The Messenger

Special Edition   July, 2003


 

Church School to Continue Rotation Model

 In the past year, teachers (pre-K -5th) adopted a new way of , 'doing" Church School . Instead of teaching in grade-divided classrooms, they taught major Bible stories and concepts in kid-friendly multi-media centers: an art workshop, drama, games, video, music, and storytelling. In a three or four-week period, they concentrated on one theme or story, rotating the children through the centers to learn the story in different ways. Teachers were assigned to a center rather than to a class; we had storytellers and music leaders, and activities leaders who worked with everything else. This way teachers could concentrate on what they love to do with kids, rather than trying to do everything every Sunday.

Tim Olsen teaches the music rotation

 

The Workshop Rotation Model concentrates on the major stories of the Bible again and again. The model's philosophy recognizes that kids not only love repetition, they need it to develop a lasting memory and understanding. This approach isn't a fad; it is designed to take advantage of our students' God-given need to learn in a variety of ways, mostly by entering into the stories themselves. (When asked last month which part of Sunday school they liked the most the past year, they all answered, "Acting!").

 At our end-of-year evaluation, most teachers said they liked the center-based approach, even though it was difficult to find leaders for some of the activities.

 

Making felt images for Bible stories

 

For 2003-04, we plan to combine the traditional and the rotational methods. Each month we will concentrate on one story or theme, and have different centers to explore that story. However, except for a common music time, the children will be with two teachers assigned to a class, who will rotate through the centers with their class. Other teachers will lead periodically: Tim Olsen as music leader every other week, thus creating a children's choir, and hopefully Father James as guest storyteller once a month! There are many opportunities for sharing your own specialty.

 We are also planning to have monthly intergenerational sessions. Take advantage of this time to see and participate in our children's Christian education! Our last Church School class was one such intergenerational, held on Pentecost Sunday. With parents' help, we were able to present the story of Pentecost in five different ways! And more than one kid saw the connection with Fr. James' sermon that Sunday!

 More exciting Sundays like this are in our future! If working with children is something you have thought much about, or feel called to, please contact Barbara Adams , Richey Woodzell, or the church office, 346-6241.

 

 

Becoming A Member of St. Stephen's

 

Inquirer’s classes are a basic four week course which is held in an informal atmosphere and taught by the rector. For those who are new to the Episcopal Church, or looking for a new spiritual home, this course will provide an introduction to the Church -- its history, beliefs, worship, and work in the world. Or, if you were confirmed earlier in life, and wish to renew your commitment at an adult level, consider this course as a part of your continuing Christian education. The course is required for all who wish to be confirmed or received into the church.

 

These classes will be held on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. in the rector's office beginning July 6th.

 

An End-Of-Summer Treat!

 

Mark your calendars! From August 25th to 29th, St. Stephen's will hold Vacation Bible School for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Sessions will be held in the morning. Lessons will be taught using music, worship, crafts and play. Our theme this summer is "Noah's Ark ". All families are encouraged to register their children as soon as possible by contacting Liz Varno. In addition, we will need at least 8 adults or teens to help in the preparation work the last two weeks of July as well as during the week of the school. The past two years we have held schools and they have been very successful in playfully instructing our children in the loving words and works of the Bible and the Lord's Word. Please consider becoming involved in this exciting adventure!

   

Workcamp 2003

 

On July 13 the St. Stephen's high school youth group and six adults will head for Shippensburg, Pennsylvania , for a week-long workcamp. Bringing together high-schoolers from allover the country, these camps combine work, play, and a religious framework into an unforgettable experience, both for the young people and for the adults who accompany them. Each year we form lasting bonds with the members of our workcrews, with people from other church youth groups, and with the people in whose homes we work.

 What happens at workcamp?

