
people suffered the sort of guilt and separation anxiety which we also know.
Their solution was to bring all ordinary action and daily routine to a halt.
They gave in to the nature of winter, came away from their carts and fields
and put away their tools. They removed the wheels from their carts and
wagons, festooned them with greens and lights and brought them indoors to
hang in their halls.
They brought the wheels indoors as a sign of a different time, a time to stop
and turn inward. They engaged the feelings of cold and fear and loss.
Slowly....slowly....they wooed the sun- god back. And light followed
darkness. Morning came earlier. The festivals announced the return of hope
after primal darkness.
The circular form of the wreath, like Gods love, is never-ending. The
greenery that covers it reminds us of everlasting life and hope because
evergreen trees are green even in the midst of winter.
The candles are symbols of the light God brings us. Three of them are
purple, the royal color for the new King. The fourth candle is pink and is
lit on the Third Sunday of Advent when we celebrate with special joy. Some
people light a white candle, the Christ candle, in the center of the wreath
on Christmas Day.
Bits and Pieces
Agape' will be held on December 10th. The topic is Alaska and Marilyn and
Dick Causey and Denise and David Crates will share their experiences.
Messenger Deadline is December 18.
Please send your e-mail address so we can include in the new Church Directory.
New Web Site
St. Stephens Church is back on the web. Were now at
www.albany.net/~ststeph. Have a look! Chris Jones, with Vaughn Woodzells
able assistance, is now on the job. We hope to be up-to-date and have lots of
pictures of all the stuff going on at church.
We intend to have an active list of links to other WWW sites of interest,
including sites organized by St. Stephens church parishoners. So, if you
have a site, or know of a site that you think others in the church family
might be interested in, please let us (firstname.lastname@example.org) know!
1999 Christmas Tree Project
We are planning the 1999 Christmas Tree Project. For several years many
members of the church have derived a lot of pleasure furnishing Christmas
gifts to needy families in the area. The families are identified for us by a
local social worker, who takes the trouble to find out the particular
Christmas wishes of each family member. Last year we delivered beautifully
wrapped presents to five families - over 105 presents in all.
We try to include toys and clothing items for each child, and needed clothing
items for the grown-ups as well as family presents. Tags identifying the
items are hung on the Advent Tree in the Community Room on Sunday of
Thanksgiving Weekend, November 28th this year. The presents are to be
returned by the 10:15 service on the Sunday before Christmas (December 19th),
whence they are immediately delivered to the families.
The project is being administered this year by Kelly Nolan and Christine
Murphy; besides participation in buying the presents, they will also need
help with delivery, a really joyful part of the process. If you can help,
please call Kelly and Christine at 372-9606.
A Blessing for the Home Christmas Tree
O Lord Jesus Christ, who by your death on the wood of the tree
redeemed the world from sin and darkness, grant, we beseech you, the abundant
grace of your Incarnation that we may so live by its light as to be worthy
living branches of yourself, and in your strength bear the fruit of good
works to eternal life.
Be with us here, Lord Jesus, as we meet in love around this tree in grateful
memory of your birth in Bethlehem. May we, showing forth your love, be guided
by angel song, and may our way to you be lighted by signs from heaven.
The Flower Fund a Little History
by Naomi Vanda
Easter Day, 1949. The first service in the new church! We had flowers on the
Altar for that day and also on All Saints Day. And there were flowers at
Christmas that year. Funds for the flowers were provided from the three
special offering envelopes. Flowers for Sundays were rare.
This year the Altar Guild marks forty years of the Flower Fund has served the
Church. Contributions to the Flower Fund come from the three envelopes,
income from trusts established by Fr. Bambach, former Rector of St. Georges
Church and St. Georges Chapel (the predecessor of St. Stephens), Fr. Moss,
the first Rector of St. Stephens, and the generous gifts received annually.
In 1954, a program was set up so that parishioners could give flowers in
memory of loved ones on Sundays of their choosing. The Altar Guild arranged
the flowers (and still does) and the cost was $5.00. Despite inflation over
the past 45 years, the flowers today cost $20 a Sunday.
Altar flowers are a wonderful way for you to express your love for family and
friends. Following the 10:15 service, the flowers are divided up and taken to
the homebound or ill in the parish. So a gift of flowers does double duty: it
beautifies the church for Sunday services and it brings joy and good wishes
to parishioners who are unable to attend.
But the Flower Fund does more. Throughout the years, with careful management
of the money, the Fund has been used to provide many eucharistic vestments,
altar linens, furniture for the altar area, a brass candlestick for the
Paschal candle, and an Advent wreath. The Flower Fund gave $1000 to Blessings
Rededicated to rebuild cabinets in the sacristy, and another $1000 went for
new choir robes.
We, the Altar Guild, wish to express our gratitude to all who have made these
gifts possible. We hope you will continue to support the Flower Fund with
memorial gifts on Sundays and during the upcoming season of Advent. There are
coupons elsewhere in this issue of The Messenger for your convenience.
The book jacket on a recent memorial gift to St. Stephens library tells it
all: The Good Book - Reading the Bible with the Mind and Heart by Peter J.
Gomes, Preacher to Harvard University. Dr. Gomes credentials are awesome and
his style is most readable. Sprinkled throughout the text are sparks of humor
like grace notes in a sonata. Each chapter is a separate unit. Before you
start to read, check out the Apologia, the Afterward, and place a bookmark at
the beginning of the Notes. The Notes are to be read at the end of each
chapter and they contain a wealth of information. Then you will be ready to
read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this most worthwhile book.
|Dec. 5||Dec. 12||Dec. 19||Dec. 24(5pm)||Dec. 24(11pm)||Dec. 25||Dec. 26|
|Chalice 8:00 am||C. Jones||G. Woodzell||M Causey||M Causey|
|Lector 8:00 am||O. Jones||D. Stevens||D. Molino||M. Causey||M. Roseberry||volunteer||P. Nevius|
|Chalice 10:15||O. Luczka||M. Causey||C. Jones||G. Woodzell||volunteer||O. Luczka|
|Lector 10:15||M. Dare||G. Jacquity||L. Pratico||V. Hoshko|
|Crucifer||Stewart||M. Trawick||R. Petito||J. Petito||R. Petito, M. Trawick||Stewart|
|Server||Pratico||J. Rizzo||Stewart||Chapman||Pratico||J. Rizzo|
|Care Team||Bishop/Holm||Ackner||A&M Spang||A&K Lowe|
Altar Guild: Your duty week begins the Saturday before the above date. Includes
Sunday service at 7:00pm in the chapel.
Acolytes: Please find a substitute or call Deacon Pat. You need to arrive at the choir room at least 15 minutes before the service begins.
Lectors: Read the first lesson and the psalm.
Altar Guild Teams
|B||Morin, Peake,Reid,Russell||B||Woodzell, Ackner|
|C||C. Hatlee, J. Hatlee||C||Belardo,Vanda,Voelker|