The Messenger

October, 2002


 The Rector’s Letter

 Dear Friends,

 Do you know the difference between a 'pastoral size church' and a 'program size church'?  A pastoral size church has an active membership up to 150. It is characterized by strong family ties and and one effective priest. The congregation is usually low-key and very flexible, perhaps changing with each task. Major attention is given, not to organization as such, but to building trust between the key leaders and the rector and to training in a one-to-one supervisory style.  The pastoral church benefits from the consistent care of a rector who is well trained.

 A program size church has an active membership up to 500.  It has the resources to provide for its members a wide variety of programs and more facilities.  Democratic organization and leadership by the laity are the keys to effective ministry in the program church. Due to the increase in size it no longer is possible for the rector to maintain pastoral contact with the whole congregation. The priest and church staff delegate more responsibility and authority to the laity. Team leadership replaces centralized leadership. In a program church the congregation moves from dependency upon the rector in basic ministry functions, such as counseling, teaching, administration, membership development, and worship to that of associate clergy and lay leaders.  As the number of parish programs and program leaders grow, the rector finds that more and more time is taken up with the formation of dreams and new directions, with the coordination of many different ministries, and the administration of goal setting, strategy planning, resourcing, training, and perpetual evaluation.

 Four years ago this congregation went through a nine-month strategic planning process.  Small groups met in private homes to discuss where they  wanted St. Stephen's to go in the near future.  It was clear that we wanted to move from a pastoral size church to a program size church.  We developed one year and three year goals.  I am pleased to say that we have achieved almost all of those goals.  Among them we have:  

* hired a full-time Associate Rector for Christian Education

* begun a Saturday/Sunday Evening Service

* replaced the current sign with a large lighted sign

* sent a welcome letter to recently moved home owners and apartment dwellers

* remodeled the sactuary/chancel, and two of the restrooms.

* establish a workgroup which will evaluate parking at church

* implemented mini-camps to serve the community during summer and school breaks

* developed a newsletter for non-members and mail it to members of the Upper Union neighborhood

 These are all marks of a solid program size church!  We have come a long way.  However we have not met several important goals:  

* increase our average Sunday attendance from 143 to 250

* increase the size of our active membership from 320 to 500

* increase our church school enrolment from 43 to 100

* increase the number of people who pledge to the church from 132 to 170

 

Our average Sunday attendance is up to 174, but our active membership is only 352 and the number of people who pledge is still 132.  We are organized and living as a program size church, but our numbers are still in the pastoral size category and we are beginning to feel the pinch.  

Last spring the Finance Committee began to look at the 2003 fiscal year and discovered that we will have to increase the budget by $20,000 to sustain our programs.  This discovery was made shortly after a very successful Every Member Canvas for 2002.  The Committee decided two things this summer:  to move the Every Member Canvas back to the fall, and to begin this change 2002, hopefully to raise the $20,000 we will need for 2003. 

 I am aware that many of you increased you pledges last spring.  The Finance Committee did not want to have another Canvas just six months later, but if we are to continue to move in the direction of a program-size church we need increased pledges for the short-term and increased membership for the long term.

 We are a vibrant congregation who are adding new young families to our membership.  Mtr. Lorrie is doing  wonderful work in education and the parish has not seen youth activity on this level since the 1960's!  Our staff and lay leadership are excellent.  Please be patient and prayerful as we continue to grow into a program size church.

 

 

 

Blessing of the Animals

 On October 5th 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 Friday this year, the parish council thought that the preceding Saturday would be a good time for St. Stephen's to continue this annual tradition. 

 Here's how it works:

 On Saturday the congregation, any visitors 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!

 

 

 

Foyers

Sign-up forms for "Foyers - Fall '02" is available at the Church Shop. It is essential that you sign up to participate in the sixth 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.

 

 

Vestry

 Finance - Has developed a balanced budget for 2003 after careful analysis of 2002 so far.

 Building - scheduled 'preventative maintenance' of the slate roof 

 - Thanked the "Over-the-Hill-Gang" for all the work they have done on a variety of small tasks

- Put a new overhead door on the Reid House garage

- Is diligently discussing the issue of church cleanliness

 Grounds

 - Landscaped around the sign and in front of Moss House.

 - Replaced over thirty sidewalk sections all around the church.

- Is diligently discussing the issue of parking

 

Stewardship - Is making plans for congregational education for the program Year.

 

 

Parish Council

 Service - Has two new co-chairs:  Carol Merill-Mazurek and Gail Smith.

