Ash Wednesday - Lent Begins Issue 

February 2009

From the Rector 

Dear Friends:
The other day I was talking to one of our visitors when he asked me about the children in the pews coloring during the sermon.  I answered that they were probably coloring cartoons based on that days scripture reading or maybe drawing their own pictures on blank paper.
I continued that there is a widespread thought that the place for children at St. Stephen's during the Eucharist is in church.  He mentioned that the atmosphere was a little noisy, but by-and-large the children were very well behaved.  I agreed and explained to him that children have to learn how to be in church, but that they cannot learn if they aren't IN church.
Children are encouraged to attend the celebration of the Eucharist with the adults.  However, from time to time it seems impossible to deal with a cranky or crying child during the service.  For those too young to remain for the worship service (infants through kindergarten), nursery care is provided from 10:00 a.m. through 11:30 a.m.
We will continue to have the 3year old through kindergarten class taking place after the children's sermon. 

Our congregation at St. Stephen's Church includes an increasing number of families with young children.  Including these children in our lives is of great importance to all of us.



The Book

St. Stephen's has an important "Book" other than the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  This Book contaStainedWindow xins names of parishioners who have volunteered to help other members of our church who are temporarily in need of meals and/or transportation.  Examples of this need may be following an operation, recovering from an illness, when a family is blessed with a new member, or when there is a serious family situation.
Before any help can be provided, the Clergy or church secretary, Kathy Miller, (346-6241) needs be called.  The "Keeper of the Book" for that week will be contacted and will coordinate meals or transportation for the individual or family by calling on the volunteers in the Book.  PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP.   Many of us have had times when knowing that dinner would be provided meant that energies could be used for more important tasks.  For those who live alone, a ride to the doctor's or to church could be a great help.
Currently, more volunteer drivers are needed to bring people to the 10:15 service.  If you could do this on an occasional basis, please give that information to the church secretary.  Many thanks.
As a relatively new member of St. Stephen's with family far away, I was comforted to know that there are many members of St. Stephen's willing to help when called, just the way family would do.


Ash Wednesday is February 25th with the Imposition of Ashes and Eucharist as follows:

                                            7:00 a.m.
                                           12:3 noonfaces ladies ashen forehead
                                            7:30 p.m.

Services will be held at various times so that each Christian can observe the beginning of this penitential period which leads us into our celebration on Easter Day.  Barring illness, every Christian certainly will be in church on Ash Wednesday to begin his/her disciplined preparation for a meaningful celebration of Easter.


Don't miss the traditional Pancake Supper on Tuesday, February 24th  at St. Stephen's, marking the last time for festivities before Lent begins on Wednesday!
Menu includes pancakes, sausages and a beverage.  The price includes all you can eat!
Bring your family, your friends and your appetite!  Volunteers are needed to help cook, serve and clean up.


Make 2009 Lent Meaningful

Lent is one of the oldest observances in the annual Christian calendar. Like all Christian celebrations, Lent has changed over the years, but its purpose has remained the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial and acts of compassion, in preparation for the celebration of Easter.  Here are some suggestions for making your Lenten observance meaningful and enriching.
Put Lent on your daily activity calendar. This year the Lent season starts on Feb. 25 (Ash Wednesday) and ends with Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 11.
Set a concrete goal to spend approximately 10 minutes everyday to reflect, pray, and make decisions to move in new directions. Instead of saying, "I'm going to spend time reflecting daily," say "At 6:00am, Monday through Saturday, I will sit down at my desk for 10 minutes to read and reflect"
Use a daily Lenten devotional. To help make this Lenten season especially meaningful for you, St. Stephen's will have available: Forward Day By Day, and a new booklet from the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund called, Countdown to the Cross. Both are available in the parish hall.
Join others in Lent. Participate in the Lenten activities at St. Stephen's, Friday Stations of the Cross, Sunday evening Lenten 'soup and study' time. Lead daily evening Lenten devotions with your family. Share your learnings during Lent with friends.
Focus on taking action. Engage in acts of mercy and charity. Make a gift in compassion for hungry people living in poverty by using a Hope Chestto collect weekly offerings.
Through your giving, you can be the hands, feet, and' heart of Christ for a hungry world. Your giving helps Episcopal Relief and Development to find long-term solutions to people who are hungry, while caring for the immediate problem of hunger. 

