Messenger

Summer 2002


 

Out of The Book and into Your Life

 If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples.     -John 8:31

    Why read the Bible?  It can be hard to read, hard to understand, and few  people today manage to work their way though the whole thing on their own.    Why can't a person just be a Christian without being a devotee of the Bible?

Such objections to serious Bible study have prevailed for more than a  generation in most mainline denominations in the US .  The result is the current crisis that endangers the future of our Church -- widespread adult    Biblical illiteracy and a mounting ignorance of the contents of the Bible. This is a problem because these ancient texts, The Holy Bible, are the fruit of the Spirit working in and through the struggles of the earliest Christian  disciples. Through their struggle to witness to the truth, both the Holy Scriptures and the Church were born.  The Church came into existence through the process of writing the Holy Scripture, and the Holy Scripture came into existence through the process of birthing the Church, the Body of Christ.  If    our community of disciples at St. Stephen's are to be connected to the communion of saints who struggled and prayed and taught and bore witness (many at the cost of their lives) through the last twenty centuries, then we must listen to the Word of God speaking through them.  We become disciples of Christ only by holding ourselves accountable to this Word.  Without study of the Bible, we are left with merely 'organized religion' that more and more reflects popular culture, values, and attitudes.

Who needs to learn the Bible?  Every disciple must learn - that is what it means to be a disciple.  Disciple means 'student'.  To be a disciple of Christ, one must face the challenge of serious Bible study. What if you're too busy right now?  Everyone is too busy.  Most people find the time to do what they really value, and make commitments to what they believe is important.  Studies show that adults who attend church (even those who attend sporadically) are genuinely interested in serious study of the Bible.  When given study opportunities that are rich in content, people will make substantial commitments.  Too often in mainline churches 'bible study' has meant six people in the church basement asking each other how a particular passage makes them feel today.  That is not the sort of study that leads to discipleship.  When one studies the Holy Scriptures seriously, including the historical, literary, textual, linguistic, and spiritual content, one encounters a richness and depth that is transformative.  Instead of trying to figure out how to make scripture relevant to our lives, we find ourselves seeking to make our lives relevant to scripture!

There is truly a crisis in the church, and we don't have time to be tentative or delicate about this.  Too much is at stake for the future.  That is why we (Fr. James, Deacon Pat, and Mthr. Lorrie) have an audacious goal.  For the program year of 2002-03, we want to see 100% of the adult members of St. Stephen's complete a study of the Bible. (This is sort of like a 'no child left behind' education policy!) Currently we have about 160 adult members in good standing available for Bible study.  To put this in perspective, during the program year of 2001-2, we had about 40 adults regularly participating  in adult education, a little less than 25%.  This is very good compared to the 'average' parish in the Episcopal Church, but it is not good enough by discipleship standards.  By discipleship standards, we are leaving * of our people behind!

    To support this big holy audacious goal, Fr. James, Deacon Pat, and Mthr. Lorrie are committed to working hard this coming year.  It is, after all, our vocation to teach and preach the gospel.  There will be room for all 160 adults, and a few more.  We will be offering three introductory Bible courses: two classes of Disciple I, Becoming Disciples through Bible Study and one class of Discovering the Bible.  For those who simply cannot attend a weekly class at church (shut-ins or those with small children at home) we are trying to figure out how to have an on-line Bible study available through our web-site.  The Adult Education Hour on Sundays will also be focused on reading and learning biblical content throughout the year.  Our high-school class will be included - they will be using the Disciple I study during their Sunday classes.

    For those who have completed the introductory classes already (Disciple I or Discovering the Bible), there will be several new courses offered.  Disciple II, Into the Word, Into the World, is a 32-week in-depth study of the books of Genesis-Exodus and Luke-Acts.  A whole series of courses from the Kerygma program will be offered as well: Knowing God (seven weeks on basic biblical theology); The Light will Come (five weeks for Advent); Parables (Deacon's Pat's favorite course to teach); and Shalom (a 14-week study of the Biblical concept of Peace, during Lent and Easter).

    Please prayerfully consider how you can best study the Holy Scriptures this coming year.  Let us know what class times would be best for you (weekday evenings, Saturday mornings, Sunday evenings, weekday mornings at 5:30 am, anything within reason).  This will help us in preparing the calendar for next year.

