Lent Issue 
March 2009

Dear Friends:alterrail
The cold winds blow here and there, we have had a relatively difficult winter this year.  Nevertheless, I anticipate the crocuses asserting themselves very soon.  And so very soon it will be time to pack up our winter wools and retrieve things bright and cotton and cool to hang defiantly in our closet until the thermometer takes notice and begins to rise with some regularity.
This year, particularly, winter's harshness has taken its toll within the hearts and spirits of many members at St. Stephen's Church.  Depression became more than a passing mood and deepened into a daily struggle for some to rise in the morning.  For some of our congregation, sadness lingered longer than it was warranted.  For some the irritable escalated to irreconcilable anger.  I remember a winter in Chicago when city workers stood on top of their snowplows and went berserk and began crashing into parked cars.  Winter does this to people sometimes.

I mention this for a couple reasons.  First to assure any of you who have kept to yourself during this winter that you may not be as alone as you assumed.  Second to remind all of us that for some people the only hope they have is the coming of spring daffodils.

During this month, no matter the weather, we will be reminding each other that, though we are eternally grateful for the coming of springtime, we are saved not from within ourselves or the earth, but we are saved from without  - by God who refuses to let anything separate us from the love which is for us forever.  So spend days listening again, in classes, in the liturgy, through music and with this congregation.  Listen again for a hope that does not depend on the weather or on our moods or on anything else less that the dependable, steadfast, unshakable love of God made known to us in the empty tomb.



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 person loves me, let him/her 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 by adding spring greens, pussy willows and new life to the dry collection.

A flower garden chart is a help for small children.  With each day that passes, or with each good deed or experience, they can add a flower and watch Lent bloom.

An alms box or a tin to collect your money for the poor can be set on the mantel or prepared as a table centerpiece.  Decorate with the inscription: "The Fasts of the Rich are the Feast of the Poor'.  Omitted desserts, cheaper cuts of meat, meals at home rather than eaten out, movies not seen, miles not driven, un-essentials not bought all add pennies to the mite box.

enten Study:
Loving the QuestionsIndiangirl

People know that at its core, Christianity has something good to offer the human race. At the same time, many have a sense that they are alone in being a "thinking" Christian and that "salvaging" Christianity is a hopeless task. What is needed is a safe environment where people have permission to ask the questions they've always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice for fear of being thought a heretic.

This Lenten Study 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.  The course attempts to be an engaging and accessible introduction to the basics of Christian theology. The purpose of the study is to help participants discover the relevance of Christianity in the 21st Century and what a meaningful faith can look like in today's world.

We will meet on Sunday evenings at 5pm in the parish hall for our study and a simple soup and bread supper, from March 1st to March 29th.

              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.                                     
                      Parish office - 346-6241
See Adult Ed. at the end of the next section!

Sunday School Update

Baptism, water, oil, new life, family are only a few of the words being said during Sunday school lately.   During this unit, the children are learning about Baptism.  They are playing games, doing crafts, singing songs, serving our church and world communities and creating a banner about Baptism.

If your family hasn't been able to come to Sunday school or church lately, you are always welcome!!


Here are Sunday school times and places:

Preschool / kindergarten group meets 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 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, 3/15:    4th-6th grade class will host coffee hour with the help of Karen Holcombe and Ryan Davis

Sunday, 3/22:  Special 9:00 Sunday school for the Preschool / kindergarten group. 
   Gathering of CWS kits during coffee hour.
Please contact me if you have any concerns or questions.

 Laura Davis
 Email:  rlcs@nycap.rr.com

 Home phone:  377-0626
 Church phone:  346-6241


                Welcome to the Beach Party!!
                                Vacation Bible School 2009
That's right, it's a beach party and the ocean is coming to us!  St. Stephen's and Union Presbyterian Churches are hosting a vacation Bible school (VBS) beach party. 

VBS is scheduled for July 6th-July 10th from 9:15am-noon each day.  VBS takes place at Union Presbyterian Church.  We will have a potluck dinner and worship service at St. Stephen's Church on Friday evening (July 10th) at 6:00pm.

In order to have a successful week, we need volunteers to help with decorations and planning prior to July 6th.  We also need volunteers (youth and adults) during VBS week.  This is the 5th year St. Stephen's and Union Presbyterian have worked together to bring VBS to the children.  It is a very special week.

Our first volunteer meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, 2009.  We'll meet at Union Presbyterian Church at 7:00pm.  Please see me if you are interested in helping out.

Laura Davis

                         Sunday school Outreach Project
All systems are go!  On February 22nd, we launched our Lenten outreach project.  We are making kits for the Church World Service (CWS).  These kits are shipped to people all over the world including the United States.  The kits are distributed to people in need, especially after a disaster occurs.  During Sunday school, the children linked each kit to a Millennium Development Goal (MDG).  Some kits are more directly related to a goal than others, but the common factor is that these kits help people who are in need.  By making these kits, we are helping those far and near.

