The Messenger March 2007
News and happenings at
St. Stephen's Church, Schenectady, NY
Food Drive for the Hungry
During Lent the Outreach Committee and the Sunday school children are asking the entire congregation to participate in a Food Drive that will benefit SICM Food Pantry. Our goal is to have families and individuals bring in one food item a week during Lent. This will benefit the hungry in our own back yard. Items needed at this time include:
canned spaghetti O’s
applesauce & dessert mixes
Baby formula (Enfamil with iron)
mayonnaise and jelly
All items should be delivered to the Church by Palm Sunday (April 1st) in order for us to deliver the food before Easter!
Church World Service Heart to Heart: Thank You
Thank you to everyone who purchased items for the Heart to Heart kits. On Sunday, February 18th, the Sunday school class put the kits together. We talked about how we weren’t exactly sure where the kits are going. The Church World Service will distribute them when they are needed. When the kits are all completed, we will take them to Union Presbyterian Church where the Church World Service will pick them up.
The kits aren’t finished yet. There are a few items we still need to make our 10 kits complete. During Lent we will turn our focus towards the SICM food pantry. After Lent, we will try to finish the Heart to Heart kits. With your help the Sunday school classes are sure to do that. Thank you very much for your support.
From the Rector
In his book, The Word is Very Near You: A Guide to Praying with Scripture, (found in our Church Shop) Martin Smith uses the marvelous image of a museum to describe the study of Scripture:
Beginning to read the Bible seriously is rather like visiting a vast art museum. We are bewildered at first by the profusion of images and tend to survey them all in a daze, pausing before only a few of the most famous or striking works. But if we begin to make regular visits we learn to contemplate just one object at a time and let it work on our imagination. In time a single painting or sculpture can come to show us many things about life. It can work many changes in our understanding and vision if we allow it to. In the same way one scriptural symbol can in time work changes in us at several levels through the power of the Spirit. (p. 64)
I would like you to use this same image as we enter this Season of Lent. Lent is like a vast museum filled with the works that tell of God's plan of salvation. We enter it together a field trip for our parish family and as we do so we see familiar, comforting, and challenging images. Lent is a time to look again, look at and participate in God's saving grace, look intentionally at the profusion of means God uses to call us into a right relationship with God. Let's pause before three great works.
Prayer: Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, these are works we will all participate in. But there are others which we may choose to contemplate individually. I suggest that for each Sunday Eucharist we enter the church fifteen minutes early, and refraining from any talking, we take our seat for a period of silent meditation. Use this time as preparation for entering into The Great Thanksgiving, the Eucharist. Each Thursday evening we will pray Even prayer. On Maundy Thursday evening I ask you to watch one hour with Jesus in a night long prayer vigil. Confession - taking a serious inventory of your Christian life and receiving absolution and spiritual counsel. And, most importantly, daily prayer. Use the "Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families" in the prayer book or on the cards which I will be happy to give you. Offer up to God your thanksgivings and your personal needs as well as the needs of the world. Pray for the people of Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan North Korea and our own country.
Study: Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find a listing of the Sunday Morning Adult Series on Islam, our bible study on Brahms’s Requiem on Sunday evenings, and our general bible study after the Thursday morning healing Eucharist at 10:45am. All are welcome to come!
Fasting: The time honored tradition of fasting during Lent is as valid today as it has ever been. Fasting, is the act of putting nothing not even food between yourself and God. You may eat simpler meals on Fridays during Lent, and families could instruct children of the reasons for the simpler food. The hunger we may feel will remind us of those millions throughout the world who go hungry every day. The money we save by fasting may be collected and put into the collection plate for the hungry. This hunger also reminds us of our hunger for God.
These are only three of the 'works' found in our 'Lenten Museum'. There are many others that you may wish to pause and contemplate. They can show us many things about life. They can work many changes in our understanding and vision if we allow them to. Lent is a time to look again at the works of God's saving Grace, and in that looking, be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Adult Christian Education
It is the second largest of the world's great religions, and the fastest growing. Its name comes from the word for peace, yet to many Westerners it is synonymous with terror.
INSIDE ISLAM lifts the veil of mystery surrounding a misunderstood faith. Trace its roots back to the Hebrew Bible and discover how the Five Pillars, the religion's central tenets, helped spread Islam to the far corners of the world. Find out what the Qu'Ran says about war, violence and suicide, and how these words have been co-opted by extremists. And hear from experts like Khaled Abou el Fadl (author of Speaking in God's Name), who explore the challenges facing Islam today, including a crisis of authority and deep divisions among many sects.
