The Messenger

News & Views, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Schenectady, NY 

May 2007

Feast of Pentecost

The Feast of Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Festival in the Liturgical year, but it is not the end of anything, but the beginning of that new life in Christ.  In our prayer book Pentecost is properly designated as the fiftieth day of Easter    the celebration begins with the day of Resurrection and ends with the gift of the spirit to the Church.  That giving of the Spirit is to be understood as a resurrection appearance.

The import of Pentecost as the final Resurrection appearance is that through the gift of the Spirit, Christ's presence is forever insured for the community of the faithful.  This we indeed celebrate!

We will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 27th.  This feast is as important as Christmas or Easter and St. Stephen's is hoping to have everyone present for the celebration.  There will be baptism and a renewal of our Baptismal vows, especially appropriate on this day, and special music.  Please wear something red to commemorated the coming of the Holy Spirit “in tongues of flame”, and listen carefully as the gospel is read in over a dozen different languages!

 Jazz Sunday


Twice a year at the 10:15 Eucharist this congregation is pleased to welcome the Union College Jazz Ensemble to lead us in “making a joyful noise to the Lord.”  They will be here on May 20th.  Led by Dr. Tim Olsen, music director at St. Stephen’s, the group will accompany our parish choir and will lead our congregation in a variety of Spirituals and other songs.





From the Rector

Dear Friends in Christ:

I sat in the chapel having finished Morning Prayer and I was struck once again by how beautiful our Episcopal liturgy is written.  Today I recited:

   Christ has been raised from the dead,
   the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

I will recite those words every day for the next fifty days and I will never tire of their poetry and truth.  I will recite the same prayers that I have recited for months and years. 

Earlier this week a friend who is Baptist asked me curiously, “Don’t you ever want to have variety in your worship?”  For a moment I felt like an ecclesiastical conservative, a creature of dull habit and unimaginative routine.

But this morning I emerge from the chapel with the words of thanksgiving still ringing in my ears:

   We bless you for our creation, preservation
   and all the blessings of this life;

The scripture readings and responses change day by day.  The prayers change by the day and week and season.  Yes, they are all written down, in a book of common prayer, but my spirit prays them anew each time.

It is not as if I am unacquainted with other ways of worship.  For several years I worshipped with the Quakers in silence.  I went to a Lutheran kindergarten and lived in Lutheran housing in seminary.  I have worshipped with Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists.  I have attended some very original, creative liturgy (if you can even call it ‘liturgy’).  And yet, I always come back to the words of our prayer book.

There are two ways to live, wide or deep.  Sooner or later we have to decide whether and where we want to land.  We have to choose the people and the place we call home.  We have to choose how we want to pray.

“It takes time”, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe once wrote, “to really see a flower.”  It took me several weeks to move from Rite I in Lent to Rite II in Easter.  It took me several years to learn the new liturgies in the 1979 prayerbook.  I am still trying to understand the great mystery of our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” in our Eucharist.  Others may need much more variation in their worship.  But today I felt God touch my heart with the familiar words of Psalm 18.  That’s all the variety I need.



Easter was Beautiful and Grace-filled

What a joyous Easter Feast it was.  Again this year we had a full church at both the 8:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Eucharists.

Our Easter attendance was over 400 people!  Easter flower offering was generous and the flowers were as beautiful as most could remember.   How wonder to have everyone having a share in the Festival.   Then "Low Sunday" that Sunday after Easter Day wasn't low at all.  Thanks to two baptisms an above average congregation at both services.  Keep it up!  Let's use the remaining days of the Easter season to rejoice with one another as we say: 




Thank You

To all at St. Stephen’s

We deeply appreciate all the love and prayers, encouragement and support, the many flowers, cards, and meals given to us during the recent hospital stay of Mike, our brother and June Russell, our mother.  They are doing well and look forward to a speedy recovery.  Thanks be to God

The Morin, the Pratico and the Russell Families


Is That a New Piano Tim is Playing?

Sometimes nice things come to us unexpectedly!  Such was the case recently with the piano that now sits next to the choir and Tim.