 Food collected in the basket on Sunday morning will be taken up to the altar with the collection plates at the Offertory.  In this way we will hold up to God more than just our money.

 Collected enough school materials for all the children in the families to attend the first day of school with full backpacks.

 Supported the youth that went to Reach Workcamp this summer.

 Worship - Tabulated the results from their survey at the Parish Faire and will be evaluating the worship service at 7 pm .

 Evangelism - Has submitted regular 'press releases' to local newspapers concerning activities at St. Stephen's.  Has printed a color brochure introducing new people to the church.  Has posted St. Stephen's welcome signs at Union College .  Has sent a one page newsletter and brochure to over 260 of our 'neighbors'.

 Education - The program year began with a new format for Sunday School.  Is offering six year-long bible studies for adults and one for the high school class.

 Pastoral Care - Has said goodbye to Jim Borrowman as chair and still has care teams which are on-call each week to check hospital admissions, inform the parish office of admissions and visit people in the hospital.

   

 

Home  Furnishings Committee

Thanks very much to the four crews who picked up and delivered furniture for the Home Furnishings Program during September: 

    Dave Crates and Tom Miller
   
Rocky Bonsal, Austin Spang and George Woodzell
   
Steve Koch, Dave Malcolm and Budd Mazurek
   
Charlie Mertz, Bob Strangfeld and Sid Woodcock.

If you missed a chance to help, there will be another opportunity next August or September. If you have items you would like to donate to this program, call the Home Furnishings Program office at 346-2444.

 

 

Sunday Education Hour 9- 10 am

We begin our study on September 22, with Faith Lessons, produced by That the World may Know Ministries.  Filmed on location in Israel , Faith Lessons is a unique video series that brings God's Word to life with astounding relevance.  Teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan weaves together the Bible's fascinating historical, culture, religious, and geographical context, and reveals keen insights into the Scripture's significance for modern believers.  We recommend that you prepare for the class by reading the relevant texts for each lesson.  Your experience will be richer for it. (Cut out this article and stick it in your Bible right now; then you won't forget.) The illuminating Faith Lessons in this series affords a new understanding of the Bible that will ground your convictions and transform your life.

        September 22            Faith Lesson 1: Standing at the Crossroads
            Read Genesis 19:1, Genesis 28:10-22, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Joshua 4:1-9

        September 29            Faith Lesson 2: Wet Feet
            Read Joshua 3 and Matthew 3:13-17

        October 6               Faith Lesson 3: First Fruits
            Read Joshua 2:1-21, Joshua 6:22-25, Matthew 1:1-7

        October 13              Special Guest Speaker Diane Martin Widenor*

        October 20              Faith Lesson 4: Confronting Evil
            Read Judges 13-14, Numbers 6:1-21

        October 27              Faith Lesson 5: Iron of Culture
            Read 1 Samuel 17:1-54, 1 Samuel 13:19-22

 

Diane Martin-Widenor to speak at the Adult Education Hour on Oct. 13, Wellness Sunday.

Our tradition at St. Stephen's is to commemorate the Feast of St. Luke the Physician (Oct. 18) by offering our prayers of thanksgiving and intercession on behalf of all those who work in the health care professions, especially those in our parish.  This year we are privileged to have Diane Martin-Widenor talk to us about her trip to South Africa last May.  Diane is a hospice nurse, and she traveled to South Africa with a group of hospice workers.  As you know, this part of the world is suffering the horrors of an AIDS epidemic that has overwhelmed their fragile health care systems.  Diane and other volunteers helped to provide aid and respite to the hospice workers there.  Please be sure to join us for this very important presentation.

 

 

Bible studies

Our Bible study classes are underway.  During the last few weeks two Disciple I classes, one Kerygma Discovering the Bible class, and one Disciple II class began meeting at St. Stephen's.  The best part is that we have many new students who have never studied the Bible before.

 

If you've been under a rock somewhere for the last six months and haven't heard about our Bible study mission at St. Stephen's, and you're thinking, Oh, no! Why wasn't I paying attention back in August? I want to do this, but now it's too late to start; don't panic.  You will have to run a little to catch up, but you can still do this.  We still have room for a couple more people in the Wednesday Disciple I class.  Call the church office right away.



Fall Retreats for Youth

The-Episcopal-Diocese-of-Albany-Center-for-Youth-Ministry (Chris Copeland and the staff of Beaver Cross) are hosting fall retreats for 6-8th grade and for 9-12th grade.