 

Starting each day at six in the morning, the campers work on a variety of projects to help poor and elderly people have better homes in which to live. Our work might include replacing a roof, building a new room, replacing floors or stairs, repainting, or building a wheel-chair ramp. The work is hard, challenging, and tiring, but it's always rewarding. In the late afternoon we return to the school which houses the camp, to shower, socialize, and relax before supper. In the evening, we take part in programs that explore the spiritual side of our lives, focusing on the connection between the work we do for others at workcamp and the work God does in and through us. We close each day with a meeting of our youth group, to talk about our experiences that day, to share joys and sorrows, and to see what lessons we can draw from them.

 

Shippensburg, our destination this year, is located in the south-central part of Pennsylvania , in the Cumberland Valley . It has been hit hard by two economic blows: the area's primary employer, the army depot, cut its workforce from 5000 to 1000, and Grove Crane, the other large employer in the area, filed for bankruptcy.

 

Workcamp Day of Prayer

 

St. Stephen's has been asked to set aside Wednesday, July 16, to pray for the entire workcamp. Other churches will pray on other days of the week. Prayer sheets will be available on the church shop counter.

 

Many, many thanks for the support of so many at St. Stephen's in making this week possible!

 

 

Farm-Fresh Produce Available Through SICM

 

SICM has developed a loan fund to expand participation in a local Community Supported Agriculture farm, in which individuals, families and congregations purchase a "share" in the farm and reap the benefits of the harvest. Participants pick up the fresh produce weekly at a Schenectady church. The cost is $398 for the entire season, from mid- June through mid-December, with payments made monthly. A lower price is available for those on limited incomes. For more information, call Marianne Comfort at 374-2683.

   

Summer Lunch Seeks Volunteers

 

Teams of volunteers are needed to serve noontime meals to youth in community parks and on the lawns of churches from June 25 through Aug. 8.

   

CROP Walk Collects Biggest Walk Day Total Ever

   

About 850 people participated in the Schenectady CROP Walk, turning in a little more than $30,000 in collected pledges. That represents the largest walk-day total ever. Thanks to the St. Stephen's walkers!

   

Did you know that our rector was elected to the Steering Committee of SICM at their May assembly?

 

 

Back To School

We will again be giving backpacks filled with school supplies to needy children in Schenectady . Requested items will be posted in August. Look for the yellow schoolbus near the Shop!

 

 

From the Rector

 

Dear Friends,

Measuring growth; door jambs do a pretty good job of making growth around my house. We stand against the woodwork balancing a measuring stick against the top of the head and notch the molding with a pencil.

   

Then there's the growth of the spirit; it's not so easily chartered, but it is still visible from the first weeks of bible study, through the many occasions of worship, to the fellowship activities that mark the beginning of summer.

   

In the fifty days that followed the Resurrection of Jesus, the community that had gathered around him had plenty of time to reflect upon its life. On several occasions Jesus is reported to have appeared to them and to have taken part in the events of the moment. It is difficult to determine jus how literally we are to read these accounts, though there can be no doubt that we are to accept them as the reality of those who reported them. One thing is clear: in each of those post-Resurrection appearances the community learns something about itself and marks its growth in a significant way. If we focus too closely upon the person of Jesus, and the miraculous supernatural dimensions of his appearing, we miss the equally important and miraculous evidence of the community's growth. The evidence around Saint Stephen's, while less dramatic, is no less impressive. We continue to grow in so many ways. This summer, as we reflect upon what we have shared, take a moment to chart your own growth. Look for the marks that our life has made upon you and know that you have made your mark here.

 James+

 

 

Parents Of Children Under Five Years Of Age

   

Please welcome Elly Cooke to the nursery. She plans to staff it throughout the summer and in the fall she will be there as early as 9:00 a.m. for education hour. Elly was literally given to me as a present when I was very pregnant with Audrey. She has a home and office cleaning business as well as being great with children. She was a wonderful gift, not only for my home but as a friend. We share experiences of motherhood and a common faith. She has been such a blessing in my family's life and now she's come to St. Stephen's. I believe you will find her warm and welcoming and the children love her! She has already made several "converts," children who previously would not attend the nursery without their parents.

Sit back, enjoy the summer and maybe you'll get to hear the sermon next week!