                 Kit                                          Goal*
Emergency Clean Up Kit           MDG # 7:  Take care of our earth.
School Kit                                     MDG # 2:  Teach basic education.
Baby Kit                                        MDG #4:  Help children live to be adults.
Hygiene Kit                                  DG #6:  Fight big, bad, serious diseases

*The MDG's were rewritten by the 1st-6th graders last year so that they were more understandable to them.

If you would like to participate, please stop by the display in the parish hall extension or contact Richey Woodzell (372-9398) or Laura Davis (377-0626).

The kits will be gathered on Sunday, March 22nd. During coffee hour, we'll box the kits so they can be taken to the CWS headquarters in Syracuse.

Laura Davis


        Sunday Morning Adult Education
 Mar. 15th  Roll Away the Stone (Garden Tomb): Understanding the significance of Jesus' burial in a Jewish-style tomb and His resurrection during the Feast of First Fruits reveals the magnitude of His love and the new life He brings.

Mar. 22nd  Power to the People (Southern Stairs): The day of Pentecost marks the day when God's presence left the temple structure to dwell in his followers-empowering us today, as then, to change the world.

Mar. 29th  Total Commitment (Caesarea): David built fame out of simplicity; Herod's palace fortresses were elaborate. But as with David, who lived for God, what matters most is not what we build, but for whom we build.

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.)www.saintstephenschenectady.org.   
US Mail: Call 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 messenger@saintstephenschenectady.org. 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 

                     Keeping You Up-To-Date
Want to know who's counting the money next Sunday? Well, unless you're one of the counters, you might not care. But we now have several schedules on the web site just in case you have misplaced yours. To find the schedules, go to our web site and click on "Information", then "Members". Not only will you be able to find schedules for acolytes, lectors, chalice bearers, The Book and the Counters, but our on-line picture directory is also available there. 

These days everyone is trying to get "green". For us that means using less paper. One of the ways we can do that is to use less US mail and  more e-mails. So it's important that the e-mail listings in the directory are correct. If you find any errors there, we certainly want to know about it. If we don't have your e-mail address, please share it with the parish. We are working on a new printed directory, so that's another good reason up update your family's information.

Another goodie you'll find on the "members" page is the original St. Stephen's Cookbook. To read it, you'll have to download it to your own computer. If you want, you can even print out your own copy. There are quite a few people around who contributed to that collection including Jane Tatge, Olive Luczka and others.  There are not many copies of that cookbook still around, so now it's  available to everyone.
If there are suggestions about how we could make the St. Stephen's church web site more useful, please let me know.

Chris Jones, web site organizer.


                         Pancake crew          Pancakes Rule! 

A dinner crowd of about 80 joined together on February 24th to celebrate  Shrove Tuesday before we entered the solemn season of Lent.

The annual  dinner was a success.

Huge thank you's are due to all who helped in  setting up, decorating, cooking, serving and cleaning.

 Gregg Varno

       VESTRY MEETING UPDATE - February 9 & 16, 2009

New Members
This being the first official meeting of 2009, we welcomed two new Vestry members - Carole Merrill-Mazurek and Tracy Schierenbeck.  We also welcomed Liz Levine as the new Clerk. 

Returning Vestry members include:  Rocky Bonsal (senior warden), Barbara Wisnom (junior warden), Melinda Renken, Tracy Ormsbee, Glenn Kaler, Sid Woodcock, Susan Feyrer, Peter Nelson, and Austin Spang.  Denise Crates is our Treasurer.

Please feel free to contact your Vestry members at any time if you have questions, issues or concerns you would like the Vestry to address.

Financial Reports
Denise Crates reported that financial reports for January, 2009 were not available due to computer problems in the office.  These problems are being addressed by computer professionals and should be fixed soon.  Denise reported that she would forward the January financial reports as soon as the problems were corrected.

Name Change
Father James reported that he has officially changed his name to "McDonald".  It is no longer "Brooks-McDonald."

Finance Committee
The significant budget shortfall was discussed.  Our income is projected to be approximately $20,000 less than our projected expenses.  The Finance Committee presented their recommendations for dealing with the shortfall.  Extensive discussion occurred regarding the various options, all of which were difficult.
After evaluating many different scenarios, a decision was made to eliminate two paid staff positions:  the administrative assistant in the office and the sexton.

The Wardens and Fr. James will be meet to address how to deal with the gaps resulting from this decision.  It is clear we will need much help from volunteers.

Communications Task Force
This group is now an official committee and is no longer a Task Force.
Publishing a new Parish Directory is the Committee's newest project.  Efforts continue to ensure that the parish contact list is kept up to date (phone, email, etc)

Bylaws Task Force
The Vestry voted unanimously to accept the proposed bylaws.  This was the second of two votes as required by our current bylaws.

The final vote by the congregation will take place at a special meeting on March 1st.  The requisite announcements for this meeting have started.

Buildings and Grounds
Austin Spang provided an update on the continuing work continues on Reid House.  Volunteers come on Tuesdays & Saturdays.  The electricians are doing the wiring.

We ask your cintinued prayers for this project.

