The Messenger
January, 2000

Contents (or just browse downward...):

Rector's Letter Anniversaries
Vestry  nominating committee When to call your clergy
What is "Vestry"? January Flowers
Vestry Membership: requirements SICM Highlights
Epiphay of Our Lord Drivers wanted:   Service...
Household Blessings Christmas Tree Project
Thank you... Safe House
Birhdays Generation X
CARTOON, by Stephen Woodzell January volunteer schedule

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Dear Friends,

We have just finished an Every Member Visitation project and I want to thank Murray Roseberry, Al Lowe and all others who contacted every member of the congregation during November and December. The feedback they gave me was invaluable. Though the range of comments is too large for this message, let me highlight a few that are on my mind as we begin a new calendar year.

First, there is a good feeling in the parish with a great majority of the congregation supporting the direction we are going as a result of our long range planning process. The mission statement found on the front of the Sunday bulletin is truly being lived out in our parish. Second, there were concerns that were repeated by several members. I will attempt to address them both.

The position of receptionist/secretary has been reorganized according to the changing needs of the parish office. Most correspondence is done on the computer either through the printer or through E-mail - dictation and typing are skills of the past! Furthermore, we have a new digital copying machine that copies both sides of a document, sorts and staples all in the same operation. We even can tell the copier to do this and much more from our own computers! The days of someone standing over a hot machine are over!

After a year of looking into the position I figure that there are no more than fifteen hours of work each week required. So I have been looking for applicants who would work from 9 to noon five days a week, fifty weeks a year. Finding someone has been more difficult than I first thought. The job market in the Capital Region is quite full and few people are looking at part-time positions. I am very hesitant to advertize in the Gazette since the position requires a fair amount of confidentiality and reliability. All of this is to say that we are actively looking to fill this position as soon as we can find a suitable person.

The issue of the furniture rearrangement in the sanctuary and chancel was also a concern. This January we will re-convene our small groups that met in Lent last year to talk about the situation. In February we will decide if we want to keep the re-arrangement or go back to the way it was by means of a simple ballot. Some of the complaints about the re-arrangement have to do with the height of the kneelers at the altar rail and the height of lectern. Both of these were only temporary so that if we chose to go back to the previous arrangement, we could. Both of these would be corrected no matter which way we decide.

I will address these issues and others in more detail at the Annual Meeting on January 16th. There will also be some very exciting news and suggestions for the congregation at that time! See you there.


This month's , thanks to Stephen Woodsell



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: Al Lowe, Scott Kilbourn, Murray Roseberry

Hugh Campbell, III. They are securing the nominations for six positions vacant for next year. In addition, nominations will continue to be made from the floor of the Annual Meeting of the parish.


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 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


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 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 the 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 9th at 8:00 am and 10:15 a.m. with Eucharist, Welcoming of New Members and Baptism.


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..... the ICHTHUS, the high school youth group and especially to Margaret Trawick who directed the Christmas pageant and organized the following potluck.....and to the parents who helped it all come together June Russell who accompanied the Christmas pageant for a wonderful concert following the pageant the Altar Guild and to brass polishers par excellence who polished all the brass in the church, and made Christmas beautiful all who took time on a busy Sunday-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 volunteer office help, Julie McDonald, Kathy Miller, Suzanne Taylor, Hoagy Walker, Marilyn Causey, and Marti Spang who worked so hard to prepare bulletins and make other arrangements

BIRTHDAYS in January

2 Kelly Sherman
7 Barbara Dobbins, Helene Daly, Robert Bailey
9 William Smith, David Taylor
12 Karen Perretta, Laura Pratico
13 Susan Goldthwaite
14 Lillian Peterson, Blanche Salisbury, Emery Chapman
16 Nancy Bernard
17 Pearl Burton, Dan Lundquist
23 Debbie Trawick
25 Michael Ambrosino
26 Carl Hatlee III, Scott Kilbourne
27 Alyce Raymer. Carolyn Morin
30 Betsy Neal


2 Helbert & Mary Ann Baum 
6 Michael & Pauline Holmes Bishop
19 Bud & Beverly Blanchard
21 Leroy & Jackie Tomlinson
25 John & Susan Goldthwaite
29 Dave & Liz Stevens
31 Bob & Virginia Malmros, Bruce & Jane Tatge,
William & Jeanette Ackner

January Schedule

  Jan 2 Jan 9 Jan 16 Jan 23 Jan 30
Altar Guild C A B** C A
Chalice 8:00 am C. Jones G.Woodsell P.Holmes M.Causey G.Woodsell
Lector 8:00 S.Coonradt K.Miller S.Woodcock B.Neal L.Stevens
Chalice 10:15 N. Hoffman M. Causey C. Jones G.Woodsell O.Luczka
Lector 10:15 R.Voelker C.Murphy David Crates D.Manor S.Grady
Crucifer 10:15 J.Petito M. Trawick R.Petito Stewart J. Petito
Server 10:15 Chapman R. Petito Pratico J.Rizzo M.Trawick
Torch 10:15 Manor A.Rizzo Pierce Roseberry Casale
Torch 10:15 Manor Sombor BMcD T.Trawick Whitney
Ushers F G A B C
Nursery Gourley Campbell Pierce DeBritz Mertz
Counters C D E A B
Flower Dist. A B C D A
Care Team Lowe Woodzell Causey May Woodcock

* Altar Gulid: Your duty week begins the Saturday before the above date.
**Altar Guild:  Includes Sunday 7:00 P.M. service in chapel
Acolytes:  Please find a  substitute if you cannot serve or call Deacon Pat.
You need to arrive in the choir room at least 15 minutes before the service begins.
Lectors:  Read the first lesson and lead the psalm.