New Beginnings for grades 6-8, October 4-6

New Beginnings is a fun, spirit filled weekend for junior high students wanting to share their lives, laugh, make friends, play games and experience God's unconditional love.  This international program has helped thousands of junior high youth discover who Jesus is and how He can be the most important part of their lives.

 

Happening Retreat for grades 9-12, October 18-20

Happening is an international spiritual program developed specifically for high school students.  More than just a retreat, Happening is a powerful encounter in which young people minister to young people, sharing Jesus Christ fully alive in an enthusiastic community of disciples.  If you have not already done so, please register by October 11.

 

Youth Sunday Oct 27

When we were at Work Camp in Niagara Falls last summer, we would gather together every evening after the evening worship program.  Someone would always ask, wouldn't it be great if we could show everyone back at St. Stephen's what this is like?  Everyone had ideas: Could we do some of "Work Camp" music in our church?  Could we "witness" to people at St. Stephen's about how we experienced God, like we do at Work Camp?  Could we learn to play this music?  Could we sing "The Hamster Dance" in church? Well, we decided the folks at home may not fully appreciate "The Hamster Dance", even though it is a great way to wake up in the morning.  Everything else, though, is a great idea.  God is good!  Our young people are also blessed with musical gifts; and they've been working on learning some of the worship music we learned at Work Camp.  Some of our friends from Calvary Episcopal Church in Burnt Hills are also familiar with this music and have generously offered to help us rehearse.  Our youth will be leading our 10:15am worship on Youth Sunday, because they want to share the wonderful experience they've had at Work Camp with all of you.  Please be sure to join us for this important and joyful celebration (and you do not have to bring any tools).

 

K-5 Church School

While visiting her parent's parish in Connecticut last month, Allison de Kanel found that their plans for a completely new way of doing Sunday School looked a lot like ours.  (Perhaps great minds think alike?)  Their Associate Rector for Christian Education recommended a book that she had found very helpful for re-designing Church School, Workshop Rotation; a new model for Sunday School, by Melissa Armstrong-Hansche and Neil MacQueen.  It is a great book!  Here's a quote from their chapter "What's wrong with traditional Sunday School?"

Times have changed. Attitudes, needs, and educational styles are changing.  The Sunday school needs to change as well or it will continue to forfeit ground in a battle it must not lose. We need something more than the Sunday School model of the 1950's.  For many churches right now, it is more than just a matter of vitality; it is a matter of viability.  And the more Sunday school stagnates, the more it becomes an issue of viability for us all.

 We need successful Sunday schools.  When Sunday school fails, it fails more than just children.  It fails the family, the youth groups, and the future of the congregation itself.  When Sunday school fails, confirmation classes become crash-courses in Christianity, youth can't find the New Testament in the Bible, and teenagers become scarce in worship.  When Sunday school fails, potential teachers go into hiding. Young families are less likely to join or stay active in the church.  Parents do not get the help they need to raise their children in today's world. But when Sunday school thrives, children are happy to be there and they learn more about the Word of God.  The thriving environment tells them God is alive and welcoming. Ö  Staff, committees, and teachers are happier and more creative.

 The authors share their experiences teaching Sunday School at the same Presbyterian church in Illinois .  They arrived the same year and were recruited right away as volunteer Sunday School teachers.  But Sunday School was sad and boring:  beige concrete walls, inadequate lighting, basement mildew, teachers who were not having any fun, lousy attendance, apathetic kids and parents, and everyone too polite to say so.  But they decided that maybe God must have  something better in mind, and so came up with the following "wish list" for Sunday School:

We dreamed of a real art room in which to get messy, to concentrate our art supplies, and of a teacher who enjoyed teaching children through art (not just someone skilled in crafts).  We joked about banning construction paper to see if we could live without it.

We dreamed of a drama and puppet area full of costumes and props and with plenty of room to put on Bible skits, and we envisioned an audiovisuals room where the kids could relax and view or act out Godís word in something other than folding chairs or an old bathrobe.

In our dream program, each classroom and every hallway would be a visual treat, a place kids would love to be.  We dreamed of a place and a program that would turn kids on to the things of God and the church, not turn them off.  We wanted even the walls to teach, welcome, and comfort.

We wanted a model that didnít ask our teachers for an unrealistic commitment of time, training, or skills.  We wanted a Sunday school that could tap into busy but creative talent in our congregation rather than depending on the ones who had the time or felt obligated to help.

We wanted to reduce our reliance on and expectations of expensive curriculum.  Purchasing teacher manuals, flyers, and workbooks (which didnít always get used or enjoyed) was eating up our budget.