    Last weekend our 2001-02 Disciple I class enjoyed a retreat at Barry House on Brandt Lake .  It was a wonderful and holy time to celebrate all that we've learned together.  One of the Disciples summed the whole year up by saying, "this is not just about studying the Bible, it's about how to change your life."  Our prayer is that everyone at St. Stephen's will receive this kind of blessing.

 

Rector's Letter

Dear Friends,

 This is the "Summer Messenger" which means that is the last one you will receive until September.  This also means that our program year is coming to an end.  Every June I look back over the last ten months in amazement.  The collection of monthly "Messengers" tells the story of the year just past. As I flip through the pages, there is one response that arises: the response of gratitude to God for the gift of such a year.

 It has been said before on this page, and I cannot help but wonder: do we realize, do we ever really realize the gift of this congregation to us? Look through the new directory - at all the names of all who have joined our membership - and remember that many congregations struggle to show a lessened decline each year.  As I flip through the past year's newsletters, I remember the incredible lives of those who have died, but not before they gave much of themselves to the work of this church.  I also see articles on activities that have helped us to keep on top of social issues, to educate us about the substance of the Christian faith, to welcome those who are strangers in our midst.  Consider the members of the parish council whose labors of love have strengthened us.  Rejoice at the list of vestry members who have led us this far.  I am overwhelmed at the children in our congregation who have crowded into our church.  I am excited by the strains of choirs singing, our organ resounding.

 I am also very excited about our plans for the next program year (Sept. - June).  Having just completed a year-long study of the bible called Disciple, I am convinced that everyone in this congregation would benefit greatly from some sort of bible study. The scriptures are the very center of our spirituality.  Therefore, I am happy to mark next year as a time in which we will strive for all of our members (all ages!) to engage in bible study.  Your clergy staff has been planning for such an undertaking for over a month.  Please make a resolution to devote time for reading and studying our sacred  writings.

 Do we ever really realize what an INCREDIBLE, LIVELY, REMARKABLE gift this church is to each and every one of us?  Come to the volunteer recognition picnic on June 8th after the 10:15 am Eucharist.  Celebrate all that we have done; and all that we can do in the coming year.

   

 PERIPATETIC PARISHIONERS

 Once again the bulletin board at the Garner entrance will be reserved for bulletins from all over the world! When you worship elsewhere this summer, please save the bulletin (or anything else you think might be of interest) and tack it up on the bulletin board. The rector loves to receive bulletins and  newsletters from other churches.

   

Summer Finances

 The Finance Committee sends a gentle summer reminder that our financial commitments do not go on vacation.  If you plan to be away, please update your pledge before you leave.

 

   

SICM

 

SICM is planning a 35th Anniversary celebration at Proctor's on Sunday, September 22. The celebration will include a musical tribute and an ice-cream social.  Every participating congregation has been issued tickets to this event.  Ticket prices are $5.00 per person or $10.00 per family.  See Cindy Reedy to purchase tickets.

 At the May Assembly meeting, several grants were announced for SICM programs, including COCOA House and the Damien Center .  There was also a brief presentation on the concerns regarding the proposed Glenville power plant.

 The City of Schenectady Emmett Street Pilot Project was introduced as a model for revitalizing the Hamilton Hill area.  As a result of recent violence and deaths in this area of Schenectady , attempts have been made to address the core issues and needs in the area.  A task force has been formed and will be developing the project over the summer. 

 CROP Walk money has been collected from nearly all the "pledgers" at St. Stephen's.  If you have remaining pledges to turn in, please give them to Cindy Reedy or Janine Phillips.  Thanks for another successful CROP Walk!

 

 

Emergency Grants from ER&D

by Kabby Lowe

 • A $25,000 emergency grant was given to the Dioces of Southwestern Virginia following continuous flooding in the region over the past ten months. Flooding has damaged homes, business, and other buildings. The funds will assist families without flood insurance and supply material to help rebuild homes and other structures.

 • A $25,000 emergency grant was awarded to the Diocese of Washington after a tornado struck communities surrounding La Plata , Maryland . The deadly tornado cut through Charles and Calvert counties and damaged or destroyed several hundred homes and o;ther building structures. The funds will provide shelter to those left homeless and help with office relocation,

• A grant of $12,000 was given to the Diocese of Atlanta following a tornado in Calhoun , Georgia . The tornado caused minor to severe damage to several area homes and businesses. The funds will prov ide assistance to uninsured homeowners, small business owners, and those left temporarily  unemployed after the storm.