In an almost "too-good-to-be-true" situation, Tim Olsen learned that the famous Crane School of Music was offering gently used pianos thru a local retailer.  Tim hopped in the car and drove over to Clark's warehouse to find out what was what.  Being the skilled and dedicated musician he is, Tim carefully listened to numerous pianos as he played them.  Not unlike Cinderella's slipper, he found one that fit.

So, we at St. Stephen's are now the very fortunate owner's of a "previously played" piano, that happens to also have a beautiful sound.  When you see Tim, be sure to thank him for his careful selection and dedication to St. Stephen's.

And, in case you are wondering, the idea of someday soon purchasing a brand-new piano, with the assistance of our generous congregation, is still on the horizon.

                                 Barbara Wisnom

The Coats  by Deacon Pat

I’m sure you have heard
Of The 500 Hats
Of Bartholomew Cubbins
And Millions of Cats
And other large numbers
Of thises and thats. 

But here is a tale
Of a number of coats
(a coat-tale-get it?)
That sure gets my vote
For the finest of numbers,
Deserving a gloat. 

The number I mean
Is 101!
That’s how many we had
By the time we were done.
They just kept on arriving
In snow, sleet and sun! 

Fuzzy ones, shiny ones,
Fancy and plain ones,
Sport coats and parkas
And keep-out-the-rain ones,
Tiny for toddlers,
Medium for misses,
Cozy as hugs
And loving as kisses.

So 101 thanks
For the coats and the love,
Not to mention additional
Hats and gloves,
And praise to the Source of it all. Amen.
And praise to the Source of us all. Amen. 


Final Easter Celebration for Preschool and Kindergarten Children

We invite children in preschool and kindergarten to please join us on Sunday, May 20th at 9:00am for a special Veggie Tales Easter video.  We will meet in the Community Room in the basement at 9:00am.  We will have refreshments for the kids and parents.  Parents are welcomed to stay or attend the adult Sunday school that meets at the same time in the Parish Hall.  We hope to see you there.  If you have any questions, please ask Melinda Renkin or Laura Davis.




Vacation Bible School


For the third year, we will be working with Union Presbyterian Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church to bring a great week of Vacation Bible School to the children.  Many thanks to those who have participated and volunteered in the past years.  Here are the specifics for this year:

Ø      Vacation Bible School is the week of June25th to June 30th.

Ø      There are two Monday through Friday sessions (someone from St. Stephen’s will be present at both sessions).  At Union Presbyterian Church, the program is 9:30-12:30 and at Westminster Presbyterian Church, the program is 6:00-8:00.

Ø      On Saturday, June 30th at 10:00am, we will meet at St. Stephen’s Church to worship and celebrate the week.

Ø      If you would like your children to participate, you can fill out a registration form and give it to Laura Davis.


There are many ways to help out with Bible school:

Ø      The creative design team is looking for helpers to decorate the church with hot air balloons, clouds and things that remind us of taking a high-flying adventure.  If you have some “pie in the sky” great ideas for decorating, please see Laura Davis soon as possible.  The committee will be “lifting off” in the next few weeks.

Ø      The morning program provides lunch for the kids.  A different group of volunteers make lunch each day.  This is a big project, best done with a partner. All of the lunches are simple meals.  You don’t need to worry about the dessert or drinks.

Ø      Homemade baked goods make the snack time and dessert after lunch very special for the kids (and adults).  We would also appreciate any baked goods for after the worship service on Saturday.


Bible School will be held the week after school is out so if you are interested in helping out please sign up soon.  There is a volunteer sign up sheet and registration forms at the Shop in the Parish Hall.  If you have any questions, please ask Laura Davis.




Adult Education – Sunday Morning

The Exodus Decoded

After six years of unprecedented research, host Simcha Jacobovici and a team of renowned archeologists, Egyptologists, geologists, and theologians shed revelatory new light on the Exodus and the era's ruling Egyptian Dynasty. Their new theory pushes events hundreds of years earlier than previously thought, allowing age-old stories to sparkle with new perspectives and startling historical import.

