Back To School Issue 
September 2010

in this issue

A. From Father James

B. School Days

C. More News

D. More Activities and Dates

Shield Dear Friends,

Though many of us have been away on vacation, many parish leaders have been hard at work this summer.  You will notice that the church building after the blue curtain at the back of the church is empty.  This is in anticipation of its demolition this fall.  As a result, many members have asked how we will 'be church' without a parish hall and classrooms.  This is the thinking so far:

· The only entrances to the church will be the front doors and the sacristy door.  A temporary ramp will be built from the sidewalk to the front doors so that the church is handicapped accessible.  In October we will conduct a fire drill for our new situation.

· Coffee hour will be held at the back of the church.  Since we will have no kitchen, we will buy a 'box of coffee' from Dunkin'Donuts and a half gallon of juice each week.  For the next year and a half we will use paper cups.  There will be no pastries or fruit unless it is a special Sunday. 

· The Nursery on Sunday mornings has been moved to the chapel and will be attended by a regular child-care worker and assistant by parent volunteers. 

· Church School will be held in Reid House on Sunday morning in space that will be shared with the First Friends Nursery School.  The class in the Tower will remain there.  Youth group classes will be held in my office.  There will be no Adult Education on Sunday mornings from 9-10 am.

· Fellowship activities such as Agape, Workcamp dinner, Lenten Study, etc. will be held at a near-by parish hall.  The details for this are still being made.

· Mailboxes for active parish activities have been moved to the foyer of the Office Building.  Leaders who need keys to access their box may call me and I will have one made for you.

If you have further questions or suggestions, please phone (522-3906) or email.  Calls or emails to the parish office might be lost.  

While the construction of our new parish hall and classrooms will cause some inconvenience, I am very excited that after over five years of planning we are moving ahead with adding efficient, safe and beautiful space to our lovely church building.



AA. From the Rector 

Blessing of the Animals

"I have sinned against my brother the ass."--St. Francis of Assisi (dying words)
Some saints' feast days are for people everywhere, not just Episcopalians. In fact, on October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, you don't even have to be people. St. Francis  (c. 1181-1226), founder of the Franciscans, is the patron saint of animals, and in his honor a life-affirming, critter-loving ceremony called the Blessing of the Animals is celebrated each year at Saint Stephen's Church. But we are not alone.


Getting acquainted before the Blessing

In New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (the largest Episcopal cathedral in the world), there is an annual procession of animals--anything from fish (who must be carried in a bowl, of course) to an elephant (who naturally prefers to walk)--up the church steps and down the aisle to the altar, to be blessed there by the clergy. At Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, people gather annually with their cats, dogs, and other pets at the university chapel, for services in which clergy members at the altar lay a hand on the head of each animal and say a prayer on its behalf. At Olivera Street in Los Angeles, the Blessing of the Animals has been a colorful tradition (celebrated in March instead of October) since the street's inception in 1930.


A group picture

No mere nature lover, Francis saw in nature's paradoxes and mysteries a revelation of the presence of God.  He marveled at the simplicity and obedience of the birds, fishes, rabbits, doves, the falcon who wakened him for Matins, and the famous wolf of Gubbio who gave his pledge of peace to Francis and kept it.

Because of St. Francis' connection to God's creation, and especially to animals, a tradition arose in England whereby the parish priest would bless the villagers' animals on St. Francis' Day. 

On Oct. 9th at 9am our congregation and any animals (on leashes or in cages!) will gather in front of the church.. WE WILL REMAIN OUTSIDE DURING THE ENTIRE SERVICE.  The rector will begin a brief worship service and then will bless each animal saying:  "O God, who has made all things for yourself, bless, we pray you, this animal; that it may be a source of love and joy to those with whom it dwells."

It's quite a sight!


                Foyers Groups

Many years ago Saint Stephen's began a Foyers Program to help us get to know each other better - and have some fun as well.  Small groups of parishioners met in each other's homes for a meal and social time together.  No Bible study, no 'program' - just people enjoying each other's company.  Many who participated found them to be extremely rewarding experiences that helped them to get to know others in the congregation.  The need for such a group is especially needed during the interim period of our new building construction.  For this reason it is most important that new groups be formed in the beginning of October.

