LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
By now you have received a mailing from the church asking that you fill
out a time and talent pledge sheet. I believe that God calls everyone
of us to some ministry, the trouble for us is to be open to what that
calling might be.
One of the most compelling sermons I've ever heard was given by the
senior pastor at an inner-city Gospel Church one cold January day. I
arrived late with several friends; we were ushered up to the front as
the music began. Though it was cold outside, the building's interior
was filled with warmth and energy. I could feel it as the preacher
invited us to stand and sing.
As he began to preach, a sense of anticipation filled the room. I had
heard about this man and this community of faith led by him. "The
message I want to share is familiar to us," he said. "Brothers and
sisters, the theme for today's sermon has to do with selling out! Jesus
says that if we are going to be his followers, we need to sell out and
go with him!" "Amen...Amen....Amen" was heard throughout the room.
The preacher continued, "Let each of you lead the life which the Lord
has assigned to you, and in which God has called you. Jesus has called
us and wants everything from us. We know the struggles. Yes, Lord, you
are our only hope."
As I looked around, I became increasingly convinced of this community's
complete trust in Jesus, the one who saves. These people lived in very
trying circumstances. Poverty, violence and broken promises marked their
days. But this Sunday: that reminder that Jesus calls us to do his
work: those words gave them food for their journey.
I hope this invitation to do God's work is also refreshing for us. So
often it is just the opposite. Let me make a few points to remember the
next time a parish leader is on the phone asking you to consider an
activity of our congregation.
· Nobody is called to do everything. God gives everyone gifts for
building up the body of Christ and God expects all of us to be
responsive to that call. Just because some are not responsive, doesn't
mean a few of us are to do it all.
· We, individually, are responsible to God for God's call in our lives.
When something is presented to us, it is up to us to decide with God
(through prayer) if we have the gift for the task, and if we will
respond to God's call, or not. There should be no guilt trips, no
coercing. A "No" is as holy as a "Yes" if considered prayerfully.
· Our community at St. Stephen's needs the creative use of our members
gifts if we are to follow our mission and to obtain our goals and
objectives. To allow our gifts to go unused would be disastrous ? and
maybe even death. Bonhoeffer said that the community that exists with
unemployed members, will die because of it.
The prayer for those of us seeking to follow the Lord, is this: Lord,
help us to discern your will for us, and when we are asked, help us to
'sell out' for the church's sake. AMEN.
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS AND ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
On October 7th 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. Since Oct. 4 falls on
a Monday this year, the parish council thought that the preceding
Saturday would be a good time for St. Stephen's to begin what could be
an annual tradition.
Here's how it will work:
On October 2nd 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 with whom it dwells."
It's quite a sight!
LECTIONARY BIBLE STUDY
The Episcopal Church uses a list of lessons from the Bible which are
read at the Sunday Eucharist. This 'lectionary' provided for reading
large sections of the Bible over a three-year cycle. This weekly course
is a study based on the following Sunday's scripture readings and is a
good preparation for Church School teachers or anybody who wishes to
enrich their Sunday worship experience. The classes meet on Thursday
mornings at 10:45 in the rector's study and is led by the rector.
Sign-up forms for "Foyers - Fall '00 will be available at the Parish
Faire on September 10th. It is essential that you sign up to participate
in this fifth year of Foyers as we cannot assume that all those who have
already participated will continue this fall.
The Foyer program at St. Stephen's emerged as part of our mission
discernment and involves eight to ten people meeting monthly for dinner
and conversation in each others homes. If you have any questions,
please call the parish office.
A CHILD'S PLACE IS IN THE CHURCH
Children are encouraged to attend the celebration of the Eucharist
with the adults. For those too young to remain for the worship
service (under the age of five years old), child care is provided from
10:00 a.m. through 11:15 a.m.
This month's cartoon (you had to be there!!)
EDUCATION FOR MINISTRY
Those of us called upon to live in a complex world which demands a
sophisticated education should expect to receive a proportional
preparation in those matters of greatest importance, the faith by which
we live. For the church to provide less is to fail in its mission to
proclaim the Good News.
Those who embark upon a method of theological reflection find new
questions are raised. Some are surprised, upset and dismayed when they
discover that a simple faith may be questioned by complex reasoning.....
a questioned and reasoned faith can make us feel uncomfortable,
especially when some of our youthful assumptions are questioned. But
this is what illumination and enlightenment are about.
The Education for Ministry (EFM) Program is the theological education
extension program of the School of Theology of the University of the
South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Completion of the program takes four
years, during which participants study the Old and New Testaments,
church history, and twentieth century theology. The purpose is to
provide lay members of the church with a comprehensive foundation for
understanding and experiencing Christian faith. Students meet regularly
in seminars led by a trained mentor. Tuition is $325 annually.
