Saint Stephen's Schenectady
Christmas Issue

December, 2008 

From The Rector

As I write this message the busiest shopping day of the year has ushered in another shopping season.  Christmas carols are heard in the stores, on the radio, and in just about every other commercial on television.  And yet, it is four weeks before Christmas.  The rush has not begun.  We are between holidays.  Very soon Christmas break will be here, and then we will be doing that last minute shopping, addressing cards, wrapping presents, and rehearsing.  But, for the time being, we are resting, waiting.

God's people have always been a waiting people, waiting and watching.  Often we wait, not knowing exactly what to expect, hoping for something to happen, hoping for someone to come: a letter in the mail, a visitor, our number in the lottery. 

God's people are a waiting people.  But waiting is difficult: in the surgical waiting room - awaiting a word; in a long line at the bank, in an airport.  Have you ever noticed the variety in the manner of people's waiting?  Some are the staunch kind who wait with a sure and certain hope. Others sit on the edge of their seats in anxious fear.  You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she waits.

But waiting is hard.  We often become impatient and thereby miss the mighty movement and redemptive voice of God. Sometimes our impatient waiting causes us to miss out on the joy of that for which we are waiting.

The season of Advent, which we began November 30th, evokes the emotions of anticipation in Christians.  It captures the ancient yearning for the Messiah that was so much a part of the history of the Hebrew nation.  Advent comes in the part of the year when the days grow shorter and shorter, when we feel surrounded by darkness, and when our need to look forward and to hope becomes especially intense.  It is an in- between season of waiting and of watchful preparation.  But there is a great danger in waiting for the Lord's Coming with impatience and anxious fear.  This Advent season could be nothing more than a busy, expensive holiday in which we burn up our emotions and become tired of Christmas weeks before it comes.

Take some time away from that busy schedule, slow down.  Let's take some time this Advent to make ourselves ready, to allow Christ to act upon us; to feel His penetrating power deep within us, enabling us to be ignited from within, creating the warmth that will give the glow of Jesus in us, a glow that will allow others to see that Christ has come and that He is coming again.




Cleaning and Greening of the Church

Help prepare the church for Christmas. On Sunday morning, December 21st, beginning after you get your coffee, we will meet in the Church to hang the greens, and generally prepare the church for our celebration of Christ's birth.



Advent began on Sunday, Nov. 30th.  It is a time to prepare for Christ's birth as well as for His second coming to judge the world.  It is a time of watching and waiting and great expectation.  Purple, the color of thoughtfulness and penitence is the color of the season.  The Greek letters, Alpha (the first of the alphabet) and Omega (the last letter) combine to make the symbol for this season of the year signifying that God is Eternal xx the beginning and the end.  Come and worship during Advent in joyful anticipation of the birth of our Lord.

CHILD CARE CHRISTMAS EVE The Community Room will be open at the 5:00 p.m. service.  Toddlers are invited to share the church service experience with their families, but it can be a long time for some to be still.

Are You Interested In Becoming A Member Of St. Stephen's?
INQUIRE'S CLASSES are a basic five 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 x 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 are held on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. in the rector's office beginning January 4th.  Bishop Love will be at St. Stephen's to receive and confirm anyone who has been through the inquires' classes over the past several years.  Please contact the rector if you are interested in becoming an 'official' member of the Episcopal Church.  

Adult Education on Sunday Mornings:
Strengthen your walk and impact your world with biblical insights. Drawing on Ray Vander Laan's DVD presentations, participants will enjoy spirited discussions and find practical applications that turn faith lessons learned from past millennia into faith lessons lived today.

Dec. 7th > The Time Had Fully Come (Qumran): Just as God had prepared the Jewish culture to receive Jesus' message, we need to present the Bible in a way that speaks to our culture.

Dec. 14th > No Greater Love (Korazin/Mount of Beatitudes): The imagery of first century Jewish marriage customs illustrates Jesus' great love for humanity. Today, he asks us to be his spiritual bride.

