The  Messenger

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

September, 2002


2002 -2003:  The Year of the Bible at St. Stephen's


Last spring the clergy of our parish suggested that a better understanding of the Bible would strengthen all our church member's faith.  Therefore, they  decided to make bible study a priority for this coming academic year. The first thing they did was to put bibles in the pews so that they can ask sermon listeners to turn to a passage that might not be in the lections for that day.  The next step was to plan to offer year-long and short-term bible studies on a variety of days and times.  In this edition of the "Messenger" you will find that schedule.

 However, many in our congregation cannot attend weekly meetings due to busy schedules.  An idea surfaced: Wouldn't it be convenient to study the bible every day at your office desk or at home?  How could the internet be used? This summer Vaughn and George Woodzell developed a link to Saint Stephen's web site.  This link leads the user to an interactive daily bible study.

 Of course, one thing led to another, and they expanded the idea.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could create a chat-group which would discuss that day's bible reading?  How about another group that could discuss and ask questions of that week's sermon?  And then, "Why limit conversations to just those two things?  Why not allow anyone in the congregation to generate a topic of conversation for our members?"  Well, Vaughn developed a wonderful link to our web site.  It is  restricted to only our parish members through a screen name: ststeph and a pass-word:  xxxxxxxxxx (Editor: this is available to members of St. Stephen's church only).  Plans are being made to develop an online picture directory for our members' access only.

 The first priority is bringing a daily bible study to ALL members of our congregation.  Please visit out new web page link in and discover how you might enter into the wonderful world of our scriptures.


 From the Rector

 Dear Friends,

 For most in our congregation summer is a time when activities in life slow down.  If you look at the parish calendar, you might think the clergy and their staff can slow our pace, but that is not at all the case.  Sure, we take our vacations, but between time the office is bustling with activity.  

The mission work week to Niagara , NY was a great success.  I even heard one long time worker say that this was the best.  And then the next week we had a very successful vacation church camp.  Mother Lorrie and Debbie Trawick, along with their many adult volunteers, worked wonders.  Over twenty-five children attended and only eight were from our congregation.  Now that is outreach!

 We sent a newsletter to over 250 of the church's neighbors letting them know how St. Stephen's can be of help to them.  Included with the newsletter was our new church brochure featuring the photographs of Chris Jones.  We printed a couple thousand and hope they will be helpful in letting the larger community know who we are.

 I have also been quite busy putting together the online bible study about which you've read.  It is based on the very successful Disciple series and I think it will open the study of scriptures to many more people in our congregation.

 And so it has been a very full summer. I am looking forward to an exciting fall.


Rethinking Sunday School

Sometime back in the late 1950’s most mainline Christian denominations engaged in a new approach to Christian education for children. The ‘baby-boom’ children filling the pews were taken to church schools, dropped off by their parents and sorted into classes by age.  Each church denomination invested in the development of new curricula materials to be administered by volunteer teachers.  The Seabury Series was the first in the Episcopal Church, and many others followed.  The church schools that resulted were generally a great improvement over the often haphazard approach that preceded them.  The church schools were full as well.  It was normal to see most children earn the ‘perfect attendance’ pins handed out at the end of each year.

Most churches are still following this model developed forty years ago, but much about our lives has changed.  First, of the ‘baby-boom’ children who filled those church school classrooms forty years ago, less than thirty percent now attend church more than two times a year.  Second, most families who do attend church regularly attend on average once or twice per month. On average, a child who attends Sunday School actually attends every third Sunday.  This is true across denominations, including the Episcopal Church.

It is true for our parish as well.

The current system of Christian education is clearly not able to withstand the tidal wave of American culture.  Our culture insists that children must have every advantage and every experience that their parents can possibly provide.  Sports are a must, and many children participate in three or even more sports in a year.  Music lessons, dance classes, art and theater, languages, and special tutoring are often added.  Families also travel more - the extended family is usually far away, and of course there are vacations.  As a result, Church school happens when the family is in town and there are no competing activities on Sunday.

We could go on a campaign to insist on better church school attendance, but probably nothing much would change.  Because attendance is really not the key issue.  After all, what is the purpose of having a Church school?  What is ‘Christian education’ for?  If  Christian education were simply a set of information and concepts to be mastered, and if questions from that set appeared on the SAT exams, we would suddenly have a huge demand for Christian education programs.  But that is not what Christian education is about.  The only good reason to have a Church school is to help families to form and nurture their children as disciples with a living faith in Jesus Christ.

