The Messenger
March, 2001        Back to St. Stephen's home page       back to Messenger home page


Saint Stephen’s Begins Evening Service

 

On the first Sunday in February our congregation began a Sunday evening Eucharist with fourteen people attending.  Throughout the month attendance averaged twelve.  

The idea of an evening Eucharist began as a result of planning for mission strategy the congregation completed two years ago.   There were two main reasons for the need of such a service.  First, it was noted that attendance on Sunday morning drops by a much as fifty percent during July and August.  An evening Eucharist would give our members who travel during the weekend an opportunity to attend when they came back home on Sunday.  Second, it was noted that many of those in our surrounding neighborhoods who might like to come to St. Stephen’s are working on Sunday morning.  An evening Eucharist would allow those who have never been able to attend church in the morning, to become a part of the Sunday congregation.  

The evening Eucharist is different from the morning in several ways.

The congregation begins in only dim light as it asks God to illumine the evening.  Then the candles are lit and the scripture lessons are read. Instead of the organ to accompany singing, in the evening the piano is the primary instrument, supplemented by flute and other instruments.  Some of the music comes from two songbooks published by the Episcopal Church.  They contain many Black spirituals and contemporary hymns from all over the world.  Some of the music of the evening service comes from the Taize community in France. 

The Sunday evening Eucharist begins at 7:00 pm. 

Rector’s Letter

Dear Friends, 

Many of you have seen our advertisement  in the Daily Gazette and have asked me what the phrase “catholic and reformed” means.  The word “catholic” (small “c”)literally means “universal”.   It is also used to mean “orthodox” to recall the undivided church before the divisions which separated the Eastern from the Western churches in 1054 AD.  Thus it is a claim of an unbroken continuity of faith and tradition from the age of the apostles (including Roman Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions) denoting those who value continuity and unity.  Traditionally, the  “catholic” part of my description of St. Stephen’s Church refers to the claim in the Nicene Creed that we are a “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” 

The word “reformed” literally means “improved by the removal of faults or abuses” and “changed for the better”.  In using that term in the advertisement I mean to insert an element of dynamism in our congregation, that though we value continuity, we are always looking at ways to improve our practices and our thinking both in our congregation and in our society.

The word “reformed” is also meant to set The Episcopal Church apart from other churches in the way we view authority.  The Roman Catholic Church for most of its history has been refining the idea that when the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, speaks ex cathedra (literally “from his chair or throne) on matters of faith and morals he is infallible.  Classical Protestantism (i.e. Lutheranism and the churches that follow the teachings of John Calvin) has taught that authority is found in Scripture, alone.  The Episcopal Church holds that our authority is the association of Scripture, tradition, and reason.  Like the Protestants, we put great emphasis on the Bible, and like the Roman Catholics, we emphasize the traditions of the church.  But what makes us different is our emphasis on the use of reason.  We believe that a sincere pursuit of truth, done collaboratively, ultimately opens us to the mind of God and sometimes the mind of God necessitates our re-thinking of traditional practices or of our interpretation of Scripture.  In keeping an equal dialogue among Scripture, tradition and reason, we are continually “reforming” ourselves and our society as we seek God’s will.

 

In using the term “catholic and reformed” I am seeking to identify who we are as a congregation.  If you would like to delve further into this, I invite you to attend the Discovery Classes beginning on March 11th at 9:00 am in my office and continuing for the next eight weeks.

CONFESSION

Making a confession in preparation for Easter is a long-standing tradition form many in the Church.  This is an individual confession to a priest.  The service of Reconciliation of a Penitent in the Book of Common Prayer provides an excellent form for personal self? examination, confession and reception of God's forgiveness.  If anyone is interested in participating in this rite as we move toward Easter, please feel free to contact the rector.

Ode to Dick from Marilyn

Dick and I met as new teachers at Scotia-Glenville High School in September  1958. We were married at St. Joseph’s Church in Scotia in 1961., Throughout our thirty-nine years of marriage, we lived in the area: Scotia, Glenville, and then, Niskayuna. Our four children were fortunate to go to one school system and make lifetime friends. We moved to Grand Boulevard in June, 1969. Father Tom Moss came to call on me amidst th packing boxers in the living room. St. Stephen’s became my church home from that time on. Dick and the children were Roman Catholic, yet would often attend St. Stephen’s with me. In 1973, I was diagnosed with a very nasty form of leukemia. Our lives turned upside down, and St. Stephen’s became our rock. Every crisis brought babysitters and meals into our home from the women of the Church, but most importantly we were supported by the prayers that surrounded us. It was an unbelievable outpouring of love and concern that Dick never forgot. He began “visiting” St. Stephen’s more and more, always remarking on the friendliness of the congregation. In 1993, Dick formally joined the church and began a very active involvement. He, too, was a loving and giving member of our church community.