Dec. 21st > The Rabbi (Gamla): The Zealots longed for a political messiah, but Jesus came as a rabbi to influence His culture. To impact society today, we need to model His teachings.

Jan. 4th > Language of Culture (Sepphoris): In a Hellenistic cultural setting, Jesus sometimes used theatrical terms in communicating. We, too, must understand our society to be spiritually relevant.

Jan. 11th > Misguided Faith (Belvoir): Where the Crusaders sought to advance faith by the edge of the sword, Jesus taught a way of life-and so conquered the hearts of people.

Jan. 18th > Living Water (En Gedi): The water of a spring provided an oasis that sustained life. Similarly, Jesus referred to himself as "living water," our only refreshment from the heart of life.

All classes are held in the Parish Hall on Sundays from 9am to 10am.  These classes have been very popular!

If you or someone you know is unable to attend church on either a long or short term basis, please call the parish office if you would like to have communion brought to you.


Christmas Services
5:00 p.m.  Family Eucharist
10:45 p.m.  Christmas Carols
11:00 p.m.  Festive Candlelight Eucharist
10:15 a.m.  Eucharist
Monday, December 26th
10:00 a.m. Eucharist
December 28th
8:00 a.m.  Eucharist - Fr. Zimmerman preaching and celebrating
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist > Fr. Zimmerman preaching and celebrating
January 4th
8:00 a.m.  Eucharist
10:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist


Saint Stephen, Deacon And Martyr

The patron saint of our parish is St. Stephen whose life we will celebrate on Sunday, December 26th at a festive Eucharist at 10:15am.

Stephen was called one of the "seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3).  He was chosen by the apostles to relieve them of the administrative burden of "serving tables and caring for the widows." This became what the Church traditionally considers to be the work and ministry of a deacon.

Stephen's activities involved more than simply "serving tables" for the Acts of the Apostles speaks of his preaching and performing many miracles.  These activities led him into conflict with some of the Jews, who accused him of blasphemy, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.  His powerful sermon before the Council is recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts.  His denunciation of the Sanhedrin so enraged its members that, without a trial, they dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death.

Saul, later called Paul, stood by, consenting to Stephen's death, but Stephen's example of steadfast faith in Jesus, and of intercession for his persecutors, was to find fruit in the mission and witness of Paul after his conversion.  The Christian community in Jerusalem, taking fright at the hostility of the Judean authorities, was scattered; so that for the first time the Gospel of Christ began to spread beyond Jerusalem.

Come celebrate our patron saint on Sunday!



Dates to Remember related to Sunday school

Saturday, 12/13:      Rehearsal for People, Look East at 3:00pm

Sunday 12/14:          Regular Sunday school for all
Sunday, 12/17:         Regular Sunday school for all
Saturday, 12/20:      Rehearsal for People, Look East at 3:00pm
Sunday, 12/21:       Meet at 9:00am for a "finishing touch" rehearsal
People, Look East during the 10:15 service
Wednesday, 12/24: Family service at 5:00pm
Sunday, 12/28:          No Sunday school

Laura Davis:   Church phone:  346-6241

Times for Sunday school:  

It is never too late to join us for Sunday school.
Preschool / kindergarten group will meet after the children's sermon during the 10:15 service in the basement nursery school rooms for about ½ hour.  

First, second and third grade group will meet from 9:00-10:00am in the basement nursery school rooms.

Fourth, fifth and sixth grade group will meet from 9:00-10:00am. This group will begin in the basement and then go to the tower after the opening activities.

Youth Group (7th - 12th grades) will meet after the 10:15 service (11:30-12:30).  This group meet in the Chapel.   