   Stacy DeBritz

 

 

Foyer Groups

 Sid and Gillian Woodcock hosted a combined foyer at their home in June for the members of all last year's foyer groups. Many members of our separate groups brought great food and shared fellowship, friendship and all that foyer offers.

   

Why foyer? It's the coming together of various Saint Stephen's members who wouldn't ordinarily meet socially. What is foyer? Watch this space- we'll explain more in the September Messenger when we will have sign-up sheets at church for next year's groups.

   

If you don't foyer, you are missing a great opportunity to meet your fellow members in informal home settings.

 

 

Kerygma Bible Study

 What was the meaning of the tests in Job's life, and in our own? If God created a good world, why is there evil in it? Were Mary Magdalene and the other women who followed Jesus disciples? What is wisdom, anyhow?

   

These and many other questions were contemplated by the participants in the Tuesday evening Kerygma class from September to June. Twelve to fifteen parishioners (and occasional guests) studied the Old and New Testaments (as well as a wonderful Apocrypha lesson created by our Deacon) under the thoughtful tutelage of Deacon Pat. On one level, familiar Bible stories were related and explained; on another, factors such as historical context, tradition, authorship, and literary devices were applied to flesh out the deeper meanings of the various books of the Bible. The Kerygma curriculum focuses a "search" theme on each section of the Bible, providing continuity and enlightenment in some instances, and provoking more questions and "searching" in others. One rule prevailed in the class: all students' questions were considered, and any opinions were entertained and accepted.

 

Ralph May making a Presentation in Kerygma

 

Deacon Pat possesses the rare combination of great knowledge and subtle encouragement in facilitating the group. Teaching techniques incorporated hymn singing, poster-making and creative 'Writing into the curriculum. Reflection and sharing of spiritual experiences deepened the understanding of our Christian beliefs and our scriptural heritage.

 

 Members of the group brought a wide variety of experience, traditions, and talents to the study (as well as many different versions and translations of the Bible). As the group became more cohesive and the scripture writings dated more closely to the present day, a deeper sharing of our bond as Christians, and the linking of the past, present, and future emerged. On more than one Tuesday evening, the parish hall became a spirit-filled room indeed.

   

In short, a Bible novice would leave this class with a much clearer picture of what the Bible is all about. And a seasoned student of scripture would find ever new and challenging ideas to explore by becoming part of the wonderful fabric of Kerygma.

 

Cynthia Reedy

 

  Jail House Wedding

 

Jail ministry is full of surprises: I recently had my first experience as a bridesmaid. The wedding took place in Judge Loyola's courtroom at the Police Station, where the bride was attending court. In the course of the usual court schedule (cases are heard in alphabetical order,) the judge came down from the bench, and the bride and groom, a corrections officer and I gathered by the bullpen, where prisoners are held. I had brought a bouquet of white flowers for Deborah, who was a typically nervous bride; the groom, too, seemed nervous. At the end of the ceremony, after the judge pronounced them "man and wife, sposa y sposa," the newlyweds shared a brief kiss, and the courtroom "congregation" applauded. The bride was permitted to take one flower from her bouquet back to the jail (and I had to negotiate to get that). We signed the license, the corrections officer escorted the bride away, the groom kept the rest of the flowers, and the next case was called. When I saw the bride the following Sunday, she showed me her white rose, carefully wrapped in plastic wrap, and thanked me for being there for her.

Deacon Pat Jones

 

 

Evening Worship at St. Stephen's

You are cordially invited

To Sunday Evening Worship

At St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Services begin at 7 pm

Holy Eucharist 1 st Sunday/month

Evening Prayer all other Sundays

No reservation necessary

Dress is casual

 

0 Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 833.)

