The Messenger
May, 200


Rector's Letter May Wedding Anniversaries
SICM News A Moment to Rejoice and be Glad
Two Important Meetings Thank you... Thank you.
Sunday School Schedule Bits and Pieces
Bishop to Visit Youth:  Work Camp
Altar Flowers in May Making Worship More Open
Birthdays Meal Site Anniversary

Rector's Letter

I sat in the chapel having finished Morning Prayer and I was struck once
again by how beautiful our Episcopal liturgy is written. Today I
recited:

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have
fallen asleep.


I will recite those words every day for the next fifty days and I will
never tire of their poetry and truth. I will recite the same prayers
that I have recited for months and years.

Earlier this week a friend who is Baptist asked me curiously, “Don’t you
ever want to have variety in your worship?” For a moment I felt like an
ecclesiastical conservative, a creature of dull habit and unimaginative
routine.

But this morning I emerge from the chapel with the words of thanksgiving
still ringing in my ears:

We bless you for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of
this life;


The scripture readings and responses change day by day. The prayers
change by the day and week and season. Yes, they are all written down,
in a book of common prayer, but my spirit prays them anew each time.

It is not as if I am unacquainted with other ways of worship. For
several years I worshipped with the Quakers in silence. I went to a
Lutheran kinder-garten and lived in Lutheran housing in seminary. I have
worshipped with Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists. I have
attended some very original, creative liturgy (if you can even call it
(‘liturgy’). And yet, I always come back
to the words of our prayerbook.

There are two ways to live, wide or deep. Sooner or later we have to
decide whether and where we want to land.We have to choose the people
and the place we call home. We have to choose how we want to pray.

“It takes time”, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe once wrote, “to really see
a flower.” It took me several weeks to move from Rite I in Lent to Rite
II in Easter. It took me several years to learn the new liturgies in the
1979 prayer-book. I am still trying to understand the great mystery of
our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” in our Eucharist. Others may
need much more variation in their worship. But today I felt God
touch my heart with the familiar words of Psalm 18. That’s all the
variety I need.


SICM News

Save and Share Food Buying Co-op seeks volunteers for the last Friday of
the month to help unload trucks and distribute food to participants at
various sites. This cost-saving program also seeks volunteers to deliver
grocery units to the elderly and homebound. For more information, call
Cindy Hofer at 346-5207.

At a recent planning session, SICM delegates considered possibilities
for support of youth programs offered by member congregations.
Recommendations include a convening of church youth leaders to develop a
plan of action. For more information, contact Laurie Bacheldor at
374-8215.

The Community Crisis Network assisted 428 households with shelter, food,
transportation, employment and other needs since first opening its doors
a year ago, organizers noted in a recent “Annual Report to the
Community.“ Most of that assistance has been provided by tapping into
available community resources. An emergency fund established with
contributions from congregations, Catholic Charities of the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Albany, St. Vincent DePaul Societies, banks,
individuals and other community organizations has enabled the CCN
counselors to help individuals when no other resources are available.
Donations may be sent to Catholic Charities of Schenectady County, 818
Union St., Schenectady, NY 12308.
Coming Soon to Your Mail Box. . .

The first phase of the database project is about to end. Soon, we will
be sending you a copy of the data we have compiled from the various
stashes of records in the church. But many of the individual records are
incomplete. When you receive your copy of your database record, please
do the best you can to fill in the blanks. The church office has
resources to help you if you provide some details (such as, your
previous Episcopal churches.) So, if your mom is still available, ask
her for some thoughts this Mother’s Day when you call. Or, get out the
family bible, search your safe-deposit box, check out any certificates
you may have, talk to a sibling—you get the picture (family albums?)!
at each other’s Eucharists.


Two important meetings of the larger Episcopal Church will occur this
Summer: the Albany Diocesan Convention and the General Convention of the
national Episcopal Church. Our Diocesan Convention will be held June 2-4
at the Camp-of-the-Woods in Speculator, New York. The highlight of this
meeting will be the Consecration of the Reverend David J. Bena as Bishop
Suffragan. Among the bishops who will attend will be the Presiding
Bishop, The Most Reverend Frank Griswold, III. In addition to the business side
of our Diocese (electing officials, voting on budgets and resolutions,
etc.), there will be a youth rally and special youth events, worship, a
variety of workshops and exhibitors, and child care. The music for the
gathering will be provided by a local group of Episcopal priests who
call themselves the Clerical Errors.

The delegates from Saint Stephen’s Church are Norman Hoffmann, Suzanne
Coonradt , and Michael Bishop. Fr. James and Deacon Pat are also delegates.

Fr. James is seeking re-election for a position on the Standing Committee of
the Diocese.

During the first two weeks in June the General Convention will be held in
Denver, Colorado. Perhaps the most controversial issue to come before
this body of over eight hundred delegates is the Church’s blessing of
committed relationships of same-sex couples. At the last General Convention held
in Philadelphia in 1997 a group was commissioned to recommend a final
decision on same-sex unions. Their report suggested that the Church
leave in place an unofficial policy that lets individual dioceses decide
whether to bless lesbian and gay unions. This issue is sure to generate
the most publicity during the two weeks.