What can you expect from EFM? Those enrolled in the program report that
EFM has helped them to think theologically, increase their understanding
of the Christian heritage, deepen their faith and provide them with a
new confidence in their ministry.
EFM is held on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Please see
call the parish office if you would like further information about EFM.
We're starting our adult choir season off with a bang again. This year
Rocky Bonsal and Bob O'Bara have graciously offered their home (2268
Berkley Ave., Niskayuna) to us on Thursday, September 7 for a choir
potluck/rehearsal from 6:00-8:30 p.m. New members are welcome! Our
firstSunday service will be September 10 at 10:15 a.m. (warm-up at 9:45 a.m.)
Please R.S.V.P. to Tim Olsen at 383-6101 or email@example.com by Tuesday
evening, September 5.
The youth choir will begin rehearsals in October--date and time to be
KEEPING IN TOUCH
Parish Council Committees
Service... Has collected enough school materials for all the children in
the six families to attend the first day of school with full backpacks.
Worship... Has been making plans for special worship services throughout
the next nine months. Also has been examining how best to use the space
in the front of the church.
Evangelism... Has submitted regular 'press releases' to local newspapers
concerning activities at St. Stephen's.
Education... Deacon Laurie has prepared for the opening of Church School
and has been planning new adult education classes. Is thinking about
sending a group to the LOGOS leaders training in October.
Pastoral Care... Continues to schedule two lay people each week to
supplement the rector's visits to those in hospitals, long-term care
facilities, and at home.
Fellowship...Is planning for the Homecoming picnic on September 17.
Finance... Income for the annual budget is good. Loose plate offerings
and pledges are better than expected for the summer months. Expenses
are below budget.
Building... Work in the sactuary is almost complete. Exterior of church
doors have been varnished. Garner entrance was rebuilt and painted.
Washroom by the ramp entrance has been remodeled including installation
of new floor. Interior and exterior of church has been spot painted.
Carpeting in downstairs classrooms has been repaired and cleaned.
Central air conditioning has been installed at the rectory. A privacy
fence has been installed between the church driveway and the rectorys
Grounds... Sprinkler system was repaired after freezing last winter. A
study is being made to determine how to create additional parking
spaces. Drawings of a new sign for the front of the church are being
Sept. 3 - Back to School supplies due
Sept. 10 - Parish Faire
Church School Registration
Sept. 17 - Church School, Adult Education, New Members Classes (9-10am)
aqnd Homecoming Picnic after 10:15 Eucharist
Please continue to contribute toiletries for Safe House in the basket in
the Narthex. Baby food is always welcome for the food pantry.
The SICM Food Program currently needs children's books for all ages and
reading levels, plastic and paper bags, and any canned or boxed food
Home Furnishings Program (HFP)
Each year in August or September St. Stephens is asked to man the van
for the Home Furnishings Program. This program, started by Church Women
United and carried out by area churches, accepts used furnishings in
good condition to be given to families in need in Schenectady County. As
well as donating smaller household goods in the basket in the narthex
throughout the year, we take a turn picking up and delivering larger
Please offer your help! We will need several three-person crews to work
2-3 hours one evening or afternoon the end of the summer. Kids aged 16
or older aremost welcome. Each crew must have a driver at least 25 years old who can
drive the HFP truck. please let Richey Woodzell know now, or sign up at
the shop, if you are interested in being part of a crew.
Altar Flowers in September
3 In memory of William McMahon, Jr given by Howard and Margaret Phillips
10 In memory of Dr. Zachary Taylor Trawick and Jeanne Rogers Trawick
given by Charles and Debbie Trawick
17 In honor of the loved ones of Sidney and Gillian Woodcock
24 As a thank offering for our daughter, Caroline, given by Huge and Beth Newlands-Campbell
1 Stephen Woodzell
4 Timothy Olsen
8 Jim Boening
10 Martha Nicholson
11 Sidney Woodcock, Greg Phillips
12 Allison DeBritz
14 John Barber, Linda Perregaux
15 Olive Carter Luczka
18 Michaela Corbari
19 Alice Buell
20 Drew Prescott, Jr.
21 Richard Morin, Lily Holcomb
23 Norman Gittinger
26 Devon Dare, Caroline Campbell
27 Mary Michelson, Joseph DeBritz, Lea Scafid
28 Benjamin Blaufuss, Anita McCalley
September Wedding Anniversaries
4 Oto and Josephine Jones
12 Hugh and Joan Campbell
18 David and Nancy Bernard
22 Paul and Elizabeth Pratico
26 Don and Helen Reid
29 Dick and Polly Mathews
Bible Study (Kerygma) to Start in October
Welcome to Bible Study at St. Stephens. Beginning on Tuesday, October
10, we will enter a study of Lukes Gospel. this will provide a timely
introduction to this gospel, which will be read on most Sundays nest
year, beginning with Advent Sunday, December 3, 2000. Classes will meet
on fourteen Tuesdays, from 7:30-9:30 pm. (If there is sufficient
interest, we might hold a daytime class as well.)