Prayer BnW Lady

Our Lenten Offering for the Needy

The Lenten season is one of the most holy times in the church year.
Lent is a time for creating a space in your life that Christ can come and fill. Lent can become a time when material things are put again in their proper place. It can become a time of self-examination and a time to identify with God's priorities for the world.  

Making a confession in preparation for Easter is a long-standing tradition form many in the Church.  This is an individual confession to a priest.  The service of Reconciliation of a Penitent in the Book of Common Prayer provides an excellent form for personal self-examination, confession and reception of God's forgiveness.  If anyone is interested in participating in this rite as we move toward Easter, please feel free to contact the rector.  A short brochure describing this sacrament can be found on the Welcome Table in the parish hall.

                      Parish office - 346-6241

Sunday School Update

The Episcopal Children's Curriculum

For the first part of February the children, preschool through grade 6 will be continuing to learn about the miracles that Jesus performed during his ministry.
Then at the beginning of Lent, our focus will turn to Baptism.  The Episcopal Children's Curriculum says, "Holy Baptism is the Sacrament by which God Adopts Us."  We become family in a sense.  Caring, helping and respecting each other is such an important part of being in a church community, like a family.  If you or a family member hasn't been baptized and you are interested in doing so, please see Father James.

Here are Sunday school times and places:

Preschool / kindergarten group meets after the children's sermon during the 10:15 servdogprayingice in the basement nursery school rooms for about ½ hour. 

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

Fourth, fifth and sixth grade group meets 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 grade) meets after the 10:15 service (11:30-12:30) in the Chapel.
Special dates for Sunday school children: 

Sunday, 2/22:  We will begin our Church World Service kit drive (please see outreach  article.)

Tuesday, 2/24:  Pancake supper at church.

Wednesday, 2/25:  Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  The Nursery will be opened during the noon service for childcare.

Sunday, 3/15:  Special 9:00 Sunday school for the Preschool / kindergarten group.
Please contact me if you have any concerns or questions.

 Laura Davis
 Church phone:  346-6241

Vacation Bible School 2009

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a joint effort with St. Stephen's and Union Presbyterian churches.  This is our 5th year working together to make this week possible.  VBS is for kids 4 - 10 years of age.  It is a very special week not only for the kids, but also for the volunteers. 
This year, it will be held Monday (7/6) through Friday (7/10) from 9:15-noon at Union Presbyterian Church. 
I am starting to look for volunteers.  If you are interested in helping out with VBS in anyway or if you have questions, please see me.  There are many opportunities for teenagers and adults.
Laura Davis

Sunday Morning Adult Education

Jan. 25th 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.
Feb. 1st 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.
Feb. 8th  Sea Of Galilee: When Storms Come
Feb. 15th  Kursi: Piercing The Darkness
Feb. 22nd Caesarea Philippi: Gates Of Hell
Feb 29th  Jerusalem: City of the Great King (Parts 1 & 2)
All classes are held in the Parish Hall on Sundays from 9am to 10am.  These classes have been very popular!


Lenten Study: Simple Soup Supper and Study

Based on Marianne H. Mick's Book, Loving the Questions, this course takes us through the Nicene Creed step by step, asking a series of questions that acquaint us with the fourth-century historical background and remind us of the creed's theological, corporate and personal relevance today. 

This class will be an engaging and accessible introduction to the basics of Christian theology.  Reading the advanced handouts will be critical to our discussions.  The course will involve both large group and small group discussions and will be  held on five Sunday evenings, March 1  - 29,
beginning at 5:00 pm in the parish hall.


Kerygma Bible Study

Our next course, "Parables: Stories for Life in God's World" will be offered on seven Wednesday evenings (note change) beginning on January 21st.

Jesus used these stories to make some basic points, but they usually challenge our assumptions and open our hearts and minds to new possibilities.

This 7-week course would be a good antidote to the winter blahs-so come and be surprised, puzzled, maybe even delighted at the richness of these "simple" stories.

Please register with Deacon Pat SOON.

The sign-up sheet is on the Shop counter.

Thank you.


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.  (Note the spelling.)   
US Mail: Call Kathy Miller at the Church office, weekday mornings at 346-6241, to add your home address to her mailing list. 