Illuminating, important and objective, INSIDE ISLAM exposes the heart of a faith mired in controversy. The class is held on Sunday mornings throughout the month of March in the Parish Hall beginning at 9am. Dr. Zoser Z. Mohamen will be our guest presenter on March 11th.
Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy ...The Bible and Brahms's Requiem
This course follows the famous "German Requiem" on a tour of Biblical prompts about death, grief, the brevity of life, and faith for here and hereafter. Through music and Scripture, we move from graveside to grieving, from the challenges of self-reflection to new perspectives and hope beyond. The classes meet on Sunday evenings from 5:00 pm to 7pm in March in the Parish Hall.
Keeping Lent at Home
The following suggestions are meant to jog your own family creativity, for children benefit especially from active participation and tangible expression of what may otherwise become too abstract or boring as a long Lent draws itself out.
To give an outward sign to our Lenten efforts, we can make and hang something over the hearth or, for that matter, the kitchen sink, which will encourage us and make us mindful of our resolutions.
A banner or poster with that three-fold theme of prayer, fasting, and alms giving is a fine place to begin. Illustrate their symbols next to them and draw out a discussion at dinner time about how the family might interpret these disciplines during the next six weeks.
Lent means spring, another theme for this season, can be lettered on a length of shelf paper and illustrated with everyone’s signs of springtime. Guests and visitors and the children’s friends can be invited to add to the illustrations as they come to visit.
A mask or a drawing of a face with two halves, one side cheerful and one gloomy, can illustrate Christ’s suggestions to us that Lent not be a dismal affair but actually something that contains its own rewards, shining out of a happy face. “When you fast, do not look glum as the hypocrites do...When you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see that you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; and your Father who seems what is hidden will repay you.” (Ash Wednesday’s Gospel).
A simple cross made of two twigs can be planted in a desert pot with cactus. Add the inscription: “If any man loves me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” Or make an arrangement of bark and twigs and dry weeds, and as Lent progresses, make some changes
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is looking for a caring, dedicated person to administer and coordinate our church school program. This person would be responsible for the oversight of the Church School and the planning and implementation of activities for Pre-K through grade 12. The director will work with clergy and parish staff, volunteer teachers and parish families to develop, build, and lead programs of Christian education, outreach, and fellowship for the children and youth of the parish for approximately 15-20 hours per week.
Included in the director's responsibilities are the following (with the understanding that volunteers will work with the director, and may take the lead in some tasks):
Meeting regularly with the Rector
Selecting and reviewing curriculum
Recruiting, supervising, and supporting volunteer teachers and assistants
Providing access to resources beyond the curriculum
Determining class sizes, divisions and locations
Coordinating classes / intergenerationals
Overseeing classroom conditions and décor
Planning and making arrangements for regular field trips
Registering students and maintaining records of attendance
Communicating with parents (mail, telephone, home visits)
Promoting the program (Parish Faire, encouraging adult involvement)
Submitting regular reports for publication in the newsletter, website and bulletins
Maintaining bulletin boards
Managing equipment and supplies - resource room, education office
Recruiting or coordinating staffing for nursery (infants to Kindergarten): 9-10 AM, 10:15-11:30 AM
Planning outreach projects with Service Committee and teachers
Planning and coordinating regular fellowship activities
Planning and implementing
Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School – Lifting off in June
Vacation Bible School is scheduled for the week of June 25th. We will be soaring to new heights as we learn about God. We will be lifting off from a hot air balloon everyday and will go where the wind takes us. Well, not really, but it’s amazing where a little imagination can take you.
Bible school is for children in preschool through sixth grade. There are many, many opportunities to volunteer before or during Bible school for all ages (above sixth grade). There are two sessions: in the mornings at Union Presbyterian Church and in the evening at Westminster Presbyterian Church. We will finish the week by “flying” over to St. Stephen’s on Saturday for a worship service that celebrates the week. If you have any questions, please ask Laura Davis (377-0626; email@example.com).
Book Review – Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life
Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. By Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn. Paulist Press: Mahwah/New York, 1995.
This book is a real gem! It was brought to my attention while I was on a retreat last fall, trying to discern how to simplify my life.
The authors’ purpose is “for people to hear the voice of God guiding them from within.” The process recommended is very simple: every day (for a month), ask yourself two questions: For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful? It can be done alone, by journaling, or with a family or friend. Even young children can join in. (I have given a copy to my daughter and her husband, to share with their children.) Even if you are not trying to reach a decision about some aspect of your life, it raises awareness of specific joys and regrets in each day. This awareness can lead to making healthy changes or choices. The fancy name for this process, which has been used for hundreds of years, is the “examen of consciousness.” Thank you, St. Ignatius!