Classes are open to all, regardless of privious Bible study experience.
What is most important is ones willingness to participate actively,
including a commitment to prepare for each class. The scripture comes
alive for us as we enter into a conversation with it, opening ourselves
to heart and respond to the Good News it offers. We will use material
published by the Kerygma Program, which includes a resource book for
each student, to guide our study. Classes are led by Deacon Pat Jones.
Bible study provides not only an enrichment of our personal faith but
also an opportunity to deepen the faithy and fellowship of our
community. Bring a friend! Sign up at the Parish Faire on Sept. 10, to
order a book, or call Deacon Pat (372-5836).
by Dick Causey
Over the summer, the Over-the-hill Gang has tackled the following
* Painting the double back doors of the parish hall
* Painting the outside trim and walls of the parish hall as needed
* Repaired the floor tile in the back entrance and kitchen of the parish hall
* Cleaned out the gutters
* Cleaned out the window wells in front of the nursery school
* Scraped and painted downstairs interior walls as needed
* Refinished all outside oak doors
* Repaired the hand rail near the Garner Ave. entrance
* Replaced missing molding around windows of Garner Ave. door
* Painted sencod floor bathroom in the church office building
* Hired repair work on Garner Ave. entrance
* Hired repair of carpet in Sunday School area.
Dick Causey is the fearless leader of an exceptionally talented crew:
Bill Beck, John Goldthwaite, Ted Schlansker, and George Woodzell.
They all deserve much praise and thanks from all of us.
The Service Committee will meet on October 1 at 11:45 am. All are
welcome and new ideas are invited.
Six strong people to clean out the loft. Almost everything must be taken
down, sorted, inventoried, and stored. We'll meet at 9:00 am, September
9, in the Parish Hall Extension. Remember "many hands make light work."
Also, consider this to be a lost treasure hunt--we do not know what we
Please call the Office to volunteer.
St. Stephens Women's Group
The St. Stephens Womens Group will meet on September 18 at 7:30pm at
the home of Liz Varno, 1158 Phoenix Avenue. The purpose of the Womens
Group is to provide opportunities for owmen of all ages at St. Stephens
to gather for socialization and discussion on various topics. Projects
may evolve, but they will be a result of mutual concern for the church
community. Topics for this years meetings will be decided. Please RSVP
to 346-5370 if you plan to attend the meeting.
Bits and Pieces
The St. Clare chapter of the Daughters of the King meets on the third
Wednesday of each month (Sept. 20), 7:00-8:30 PM, in the middle school
classroom. We gather for prayer, Bible study, and planning our service
to St. Stephens. Any woman or girl interested in attending is welcome.
Anyone interested in reading the first lesson and leading the psalm
for the 8:00 and/or 10:15 services (and not already on the lector schedule),
please call Marilyn Causey at 372-2469.
Thanks to all who have returned their database information slips.
Remember. we can't celebrate your birthday or anniversary unless we know
when it is!
The next Messenger deadline is September 17.
Please remember to fill out and return your time and talent form. This
is very important for planning and doing. We want to include everyone
and use your time and talents as wisely as possible.
by Richey Woodzell
The prayer chain now has a mailbox in the parish hall extension! If you
would like to put requests or updates in there, instead of calling
someone on the prayer chain, please do. Also, I will put the monthly
updated list there for those who are part of the prayer chain, instead of mailing it. Please
check it for the latest update, which was August 16.
Womens Retreat at Brant Lake
by Marilyn Causey
A womens retreat at Barry House on Brant Lake is scheduled for the
weekend of September 22-24. The retreat will begin the evening of the
22nd (dinner not includfed) and end after breakfast on the 24th. Cost
for the entire weekend is $64.00. Please call Liz Varno at 346-5370
between 8am and 6pm to make a reservation. Reservations must be made by
The serenity of the setting is conducive to reflection as well as
fellowship with other women of St. Stephens.
Please call Liz for more information on a great opportunity to recharge
for the coming year.
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