 

Habitat To Fly "Wings!" at Mohawk Golf Club

 

Come to "Wings!" and enjoy a display and auction of artistic birdhouses on Saturday, August 2, at the Mohawk Golf Club, Route 7 and Balltown Road in Niskayuna . Birdhouses, butterfly houses, bat houses, bird feeders, bird sculptures, bird paintings -anything with wings -will be auctioned to help finance Habitat for Humanity's "builds" and "rehabs" in Schenectady County . A musical group will entertain you with ragtime music and a barbershop quartet will sing. Homes for our winged friends, crafted by talented woodworkers and Northeast Woodworkers Association members and decorated by outstanding local artists, will be auctioned. This fundraiser celebrates local skills donated to support Habitat's goal of constructing simple, decent, affordable homes with people in need. This year Schenectady County Habitat is building two houses in the 1700 block of Albany Street and hopes to start rehabbing an existing house in Scotia soon.

 

George Woodzell and St. Stephen's youth group are building fourteen bluebird houses as well as a beautiful birdhouse in the shape of Nott Memorial on the Union College campus. George visited the archives of the university to obtain original drawings of this outstanding historic structure. This miniature reproduction with finishing touches by Peg Foley, local artist and high school art teacher, will be donated to the auction.

 Other St. Stephen's members contributing to "Wings!" include Stacy DeBritz and Millie Gittinger. Stacy is decorating a large butterfly house with impressionistic painting. In addition to arranging for lunch for Habitat construction volunteers, Millie has recruited artists from two area associations to decorate six birdhouses. In a rare appearance, direct from New York City , Trish Savage's 26-year old daughter Lulu is volunteering her services as a licensed auctioneer.

The silent auction begins at 5PM when the cash bar opens. The live auction starts at 6PM . The advance-reservation admission price ($30 for adults, $20 for children under 19) covers a hearty sandwich buffet, an entertaining auction and musical entertainment. All tickets sold at the door will be $40, so reserve now by mailing a check (made out to "Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County ") to Trish Savage, 1090 Avon Road , Schenectady 12308.

 

It's not too late to contribute a birdhouse or bird-related item for the auction.

 

ALSO, corning up in the fall:

TOOL SALE October 4 -dig out your old or extra tools to donate

BULB SALE -order forms available in September

Questions? Call Trish Savage, 393-4111.

 

 

 

Used Piano Wanted

 

Are you ready to make some extra space in your living room? Have you been staring at the unplayed, dust-collecting piano long enough? The DeBritz family is ready to start piano lessons and we would love to buy a used piano. Call us at 372-9561.

 

Social Justice / Service Committee

Come to a meeting Sunday, July 13, at 9 AM , to make plans for our "adopted" families and the SICM Volunteer Day October 4th!

 

Can You Help?

Kids and moms at the YWCA need bathing suits! Please drop them off at the Y, or by the Deacon's mailbox in the Nave Extension. Thank you!

 

City Council Candidate

Our junior warden, Barbara Strangfeld, is an endorsed Democratic candidate for the Schenectady City Council.

 

Local Artist

Stephen Woodzell's drawing to accompany an editorial was published in the June 29th: Sunday Gazette in the Opinion section. It can also be seen on St. Stephen's Web site.

 

St. Stephen's to Drink Only Certified Fair Trade Coffee

 Episcopal Relief and Development is offering Bishops Blend, a premium line of Certified Fair Trade, organic, and shade grown coffees from Central American and Indonesia . This means that coffee farmers are paid a fair living wage and gain access to affordable credit. Our congregation will use this coffee at all of our fellowship functions and will sell it by the bag to those who want to use it in their homes. Proceeds from sales will be given to our young people for their Workcamp experience.

Bishops Blend coffee provides you with an opportunity to change lives. Your purchase of Bishops Blend helps meet needs worldwide. By using only Bishop's Blend coffee our congregation will be further our mission of responding to the needs of the poor, hungry, homeless, and sick.

 

Our purchase helps:

.Disadvantaged women find jobs and support their children

.Communities rebuilt after an earthquake

.Oprhans receive education, care and counseling

 

At church we will be using Bishops Blend Decaf. The Swiss Water Process ensures a chemical-free decaf coffee, featuring great aroma, mild taste, and a soft finish. Caffeinated Bishops Blend and Bishops Cinnamon Spice are also available.