 • A grant of $25,000 was given to the Diocese of Columbia to assist those people who were displaced by recent unrest in Columbia . The grant will provide basic supplies for those who have been forced from their homes.

 Please send a contribution to help with the next disaster. Mail your check to Episcopal Relief and Development, Box 12043 , Newark , NJ 07101 -50434 or donate on the web:  www.er-d.org .

 

   

Foster Grandparent Program

 Sign up now to be a foster grandparent. You will receive a tax-free, non-reportable stipend of $2.65/hour that won’t  affect  any of your benefits. There are 11 paid holidays per year. You can earn paid time off; you will have five bereavement days, and several other benefits.

 You will work 20 hours a week  with children in a structured environment, helping them with self care, learning, emotional support, and activities.

 For more information, please call the Commission on Economic Opportunity at 272-1006.

 

Kerygma

 Beginning in the fall, one of the opportunities for Bible study at St. Stephen's will be a course called "Kerygma: Discovering the Bible."  This 30-part course is the foundation of the popular Kerygma Program that has been offered at St. Stephen's over the past 12 years.  Participants will explore biblical events and people through a combination of reading, reflection, discussion and creative expression.  Classes will meet weekly, for 1 1/2 hours, at a time agreed on by participants (it does not have to be Tuesday evening!).

 

Spong

Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired bishop of Newark NJ gave a lecture at the First United Methodist Church in Schenectady on May 4, 2002.

Having heard Bishop Spong on previous occasions, I wanted to hear what he had to say about "Humanity: made in the image of God." Bishop Spong is a controversial figure in the church. He "thinks outside the box," and rejects some of the literal tenets of the faith: creation in 7 days, virgin birth and physical resurrection of Jesus. Instead, he says that our language is too small to describe God, and by trying to do so we make "graven images" of our creeds and doctrines and worship them, rather than the God of life.

Bishop Spong is a person of impressive intellect, and an entertaining and provocative speaker: he makes you think and question. For the most part I agreed with what he said, but I did have some reservations. For example, he quoted I John: "...God is love," then he went on to ask "If God is love, is love therefore God/" He also remarked that the church has done more harm than god through the centuries. I certainly agree that the church is not always right, or always loving, but not necessarily more harmful than good. But these are minor points in a representation of the gospel with which I basically agree: Jesus said (John 10) "I came so that you might have life, and have it abundantly." My responsibility as a disciple of Jesus, then, is to live so that everyone can live fully, love extravagantly and be all that they can be. The audience's enthusiastic response indicates that many others would agree.

Bishop Spong will be the keynote speaker at the Finger Lakes Conference in Geneva, NY, June 23-28.

 

July Flowers

    7   In memory of Edna and Albert Sachs given by Miriam Sachs

  14   In memory of Mary and Leo F. Cody, Sr. given by Marilee D. Wilson and William Hurloon, Jr.

  21   In memory of John and Joyce Nelson given by Keith and Christine Nelson
        
In  memory of the loved ones of Gillian and Sidney Woodcock

28     In memory of Cynthia Jane Whitney Bacher given by Dr.& Mrs. Eugene Whitney
     
   In memory of Ryan Whitney Bacher   given by Clark Whitney

        

July Birthdays

    1   Hoagy Walker

    5   Vaughan Woodzell

    6   Kimberly Chapman

    8   Dick Downs

    9   Joan Moss, Dawn Tonneau, Marian Sevinsky, Mary Davis

  10   Doreen May

  12   Gillian Woodcock

  13   James Brooks-McDonald, Noah Jerard

  15   Andrea Worthington, William Smith

  16   Michael Bishop, Austin Spang, Gaye Mertz

  19   David Malcolm

  21   Chris Jones

  25   Oto Jones, Mark Pasko

  26   Garret Pierce

 

 

July Anniversaries

    4   Robert & Anita McCalley

    8   Dick & Cherie Downs

  10   Bob & Shirley Voelker

  11   Jim & Lorrie Lyons

  16   Charlie & Gaye Mertz

  19   Rick & Carolyn Morin

  21   Brian & Julie Bailey

  28   Jed & Marilyn Dare

 