But first a little background.  Just as a foyer is the entrance into a home, the Foyers Program is an entrance into fellowship within the congregation.  This program was started in England at Saint Michael's Cathedral in Coventry.  The cathedral, along with most of the central city, was totally destroyed during the Blitz in World War II. Members of the congregation determined not only to rebuild their building but also to rebuild the human relationships destroyed by thewar.  They founded the Community of the Cross of Nails, dedicated to reconciliation through personal contact.

Originally the focus of the Community was on reconciliation between the peoples of Great Britain and Germany, but they soon found that their program of person-to-person contact could have local applications as well. St. Michael's Cathedral is located in a downtown, urban setting.  Members of thecongregation live all over the city and suburbs andseldom see each other except at church.  The community of the Cross of Nails developed theFoyers Program to bring members of St. Michael's congregation into closer contact with each other ina setting other than at the Cathedral.  Foyers proved to be so successful that it was soon being used by other parishes in Great Britain and spread into America, Canada. and Australia. 

How Do Foyers Work?  Those parishioners who are interested in participating sign up on registration sheets.  Gillian Woodcock, the coordinator of the program then assigns participants to small groups of six to eight people and asks the person/family in each group to be the convener.  The convener calls the members of the group and arranges for the first dinner to be held at the convener's home.  A simple meal is served, followed by a relaxed social time.  The evening ends early enough so that people can be home at an hour which fits in with their usual schedules.  Before thegroup leaves they set the date, time, and location of the next meeting and decide on the format they wish to use for future meals.  Each member/family of the group takes a turn hosting the group.  Generally the group meets once each month until everyone has had a chance to be the host.

The format for Foyer evenings is flexible and each group chooses the one which best suits its members. 

The only rules are:

1.  Keep the dinner simple so that it is not a hassle.  The goal is to enjoy each other's company, not to be Martha Stewart the Second.

2.  End the evening early enough so that people's domestic schedules are not disrupted.

3.  Have a good time!


There are many ways of organizing the meals.  Each host can provide the whole meal or the host can provide the main dish and ask the other members to bring salads and dessert.  Some Foyer groups hold each meal as a "covered dish" meal with the host providing the location, table settings and beverages and the other members providing all the food.  The group may decide to order in food, have a barbecue or picnic, do ethnic meals reflecting the background of each member, or whatever seems practical and/or fun.  Being unable to cook or having a small living space are not barriers to being in a Foyer!  In one Foyer group there was a non-cook who, when it was his turn to be the host, ordered in pizza and Caesar salad and asked the rest of us to bring our favorite desserts for a sweet buffet to end the meal.  In another Foyer, one of the members who lived in a small studio apartment spread blankets in her main room, asked the group to bring cushions and pillows and served them a picnic meal while they sat on the floor.  One member of a Foyer who lived in an assisted living residence reserved the hospitality room of the facility and all brought a dish to share.  All of these evenings were lots of fun and the different styles of serving and entertaining added to the enjoyment.

Some Foyer groups choose to meet as "adults only" while others include children, depending on their ages and the size and types of the members' homes.  Non-parishioners who are part of a parishioner's family can participate or not, as they choose.  Each Foyer decides what arrangements are most comfortable and practical for the group.  So, too, the group can decide what sort of after dinner activities are best for them: conversation, games, a walk, etc, One Foyer played Trivial Pursuit as a way of learning about each other's interests and backgrounds.  In another Foyer the group discovered that they were all ice hockey fans and they went to a game after dinner at their last Foyer.  In still another Foyer there was a number of gardeners and they had a plant swap at their final meeting. However, no special program is necessary.  Some of the most enjoyable Foyer evenings are spent simply relaxing and talking after dinner in the living room.

How to Participate.  We will be signing up people at the Parish Faire for Foyers beginning in October.  If you are interested (and we hope everyone will be), look for the blue sign-up sheets on Sept. 15th and thereafter on the Welcome Table at the back of the church.