There are many ways to do this, and some will work better than others.  But the essential element is that parents are the primary faith teachers, mentors and role models for their own children.  Church provides the reinforcement - not replacement - of the parent’s duties.  One educator put it this way: “we want to grow faith from the family up - not the church down.”  Once we think about Church school as reinforcement of what happens at home, all sorts of new possibilities appear. What if parents and their children prayed together, read Bible stories together, sang songs, celebrated feasts, made crafts and played games together to learn and to think and to be formed together in the faith?  And what if, when these parents and children joined with other families on Sunday, we would celebrate and share all the things each person has discovered during the week?  And what if we could have some really intense fun in Sunday school?

At St. Stephen’s, we are convinced that the time has come to give children back their parents as their primary faith teachers.  Our church school this year is organized to do this.  Each family with K-5 aged children will be receiving materials to use at home for family devotions, bible learning, celebrations, songs and games.  When we come together on Sundays, we will be using a centers based approach during Sunday school.  There will be a music center, a crafts center, a Bible center, and a games center.  Each of our church school teachers will be dedicated to one of these centers, and we will be asking the parents to participate as teacher’s helpers on a rotational basis. 

There will be an orientation meeting for all parents and teachers of the K-5 Church school on Saturday, September 7, 9:-30-11am.  Please plan to attend, and bring your questions and ideas.  We’re looking forward to an exciting new year.


Safe Church policy

This month we will be mailing our new Safe Church Policy to our church school families and teachers. Our church school teachers and vestry members who attended the Godly Boundaries training in April worked together to think through the way we do things at St. Stephen’s.  Approved by the vestry in May, it outlines the procedures we will be using for recruiting and training volunteers and for providing educational programs for children and youth in our parish. Please take the time to read this policy when you receive it. If you have any questions or comments, please call Mother Lorrie.


Kerygma 2002-2003

 “Discovering the Bible” will be one Kerygma Bible  study course offering, starting in September and continuing until spring.  In this course we will learn about the people, events and themes found in the Bible, and how they are related to each other and to our own lives.  The class will meet on Tuesday evenings, from 7:30-9:00 .  An excellent workbook contains reading assignments, exercises and topics for further study.  Weekly assignments, usually requiring 1-1 * hours of study, and class participation provide opportunities for students to deepen their knowledge of Scripture and become part of a group with a common purpose.  No previous Bible study is required; openness to new ideas and respect for others’ understanding provide a comfortable setting for learning.

 Another course, being offered here for the first time, is “Great Themes of the Bible: Knowing God.”  This 7-week course will explore some of the questions that God’s people have asked about our creator: What is God’s true nature?  Can we trust God to be loving, fair and just?  How can we know the unknowable God?  We will explore these and other questions that help to shape our faith.  Classes will be held on Saturday mornings, 8:30-10:00 .

   Please sign up for either of these courses at the Parish Faire on Sept. 8 so that we can order your copy of the Resource Book.  For more information, call Deacon Pat (372-5836).


Christian Formation for Adults

 Education Hour on Sunday Morning.

Inquirer’s and Discoverer’s classes will be led by Fr. James. The adult class meeting in the parish hall will viewing and discuss the video series That the World May Know a series on basic Christian doctrine and history that comes to us with enthusiastic recommendation from several other parishes.  We will be interrupting the progress of this series from time to time for some guest speakers who will show us ways to put our faith into practice.

 Weekly Bible Study

We are focusing our adult faith formation this year on the Holy Scriptures, that every member of our parish may read, mark, and be formed by the Word. There are three sessions of overview courses offered each week:  the Kerygma “Bible Discovery” on Tuesday evenings and two sessions of Disciple I, one on Wednesday evenings and one on Saturday mornings.

Disciple II, a more in-depth Bible study course for those who have already completed Disciple I or Kerygma Bible Discovery, will be offered on Tuesday evenings.

In addition, there will be short courses on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings offered at various times during the program year.

See the calendar of adult education courses on the bulletin board in the parish hall. If you would like to look at the course material, it is available on the shop counter for your perusal.   Please sign up for the courses you intend to study by September 8.


High School and Middle School

Our high-school group will not be left out of the Bible study going on in the rest of the parish!  This group will begin the Disciple I course as well, following a format for youth groups.  They will continue to meet on Sunday mornings, but because their classes are half as long they will cover only the first 17 units during this program year.  That means they will complete the study of the Old Testament, and next year they will study the New Testament.  Dave Crates and Susan Townsend will be their leaders for the Disciple study.  They will be going to their first retreat October 18-20, a “Happening” retreat at Beaver Cross.

 The middle-school group, 6th- 8th grade, will be forming our new Rite-13 class with George Woodzell and Gloria Kavanah as their leaders.  Gloria and George did such an outstanding job with their last group that we want them to do it again!  These young people are going to have a great two years with them. They will be going on their first retreat together October 14-16, a “New Beginnings” retreat at Beaver Cross.