Other business to come before the General Convention
is the resolution which recommends full communion with the largest
Lutheran Church in the USA.

Most Episcopalians know more about their local communities than about
the larger structures. Many have no involvement beyond the local
boundaries. However, since we are Episcopalians, we bear a share of the
responsibility for the support of the diocesan and national structures.
This means that to be an Episcopalian is to be something more than a
member of a local group of Christians, and it demands a greater
awareness of larger responsibilities.

A budget totaling $136,444 ,000 over the next three years has been proposed.


Sunday School Schedule

May 7 Regular classes
May 14 Intergenerational
May 21 Regular classes
May 28 No classes

June 4 Regular classes
June 11 Regular classes
June 18 Regular classes


Bishop to Visit

Bishop Daniel Herzog will be at St. Stephen's on June 11. He will
preside at the 8:00 service and he and Fr. James will celebrate the
Eucharist and Baptism at the 10:15 service. Bishop Herzog will
commission the newly formed chapter of Daughters of the King at the
10:15 service.

There will be a reception in his honor following the 10:15 service.


Altar Flowers in May

May 7 The Loved Ones of Bruce and Jane Tatge
In celebration of the 102nd birthday of my mother, Ruth Merchant given by Eunice Chouffi
14 In memory of Gwen Robbins given by Leonard & Carolyn Montorio and the David Taylor Family
21 In memory of Mary E. Daly given by Mr. & Mrs. C.W. Daly
In memory of Thomas Marks given by Mildred Marks
28  In honor of the loved ones of Austin and Marti Spang 4 Margaret Trawick, Bruce Tatge

Birthdays

5 Belachew Emaelaf, Isabella Varno
6 Rocky Bonsal, Emalie Varno
7 Ryan Roseberry
8 Sheila Boyce, Barbara Prescott
9 Marilyn Dare, Gary Rigley
10 Stewart Vanda, Robyn Stewart
12 Linda Roseberry, Dan MacIvor, Ayodele Jones
13 Helen Cornell
15 Charline Hoffmann, Norman Hoffmann
17 Cherie Downs
18 Benjamin Hoshko
20 Steven Koch
26 Allison DeKanel, William Schlansker
29 William Smith, Jr.
30 William Koch
31 Julie McDonald

May Wedding Anniversaries

4 Richard and Vicki Hoshko
9 Guy and Dorothy Lathers,  Drew and Karen Prescott,  Tom and Ann Rigley
10 Carl and June Hatlee
15 David Goyette and Gloria Kavanah
23 David and Denise Crates
28 George and Richey Woodzell


A Moment to Rejoice and Be Glad

The Good Friday Offering collected for our Church in Jerusalem was
$256.00. What a wonderful out-pouring!

Easter was Beautiful and Grace-Filled

What a joyous Easter Feast it was. Again this year we had a full church
at both the 8:00 am and 10:15 am Eucharists.

Our Easter attendance was over 400 people! Easter flower offering was
generous and the flowers were as beautiful as most could remember. How
wonderful to have everyone having a share in the Festival.

Then “Low Sunday” that Sunday after Easter Day wasn’t low at all. An
above- average congregation at both services. Keep it up! Let’s use
the remaining days of the Easter season to rejoice with one another as
we say:

Alleluia, Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.


Thank you....Thank you

.....To all cooks who cooked and baked our suppers before the Thursday
Lenten studies.

.....To all those who set up, cooked and cleaned up for the Seder.

.....To the Altar Guild and to brass polishers par excellence who
polished all the brass in the church, and made Easter Day beautiful with
flower arrangements.

.....To Tim Olsen and the choir members; to Marilyn Dare and all the
bell ringers who helped to make Palm Sunday beautiful, and Easter Day
joyous.

.....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 administrative assistants who worked so hard to prepare
bulletins and make other arrangements.

.....To Dave, our sexton, who made the church shine again

.....To the Church women who made our palm crosses.

.....and the list goes on and on!


Bits and Pieces

The last Agape' will be held on Friday, May 12. Bring a dish for the
potluck supper and join us for a bit of wine at 6:30. Dinner is at 7 and
will be followed by Kelly Nolan who will tell us about some "Interesting
Local Nature Walks."

Although this Messenger is late, I really do hope to have the summer
edition out on time. So gather your news for June, July, and August and
get it to me by May 23. The summer Messenger is the last until September.

The ECW will be having a bake sale on Sunday, May 21 after both
services. Everyone is invited to contribute your personal delicacies.
Items may be dropped off at Liz Varno’s on Saturday, May 20 (please call
first) and/or at church prior to 8:30am the day of the sale.