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact
Laura Davis


Christmas Preparations
The People Look East:  Telling the Story of Christmas
Reprinted from November Messenger 

The Christmas committee is in the middle of planning for a very special service on the 4th Sunday in Advent (12/21).  The program is in a form of Lessons and Carols.  Gretchen Wolff Pritchard arranged the staging to go with the readings and selected the songs.  We are hoping to make this effort multigenerational.  There are many, many ways to be a part of this service:
Readers:  There are many readings.  We are asking that adults and youth volunteer to read a selected Bible passage.
Music:  In between each of the readings, we'll be hearing (and singing) a wide variety of Music.  Some songs will be sung by the whole congregation, but not all.  We are asking for soloists, instrumentalists, and families volunteer to sing or play one of the wonderful carols that have been selected for this service.
Actors:  There are many opportunities to act for all ages.  We have no lines to memorize; these roles pantomime each Bible passage as it's read.   There are a wide variety of characters in this program from Adam and Eve to sheep and angels, not to mention Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.
Props and behind the scenes help:  Props are minimal but we will need to make a few things and get other items together.  We can always use help getting it all together.

We are keeping rehearsals minimal.  Those that volunteer to read, sing, play an instrument or to be one of the main characters will be expected to become familiar with their part on their own so that the rehearsals can run as smooth as possible.

We plan to meet Saturday afternoons on 12/13 and 12/20 at 3:00pm with pizza after we are done with our work. 

If you are interested in helping in anyway please see any of the Christmas committee members:  Allison de Kanel, Cheryl Syta, Nancy Scardino or Laura Davis.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!


SICM Sunday school Food Drive

Thank you to all who participated in our Sunday school food drive.  Every Sunday for the last two months we had a basket full of food all brought in by the children and their families.  The children really enjoyed bringing the food to the altar during the offering at the 10:15 service.  The grocery cart in the parish hall extension is always ready to accept nonperishable food items through out the year.  Please continue to remember SICM when you're doing your grocery shopping each week.



Receiving the Messenger

If you did not receive a copy of the Messenger, there are 4 ways to obtain it:

Web: There is a copy available at the web site (   
US Mail: Call the Church office weekday mornings at 346-6241 to add your home address to the mailing list. 
E-Mail: You can give us your email by sending it to the Messenger

At Church: Paper copies of the Messenger will be prominently displayed at the back of the Church. Publication date varies with submission of articles.

Thank you.

              Work Camp Thank You Dinner Recipe
The following recipe is the chicken dish that so many enjoyed at the Work Camp thank you dinner.  Tracy Ormsbee found the recipe and the youth group made it.  We hope you'll enjoy it at home.   Please try not to make it too many times next fall so that you aren't tired of it by the time we have our next thank you dinner.  We all thought it was worth a repeat for next year!

Thank you so much for your support in sending our youth to work camp. 

The Easiest Apricot Chicken
Makes 4-6 servings
2 18-ounce jars apricot preserves
 1 12-ounce jar Dijon mustard
 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, combine the apricot preserves and the mustard. (Add less mustard if you want it less spicy. Ratio should be based on your own tastes).
Cut the chicken breasts into strips about 2 inches wide and add to the apricot mixture. Generously coat the chicken.
Pour the chicken and the sauce into a baking dish and cook for about 45 minutes.


The Giving Tree needs your help.

Our Christmas Tree has envelopes for each person who would love to receive gifts from someone for Christmas.

Please take a look, and find someone you can be Santa for. 

Instructions are inside the envelope. 

Your help will be merrily received.

For details call the office at 346-6241 weekday mornings.

Volunteers needed to help fix up Reid House 

As discussed during the Architecture Task Force report, we are undertaking to fix up Reid House so it can be used by the Sunday School and the Nursery School.  With the enthusiastic help of volunteers, we have already removed attic and cellar walls, and well along on demolition of interior walls.   The tasks and approximate time schedule are:

1. Complete demolition to reconfigure interior walls  (November )
   2. Remove kitchen and bath  (December)
3. Cover ceilings with drywall  (January - February)

4. Add interior archways and bath walls  (February - March)
5. Paint interior (May - June)

We will work
Tuesday afternoons: 1:00p to 4:00p
Saturday 9:00a to 1:00p
Other times can be arranged.  GIVE US AS MUCH TIME AS YOU CAN.