Using elaborate, state-of-the-art CGI, THE EXODUS DECODED offers a stunning virtual account of stories like the birth of Moses, the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, revealing once and for all the difference between acts of Nature and the hand of God. Executive Produced by James Cameron (who appears on camera) and Simcha Jacobovici (who also hosts), the viewer follows Jacobovici to Egypt, Greece and Israel, on an investigative archaeological journey that pieces together a puzzle of tantalizing clues.  We will meet from May 6-13 in the parish hall beginning at 9am.

A History Of God

For over 4,000 years, adherents of the world's monotheistic faiths have wrestled with the question of God. This extraordinary, feature-length film, based on Karen Armstrong's acclaimed book of the same name, traces that elusive and fascinating quest.


A HISTORY OF GOD examines the familiar images of deity as presented in the Bible and Koran and traces the evolution and interrelation of the various Christian, Jewish, and Islamic interpretations of the divine figure. Through balanced analysis of historic and holy texts and extensive use of ancient art and artifacts, we'll follow the long road to today's understanding of God and what the journey--and the destination--have to tell us about humanity and its never-ending search for meaning and comfort.

From the time of Abraham to the present, this is a thought-provoking look at the God at the heart of the world's three great monotheistic religions.

We will meet from  May 20 -27 in the parish hall beginning at 9am.


Are you interested in becoming a member of St. Stephens?

THE ANGLICAN ETHOS is a series of four classes that are 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 afternoons at 1:00 p.m. beginning on May 6 and continuing May 13, May 27 and June 3rd.  New members will be welcomed on Sunday, June 3rd.


 Recipe of the Month

The Feast of St. Stephen


The Second St. Stephen’s cookbook came out in about 1983.  Sue Feyrer and Betsy Neal were the editors. The book was called “The Feasts of St. Stephen’s”. The cover showed a sketch of the church with the “new” nave extension. Here’s a chicken recipe submitted by Mary Hannahs. Mary attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany these days, although she was a member of St. Stephen’s for many years.


CHICKEN BREAST CASSEROLE                                 

Mary Hannahs

5 whole chicken breasts, boned
1 lb. mushrooms (fresh)
Mozzarella cheese
1 can chicken broth
4- 5 beaten eggs
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs 

Cut chicken breasts into strips. Let stand in eggs, salt and pepper for 5 hours or even overnight in refrigerator. Turn into bread crumbs and fry in butter until golden brown. Put chicken into casserole. Cover with sliced raw mushrooms and thinly sliced Mozzarella cheese. Pour chicken broth (about 1 cup) over all. Bake 1/2 hour at 350 covered and 1/2 hour uncovered. Serves 12.


Third Annual Plant Sale

Sunday, May 13

To Benefit - Youth Work Camp


Do you have some perennials that need to be divided?  Or perhaps you started some seedlings, and have a few too many.  Or, maybe you bought some plants for your garden, but you bought a few too many.  Or maybe you bought a couple of extra ones just for our plant sale. Well, here’s you chance to donate your spare plants, contribute to a good cause, and get a few new plants for your garden!

On Sunday, May 13, we'll set out a couple of tables in the nave extension. Put your plants on those tables. Bring them anytime between 7:30 A.M. and 11:30 A.M. Be sure to label them with the name of the plant and your own name, so that the buyer will know who to contact to ask questions: shade or sun; how big will this get; is it hardy; and so forth. Maybe you won't know the answers, but at least it's a starting point. Maybe we can encourage some knowledgeable people like Judy and Gillian to hang around and be consultants.

After church, don't just leave. Turn back into the nave extension and pick out some to take home with you. There will be no prices posted, so you'll have to decide the price yourself. Just remember that this is all a benefit for the youth summer work camp, so be generous. Put the sale price into the "money jar" and go home pleased with yourself:  you've given something away, you've made a nice contribution to the summer work camp, and you've gotten a few new plants for your garden.

Almost completely painless!