 

 We are very excited about this opportunity because Bishops Blend Coffee will provide additional funds for us to improve lives around the world." Sandra Swan, President Episcopal Relief and Development

 

 

Gay Priest Elected as New Hampshire 's Next Bishop

 The Episcopal Church in the United States faces a very difficult summer. You will likely see and hear of your Church in the media far more than you are accustomed in the next few weeks. For ten days, beginning on July 30th, the supreme governing body of our Church will meet in Minneapolis . The General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets once every three years, and is comprised of bishops, clergy, and lay representatives from all the dioceses in the Church.

 The biggest issue at this convention will be one man. The Rev. Gene Robinson was elected two weeks ago to be the new bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire . His election must be ratified by majorities in the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (clergy and laity). Normally, this is a rubber stamp action.

However, the Rev. Robinson is a gay man living openly in relationship with a partner of many years. He is also divorced, and the father of two grown daughters. He is also one of the most respected, well-known, and creative priests in the Episcopal Church. He won election handily in New Hampshire, where he is known and loved, and where he has ministered with great effectiveness for 29 years.

 Already, churchy internet websites and chat rooms are on fire with debate over this election. The Anglican Bishop of Recife , Brazil , has declared himself "out of communion" with the Diocese of New Hampshire .

 A handful of American Episcopal bishops have reacted to Gene's election with angry warnings of rupture and conflict. Other such pronouncements no doubt will be forthcoming. Gay advocacy groups and sympathetic church leaders have reacted to Gene's election with joy. The media have discovered in this all a delectably juicy story of Christians fighting, yet again, over sex.

   

Our Bishop's Reply to the Presiding Bishop:

 

Dear Frank,

This is a reply to your letter regarding the NH election. I disagree with your statement (see below): I hope that a distinction can be made between the consent to the consecration of a bishop who is a priest in good standing partnered with a member of the same sex, and the continuing debate regarding formal actions by the church in the area of human sexuality.

 There is no real distinction between the 'consent' and the 'formal action'. The consent becomes the formal action. Whoever votes for or against VGR is committing him/herself on this issue. Bishops voted for or against the Lambeth Resolution of homosexual practice 'as contrary to Scripture'. The vote on VGR is simply an application of those convictions [for/against] in a specific instance.

 

I will vote 'No' because of my understanding of the Old and New Testament, the constant teaching of the church, and its most recent Anglican explication at Lambeth, with the fact, as cited in your letter that he is partnered with a member of the same sex, (which as referenced in the Resolution mentioned above), is contrary to Scripture.

 It would be disingenuous to suggest that we can vote for/against this consent and not be simultaneously voting on the issue. This must be the most incarnational of issues!

 You have a tough summer ahead. You and Phoebe are in our prayers.

 In Christ,

Dan Herzog

 

Our Rector's Response:

 St. Stephen's is an inclusive congregation that invites all sorts and conditions of people to join our worship and our common life as full partners, appreciating all our differences and gifts. It will remain a place where gay and lesbian Christians, straight and mildly homophobic Christians, liberals and conservatives, find a welcome in the name of Christ.

 Peace,

James Brooks-McDonald


Webmaster's note:  here is the Presiding Bishop's message, referred to above:  

2003-140
The Presiding Bishop writes to the bishops before General Convention


June 12, 2003
For all bishops
Dear brothers and sisters:

 

General Convention is almost here and its theme, Engage God's Mission, draws upon energies and commitment evident around our church. We will be building on work in which we as a House of Bishops have been engaged for some time, particularly since our fall meeting in 2001 in Burlington, Vermont immediately following the events of September 11. Over these last three years, we have explored mission as our participation in God's work of reconciling all things to himself in Christ. I have every expectation that our forthcoming Convention will take us deeper into that work as we draw upon the grace of Christ and the wisdom of the Spirit. Everything that happens in the life of the church is an invitation to reveal more fully the reconciling power of the gospel: this is something I have been made freshly aware of by my recent visit to my brothers and sisters in the Church of Uganda.