Sign up sheets in the Parish Hall or contact
Austin Spang or George Woodzell

Gifts for Life Catalog

This month is a special time of thanks giving. We take time to remember
how thankful we are for our lives, our families, and the bounty of the earth's
harvest. As Christians, we give thanks every week in the Eucharist. In the
Eucharist we give thanks for God's healing grace and commission ourselves,
as the Church, to be the Body of Christ in this hurting world. The Gifts for Life
catalog provides a concrete way to give thanks for someone special in our lives
while bringing Christ's healing to this hurting world. Consider who you might give
thanks for this Thanksgiving.

   VESTRY MEETING UPDATE - November 10, 2008

Financial Reports

At each monthly meeting, the Vestry customarily reviews the income and expense statements provided by Denise Crates, our Treasurer.  The November report shows that we are on track with respect to income, while we are exceeding the budget in certain expense areas.  One of the main reasons for this remains the unanticipated increase in utility costs.  We will continue to monitor this monthly.

Finance Committee
It appears as though a number of parishioners may not have received Pledge cards.  Fr. James will look into this.  Pledge cards are available in Church, and Fr. James will make announcements during the Worship services.

The Finance Committee has not yet completed a financial plan for the proposed rebuilding of the Parish Hall.  The Committee will be meeting on November 19.  The will present their recommendations to the Vestry.

Concern was expressed with regard to the upcoming budget for 2009.  In the current economic situation, we will need to carefully review all income and expense projections. 

Buildings and Grounds
The Vestry reviewed & approved the annual maintenance contract for lawn maintenance and snow plowing.  Master Landscape Co., which performed these services this past year, submitted the bid for 2009.  The Vestry passed the bid onto the Finance Committee for inclusion in the 2009 budget.

Work continues on Reid House.  Volunteer members of the congregation have been helping with interior demolition work.

Bylaws Task Force
Vestry members were provided with a binder containing the revisions recommended by the Task Force members, Barbara Wisnom & Rocky Bonsal.

An explanation of how to review the materials in the binder was provided.  The revisions were reviewed twice by an attorney and proof read twice by Richey Woodzell.  The Vestry thanks both Mr. Jesup, the attorney who reviewed the bylaws and Richey Woodzell.

The Vestry will meet in a special session on December 6th to discuss the revisions and next steps.

According to our current bylaws, the Vestry must vote twice in the affirmative to approve any revisions.  Once this has happened, the revised bylaws then go to the Congregation for their approval.  Members of the congregation will be given access to the recommended revisions after the Vestry has approved them.  Ample time will be given for review prior to scheduling a congregation vote.

Architectural Task Force
A revised budget for improvements to Reid House was distributed.  This included work on the chimney, the roof and waterproofing the basement.

Two members of the congregation were present at the meeting and voiced their concerns with respect to the proposed plans for Reid House.

The Vestry approved the revised budget for the improvements.  Work will begin immediately.

We ask your continued prayers for this project.

Endowment Committee
A report will be provided to the Vestry at the December meeting.

We received a thank you note from Episcopal Relief and Development for our donation

New Business
Fr. James will call a special meeting of the Vestry to look at financing the proposed rebuilding of the Parish Hall.  The meeting will not be scheduled until after the Endowments Committee's Report has been received.  The date of the meeting will be announced.
That's it for the November meeting.  "See" you next month.
Contact Barbara Wisnom for questions, feedback or suggestions

                                                     VESTRY MEETINGS
Vestry meetings are open to all members of the congregation.  Vestry meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30pm in the basement of the Parish Hall.
On very rare occasion, the Vestry may need to meet in "Executive Session" to discuss a confidential matter, and the congregation is not able to be.

Feel free to contact any member of Vestry at any time if you have questions about what goes on at Vestry meetings, or if you have something you would like to bring before the Vestry for discussion.

Please note the Vestry does not meet in July or August.


A Prayer during Advent
from the Iona Community - Scotland

You keep us waiting.
You the God of all time,
want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go, who will be with us, and what we must do.
So thank you ... for the waiting time.

You keep us looking.
You, the God of all space,
Want us to look in the right and wrong places
For signs of hope,
For people who are hopeless,
For visions of a better world that will appear
Among the disappointments of the world we know.
So thank you ... for the looking time.