Sleeping with Bread will be in the parish library as soon as Jane and Bruce Tatge can process it. A word of warning: DO NOT judge this book by its cover. It looks like a children’s book, but it contains much more than pretty pictures. It can be read easily in a couple of hours, but like bread, it will nourish you for a long time.
Coffee Hour: One of the ways we minister to each other...
...and the kids love it! Thank you to those who have signed up for coffee hour in the last month. Chris Jones has kindly put together at list of instructions that Robyn Stewart has (also kindly) copied and posted in the kitchen. When you sign up for coffee hour at 10:15, this list will come in handy. Extra copies are available, so you can take one home. Below are a few of the tips that you will see:
· Individuals can do coffee hour, or a family can do it, or two people or families can get together to do it.
· The goodies can be home-baked, store-bought, or a combination thereof. If any items include allergy-prone ingredients (i.e., peanuts, walnuts, etc.), please label them as such on the counter.
· In the kitchen, there are great instructions about making the coffee. You will need to plan on about an hour for the coffee to brew (while you’re in church).
· You do not need to provide any paper products for coffee hour. The church provides them.
· There is a list of people you can call on to answer questions.
Coffee hour is a good opportunity to meet and greet friends, to reconnect with each other. The instructions will help to take the mystery out of it. See you after church…
Here’s another one from the “original” 1970 St. Stephen’s Church Cookbook. This one sounds nice on a cold winter evening… Or anytime!
CORN SOUFFLE. Submitted by Coreta V. Hatlee
fresh grated or canned corn 2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour 1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine 1-1/4 tsp.
salt dash of pepper
Melt butter, add flour and milk gradually. Stir and bring to boiling point; add seasonings, egg yolks beat until thick and lemon colored, corn and egg whites beaten until stiff. Turn into buttered dish and bake 25-30 min. in 350 oven. Serves 6.
Lent is a time for us all to strive to be closer to our faith and to deepen our relationship with Jesus. It is important to have ways for the children to do this as well. We will be having two programs, aside from the regular Sunday school, during Lent. These programs are for kids in kindergarten through 6th grade. Older siblings are welcomed. They can help out our youngest.
On Palm Sunday (April 1, 2007), a Lenten program for kids is planned from 5:00-7:00. This program will be at the same time as the adult Lenten study. We will be busy doing many things like making bread and talking about the Exodus and the Last Supper. Dinner will be provided for the kids (we may ask you to bring something to share). We will meet downstairs in the Community room at 5:00. There will be a sign up sheet at the shop beginning this week.
On Good Friday (April 6, 2007), there will be a Lenten program for the kids from 2:00-3:00. One on the things we will be doing is the Stations of the Cross. You don’t need to sign up for this program. We will meet in the Parish Hall at 2:00. Hope you can come to one or both of the programs.
& Susan Liberis 3/6
Dennis & Karen Holcombe 3/28
Ethan Brooks-McDonald 3/4
Barbara Wisnom 34
Elizabeth MacFarland 3/5
Jacob Steele 3/6
Thomas Casale 3/7
Diane Kilbourn 3/10
Logan Olberg 3/10
Jim Wolff 3/10
Kelly Nolan 3/10
Norma Piscitelli 3/11
Adam Gibbs 3/11
Shirley Voelker 3/13
Ted Conwell 3/14
Roseann Caruso 3/15
Bubb Mazurek 3/16
Grace Murph-Nolan 3/18
Susan Townsend 3/22
Joanne Frank 3/22
Martie Spang 3/23
Dorothy Gibbs 3/23
Julianna Fowler 3/25
Alexa Wolff 3/25
Linda Emaelaf 3/27
Paul Practico 3/27
Scott Bristol 3/27
Julian Canavan 3/28
Tracy Ormsbee 3/29
Helen Reid 3/30
Ralph May 3/30
* If a birthday or anniversary is missing or incorrect for you or anyone in your family, please contact the office (346-6241).
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
Warden: Ryan Davis
Clerk: Peter Nelson
Treasurer: Denise Crates
Chancellor: Rosemarie Jaquith
Class of 2007
Class of 2008
Class of 2009 Melinda Renkin
CHURCH OFFICE, located at
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . The rector’s email is email@example.com. Our website address is www.saintstephenschenectady.org
The Messenger is published 10 times a year, September through June.