The Messenger
Saint Stephen's, Schenectady October, 2003
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Blessing of the Animals
"I have sinned against my brother the ass."--St. Francis of Assisi (dying words)
by James Brooks-McDonald
Some saints' feast days are for people everywhere,
not just Episcopalians. In fact, on October 4th, the
Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, you don't even
have to be people. St. Francis (c. 1181-1226),
founder of the Franciscans, is the patron saint of
animals, and in his honor a life-affirming, critter-
loving ceremony called the Blessing of the Animals
is celebrated each year at Saint Stephen's Church.
But we are not alone.
Getting acquainted before the Blessing
In New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the
Divine (the largest Episcopal cathedral in the
world), there is an annual procession of animals--
anything from fish (who must be carried in a bowl,
of course) to an elephant (who naturally prefers to
walk)--up the church steps and down the aisle to the
altar, to be blessed there by the clergy. At Duke
University in Durham, North Carolina, people
gather annually with their cats, dogs, and other pets
at the university chapel, for services in which clergy
members at the altar lay a hand on the head of each
animal and say a prayer on its behalf. At Olivera
Street in Los Angeles, the Blessing of the Animals
has been a colorful tradition (celebrated in March
instead of October) since the street's inception in
1930.

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, and 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.
On Oct. 4th at 9am our congregation and any
animals (on leashes or in cages!) 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: "0
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 whom it dwells."

The WEB page.
by Chris Jones
So, you're new in town, looking for a church, what
do you do? More and more, people start looking on
the internet. So it's important that we're there, that
it's current, and that it's a fair representation of who
we are. If you haven't been there lately, check us
out at www.albany.neti-ststeph.
Maybe you'd like to participate. Think about...
...writing something about the Sunday School now
and then. Maybe include a few photographs (we'll
put yQYLphotographs in, or I'll take them). Maybe
get some of the kid's work into the web site!
...writing something about one of the other groups
in the church, like the vestry (what DO they do,
anyway?), the choir, the bell choir, the altar guild.
...keep a scripture/prayer page current. What are
the lessons for the week? For whom have prayers
been requested (and maybe something about those
persons)?
...maintain the calendar page. Keep in cahoots with
the powers that be (rector, secretary, and those who
head up various groups in the parish) so that our
calendar page accurately reflects what's going on,
and so that WE at St. Stephen's can know what's
going on too.
...collect the news as it impacts on the church.
Local and national newspapers often have relevant
articles, especially after this summer's national
convention. Much news is available over the
internet through the EPS (Episcopal News Service),
but all of this needs to be filtered, sorted, put into
context. What are people saying right here or
around the diocese or around the country?
Anyway, if you're interested in working with a team
to help with the web site, please give me a call or
send a message (jonesc@union.edu). If you have
comments or suggestions on the web site, I'm all
ears!

Leaving the Episcopal Church?????
by James Brooks-McDonald
A group of clergy and lay people have
discovered some very disturbing facts as a
background for recent developments in the
Diocese of Albany.
On July 15, twenty-four bishops, including
Bishops Herzog and Bena, met secretly at Truro
Church, Fairfax, Virginia and wrote an "open
letter" to the "primates of the Anglican
Communion" asking for intervention in the
Episcopal Church, and affirming "the moral and
spiritual authority of you, the 'Concerned
Primates' of the Anglican Communion."
As of this date, nine of the thirteen diocesan
bishops meeting in Fairfax have called special
diocesan meetings to protest recent general
convention decisions and look ahead to a
realigned church. Our standing committee was
not told by Bishop Herzog that this special
diocesan convention was part of a larger,
nationally orchestrated plan by these
conservative reactionaries. I find this lack of
candor troubling.
Bishop Herzog is a board member and frequent
spokesman for the American Anglican Council
( www.americananglican.org ). Their web site
gives this direction to their members: "Do NOT
say you are leaving the Episcopal Church. ..
DO give the orthodox bishops and archbishops
six months to achieve a framework for dramatic
realignment."
The American Anglican Council is funded to a
large extent by a larger group, The Institute for
Religion and Democracy ( www.ird-renew.org ).
A part of this organization's purpose is to 'take-
over' three mainline denominations. Their
president writes:
"We help church members battle for renewal
within their denominations, anning them with
facts, and helping them to reach other concerned
churchgoers across the nation. IRD drafts
resolutions for church assemblies and sponsors
educational events seeking widespread support for
church reform. This allows our members to act
directly in the development of church policies and
have a voice in the decision-making bodies of the
church. This is what makes IRD unique. This
grassroots activism is carried on through our
denominational programs: UM Action, Presbyterian
Action, and EpiscoI!al Action."
When Bishop Herzog says that he is not going to
leave or take the Diocese of Albany out of The
Episcopal Church, USA, it is because members of
his group want to take-over our Church! The
meeting in Texas for which our diocese is paying
the expenses of eleven people to attend, is part of a
much, much larger strategy. Please pray about
these disturbing times for the church.