Altar Gulid Teams Flower Distribution
A  Hoffman, Northrup A Lowe
B  McDonald, Morin, Reid, Russell B  Woodzell, Ackner
C  Dipley, Lowe, Tomlinson C  May
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  Lowe, Voelker D  A.Spang,Borrowman,Crates
E  Dare, Stewart E  Cornell,Peake,Small
F  Causey, Jones Subs:  Bishop, Holmes


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

January Flowers

January 9 In memory of Allen F. Pierce Given by Jeanette Ackner

January 16 In memory of Frances Lander Spain

January 23 In memory of Dawn Schlansker Given by Ted Schlansker

January 30 In memory of Emilie & William Voelker Anna & Arthur Lindstrom
Given by Robert & Shirley Voelker


Rachel Fund Charter Donors to be Recognized

SICM launched the Rachel Fund in late 1998. More than 30 charter donors, both individuals and congregations, have contributed at least $250 each in cash or stocks in the first year. They will be honored at a special reception in January. We welcome other charter donors in this initial step toward building an endowed fund that will ensure a viable future for SICM and its programs. For information, contact Marianne Comfort at 374-2683.

College Students Sought to Sort Food

The Food Pantry seeks volunteers to sort food from 9 am. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 3-20, during the traditional college break. Even lending a hand for one 3-hour would be appreciated. Call Pat Obrecht at 346-4445.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Set; All Invited

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will kick off with a brief march through downtown Schenectady at 2 p.m. Afterward, state Assemblyman Paul Tonko will be guest speaker at a community service at the First United Methodist Church. For information, call the Human Rights Commission at 388-4290.

Churches Called to Act for Justice

Bread for the World and the Hunger Action Network of New York State are sponsoring a joint conference on "Mobilizing Faith Communities to End Hunger" on Saturday, Jan. 29, at a site yet to be determined. The program will get congregations involved in a campaign to call for justice and enhanced opportunities for all at a time when 1. 5 million New Yorkers are visiting emergency programs every month. For information, call 434-7371.

Postcards on Hunger Urged

The Hunger Action Network of New York State has available postcards to be sent to state legislators calling on them to support the Hunger Prevetion and Nutrition Assistance Program. This program assists food pantries and soup kitchens. Postcards, available in bulk, may be picked up at the SICM office or by calling 434-7371.

Robert Obrecht Named Volunteer of Year

Robert Obrecht was named a Volunteer of the Year at SICM's holiday Assembly. Bob is SICM's unofficial handyman, helping out on odd jobs around the offices at 930 Albany Street. He also is a faithful deliverer of Save and Share units once a month and regularly for the Food Program. He is a member of Bellevue Reformed Church. We appreciate all his workl


Most of us drive to church on Sunday morning without thinking twice about it - hop in the car, turn the ignition key, and a few minutes later we are there. For some parishioners, who lack automobile transportation, it is not so simple. What do you do, call someone to request a ride? But, who should you call? The church isn't on a bus line, so do you take an expensive taxi? Or do you just stay home, missing the opportunity for corporate worship?

Here is a easy way to answer these questions: offer to pick someone up and bring them to church, and then return them home afterward. What we need is a cadre of caring parishioners, who are willing to leave home a few minutes early, perhaps once or twice a month. Call the Church Office any morning (346-6241) and you will be matched with someone in need of a ride who is not far out of your way to St. Stephen's. A schedule will be set up so that there is no uncertainty for your rider. If you are away, let the office know and other arrangements can be made. Start out the new year right by offering to do your part in helping our own faithful people get to church.

Christmas Tree Project

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Christmas Tree project; beautifully wrapped presents were delivered to "our" families. Special thanks are due to our "Santas" for delivering the presents. Also, thanks particularly to Christine Murphy and Kelly Nolan, who coordinated the project magnificently this year.

Pauline Holmes for the Service Committee

Safe House

Thanks you for the continuous supply of toiletries for Safe House. Our special need for January is deodorants. As always, the basket is in the narthex.

Thank you

Pauline Holmes for the Service Committee

Generation X and Their Search for Meaning

The generation of students that now inhabit and are recently graduated from college are, roughly, the group to which the media refer when speaking of Generation X. Demographers and sociologists describe units of our population with broad-brush terminology and generalized statements which seek to increase our understanding of some of the behaviors and habits that typify a particular group. While these categorical descriptions are not wholly accurate, they can be helpful in grouping information and deciding some approaches to the identified group. All of this is to say, that there is a lot to be learned about Generation X if we, as the church, are to respond to their particular perspectives and needs.

The spiritual needs among this group are very real, yet very far from the modes and forms of expression that traditional churchgoers find meaningful. A GenXer values community yet defines it such that a computer chat room qualifies. There is a great need to volunteer time and effort to meaningful causes, yet they make little connection between their desire for large homes and larger yards to the lack of affordable housing in our cities. This generation can repeat the dogmatic dialogue among church leaders on issues of abortion and homosexual union but most of them don’t know if the story of Noah is from Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament. And, with all this mix of messages, the symbols of their music, the longings of their hearts, suggest a real need for a life of the spirit.

I have been immersed in this world of need and rebellion for 18 months. It is not a world I would ever have presumed to enter even 20 months ago. Yet I have grown to love this generations search, their irreverence their values even. I am also increasingly aware that our churches are being called to new work and new understanding through this generation’s particular challenge. Join me for an adult class on GenX and their search for meaning on January 16th at 9:00 am. Perhaps some of my thoughts and visions will find expression in the sermon, which I will offer that morning as well.

Viki Brooks-McDonald

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