You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is love,
Want us to be like you ---
To love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;
To love without jealousy or design or threat;
And most difficult of all, to love ourselves.
So thank you .... for the loving time.

And in all this, you keep us,
Through hard questions with no easy answers;
Through failing where we hoped to succeed
And making am impact when we felt we were useless;
Through the patience and the dreams and the love of others;
And through Christ and His Spirit,
You keep us.
So thank you ... for the keeping time,
And for now, and for ever. Amen

SAFE House Toiletries
SAFE House is a temporary shelter for run-away and homeless youth in Schenectady.  For several years we have been donating toiletries to SAFE, in a basket in the parish hall extension.  During this month, please make an extra effort to bring in small toiletry articles for these young people.  The staff include them with their Christmas gifts.



International Dinner
St. Stephen's and other churches which support the Campus Protestant Ministry will host a potluck holiday dinner for the international students at Union College on Wednesday, December 10th, at 6:00 in the Old Chapel

Please sign up at the shop to provide a dish for this meal:  main course (meat or vegetarian), salad, other side dish, or dessert.    And join us and the students at 6:00 on the 10th for a delightful evening.

If you would like to help with the food but can not make it to the dinner, or if you have any questions,  ask George or Richey Woodzell

                                                            THANK YOU!

Let's Keep It Going!

When? Friday, December 12th, 6:00 PM.

We have a guest speaker: Father David Plank, retired Episcopal minister now volunteering with the Albany Maritime Ministry at the Port of Albany. Father Plank says the visiting sailors really appreciate gloves, mittens, knitted hats, knitted face masks, personal toiletries - shampoo, shaving kit, toothpaste, combs, motel soaps, playing cards, pencils, pens and phone cards.If you wish to come and hear Father Plank, please join us. If you wish to donate any of the above items, please give them to Marilyn Humphrey or Pauline Holmes.

Where? The Parish Room
Who? Anyone and Everyone!
(Sorry - no child care, but children are, as always, welcome)

Please Bring            
- Pot luck dish
- Own Plate
- Own Utensils

Questions? Call Pauline Holmes

Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays

Peter Nevius 12/01
Rebecca Carroll 12/01
Louise Peake 12/05
Mildred Gittinger 12/07
Vicki Hoshko 12/08
John Liberis 12/12
Claudia Ashelman 12/12
Robin Kaczka 12/15
Robert McCalley 12/17
Jed Dare 12/18
Shirley Gretz 12/20
Taylor Pierce 12/20
Jean Greenspan 12/21
Stephen Sombor 12/23
Robert Olberg 12/25
John Petito 12/26
Ronald Michelson 12/27
Isabelle Jaquith 12/27
Anne Sombor 12/28
Carl Hatlee,II 12/29
Denise Crates 12/31

Dennis and Joan Moss 12/02
Robert Olberg and Andrea Worthington 12/10
Scott and Trina Moss 12/15
Daniel and Edith Lundquist 12/18
Gerald and Linda Perregaux 12/22
Grant and Rosemarie Jaquith 12/30

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
Dr. Timothy Olsen, Director of Music
Ms Katherine Miller, Office Manager

The Vestry
 SrWarden, Ryan Davis
JrWarden,Rocky Bonsal
Class of 2008:
Austin Spang
Sid Woodcock
Glenn Kaler
Class of 2009:
Melinda Renkin
Tracy Ormsbee
Barbara Wisnom
Class of 2010:
Susan Feyrer
Amy Soule
Peter Nelson
Serving without Vote:
Treasurer:                  Denise Crates
Chancellor:                Rosemarie Jaquith

The Church Office
Our office is located at 1229 Baker Avenue.
It is open on weekdays, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm.

The office telephone number is (518) 346-6241
The office fax number is (518) 346-6242
If we are unable to answer your call, please leave a message.       We will call you back as soon as possible.

Our website is

The Messenger is published September - June.
Please submit articles to Larry Levine