 Acolyte Festival

 The Dean of our Cathedral of All Saints, Dean Vang, has invited all the acolytes of the diocese to an Acolyte Festival at the Cathedral, on September 14 from 10-4.  The acolyte action at the cathedral is amazing, and well worth learning.  All present, past, and not-quite-yet acolytes (11 years old before this Christmas) are invited to attend.  Please speak to Mother Lorrie so she can register you.


 Parish Faire

 Once again we will be having the Parish Faire and Picnic to begin this year.  The Faire will take place on September 8th at 9:00 am following the early service and again during the coffee hour following the 10:15 am Eucharist.  There will be a table set up for each activity of the parish and a chance to sign up for each.  There will be refreshments at 9:00 am and at 11:30 am .

We are a parish family and, as such, each one of us at every age has a responsibility to share in the life of the family.  The possibilities and the diversity are numerous.  We urge you to sign up for something you would like to do, thereby participating more fully in the life of the parish.


What we did on our summer vacation

 On Sunday, July 21, thirteen young people and six slightly-less-young people from St. Stephen’s set off for Niagara Falls , NY , for our annual week of work camp, where we join other church youth groups in performing home repair work for the needy and elderly. This was the first time that Reach Ministries had held a work camp at Niagara Falls .  As usual, our base of operations and home for the week was a school building ( Niagara Middle School ) but this time we also had a “host”youth group.  A Methodist church in nearby Grand Island NY, whose youth group had participated in work camps elsewhere, suggested the location to Reach, and also shared in the organizational work, which takes about two years.   A “sellout crowd” of over 360 people from Middle Atlantic, Midwestern, and Southern states attended.

 On Sunday evening we all crowded into the gym where we met the other members of our work crews, and learned what our projects for the week would be.  We were divided into 57 crews, with six or seven people, including one or two adults, to a crew.  As much as possible, each crew didn’t have more than one person from any one church, so we started the week as complete strangers to our fellow crew members.  Most work sites had only one crew, but a few of the sites had two crews. 

Each morning, we met in the gym for announcements, and a short program of Bible reading and prayer, and then headed off to our work sites. The projects consisted mostly of porch and step repair, roofing, dry wall installation, and painting.  Some of the more skilled adults served as “trouble shooters” dividing their time among three or so sites, offering suggestions, demonstrating techniques,  and bringing in more supplies and tools when needed.  Each day, we also held a brief devotional program at the work sites, following the same theme as the morning program.  We invited our “residents” to join these sessions, and many of them were quite happy to do so.  In the late afternoons we returned to the school for showers and some free time before dinner in the cafeteria.  Dinner was followed by a longer evening program in the gym, which began with a show of slides the staff had taken of the crews at work that day, followed by joyful singing, a skit performed by the staff,  “crew sharing” and discussions within our work crews of the religious theme introduced in the morning program.  Following the camp-wide evening program, we re-assembled into our own youth groups for “youth group reflections”  

Wednesday was  special, in that we had the afternoon  and early evening free to spend as we wished with our own youth groups, and the evening program included a talent show, to which we were  especially encouraged to invite our residents.  The St. Stephen’s group went on the Cave of the Winds tour at the base of the falls.


Week by Week

Sunday, September 1

8:00     Chalice Bearer  Chris Jones

            1st Lesson Lector         Oto Jones

            2nd Lesson Lector        Olive Luczka

10:15    Chalice Bearer              Denise Crates

            1st Lesson Lector         Jeanette Ackner

            2nd Lesson Lector        Robyn Stewart

Altar Flowers: A thank offering for the 20th anniversary of Josephine and Oto Jones

                        and in honor of the wedding anniversary of Charles and Debbie Trawick

Birthdays: Tim Olsen (4th)

Anniversaries: Josephine and Oto Jones (4th)



Sunday, September 8

8:00     Chalice Bearer              Pauline Holmes

            1st Lesson Lector         Barbara Stratton

            2nd Lesson Lector        Michael Bishop

10:15    Chalice Bearer              George Woodzell

            1st Lesson Lector         Bob Voelker

            2nd Lesson Lector        Millie Gittinger

Altar Flowers: In honor of the loved ones of Gaye and Charles Mertz

Birthdays: Martha Nicholson (10th), Sid Woodcock (11th), Greg Phillips ((11th), allison DeBritz (12th), Linda Perregaux (14th)

Anniversaries: Joan and Hugh Campbell (12th)



Sunday, September 15

8:00     Chalice Bearer              Dave Crates

            1st Lesson Lector         Peter Nevius

            2nd Lesson Lector        Steve Ras

10:15    Chalice Bearer              Carol Merrill-Mazurek

            1st Lesson Lector         Budd Mazurek

            2nd Lesson Lector        Marilyn Dare

Altar Flowers: In honor of the loved ones of Austin and Marti Spang

Birthdays: Olive Carter Luczka, John Fowler, Philip Manor, Martha Deschaine, Michaela Corbari, Alice Buell, Richard Morin