Becoming A Member of St. Stephen's
Inquirer's classes are a basic four-week course 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
provides 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 Episcopal
Church.
These classes will be held on Sundays at noon in the
rector's office beginning October 5th.
"My heartfelt thanks for all your prayers, good
wishes and beautiful cards during my recent
hospitalization. Your continued concerns and offers
of help represent our congregation at its best.

"My heartfelt thanks for all your prayers, good wishes
and beautiful cards during my recent hospitalization. Your
continued concerns and offers of help represent our congregation
at its best."
Julie McDonald

Community Projects Lined Up for Volunteer Day
Participants are still welcome to join in SICM's
Volunteer Day on Saturday, Oct. 4. Volunteers are
needed for the AIDS Walk and to write letters to
prisoners and to urge legislators to address
important issues such as hunger and welfare reform.
The day will begin with a commissioning of n
volunteers at 12:30 at St. Luke's School, 1252
Albany St., and conclude with a celebratory supper
at Scotia Reformed Church. For more information,
call Marianne Comfort at 374-2683.

AIDS Walk to Benefit Array of Services
The Schenectady Damien Center is hosting a
Schenectady site of the Albany AIDS Walk this
year as part of SICM's Volunteer Day on Saturday,
Oct. 4. Following the Volunteer Day opening
ceremony at St. Luke's School, participants will
register for the walk and take off on the 1- or 3-mile
routes, which are similar to the CROP Walk. Money
raised benefits the Damien Center and other
HIV / AIDS services throughout the Capital Region.
Walkers are invited to attend the Volunteer Day
supper later that afternoon. For more information,
call Glenn Read at 374-2683.

Food Program Announces Variety of Needs
The Food Program seeks a skilled mason to help
with a project at the pantry. The program also needs
paper bags, children's books, 2004 calendars and
funding to purchase specialized infant formula. Call
Pat or Gail at 346-4445.

Catholic Charities Seeks Volunteer Drivers
Catholic Charities of Schenectady County needs
volunteers to resume medical transportation service
for the elderly. Volunteers are asked to commit to a
morning or afternoon shift once a week or once a
month, to drive individuals to critical care
treatments such as chemotherapy and kidney
dialysis. To volunteer, call Catholic Charities at
357-9801.

Summer Lunch Serves 600 Daily Meals
The Summer Lunch program served an average of
600 daily meals to children and teens over seven
weeks of the school vacation. Thanks to volunteers
from 45 religious congregations and community
groups who staffed the eight meal sites.

After-School Programs Recruit Volunteers
C.O.C.O.A. House and Frendship House need
volunteers to get their after-school programs
underway this fall. C.O.C.O.A. House seeks
volunteers to prepare snacks, keep the facility clean,
staff the reception desk, monitor student behavior
and assist tutors. Friendship House seeks math,
science and English tutors. To volunteer for
C.O.C.O.A. House, call Rachel Graham at 377-
4977. For Friendship House, call Westoria Poole at
393-8749.

From the Rector
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am writing this column on Thursday, September
18th. As I do so, the sound of children is still
ringing in my ears --children laughing, crying,
asking questions, giving me 'high fives', asking to
"go to the potty", and in other ways being children
IN GOD'S HOUSE.
My ears are also ringing with the sound of adults --
adults teaching Church School, instructing
Acolytes, answering questions, giving gentle
guidance, being patient.
In the Diocese of Springfield I was given a bumper
sticker that read: "In the Episcopal Church We
Treasure Kids!" That sentiment was certainly acted
out on Sunday as we began our program year. To
me there is no more beautiful sound than the gentle
rumble (and sometimes dull and not so dull roar), of
children in church. It is the sound of the church
breathing. And even though a child's giggle or
question or comment or coo may sometimes distract
you from your prayer or cause you to miss a few
words of the sermon, it is certainly preferable to the
sound of utter silence in an empty church.
A well-known African proverb says "It takes a
whole village to raise a child." At a time when
newspapers and TV reports seem filled with ever-
escalating violence involving children, we need to
remember that it takes a whole congregation to raise
a child. That is certainly evidenced at Saint
Stephen's -through all of us older people helping
all of these wonderful younger people to grow in
the Lord. We, the church, are the village. Perhaps
in the scant two hours our children have in this
village once a week, we can teach them by our
example, that the ways of God are better than many
of our culture's ways. And if we can teach them
then there is hope for our wider village -the
schools, the playgrounds, the housing projects, our
neighborhoods, these towns, the world itself.
James +