We wanted a model that spent more time on the more central Bible stories and not four weeks on ěThe Man with the Withered Handî or a winter in the minor prophets.

We wanted a curriculum schedule that took into account the fact that most children donít attend every Sunday.

We wanted a Sunday school modeled on the way children love to learn: through movement, smells and tastes, visual stimulation, feelings, games, and drama.  We wanted an educational approach that was welcoming and fun, while at the same time being educationally sound.

We wanted our church leaders, parents, teachers, and other members to recognize how important Sunday school is to the health of the congregation.  We needed from them no fear of failure and every encouragement.

The last thing on our wish list was the fortitude and prayers to make the necessary changes? Ö Staying the same was not an option.

 

The authors of this book didn't get all their wish list fulfilled right away, and neither will we.  Ours is a work in progress.  Our wonderful Church School teachers are enthusiastic; they already know this will be much more fun for them as well as for the kids.  And they have been patient and supportive, knowing that our program is not neatly encapsulated in some "teacher's guide" but is made up of bits and pieces from many difference sources, and will demand more of their creativity and resourcefulness.

  The workshop rotation model described in the book is similar in many ways to our new centers based approach at St. Stephen's. The ideas behind this are not all that new.  For instance, most Vacation Bible School programs use the rotation or centers based organization.  Rather than teaching a "class" such as 4-5th grade, teachers agree to lead a center activity, such as Music, Bible, or Activities (which includes Games, Drama, Art).  Teachers can focus on what they love to do with kids, rather than trying to do everything every Sunday.  Teachers also get more free Sundays, and they will be able to use their talents more effectively.  But the most important part is the difference for the kids and their families.  Sunday School will not be the same old thing every week; there will be Surprises.  Imagine, for example, that while the children were at the music center, a Roman soldier appeared and arrested all the Christians and hauled them off to "prison" where they meet Paul and Timothy.  Imagine an Epiphany "treasure hunt" where the children must decipher clues to find the Christ Child. We're only beginning to think of all the possibilities.

 

Volunteer positions available

If you are excited about our new Church school and would like to contribute, here is a short list of some things that need doing:

 In-House Publicity Co-ordinator

 Arrange for photographer for Church School activities and other special events (co-ordinate with Chris Jones)

Have photos developed and printed, and send either photos or jpeg images to Chris Jones for the web site. (St. Stephen's will cover your expenses for materials and developing)

Update parish hall bulletin boards (with photos and captions) on a regular (monthly) basis

Arrange photos and captions in a scrapbook for the program year.. 

Theatrical producer for Church School drama  

Organize theatrical props and costumes for pageants and dramatic presentations, make sure that they are clean and in good repair and stored safely.

Maintain a written inventory of costumes and props so we know what we have and where it is stored.

Measure children and assign costumes of appropriate sizes for various productions.

When additional costumes or props are needed, organize volunteers to make, borrow, or procure as necessary.

Maintain expenses within budget as directed by the associate rector.

 Drama Director (Christmas and possibly Easter pageants)

 Co-ordinate with Church School to schedule readings for parts and cast parts from Church School students.

Schedule rehearsals for speaking parts and direct rehearsals.  Include time for instruction in enunciation and voice projection.

Work closely with Producer to co-ordinate staging and costumes.

Work with sound engineer.

 Church School Resources Co-ordinator

 Maintain a display table next to the library shelves, containing books, reprints of articles, and videos for teachers and parents of Church School children to borrow.  This table should be updated weekly.  This will involve carrying materials back and forth from the Church Office Conference Room to the Parish Hall.

Maintain a borrower's list, and make friendly follow-up phone calls or emails on unreturned items.

Co-ordinate with associate rector to choose materials according to the Church School themes.

Peruse bookstores, catalogs, and on-line for recommended materials.

Maintain a bibliography of recommended materials for parents and teachers.

Read and provide "reader's reviews" of selected books, and also videos.

 

Nursery care

We are delighted to welcome back Sarah Kidder as our Nursery caregiver this year.  Sarah is a student at Union College and she loves to take care of the little kids.  She will be in the nursery from 8:45am through 11:30am on Sundays.  We will establish a rotation for one parent helper per Sunday.

 

 

Booklet Questionnaire Results

 

The questionnaire sent out in the September “Messenger” has been returned by 36 people, and the results are being carefully analyzed.  Here are some of the basic findings:

 1…11 people would prefer to use the Prayer Book only
      
16 people would prefer to alternate between the Prayer Book and the booklet
        
8 people prefer the booklet only


        
(very Anglican: via media with a tendency toward tradition!)