Dick was part of several committees. As a teacher for 32 years at one school, he met and influenced thousands of students and had lifelong friends among the faculty. His twenty-five years of coaching made him part of another community of men and boys who loved playing by the rules, playing as a team, playing to win. The other community was a mix of dear friends from Scotia-Glenville, college, and our neighborhood.

There isn’t a price tag you can place on “community”--it is priceless. You can’t see it, but you can sense its warmth when you open yourself to it. When we worship our Lord and Savior, receive the body and blood of Christ at the communion rail, we join the largest and best community of all, the one God calls us to.

Thank you to all who brought food, stood in line for such a long time at the funeral home to give an embrace or speak kind words, sent flowers, notes and cards, prepared the reception, and then joined with  Dick’s family at the church to celebrate his life. He was blessed to know you, work with you, and worship with you, experiencing the love and concern that you all offer as the community of St. Stephen’s.

Odds and ends…

Needed:  Lectors for the 7pm service. We’ve recruited several, but we need more. Please call Marilyn Causey (372-2469) if you are interested.

Altar Guild: We will have a meeting and polish brass on March 24 at 9:30 am. We will polish silver on April 7 at 9:30am. Please save these dates.

The Women’s Group will meet on March 19th at Liz Varno’s, 1158 Phoenix Avenue.

Flowers

There are no altar flowers in Lent, but please see the coupon in this issue for Easter flowers!

March Birthdays

 

1            Katherine Hoshko, John V. Casale        
2            Michael Bernard
3          David Sherman
4          Ethan Brooks-McDonald
5            Elizabeth MacFarland
6          Paul Pratico, Elizabeth Sherman, Nicholas Bernard
7            Thomas Casale, Joan Campbell, George Ehler
10        Diane Bengston-Kilbourn,  Kelly Nolan, Logan Olberg
11        Adam Gibbs
13        Shirley Voelker
15        Frank Webster
16            Anthony Mazurek
18        Grace Ann Murphy Nolan
19             William Beck
21        Emily Blaufuss
22        Susan Townsend,  Molly Morgan
23        Marti Spang, Paul Kennedy  
25            Julianna Fowler
26        Beth McKeone
27        Linda Emaelaf,  Paul Pratico
28        Sandy Borrowman
29        Beth Newlands-Campbell
30        Helen Reid,  Ralph May
31        Daniel Correa

Wedding Anniversaries

 

6          Susan and John Liberis
22        Beth and Hugh Campbell
28            Melissa and George Ehler,  Karen and Dennis Holcombe

If your birthday or anniversary is missing, please call the office.

Easter Food Hampers

We will once again be supporting our Giving Tree families at Easter by providing food hampers. Please take a card from the cross in the Parish Hall after Sunday, March 11th, and return the requested food items, sufficient for a family of 6 people. The items must be returned before 10:15 service on Easter Day, April 15th.        Pauline

Needlepoint Kneelers

Soon we will have the corner pieces for the kneelers at the altar rail! As we contemplated  how best to deal with the awkward  spaces at the bend of the rail, I was struck again at the beauty and “specialness” of our kneelers. In addition to being lovely pieces of art, they represent many, many hours of loving labor by a group of truly dedicated people. In order to preserve these cushions, we all need to be aware  that the kneelers do need our care. Parents, please do not allow your children to stand on the kneelers. Needlepoint cannot be successfully dry cleaned, so any stain may well be permanent. We appreciate  your help in conserving these fine pieces!

Lent

 Lent, the annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, is an intense period of Christian teaching and training.  In earlier centuries, the season provided the background for the preparation of the catechumen (new converts) for baptism on Easter morning.

 The catechumens were later joined in their studies by professional Christians seeking continued study and spiritual renewal.  By the third century, Lent also was a time when Christians who had lapsed in the faith could prepare for reuniting with the body of Christ on Maundy Thursday (Great Thursday).  Their journey began on Ash Wednesday when ashes gathered from the burnt palms of the previous year's Palm Sunday were placed on the confessor's forehead as a sign of repentance and total dependence on God.  Thus, Lent has become a time for all Christians - new converts, committed followers, and renewed believers, to reflect on their baptism in the light of Christ's baptism and temptation.

 Lent is a time for spiritual preparation; a time for discipline; a time to "repent" or "turn around" as the Greek words "metania" implies.  The spirit of Lent is to take on anew all that it means to belong to Christ. 

 Lent is a way of growing into Easter.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN LENT

Thursday Evenings: We begin the evening with Evening Prayer in the church at 5:30.  After the service we gather in the Parish Hall for a light supper: hot soup and beverages will be provided and can be supplemented with a sandwich from home.  Finally, at around 6:45 we gather in the Library for our Lenten Study series. 