E-Mail: You can give us your email by sending it to You can unsubscribe any time by using the links at the end of each issue.
At Church: Paper copies of the Messenger will be prominently displayed at the back of the Church.  (At the Usher's table, but sometimes they are by the mailboxes.)

Please feel free to submit articles to the E-mail address above.  The Messenger is published when all the anticipated articles are submitted.

Thank you.

Larry Levine 

VESTRY MEETING UPDATE - January 12, 2009
Financial Reports
Denise Crates reported that our income came in at 100% of what was budgeted.  Unfortunately, our expenses exceeded the budget by about 6% (about $14,00), the majority of which is accounted for in the increased amount of energy costs.

Denise also made note of the fact that the Youth raised $10,000 for Work Camp.  Their expenses were very high this year, again most due to the high cost of gasoline.

Denise notes that our flower fund could be out of money in less than two years, unless we consider increasing the cost of the offering.  The Vestry will evaluate this in the near future.

Finance Committee
Father James reported that to date 102 pledges have been received for a total of $167,000.  He told the Vestry that he would be sending out hand-written notes out to parishioners who have not yet pledged.  These are people who have pledged in the past.

The Finance Committee will meet on January 21 to discuss the current budget shortfall, make appropriate revisions and make their recommendations to the Vestry.  The Vestry will review these at the February meeting.

Concern was again 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.  The full details of the 2009 budget will be more accurately known once the pledges are in.

Personnel Committee
Members of the Personnel Committee will be meeting prior to the February Vestry meeting to prepare the annual review for Fr. James.  Fr. James will provide them with a self-assessment based on objectives.

Nominations Committee
Ryan Davis reported that the nominees for three year terms on Vestry are:
   o Austin Spang
   o Tracy Schierinbeck
   o Carole Merrill-Mazurek
For 2 year term replacing Amy Soule
   o Sid Woodcock
For 1 year term replacing Barbara Wisnom
   o Glen Kaler
For Junior Warden
   o Barbara Wisnom
For Clerk
   o Liz Levine
The slate was accepted and will be voted on at the Annual Meeting.

Communications Task Force
The group will be looking at how the church can be in touch with "at risk" parishioners during emergency or unusual situations, such as the recent ice storm.

Chris Jones will be regularly asking people to update their contact information.

Bylaws Task Force
The Vestry met in a special session on January 10th to continue the discussion on the revisions.  The Vestry voted unanimously to accept the proposed bylaws.  This was the first of two votes as required by our current bylaws.

The Vestry agreed that the new bylaws should be distributed to the congregation at the Annual Meeting.  The congregation will be asked to review the bylaws, informed that the Vestry must meet one more time to approve them, after which time a Special Meeting of the congregation will be called to approve the new bylaws.

Architectural Task Force
Austin Spang provided an update on the continuing work continues on Reid House.  Volunteer members of the congregation have been helping with interior demolition work, the majority of which has been completed.  Work will now begin on "re-construction".  One new arch has been completed, and work on the new bathroom will begin.  Austin Spang expressed his continuing gratitude to the volunteers in the congregation who have been assisting with this project.

We ask your continued prayers for this project.

Endowment Committee
A final report will be present at the Annual Meeting on January 18, 2009.

That's it for the January 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
Barbara Wisnom

Annual Meeting Overview

Chaired by Father James, the Annual Meeting was held on Sunday, January 18, 2009, after the 10:00 service.  Annual Meeting Minutes will be filed at the Church Office.
The bylaws of Saint Stephen's were largely rewritten by Rocky Bonsal and Barbara Wisnom.  The bylaws were made more readable and flexible, and aligned with legal requirements.  The Vestry has initially approved the new bylaws, and will vote on them a second time at the February meeting, before the congregation is asked to vote.
The Architectural Taskforce charge is completed.  Austin Spang reported that volunteers meet every Tuesday PM and Saturday AM to work on Reid House.  Plumbers and electricians will be hired.  The plan is to complete the work by September. Improvements to Parish Hall were discussed as going forward, though sources of funding will need to be refined. The plans to re-design Moss House have been dropped.
The Endowment Trustees report showed investment losses mirror the market's recent downward activity.  The Endowment meeting dates were changed to early winter and early summer to accommodate the Endowment's fiscal year-end on October 31st.  The Endowment Report is filed at the Church Office.
The $224,372 budget shared by the Finance Committee at the Annual Meeting was for more money than the pledges will support.  Later, the Finance Committee met on Wednesday following the Annual Meeting, and Austin Spang shared, "Unfortunately actual pledging was $167,000 plus $11,000 from people who do not pledge, but give regularly for a total of $178,000.  Since the pledging did not support this budget, the Finance Committee has prepared a significantly different budget that will be presented to the Vestry at its next regular meeting."  It is the Vestry who votes on the budget.
The nominations for Vestry membership were unanimously approved.  See the Vestry report and the end of the Messenger for their names.  Ryan Davis received a placard in recognition of his work as Senior Warden, as he has retired from that role.
Representatives of ministries and committees reported, and special thanks were extended to our hard workers.  Deacon Pat reminded us that all of us worshiping God, are the heart of Saint Stephen's, more than budget issues and bylaws. 
To learn more about bylaws, budgets, architectural plans, or our ministries, please contact the parish office weekdays 9:00 to 1:00.   
Larry Levine