Clark and Millie Gittinger want to sincerely thank the
many people who prayed and offered help and support in
so many ways during Clark's recent illness. While he is
still not 100%, he is much better and beginning to get
back into "normal" activities. The hospital visits from
Fr. James and the Woodcocks were most appreciated.
The flowers they brought, which had been given to the
church in memory of Naomi Yanda were especially
nice. We are grateful to be members of such a loving,
caring church family.
With love, Millie and Clark

Communion Classes
The prayerbook stresses that baptism is the
beginning of full membership in the Church. Since
all baptized Christians are welcome at the altar,
discretion is left to parents for when they want their
child to begin receiving communion.
Classes for parents and children who are planning to
prepare for reception to the Holy Communion, and
those who have already begun receiving but who
want further preparation, will meet on two
Wednesdays: October 22rd and 29th in the parish
hall from 4:45 pm to 6:00 pm. Those parents
wishing their children to take communion for the
first time could plan to do so on All Saints Sunday,
November 2nd, at the 10: 15 am Eucharist.

Meet our Members
by Louise Peake
Charles and Sally Bauer recently transferred from
St. John's Episcopal Church in Troy. They reside
on Wiltshire Way in Niskayuna.
Charles is retired from the New York State
Department of Transportation. Sally is a college
professor at Hudson Valley Community College.
She was Director of the Physicians Assistant
Program at Hudson Valley.
Charles and Sally are "empty nesters" and have a
unique household: Sally's father and Charles's
mother live with them. Their daughter Meghan's
wedding was performed at St. Stephen's by Fr.
James. Daughter Rebecca is contemplating
becoming a member of our church. Another
daughter resides in Florida and has two children.
Sally's hobby is quilting. She and Jean Versocki our
"master quilter" should meet. The Bauers have a
hunter's cabin at Long Lake and enjoy getting away
to enjoy the outdoors.
Charles and Sally are interested in community
service and have worked for Habitat for Humanity
and Damien Center. "They don't mind getting their
hands dirty" was Sally's enthusiastic comment.
The Bauers had occasion to visit St. Stephen's
before moving here and were favorably impressed.
Sally said a "greeter" made them feel welcome.
After moving here they visited again and decided to
become members of St. Stephen's. The adage, "A
good impression is a lasting one" proved itself true.
Welcome to the fold, Charles and Sally!

Adult Education:
From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and
Testimony of the Early Church
The first three centuries were decisive for
Christianity. There were times when the very
existence of the church itself was threatened as
opponents tried to wipe it out. This course will
explore the formation of the early church from
Christ to Constantine. The video tapes which will
start each session were filmed in original locations
and use dramatic re-creations to tell the story.
Classes take place in the parish hall on Sunday
mornings beginning at 9 am.

Shalom--A Study of the Biblical Concept of Peace
"Shalom--A Study of the Biblical Concept of
Peace" shines biblical light on the issues and
unsettled mood of our times. See what the Bible
says, and explore the Hebrew concept of "shalom"
and the Greek "eirene." Fourteen sessions cover
such topics as God of Peace and God of War,
Division and Conflict, Blessed are the Peacemakers.
Classes take place in the parish hall from Oct. 14-
Feb. 10 beginning at 7:30 pm.

Anniversaries to Keep in Mind
Altar Flowers in October
5 available
12 In honor of the loved ones of
Jesse and Betty Dipley
19 In loving memory of Mary Buckley
and Richard Belardo
given by Sal and Diana Belardo
26 In loving memory of Dorothy and
Leigh Lydecker and Alfred and
Jennie Lowe given by Al and
Kabby Lowe

October Birthdays
3 Katharine Lowe
Alex Rizzo
4 Barbara Strangfeld
5 Eugene Whitney
Susan Liberis
7 Grant Jaquith
8 Susan Malcolm
Herbert Gretz
11 Janet Schlansker
12 Donald Molino
14 Diana Belardo
Cameron Pierce
15 Polly Mathews
16 Rosemarie Jaquith
19 Norma Flora
20 Katherine Casale
Suzanne Wolff
21 Thomas Miller
22 Karen Holcombe
23 Alice Petter
24 Michael DeBritz
Larene Jaquith
25 Allie Strong
26 Colton Jaquith
28 Eunice Chouffi
30 Samuel Holcombe
31 Justin Phillips
Christopher Morin
Emily Riordan
October Anniversaries
9 Jesse & Elizabeth Dipley
Robert & Bonita Bailey
10 Edward & Margaret Walther
Bob & Angela Strong
19 Herbert & Shirley Gretz

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: Denise Crates
Chancellor: Rosemarie Jaquith
Class of 2003 Liz Casale
Jesse Dipley
Louise Peake
Jed Dare
Class of 2004 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. Our
email address is ststeph@albany.net. The rector's email
is jbrooksm@nycap.rr.com. Our website address is
http://www.albany.net/~ststeph
The Messenger is published 10 times a year, September
through June.