Foyers is fun.  It is for everyone, no matter what your age or where you live or whether you are single or married.  It's a great way for a parish to grow closer and to welcome new members into fellowship. Don't lose out; please sign up!


Support Damien Center through the AIDS Walk
 AIDS walk
On Sunday, September 26th several members of Saint Stephen's will have an opportunity to take a step toward addressing AIDS in our community.  Beginning at 2 pm in Albany's Washington Park hundreds of people will gather and walk 10 kilometers to raise money for support of the Capital Region AIDS organizations that provide needed services for AIDS prevention and care.  Our congregation's team of walkers will support the Schenectady Damien Center.  These funds are needed because there has been a 6.5% increase in the number of AIDS cases diagnosed in the Capital Region in the last year and a 563% increase in the last decade.  Please call the parish office (346-6241) if you would like to walk or sponsor a walker.


                                   Faith Lessons

Filmed on location in Israel, Faith Lessons is a unique video series that brings God's Word to life with astounding relevance.  Teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan weaves together the Bible's fascinating historical, culture, religious, and geographical context, and reveals keen insights into the Scripture's significance for modern believers.  Lively discussions after the video each week help to make this a very popular course.  The course will take place in rector's study after the Thursday morning healing service beginning at 10:45 am.


Adult Education: 
         From Christ to Constantine:  The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church

The first three centuries were decisive for Christianity.  There were times when the very existence of the church itself was threatened as opponents tried to wipe it out.  This course will explore the formation of the early church from Christ to Constantine.  The video tapes which will start each session were filmed in original locations and use dramatic  re-creations to tell the story.

Classes take place in the rector's study on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm beginning on Sept. 16th.  A sign-up sheet can be found on the Welcome Table at the back of the church.

A note from Robyn Leith Stewart :
Robyn wrote:

"James:  please let everyone at church know that I have arrived (Sat Aug 14) in Edinburgh.  I was very sick this week with a nasty lung infection, but I received NHS health care and am now heading into recovery.  I have got my flat in Stirling and will be moving up there on Monday.  Registration for university is the week after that.  Some problems here and there, but nothing I can't handle.  I'm over the moon!  Please, tell everyone I love them all, they will always be my family, and they are always in my prayers.  Thanks James."

Quiet toys, coloring books, etc. are quite in order for the younger set, especially during the sermon or while people are receiving Communion.  Kids fade in and out during worship (so do adults!). That's O.K.  It's amazing how much children pick up and use from worship, even when it doesn't seem that way


   The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole
(From Father James' sermon on 8/22/10)

An old man, traveling a lone highway,
came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
For the sullen stream held no fears for him.
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide."
"Old man", cried a fellow pilgrim near
"You're wasting your strength with building 
Your journey will end with the ending day and
You never again will pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide
Why build you a bridge at even-tide?"
Then the builder raised his old, gray head
Good friend, on the path I have come, he said,
"There followeth after me today,
a youth whose feet will pass this way.
This stream which has been a nought to me
To that fair haired child may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim,
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Becoming A Member of
St. Stephen's

            Inquirers' classes are a basic four 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 --  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 noon in the rector's office beginning October 17th.            

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.  346-6241

B. School Days


 girlJSunday School Volunteers
are needed:

Please consider helping with Kids' Chapel in 2010.    We are very blessed to have wonderful teachers leading each group. We need two adult or high school leaders for each unit. Come and join us on Sunday mornings at 9:00am for learning and some fun.   Volunteering int he nursery is an important ministry. Substitutes are needed for each group. Please call the office if you have any questions.


Sunday school update
 September 2010

Sunday school will meet at the times below.

You are always welcomed in Sunday school and we look forward to seeing you.


Sunday school times and places:
Preschool through 4th graders meet in the Reid House from 10:15 until the Offertory.
Fourth, fifth and sixth gradersmeet from 9:00-10:00am. This group meets in the tower.
7th - 12th graders meet from 9:00-10:00am. This group meets in the Church Office.


Sunday School Link to our Website page on Sunday School:



How do you get a bunch of young people up and going at 7:30 on a Sunday morning? You include them in the group that's going to Maine for Work Camp.... to help the poor repair their roofs and floors, to paint, to build ramps, and, of course, to have a good time doing it. This is our group from St. Stephen's, and some folks from Union Pres, and some adult leaders. 