The Schenectady Committee for Social Justice and the Schenectady NAACP
continue to address police-community issues in response to recent
allegations. Recommendations include calling for reinstatement of the
police commissioner position and giving the Police Objective Review
Committee more authority. For information, contact Jim Murphy at
346-6848.

Easter Baskets

A big big thanks to everyone who helped fill the Easter baskets for our
needy families. As Father James has pointed out, these are a special treat;
there is some expectation of giving at Christmas, but at Easter the baskets
can be a truly wonderful surprise. A special thanks goes to our delivering
families.      Pauline Holmes

Mark Your Calendar for June 10th
The “Somebody’s Treasure” Sale
Saturday, June 10th
8:00 - 12:00, bag sale 12:00 - 1:00

You’ve done your spring cleaning! Now what do you do with all that
stuff you don’t want/need anymore?!  Bring it to
St. Stephen's for Our "Somebody's Treasure Sale"
We are happy to accept furniture, kitchenware, small appliances,
jewelry, tools, linens, dishes as long as items are clean and in good
condition, but please no curtain rods, clothing, computers, or broken
things. Helpers needed!


Work Camp

On July 1, Ichthus, St. Stephen's high school youth-group, travels to
Oliver Springs, TN for a week-long work camp. Bringing together
high-schoolers from all over the country, these camps combine work, play, and a religious
framework into an unforgettable experience for the young people and the
adults who come with them.

What happens at workcamp?

Starting each day at six in the morning, we work on a variety of
projects to help poor and elderly people have better homes in which to
live. The work might include replacing a roof, building a new room,
replacing floors or stairs, repainting, or building a wheel-chair ramp.
The work is hard, challenging, and very rewarding.


Making Worship More Open
by Fr. James Brooks-McDonald

We are growing in numbers and in spiritual maturity. That is our
blessing. We began in 1928 in a small storefront on Union Street. Since
then we have grown into one of the largest Episcopal churches in the
Diocese of Albany. Faithful parishioners provided this magnificent
church building out of their deep devotion in earlier times and passed
it on to us. Now it is our turn to carry on their dream of allowing more
people to know Christ within our congregation.

As I have led the worship in this building for the past ten years, I
have noticed a number of hindrances to more people participating in the
Eucharist.

Problem #1: In order to come up to communion our church has four steps
which must be mounted. Those who are unsure on their feet can find this
a real hazard. Ushers and acolytes try to help, but that is sometimes
not enough.

Problem #2: Our church is narrow and very long in design. In fact it is
over one hundred feet from the altar to the back of the church. This
does not make for an intimate setting for Holy Communion. When a new
person walks into the church, it is not clear that the Eucharist is the
center of our worship. In fact, the pulpit looms larger.

Problem #3: If you have ever sat in the first five or six pews on the
pulpit side you will notice that our large pulpit blocks most of your
view of the service. You could not even see the altar at all.

Problem #4: We have a very good choir, however instead of singing
facing the congregation, they face one another. This is a tradition left
over from the Middle Ages when most of the congregation was the choir -
and all were monks! There is a big difference when the choir comes out
of their pews and sings facing the congregation, not in leading the
hymns.

Problem #5: As our choir has grown we have run out of room for the
clergy and choir members. It’s a good problem to have, but nevertheless
a big problem for us when the entire choir sings.

Problem #6: As we have added new groups to our worship experience, (the
bell choir, our adult and child instrumentalists, etc.) an acute
shortage of space necessitates that they play in the back of the church.
We just do not have enough space in front for them to play without
feeling ‘in the way’ of others.

Therefore, as your rector, I have attempted to solve all of these
problems by moving the choir to the place where the altar is presently.
This allows them to face the congregation at all times when they sing.
It also gives more seating as the choir expands.

The altar has been moved to where the choir presently sits. This puts
the altar much closer to the congregation, allowing those in the pews to
have a much better view of what is going on. I believe this creates a
more inviting atmosphere, especially for newcomers to our church.

Finally, I have moved the altar rail from its present location to where
the lectern and pulpit are presently. The rail fits precisely as it did
where it used to be, allowing our needlework cushions to be more
visible. Most importantly it takes away the necessity of climbing steps
for those wanting to take communion. Worshippers now can always be on
the same level, which is more convenient. The pulpit has been moved out
of the vision for those in the first pews and the lectern has been moved
back. Now there is more room for instrumentalists to play in the front
of the church!

I suggest that we try this new arrangement. It has cost no money to move
the furniture around and it could all be put back without much effort if
it does not solve our problems. As you can see, it is not change for the
sake of change, but change with a reson. Let me know what you think.
Next October we will reconvene our small groups that met in Lent and
decide if we want to keep the rearrangement or go back to the way it
was.



25th Anniversary of Senior Meal Site

The St. Stephen’s Senior Meal Site 25th Anniversary Party is on
Wednesday, May 24th. A meal will be served at 12 noon. The suggested
donation is $2.25 for those over 60 and $4.50 for those under 60.
Please make a reservation with the meal site (395-6506) by May 22 if you
would like to join the party.