 2.  9 people felt negative about the booklet
     
3 people felt indifferent               
    
20 people felt positive about the booklet

 

3.  People generally thought that the booklet is more convenient to use:

         20 said “more,” 6 said “same,” 7 said “less”

 4.  Regarding the content of the booklet, many people didn’t answer.  Those who did, tended to approve of the new language, but wanted to retain the flexibility available in the Prayer Book.

 Several people took the time to offer suggestions for improving the booklet or changing other aspects of our worship.  This is very helpful to Father James and the Worship Committee, and we give thoughtful consideration to each one.  Our thanks to all who responded.

                                  Deacon Pat for the Worship Committee

 

 

S.I.C.M.

 

Schenectady Inner City Ministry took a look back as well as a look forward at its September Assembly meeting.  In commemoration of SICM's 35th anniversary, a celebration is planned at Proctor's on Sunday, September 22, at 4:00 P.M.   There will be music, liturgical dance, several speakers, a group sing, and an ice cream social at that event (tickets are still available - contact Cindy Reedy at 346-2972).   Some statistics from the recent past have been compiled:  the food needs in Schenectady jumped to a new high over the summer months, with the number of households and individuals served by the Food Room increased by 13%.  The Summer Lunch Program also saw a record 20,000 lunches served to children at seven sites throughout Schenectady County .  This is a valuable program in which St. Stephen's has participated for several summers.

 The Emmett Street Project continues to work toward improving Schenectady neighborhoods, especially by slowly increasing the number of owner-occupied houses in the Hamilton Hill area.

 More information will be available next month regarding the preparation of Thanksgiving food baskets by the Concerned for the Hungry.  Any individual or group (classes, youth groups) can participate in this activity.

 And, Entertainment Books are available through the SICM Food Program for $40.00 each.  Any interested person can contact Cindy Reedy, who would be happy to place a book order.

 

Good Stuff...  where it might be needed!  What about that GOOD stuff in your spare room, closet, rec room, ...

Furniture

Home Furnishings Program: Contact HFP Office: 346-2444 to arrange for pick up in Schenectady County. All items in good reusable condition -

Beds, dressers, sofas, loveseats, kitchen sets, coffee tables, end tables, etc. Exclusions: sofa beds, open box springs, rugs, baby furniture, large appliances, tv's &, microwaves.

City Mission: 346-2275 They will take almost everything. Call for details.

Salvation Army: 465-2416 They do pick ups by appointment.

Sofa Beds

City Mission: 346-2275

Salvation Anny: 465-2416

Jewish Family Services (Refugee Service) 482-8856

Household Items (linens, small appliances, dish sets, flatware, towels, pots & pans, utensils, cookware, etc.) .'

Home Furnishings Program: 346-2444

Salvation Army: 346-0222

City Mission: 346-2275

Clothing

City Mission: 346~2275

Salvation Army: 346-0222

Bethesda House: 374-7873

Broadway United Methodist Church: 374-2615

Clothing -Baby & Maternity

Birthright: 370-1532

Clothing -Women's

Bottomless Closet: 346-9347

Cribs & Baby Items

Alpha Center: 785-6525

Healthy Schenectady Families at

Catholic Charities: 372-5667

Books

Schenectady County Public Library: 388-4500

Toys

City Mission: 346-2275

Salvation Army: 346-0222

Large Appliances:

Appliance Exchange: Susan: 872-1993

Medical Equipment

Orphan Grain Train: Al Finke: 374-7305

Food

Sch 'dy Inner City Ministry Pantry:  346-4445

Albany County

Albany County Opportunity: 463-3175

Hill Towns Comm. Resource Center: . 797-5256

Rensselaer County

Troy Area United Ministries:  274-5920 X 204

Eastern Renn. Co. Warehouse: 686-7540

Cars

Catholic Charities -(callfor details)-

Wheels to Work -357-9801 or 372-5667

Northeast Association of the Blind- (truck, car, motorcycle, boat, trailer or RV) 1-888-503-NABA

Union College Prayer Service

 Every Wednesday, from 12:30 to 12:50 the Campus Protestant Ministry offers a contemplative worship service in Memorial Chapel for students, staff and faculty.  The service is simple, often involving a scripture reading or other inspiration reading, sometimes a song, silence and unison prayers.  All are welcome.  

Viki Brooks-McDonald, Protestant Chaplain, Union College