 C. More  News
  Jump Back to B. School Days
  Jump Ahead to D. Activities & Dates 
                            Reid House Renovations are DoneToClass

The Reid House renovations have been completed and the Nursery School is moving in.  The Nursery School will open September 13.  When you have a chance stop by.   I want to thank everyone for the hard work in getting done.  I especially want to thank Jack and Susan Feyrer, George Woodsell, Gerry Perreguax, and Sol Belardo.  
Austin Spang

                                                  Become a Lector

Beginning in October, one lector will be assigned to read both lessons and lead the Psalm at the 8:00 service. There will continue to be two lectors assigned for the 10:15 service.  If you are interested in being a lector for either service, please contact a member of the clergy or Marilyn Causey, the scheduler.

                         THE DEACON'S BENCH 

Saint Stephen's parish ministry in the Schenectady County Correctional Facility has been going on since early in 1983, when another deacon asked me to fill in for her. (I had been a volunteer in the jail library for several years before that, and I had overcome my initial anxiety about being in that rather forbidding place.) At first I took Communion to the women inmates, and prayed and visited with them. In more recent years I have simply visited and prayed with the women every Sunday afternoon, and tried to help them in small ways. The most frequent request is for underwear--Saint Stephen's has had several "Undies Sundays" to collect basic items for women who need them. Often women have no one to provide money for toiletry items, stamps and stationery, which they must purchase through the commissary; Saint Stephen's, through your contributions to the Rector's and Deacon's Discretionary Account, enables me to put money in their accounts. Greeting cards are much appreciated, too, especially at Christmas when we collect and stamp over 1000 cards--enough for every inmate in the jail to send out a few. Sometimes I am asked to make a phone call to a relative, when an inmate's family can't afford to receive expensive calls directly from the jail. 

But I believe that the most important part of this ministry is simply showing up, week after week, year after year. It is our presence that the women appreciate most: the evidence that they are loved and not forgotten by the rest of the world, no matter what the reason for their incarceration. This is a rich and rewarding ministry. There are both joys and sorrows, laughter and tears. I am not ready to give it up entirely, but I would like to share this ministry with someone who would like to go with me and get to know my girls. Perhaps you would find, as I have, the real presence of God in these women, and in this rather ordinary county jail, my other church. 
                                                         Deacon Pat

                           VESTRY MEETINGS

After the summer off, Vestry meetings resume September 13th.  They are open to all members of the congregation.  Vestry meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30pm.  Please note the Vestry does not meet in July or August
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.
The Junior Warden is:
Tracy Ormsbee


Our mission is to glorify God by reaching out to others, universally, with hands that serve, hearts and minds that welcome, and voices that carry the good news of God's redeeming love to all.  We embrace diversity by celebrating the worth, dignity, and gifts of every person as a child of God. We seek to expand our Christian community and share God's love more widely.


 D D. More Activities and Dates

Our calendar is on line.  Click here:
 Link to the Saint Stephen's September Calendar 
 Jump ahead to Anniversaries and Birthdays



SICM Assembly 
The first SICM Assembly of the fall will meet Wednesday, September 15. Please note that this is the 3rd Wed. instead of the 1st. 
      The place:The Emmanuel Friedens Church-218 Nott Terrace at 6:45 p.m., refreshments and meeting is at 7:00 p.m. Parking is next to the church,or in nearby lots or on the street.  If you have ever wondered what happens at one of these meeting please join us and see first hand what is happening.
      Topic: Where will the residents of the YMCA live? After 2 years they cannot live there.

Ice cream Social Thank youBird
      Our most heartfelt thanks to all the amazing volunteers who helped with Summer Lunch at Jerry Burrell Park the week of July 5 - 9 during high heat and higher humidity.  Our angels were Father James, Jo Adams, Karen, Lily and Sam Holcombe, Marsha Kimmer and her son, Allison deKanel, Carole Merrill-Mazurek, Barb Adams, Josephine Jones, Cindy Love, Eunice Chouffi, Austin and Marti Spang.     

