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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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."
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.
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
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 email@example.com. The rector's email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website address is http://www.albany.net/~ststeph
The Messenger is published 10 times a year, September through June.