That's it for the January meeting.  "See" you next month.
Contact Barbara Wisnom for questions, feedback or suggestions at 371-6187
or bwisnom@nycap.rr.com 

                                                     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

ERD LogoHelp isn't on the way. It's already there

Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 2 million people in over 40 countries last year.

Rather than impose "one size fits all" solutions, Episcopal Relief & Development supports local, long-term initiatives that address poverty, hunger, disease, economic development and disaster response where the need is greatest.

Our partnership with the worldwide Church creates opportunities to serve communities in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as in urban environments where extreme poverty persists.

In many of these places, the Church is often one of the few institutions people trust and turn to for help.

"Go with the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they have. Build on what they know. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, 'We have done this ourselves'

referred by Kabby


WHO: Schenectady Inner City Ministry/Applebee's

What: A Dining to Donate" Fundraiser
When: Tuesday. March 17, 2009     4:00 -9:00 p.m.
Where: Applebee's Restaurant
            Cambridge Road at Route 7. Schenectady

Why: To raise funds for SICM's programs

HOW:  Present a "Dining to Donate" voucher to your server, and Applebee's will donate 10% of your check(excluding tax and tip) to SICM
Pick up your voucher from Eunice or download at WWW.sicm.us 

Eunice Chouffi

CRTC logoMake 2009 transformative by taking advantage of these excellent CRTC opportunities:
The Congregation As A Family System
Come enhance your leadership skills by learning about Family Systems theory and how it applies to your congregation in The Congregation As A Family System with Rev. Dr. David Olsen on Thursday, March 12

Introduction to World Religions: Islam
Get a first-hand understanding of Islam, with a unique opportunity to hear from a faith leader and tour the worship space in Introduction to World Religions: Islam on Saturday, March 14.

Building on Strengths
 Saturday, March 21, 9a - 1p

           Shenendehowa United Methodist Church
Dr. Cynthia Woolever, Ph.D., sociologist, director of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey
This workshop challenges congregational leaders to reframe their thinking about whether location determines their church's vitality.  Participants will have the opportunity to apply recent research findings to their ministry settings and take away resources for additional congregation/community analysis.
Cost:  $60 (lunch included) 
 Registration deadline:  March 12

Overview of World Religions
 Saturday, March 28, 9a - 4p
Br. Linh Hoang, Ph.D., OFM, Siena College, Religion Dept.
Receive a thorough introduction to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism along with mention of other developing traditions.  This intensive course will seek to examine religious influence in everyday life and create understanding as a basis for dialogue across religions.
Cost:  $75 by February 27; $85 thereafter (lunch included)   
Registration deadline:  March 12

Capital Region Theological Center (CRTC), 160 Central Avenue, Albany, NY                        

                         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

John V. Casale             03/01
Ethan Brooks-McDonald 03/04
Barbara Wisnom           03/04
Elizabeth MacFarland    03/05
Paul Pratico                03/06
Jacob Steele               03/06
Thomas Casale             03/07
Diane Bengtson Kilbourn 03/10
Logan Olberg               03/10
Jim Wolff                     03/10
Kelly Nolan                  03/10
Norma Piscitelli             03/11
Adam Gibbs                 03/11
Shirley Voelker             03/13
Ted Conwell                03/14
Roseann Caruso            03/15
Budd Mazurek              03/16
Stefan Borst-Censullo    03/17
Grace Murphy-Nolan     03/18
Bill Beck                     03/19
Emily Blaufuss             03/21
Susan Townsend         03/22
Joanne Frank              03/22
Martie Spang             03/23
Dorothy Gibbs            03/23
Julianna Fowler           03/25
Alexa Wolff                03/25
Linda Emaelaf             03/27
Paul Pratico               03/27
Scott Bristol              03/27
Julian Canavan           03/28
Tracy Ormsbee           03/29
Helen Reid                 03/30
Ralph May                 03/30
Susan & John Liberis           03/06
Karen & Dennis Holcombe     03/28

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
The Vestry
Sr Warden, Rocky Bonsal, rocky@nycap.rr.com
Jr Warden, Barbara Wisnom, bwisnom@nycap.rr.com
Class of 2009:
Melinda Renkin, mrenken@nycap.rr.com
Tracy Ormsbee, jormsbee1@nycap.rr.com
Glenn Kaler, kalers@msn.com
Class of 2010:
Sid Woodcock, swoodcoc@nycap.rr.com
Susan Feyrer, sfeyrer@niskyschools.org
Peter Nelson, pnelson245@yahoo.com
Class of 2011:
Austin Spang, spang@nycap.rr.com
Tracy Schierinbeck, schiet@rpi.edu
Carole Merrill-Mazurek, merrill9@nycap.rr.com
Serving without Vote:
Clerk: Elizabeth Levine
Treasurer: Denise Crates
 Chancellor: Rosemarie Jaquith
The Church Office
Our office is located at 1229 Baker Avenue.
The 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:  office@saintstephenschenectady.org
The rector's email is:  jbrooksm@nycap.rr.com
Our website is www.saintstephenschenectady.org
The Messenger is published September - June.
Please submit articles to Larry Levine, at messenger@saintstephenschenectady.org