 

The election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson by the laity and clergy of the Diocese of New Hampshire to serve as their Bishop Coadjutor has received wide comment in the press and other media. Great joy and deep distress are emotions being felt by many within our church. Some view the election as prophetic and an action of the Holy Spirit, while others view it as disregarding Scripture, Tradition and the larger view of the Anglican Communion, which they see as expressed in a resolution on sexuality of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. This variety of opinion should not surprise us. As the report of the Theology Committee so clearly stated, "The depth and complexity of human sexuality are reflected in the multiple understandings and interpretations held by thoughtful people." We have seen these various interpretations articulated over these last days in response to the New Hampshire election, and discussion will doubtless continue.

 

In the face of strongly-held divergent opinions on what constitutes God's desire, my concern is how we move with grace through this time. As Presiding Bishop and chief pastor of the church, it is my duty to ensure that all perspectives are treated with reverence, care and mutual respect in the service of a unity, not of our own creation, but rather given to us through our baptism into Christ. This means that though we may disagree, no one can say, "I have no need of you" to another member of the church. I hope that in the weeks ahead we will be mindful of this, and of the following points as well.

 

First, we need to respect the action of the Diocese of New Hampshire. After a search, nomination and election process they have made their choice of a priest who has served in their Diocese for 28 years. Gene Robinson was elected by the Diocese of New Hampshire because he is a highly respected person. He is a fellow member of the body of Christ, not the symbol of an issue.

 

The election of a bishop also involves approval by the whole church, inasmuch as a bishop is a bishop for the whole church. According to the Constitution of our church, when the election of a bishop occurs fewer than 120 days before a General Convention, the church's consent must be secured at the Convention by the House of Deputies and by the diocesan bishops with jurisdiction. By canon and by tradition, the House of Deputies first gives its consent and then the consents of bishops with jurisdiction are sought. At our forthcoming General Convention, the election of ten bishops will be put forward for consent. All of these are equally important.

 

And here I need to add that it is unfortunate, but predictable, that the media and some others will doubtless be focused upon consent in the case of the New Hampshire election. I hope that a distinction can be made between the consent to the consecration of a bishop who is a priest in good standing partnered with a member of the same sex, and the continuing debate regarding formal actions by the church in the area of human sexuality. We as bishops, together with our diocesan deputations, need to keep our eyes fixed on the larger purposes for which we gather as a church, namely the enduring mission of God in Christ who has reconciled all things to himself through the cross.

 

Last of all, let me share with you a prayer I recite frequently. You may find it useful as well, particularly during the days of our General Convention. It comes from a man who knew the burdens of episcope intimately--Philaret, Patriarch of Moscow. It runs as follows:

 

Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely on your holy will.
In every hour of the day reveal your will to me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul,
and with firm conviction that your will governs everything.
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will. Teach me to pray. Pray yourself in me.

 

As always, in the love of Christ, your brother,

 

Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate


 St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

1935 The Plaza

Schenectady , New York 12309

Church Staff

The Rev. Dr. James R. Brooks-McDonald, Rector

The Rev. Patricia L. Jones, Deacon

The Rev. John H. Peatling, Rector Emeritus

Dr. Timothy Olsen, Director of Music

Ms Katherine Miller, Office Manager

Vestry

Warden: Grant Jaquith

Warden: Barbara Strangfeld

Clerk: David Caruso

Treasurer: Pauline Northrop

Chancellor: Rosemarie Jaquith

Class of 2003 Liz Casale

Jesse Dipley

Louise Peake

Jed Dare

Class of 2004 Gaye Mertz

Dave Malcolm

Class of 2005 Steve Ras

Sondra Grady

Shari Maclvor

THE CHURCH OFFICE, located at 1229 Baker

Avenue, is open every weekday from 9:00 am to

1:00 pm .

TELEPHONE/FAX: The office telephone number is

518/346-6241 and the office fax number is 518/346-

6242. Please leave a message if no one answers and

someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

The Messenger is published 10 times a year, September

through June.