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent,  
the season of preparation
for the resurrection of Jesus Christ
on Easter Sunday.


Superbowl Sunday is WorkCamp Sub Day

Superbowl Sunday, February 1st, is the annual sub sandwich sale by our Work Camp teen group.  Subs are $6 each for advance orders, or $7 when ordered on that day.   The order form is below.
More than the travel and camping expenses, the Work Camp funds pay for the lumber and materials too, to shore up roofs, repair plumbing, and walks, and make houses safe to live in.  WorkCamp helps the poor of Appalachia who don't have the means or ability to do any repairs.  Black lung disease, and injury are examples of problems the people of this mining, and lumber region are living with.  Houses are falling down, or lack working plumbing.  Our children see, and do something about these harsh conditions.  We all learn we can make a difference.

Thank you to the Angel Maker!

To whoever was so thoughtful and made the special angel ornaments during Advent,
I saw many people take one or two remarking how pretty they were.  The angel I took especially warmed my heart as we had service in the dark, cold church the week the power was out.
I think the children would have great fun making them next year.  Angel maker, would that be ok?  Please let me know.
May the angels be with you!  Thanks again.
Laura Davis

Music to soothe the soul

Diana and Sal Belardo are collecting for a new piano for Tim Olsen.  Anyone wishing to contribute should contact the Belardo's or the Chuch Treasurer, Denise Crates.  All contributions will be gladly accepted! 


Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays


Bennett Beardsley............02/01
Charlotte Soule................02/01
F. William Walker..............02/01
Suzanne Davis.................02/02
Nicolaus Brooks-McDonald.....02/03
Megan Price.................02/03
Bonnie Chambers...........02/04
Ryan Davis...................02/04
Alexxis Gibbs.................02/06
Patricia Jones................02/08
Drew Prescott...............02/08
Grace Strong................02/10
Claire Syta...................02/10
Donald Regula...............02/12
Samuel Koch.................02/13
Dawn Rizzo...................02/13
Nan Blaufuss.................02/14
Marilyn Causey..............02/14
Carolyn Manor...............02/14
Hugh Campbell,Jr............02/15
Olivia Canavan...............02/15
Ben Boess.....................02/18
Sierra Renken.................02/18
Jane Tatge....................02/18
Mary Alexander...............02/19
Christine Nelson..............02/19
Gregg Varno...................02/21
Pauline Northrop..............02/24
Elizabeth Pratico..............02/28
Hector and Megan Norris-Dominguez & Hector...02/06
Allison  and Paul de Kanel..............................02/07
Christine and J. Keith Nelson..........................02/10

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
1935 The Plaza
Schenectady, New York 12309

Church Staff
The Rev. Dr. James R. McDonald, Rector
The Rev. Patricia L. Jones, Deacon
Dr. Timothy Olsen, Director of Music
Ms Katherine Miller, Office Manager
The Vestry
Sr Warden, Rocky Bonsal
Jr Warden, Barbara Wisnom
Class of 2009:
Melinda Renkin
Tracy Ormsbee
Glenn Kaler
Class of 2010:
Sid Woodcock
Susan Feyrer
Peter Nelson
Class of 2011:
Austin Spang
Tracy Schierinbeck
Carole Merrill-Mazurek
Serving without Vote:
Clerk: Elizabeth Levine
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 email is:
The rector's email is:
Our website is
The Messenger is published September - June.
Please submit articles to Larry Levine, at