August Altar Flowers

    4   In memory of Nancy Walters Carter given by John and Olive Carter Luczka with flowers from their garden

  11   In memory of Justin N Northrop  given by Pauline B. Northrop

  18   (available)

  25   In memory of William McMahon, Jr. given by Howard and Margaret Phillips
        
In memory of Henry and Frances Baumis  given by David and Suzanne Taylor

   

August Birthdays

    2   Paul Lyons

    5   Cindy Reedy, Peter Sombor

    6   Pauline Holmes, Bob Chapman

    7   Suzanne Taylor, Sydney Bailey, Lynn Ann Kelly

    9   Nora Molino

  14   Julia Smith

  15   John Goldthwaite

  16   Daniel Emaelaf, Tim Widenor

  18   Mildred Santer

  19   Betty Dipley

  20   Stacy DeBritz, Emily Mertz

  22   Janine Phillips, David Dare

  24   Daniel Kock, Jim Lyons

  25   Murray Roseberry

  26   Richey Woodzell

  28   Clark Whitney

  29   Glenn Kaler

  30   Mary Whitney

 

 August Anniversaries

    1   Ben & Dawn Tonneau

    2   Tim & Susie Olsen

    6   Alton & Cindy Reedy

    9   William & Karen Smith

  12   Murray & Linda Roseberry

  13   Charlie & Carmella Vedder

  18   Dick & Polly Mathews

  21   Kent & Carol Molino

  25   Ron & Mary Michaelson;  Charles & Debbie Trawick

  28   David & Suzanne Taylor

  31   Tom & Kathy Miller

 

Summer Schedules

  Aug 4 Aug 11 Aug 18 Aug 25  
Altar Guild* B C A B  
Chalice 8 am Denise Crates C. Jones O. Luczka N. Hoffmann  
Lector 1 8 am B. Stratton K. Miller C. Jones R. Woodzell  
Lector 2 8 am Dave Crates O. Jones S. Ras G. Woodzell  
Chalice 10:15 O. Luczka Dave Crates G. Jaquith D. Trawick  
Lector 1 10:15 R. Stewart M. Roseberry G. Woodzell J. Ackner  
Lector 2 10:15 J. Ackner N. Hoffmann R. Woodzell M. Causey  
Counters C D E A  
Nursery          
LEMs C&D Trawick G&R Woodzell Ackner/Downs C&D Trawick  
Care Team G&R Woodzell A&K Lowe G&S Woodcock C&D Trawick  
   
   
 
  Jul 7 Jul 14 Jul 21 Jul 28  
Altar Guild* A B C A  
Chalice 8 am Dave Crates C. M-M M. Causey D. Trawick  
Lector 1 8am S. Woodcock O. Luczka N. Hoffmann M. Bishop  
Lector 2 8 am G. Woodcock B. Mazurek P. Nevius P. Holmes  
Chalice 10:15 N. Hoffmann C. Trawick C. Jones M. Causey  
Lector 1 10:15 V. Hoshko L. Pratico K. Chapman L. Emaelaf  
Lector 2 10:15 R. Stewart C. Junes G. Jaquith Dave Crates  
Lector 7pm volunteer volunteer volunteer volunteer  
Counters D E A B  
LEMs Ackner/Downs C&D Trawick G&R Woodzell Ackner/Downs  
Care Team G&R Woodzell A&K Lowe G&S Woodcock C&D Trawick  
*Altar Guild: Your duty week begins the Saturday before the above date.  
**Altar Guild: Includes Sunday service at 7 pm in chapel (Eucharist)   
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 Guild Teams Flower Distribution Team  
A  Hoffman, Northrop A  Lowe  
B  Peake, Morin, Reid, Russell B  Woodzell, Ackner  
C  Dipley, Lowe, Tomlinson C  R&D May  
D  Tatge  
Ushers  
A  Borrowman, Nevius Counters  
B  Kilbourn, Ehler A  M.Spang, D.May, R. May  
C  Lowe, Voelker B  Ackner, Gittinger, Molino  
D Woodzell, Michelson C  D.Belardo,Vanda,Voelker  
E  Dare, Stewart D  A.Spang, Borrowman, Crates  
F  Causey, Jones E.  Cornell, Peake, Small  
Sustitutes: Holmes, Bishop