Sunday, September 22

8:00     Chalice Bearer              Norman Hoffmann

            1st Lesson Lector         Kathy Miller

            2nd Lesson Lector        Pauline Holmes

10:15    Chalice Bearer              Charles Trawick

            1st Lesson Lector         Kabby Lowe

            2nd Lesson Lector        Vicki Hoshko

Altar Flowers: In loving memory of William J. Versocki, given by The Versocki Family

Birthdays: Lily Holcombe (21st), Clark Gittinger ((23rd), Devon Dare (25th)Maxwell Bailey (26th), Lydia Scafidi (26th), Mary Michaelson (27th), Joseph DeBritz (27th), Leas Scafidi (27th), Anita McCalley (28th)

Anniversaries: Elizabeth  and Paul Pratico, Helen and Don Reid, Carolyn and Denis Manor



Sunday, September 29

8:00     Chalice Bearer              Carole Merrill-Mazurek

            1st Lesson Lector         Budd Mazurek

            2nd Lesson Lector        Barbara Stratton

10:15    Chalice Bearer              Marilyn Causey

            1st Lesson Lector         Liz Pratico

            2nd Lesson Lector        Murray Roseberry

Altar Flowers: In memory of Richard T. Causey, given by Marilyn Causey

Birthdays: Elizabeth Marshall (29th)



The Summer Church Camp: A Big Success

 One of my earliest memories of church is of Vacation Bible School at Wesley United Methodist Church in Maryland .  In those days it was a little rural church, surrounded on three sides by cornfields.  We sang “Jesus Loves Me,” but I don’t remember anything else I might have learned then - my only clear memory is of the grape koolaid and sugar wafers we enjoyed under the cool shade of some big maple trees.  (Clearly, this was back in the days before sugar was bad for kids.)  Mostly I remember being happy, and that the ‘church ladies’ were sweet to us, and, oh yes, discovering that Jesus loves me.

This summer we had the great privilege to offer our hospitality to 24 children for our Summer Church Camp.  We made some wonderful new friends, because more then half of these children were from outside of our parish. Check out the photos on our website and on the bulletin board in the parish hall so you can see what fun we had. Many volunteers made the work light.  I especially want to thank Debbie Trawick, who directed the whole production.  She had everything and everyone organized, so we all enjoyed working together as a team. Karen Malcom, Liz Verno, Trish Savage, Marilyn Causey, and Barabara Adams were our crafts and games teachers.  Liz and Karen discovered new artistic talents in themselves when they painted the backdrops for our storytelling theater.  Stacy DeBritz helped to organize all our craft materials beforehand, which was a great help.  Elizabeth MacFarland was our wonderful music teacher - the children never wanted to leave the music center!  Louis Peake and Julie MacDonald made and served the snacks. Robin Kaczka helped us with publicity.  Charles Trawick worked hard to help us set up and to break down when we were finished.  Most of all, I want to thank the wonderful Margaret and Taylor Trawick, who must love their Mom very much, because they agreed to do the most important job of all.  They took turns being our puppeteer, and making “Mallery the Gallery Mouse” come alive for the children.  Mallery was a huge hit!

We’ve received many thanks and appreciation from the families who participated. The children were happy, and the ‘church ladies’ were sweet to them, and I pray they remember the most important thing anyone can ever learn, that Jesus loves them.      -Mother Lorrie


Parish Picnic

 On September 15 we will hold our Semi-annual Parish Picnic.  Our chefs will be cookinh hot dogs and hamburgers and we ask families to bring a dish to share and wear your picnic clothes.  Sign-ups for the picnic can be found on the shop counter.


Usher Coordinator

 We are in need of a volunteer to create a schedule for Sunday ushers.  Please call the parish office (346-6241) if you are interested.


Aids Walk

 O Sunday September 29th members of St. Stephen’s will have an opportunity to take a step toward addressing AIDS in our community.

 Beginning at 2:00 pm in Albany ’s Washington Park hundreds of people will gather and walk 10 kilometers to raise money for support of the Capitol Region AIDS organizations that provide needed services for AIDS prevention and care.

 Our congregation’s team of walkers will support the Schenectady Damien Center .  These funds are needed because there has been a 6.5% increase in the number in the number of AIDS cases dignosed in the capitol region last year and a 563% increase in the last decade.  Please call the parish office (346-6241) if you would like to walk or sponsor a walker.


Chris Jones Exhibit

 There is a wonderful display of Chris Jones’ photography at Niskayuna Town Hall now through September, both upstairs and down.  A must see!


New Look

 How do you like the new look of the Messenger?  It’s mostly due to increased postage for non-standard-sized pieces of mail. Let me know what you think!  Kathy.