     The Thank-you reception for the Summer Lunch helpers will be Wednesday, September 1 at 2p.m. at Central Park in the Isabella Pavilion. It is an ice cream social.. Please let Marti or Eunice know if you will be attending.

SAVE THE DATE-Sunday November 7 from 4 - 7pm.  Details next month!


Don MacMillan was the organist and choir director at St. Stephen's from 1991  to 1995, when he retired and moved back to Illinois. Those who knew him will remember his love of music and gentle good humor. Don died on July 30, 2010. At his farewell party, we sang the following  (with apologies to Lesbia Scott):

                             ODE TO DON: "GRAND AISLE"

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who share the life of St. Stephen's Church
and are part of that "holy crew:"
And one leads the music, and keeps up the beat,
and he plays the organ with two big feet,
and we're all going to miss him until we meet
in the Heavenly Choir Pew.

When Don MacMillan came to us
he made the rafters ring,
in harmonies both old and new
he showed us how to sing:
He fills in at tenor, and sometimes at bass,
he plays with zest and amazing grace--
how sweet the sound in this happy place
when Don is "in the swing!"

We won't stop singing when Don has left,
there is plenty of music yet;
we'll learn some new and enjoy the old,
but we never will forget
That Don led our music and kept up the beat,
and played the organ with nimble feet;
we wish him joy with Jean so sweet
as they write their new duet!
                                PLJ   5/95



Paul was one of the most influential Christian writers of all time. His letter to the Christians in Rome follows close behind the gospels in significance. Beginning in September we will undertake a 14-week study of this letter, using the excellent Kerygma Bible Study Curriculum. All are welcome to join this class: no prior experience is required, only an open mind and a desire to learn more about the Bible. The class will meet on Wednesday evenings, from 7:30 to 9:00, at a location to be announced. I look forward to leading and learning with the class. A sign-up sheet is in the rear of the church. Won't you join us?
                                     Deacon Pat


ERD Logo Episcopal Relief & Development Supports Three Gulf Dioceses Caring for Communities Affected by Oil Spill
Even though the oil well has been capped and clean-up measures are moving into a new phase, the economic and emotional impact of the April 2010 oil spill is still devastating the Gulf Coast. With the help of Episcopal Relief & Development, Episcopalians from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle are responding to the needs of their communities. Episcopal Relief & Development's USA Disaster Response Program is helping to equip these dioceses and parishes to meet both the immediate and longer-term needs of people struggling to put their lives back together after the spill.OilSpill
To support Episcopal Relief & Development's work, please visit
www.er-d.org or call 1.800.334.7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.





Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays


Clark Davis........................9/4
Tim Olsen.........................9/4
Sid Woodcock..................9/11
Alli DeBritz.......................9/12
Juliette Syta....................9/12
Linda Perregaux................9/14
Bob Strong......................9/14
Olive Carter Luczka...........9/15
Jo Ann Adams..................9/16
Lily Holcombe..................9/21
Rick Morin.......................9/21
Clark Gittinger..................9/23
Devon Dare......................9/25
Joseph DeBritz..................9/27
Mary Michelson.................9/27

Oto & Josephine Jones........................9/4
Dave & Roseann Caruso......................9/7
Todd Templeton & Lisa Ghenoiu...........9/16
Scott & Jennifer Bristol......................9/17
Ryan & Sarah Huneau........................9/18
Paul & Liz Pratico............................9/22
Ryan & Laura Davis..........................9/24
Don & Helen Reid.............................9/26
Denis & Carolyn Manor......................9/28
Jim & Suzanne Wolff.........................9/28
Christian & Melinda Renken................9/28

Quick Links...
Calendar on Website

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, Carole Merrill-Mazurek
Jr Warden, Tracy Ormsbee

Class of 2010:
Sid Woodcock
Susan Feyrer
Peter Nelson

Class of 2011:
Austin Spang
Tracy Schierenbeck
Linda Emaelaf
Class of 2012:
Deborah O'Connor
 Millie Gittinger
Matt Canavan

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