Thursday Mornings:  For many, the Season of Lent is a period of healing - -spiritually, emotionally, relationally and physically.  The Sacrament of Healing is offered as a part of the Eucharist at 10:00.  Persons wishing to receive this Sacrament are invited to stay at the altar rail after receiving the wine.  It involves the Laying on of Hands and Anointing with Holy Oil of Unction.  After the service we will gather in the rector's study for a Bible Study based on the following Sunday's scripture readings.

Sunday Eucharists in Lent: The Prayerbook gives many liturgical observances that are especially appropriate for Lent.  Each Sunday in Lent will begin with the "Penitential Order" (p.  319) which includes a confession of sin.

Fridays in Lent - Stations of the Cross:  'Station' is any place in the church where, during a solemn procession, there is pause for a prayer. During Lent there is a practice in which fourteen 'stations' are visited in turn, with a pause for a reading, a versicle and response, a prayer, and a time for meditation.  In this case, the 'stations' are fourteen pictures depicting incidents in the narrative of Christ's passion, from Pilate's house to the entombment.  These pictures will be placed around the church on Fridays and booklets which lead the participant through each station can be found on the table in the back of the church.  The church and chapel will be open each Friday from 9 am to 9 pm.

Lent affords us a good opportunity to explore areas of our liturgical tradition that not widely used in our church.

FOOD NEEDS

    The Post Office food drive last December brought in 30,00 pounds LESS  food than the previous year.  The food is distributed among all the food  providers in the county, SICM included.  This means that their supplies for  the pantry will not extend as far as planned. 

    One way we can help is to continue bringing food in for the basket in the narthex.  For the month of March, please bring in Enfamil baby formula with  iron.

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GETTING RID OF A DRESSER?   CLEANING OUT YOUR KITCHEN DRAWERS?

    The Home Furnishings Program provides second-hand furniture and household items in good condition for those in need in Schenectady County.  You may donate large items such as beds and mattresses, dressers, tables and chairs, by calling Home Furnishings, 346-2444, and arranging for pickup.  Bring  smaller items to the basket in the narthex.  Especially needed are dishes,  flatware, utensils, pots and pans, linens and towels.  

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FREE LECTURE (for anyone interested in Old Testament times, or in the  heritage of the Jews) Sunday, March 25 at 10:30 AM.  Congregation Gates of Heaven, corner of Eastern Pkwy and Ashmore Ave, one block from upper Union Street.

ANITA DIAMANT, Boston-based lecturer and author of several books on contemporary Jewish life, will speak about her best-selling novel, The Red Tent, its Development and Meaning.  

Have you ever wondered what life was like back at the time of the book of Genesis?  Anita Diamant presents a fascinating idea in her fictional Biblical  narrative, The Red Tent.  This is the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and  Leah, and sister of the twelve sons of Israel, whose life is only hinted at  briefly in a violent episode in Genesis 34.  Not only do we hear Dinah's  version of this incident, buy we learn of the ancient world through her  experience growing up in Jacob's family and later living in a foreign land.  This is a captivating story of the daily life of women, with new insights into the early Israelite religion and traditions, desert travel, sibling rivalry, midwifery, birth, death, and the stories they passed on.  From The Boston Globe came this review:  "An intense, vivid novel . . . It is tempting  to say that The Red Tent is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by women, but only Diamant could have given it such sweep and grace."     Treat yourself to a couple evenings experiencing a new look at the Old Testament world by reading The Red Tent.   Borrow my copy, or get it from the  library. 

And then go hear Anita Diamant speak.  I plan to.       
Richey Woodzell

SICM Notes

The Feb. 7th SICM meeting was an overview and evaluation of SICM’s role in the community, its purpose and resource needs with the goal of strengthening the group’s programs and advocacy in the future. Upcoming events may include “theme” meetings that highlight one or more of the elevven programs that SICM parents and site tours or presentations by the various programs.

There was discussion of the possible future availability of government grant money, particularly for after-school programs, through Pres. Bush’s proposed faith-based initiative plan.

There also may be a county-wide church service next yer for member churches to re-covenant with SICM. The service will coincide with SICM;s 35th anniversary.

There is a constant need for volunteers for various community programs, especially food programs and after-school programs. Call the SICM office (374-2683) if you would like to volunteer.

Janine Phillips and Cindy Reedy will attend the March 6 organizational meeting for CROP Walk recruiters. The CROP Walk this year will be May 6--more information to follow!!

March Events at Union College

March 11, 2001 3:00 pm. Emerson String Quartet,  Haydn - Op. 77, No. 1 and Op.     74, No. 3 "The Rider";Shostakovich - Nos. 13 and 14.  Memorial Chapel

March 17, 8:00 pm Musicians from Marlboro Borodin - Three Songs; Ravel -Chansons madecasses; Leon Kirchner - Piano Trio No.1 (1954); Brahms -Piano Quartet in A, Op. 26. Memorial Chapel.

Peace,
Viki Brooks-McDonald

Campus Protestant Minister, Union College
518-388-6618 campus number
518-370-3573 home number


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