Chris Jones


Mother’s Day Breakfast

The youth group will hold its annual Mother’s Day breakfast from 9 to 10 AM on Sunday, May 13 in the parish hall.  Proceeds will go toward workcamp.  There will be no church school or adult education classes that morning.

Speaking of Mother’s Day

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:


 Why did God make mothers?

1.      She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.

2.      Mostly to clean the house.


 How did God make mothers?

1.      He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.

2.      Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.

3.      God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.


 What kind of little girl was your mom?

1.      My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.

2.      I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.


 Why did your mom marry your dad?

1.      My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.

2.      She got too old to do anything else with him.

3.      My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.


 If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1.      She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.

2.      I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.

3.      I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Questions for the Worship Committee

Q: The Eucharist (Rites I & II) makes frequent reference to the Trinity.  Can you provide some abbreviated explanation (if possible) of what the Trinity is and its significance. (I know this is a tough question with many possible explanations but I have never received an explanation that was satisfying.)              Bob Voelker


Dear Bob,

You’re right – other than the section with the Psalms, it would be hard to find a page in the Prayer Book that doesn’t mention the Holy Trinity. Emphasis on the Holy Trinity is one of the defining features of Anglicanism. Everything we do in our worship is to, or about, or from, or with, or through the Trinity; one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


And you're right again -- explanations of the Trinity are never very satisfactory. How could they be? We are trying to wrap human words around divine reality. It can't be done! But that doesn't stop us from trying. We Christians have been trying to explain the Holy Trinity (and disagreeing about those explanations, and fighting about those disagreements) for centuries. If you want to see the results of many of those discussions, you can check out the historical documents section of the Prayer Book. In particular, look at the Athanasian Creed.


I love the Athanasian Creed. I think it is pure poetry. But it also reminds me of mathematics. The Father = God. The Son = God. The Holy Spirit = God. But the Father, the Son, and the Holy Sprit do not equal each other. This is the sort of result you get in mathematics if you divide by zero. You wind up proving that 1 = 3.


The "mathematical" model is not the only way to discuss the Trinity. Attempts to explain the Trinity often use analogies: The Holy Trinity is like a shamrock, one plant with three leaves. The Holy Trinity is like water, that is frozen or liquid or steam. The Holy Trinity is like a creek that has an aquifer, a spring, and a flowing stream. Or the Holy Trinity is like an apple, or like a laser. But of course, although analogies are helpful, we all know that God is not really any of those things.


Maybe it's easiest to go back and look at the experience of the very first Christians, the disciples of Jesus. Especially after the Resurrection, the first Christians realized that Jesus had taught and healed and transformed in a way that only God could do. He was God. But they had heard Jesus praying to God, calling Him Father -- he wasn't praying to himself! And then as they experienced the new life that he had given them.  They found that the Holy Spirit was with them, supporting them in their prayer. This, too, was God -- but neither the Father nor the Son. But they also knew absolutely that the most high and holy God is One.


I think that is why our worship is so saturated with reference to the Holy Trinity. We approach God in prayer, day by day and week by week and year by year, and we learn, as the early Christians did, that God is Love. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and the Spirit is (as St. Augustine suggested) the Divine Love between the Father and the Son, which God generously pours out on all Creation. The divine reality is simply too vast for us to wrap our arms or minds around it. But we can trust that the arms and heart of Love are wrapped around us.


Allison de Kanel

For the Worship Committee


 Q: What is the difference between the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed? When is each one said?

In regards to the first portion of your question, I wish to point you to two wonderful resources, one of which is found in our parish library. The book, A New Dictionary for Episcopalians by The Rev. John N. Wall, Jr., gives a clear, concise definition. An additional helpful reference is the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. In the 1979 BCP on page 851 within the Catechism, there is a section on The Creeds.


The Nicene Creed is recited at all Sunday celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. However, the Nicene Creed is not said during weekday celebrations of the Eucharist.


The Apostles' Creed is said during services of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Also, the Apostles' Creed is recited at the Burial of the Dead and at Baptism and Confirmation.


Dennis Wisnom

For the Worship Committee


Garden Day

Come one, come all to help to spruce up the gardens at St. Stephen’s.  The garden day is schedule for May 19th.  Please come between 8:30-12:00 Saturday morning.  Bring your garden tools, your muscles or/and your supervisory skills, and even your kids.  Come when you can and leave when you have to.  We can all help to make St. Stephen’s beautiful!


Christian Education Director

Applications (with resume) for the part-time position of Director of Christian Education will be accepted until May 4.  If you have questions or need an application, contact Richey Woodzell, 372-9398,  The search committee will hold interviews during the last two weeks of May, with plans for a recommendation to the rector and vestry by the second week in June. 

Wedding Anniversaries

Norma & Vincent Piscitelli                    5/3
Carl & June Hatlee                               5/10
Robert & Barbara Strangfeld                5/20
Dave & Denise Crates                          5/23
George & Richey Woodzell                  5/28
Robert & Phyllis Chapman                   5/30


Margaret Trawick                                 5/4
Bruce Tatge                                          5/4
Paul Jesep                                            5/4
Ted Schlansker                                     5/5
Omer Burton                                        5/5
Belachew Emaelaf                                5/5
Isabella Varno                                      5/5
Rocky Bonsal                                       5/7
Marilyn Dare                                        5/9
Robyn Stewart                                     5/10
Scott Soule                                           5/11
Ayodele Jones                                      5/12
Jack Lampman                                     5/12
Norman Hoffmann                                5/15
Charline Hoffmann                                5/15
Amy Soule                                           5/15
Benjamin Hoshko                                 5/18
Tyleigh Versocki                                   5/19
Elizabeth Casale                                   5/20
Steven Koch                                        5/21
Gene Koreman                                     5/23
Allison deKanel                                    5/26
William Schlansker                               5/26
Phyllis Chapman                                   5/26
Pat Hagen                                            5/27
William, Jr. Smith                                  5/29
David Carroll                                        5/29
Katelyn Lampman                                5/29
William Koch                                       5/30
Andrew Riordan                                   5/30
Shannon Trant                                      5/30
Julie McDonald                                    5/31
Dawn Kaler                                          5/31
Susan Olsen                                         5/31

* If a birthday or anniversary is missing or incorrect for you or anyone in your family, please contact the office (346-6241).


Home Furnishings Program

The Home Furnishings Program is looking for volunteers to drive their truck for pickups and deliveries during the day.  If you’re a licensed driver at least 26 years old, like to drive a truck and would like to help for an hour or two occasionally (whenever you’re willing and available), please talk to Richey Woodzell or call the Home Furnishings Program administrator at 346-2444.


Also, in July, St. Stephen’s will have four truck runs for the Home Furnishings Program, picking up and delivering donated furniture for people in need.  We need crews of three for each run – anyone age 16 or older is welcome!   Please sign up in the parish hall to contribute a couple hours of your time and strength.  Runs can be made any day or time; please specify your preference.  Questions?  Call Richey Woodzell, 372-9398.



5 KM Walk for the Hungry is Sunday, May 6th, beginning and ending at St. Helen’s School on Upper Union Street.  Registration is 12:30 – 1:30; walk/run begins at 1:30.  There’s still time to sign up in the parish hall extension; bring your registration form to the walk.  If you cannot walk, please sponsor one of our walkers.  Money raised will be used for hunger relief efforts by Church World Service and local agencies.

Work Camp

St. Stephen’s high school students will travel to Weston, WV, July 21-29, to join other youth groups in repairing homes, exploring their faith and making friends.  Completed Workcamper Information/Medical Release Forms (BOTH sides) and Participant Release Agreement forms for students and adults participating must be submitted to George Woodzell as soon as possible.  If you’ve mislaid your forms, call George, 372-9398.  Please send registration money to the church office or give to Denise Crates.

Church World Service Heart-to-Heart Kids Kits

Remember the small items we purchased for kits before Lent?  We put together 10 Kids Kits that were dropped off at Union Presbyterian Church during April.  These kits will be sent to CWS sites around the world to be given to children surviving disasters.  Thank you for your contributions!