Website edition

September 2011


Shield Dear Friends,

During the summer I have examined the year just past, evaluating what was done and left undone, what was worth doing once and what ought to be done again. I have been saddened by the departure of members through death, or through moving away from the area, or through dissatisfaction with the direction St. Stephen's is going.  Nevertheless, the congregational excitement about our new building taking shape is palpable. As our building is completed, you will hear about the exciting plans for the coming year in each month's issue of "The Messenger". In this limited space let me simply thank the parish leaders who have worked so hard in dreaming about what Saint Stephen's
could be in the years to come, and planning for what Saint Stephen's will be in the coming program year.

The beginning of September will mark the completion of twenty-one years as your rector.  Three things stand out.  First, that this is a wonderful and extraordinary parish with a wealth of leadership and talent that bodes well for the future.  In one sense, the rector's task is simply to "get out of the way" to enable that leadership and talent to flourish in the Lord's service. 

The second is that as a community we have done a lot of growing together in the past twenty-one years.  At least I have, and I have had to in order to keep up with the job! 

Finally, in the last three years I have had a strong sense of our congregation's building upon what has been done before during the past eighty years.  The coming program year is the result of Tom Moss's vision for this congregation, Joe Sitts' administration of the parish, Walt Harris' pastoral care of its members, and John Peatling's continuing contribution to our worship life.  The coming year will bring change, and that is good and a sign of life.  But there will always be those deep and abiding threads of continuity grounded in the Gospel.

As I have had time this summer to reflect upon these last twenty-one years, and the last eighty years, I thank God that we are together in this community we call Saint Stephen's.




AA. From the Rector 

Blessing of the Animalsand St. Francis of Assisi  

On October 4th we celebrate the life and work of St. Francis.  He is probably better known for preaching to birds than for the poverty he embraced in his passion to be like Christ.  Yet, Francis' love of God's creation has given his statue a place in many church and home gardens.

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, 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.  Since Oct. 4 falls on a Tuesday this year, the parish council thought that the preceding Saturday would be a good time for St. Stephen's to continue an annual tradition.

Getting acquainted before the Blessing
Here's how it will work:

On October 1st the congregation and any animals (on leashes!) will gather on the front lawn 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!


What We at St. Stephen's Church Believe

There is One God who creates all things, redeems us from sin and death, and renews us as Children of God.
As Episcopalians we promise to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior and Sovereign.
We believe the mission of our church is restoration of all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Following the Anglican-Episcopal tradition we believe the Bible is the core of our beliefs.  Our understanding of the Bible is informed by new revelations of science and historical data as presented to each generation and by the use of our God-given reason.
We are a community of faith where each person's spiritual journey is both corporate and unique and personal.
Our goal is to promote thoughtful dialogue about what God is calling us to do and be.


Support Damien Center through the AIDS Walk
 AIDS walk
On Saturday, September 24th several members of Saint Stephen's will have an opportunity to take a step toward addressing AIDS in our community.  Beginning at 12 pm (11am registration) 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.


Sunday Morning Adult Education: 
Marks of Discipleship

What is discipleship? Why is it important? What does discipleship look like? Do we really need to be disciples? This series has been designed by the Diocese of Albany to help congregations deepen our understanding of Discipleship and also grow in faith by exploring the 12 Marks of Discipleship in the Diocesan Vision Statement.  Classes will be held on Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am in the rector's office.


   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


Ask the Rector....

Throughout the Sunday worship service I see you making the sign of the cross with your body.  I have noticed that some people in the pew do it, and some do not.  why?

.........Confused observer

Dear Confused observer,

Roman Catholics and Latin American baseball players
aren't the only ones. Many Episcopalians are also in the
habit of practicing that ancient body prayer of
crossing themselves. This is typically done when
beginning and ending prayers and ceremonies. It's also
a stand-alone practice of asking God to bless oneself.

To many Episcopalians, making the sign of the cross is a
humble, silent prayer used to remind us of Christ's
sacrifice and also the cross we are called to bear.
Before Christ, the cross was an instrument of cruel
punishment and a symbol of horror. After his
sufferings, it became the sign of victory over evil and
of life over death. Many people believe we do well to
remind ourselves of this as often as possible.

Of course some Episcopalians don't agree. Some
believe it's ostentatious and superfluous. Acts of
worship are not primarily for ourselves, they're for
God, so goes the argument, and the participation in
outward signs of piety such as this should be avoided.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding body
prayers in the Episcopal Church. Some people
genuflect at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ,
when approaching the altar, or when the processional
cross goes by. Others don't. These are personal acts
of piety and are completely optional. Bottom line: if
it's for you, join in; if not, don't.

That said, here's how many Episcopalians cross
1. Touch the fingertips of
your right hand to your
forehead. Say "In the
name of the Father..."

2. Touch your sternum.

3. Touch the front side of
your left shoulder. Say
"And the Holy..."

4. Touch your right shoulder in roughly the same
location. Say "Spirit."

5. Return your hand to your heart, or to your side,
and say "Amen."



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.

 B. School Days

 MirandaChristianEd @ St. Stephen's from Ms. Miranda
Train a child in the way he should go.
When he is old, he will not turn away from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NIRV)

Welcome back, everyone. It seems like a long time since we last gathered. I hope your summer was fun-filled and fulfilling, and that you enjoyed your rest.

Here's the scoop on Sunday School plans for this fall.

Classes for all grades will start officially on September 25.

o   Students in the Pre-School through Grade 5 group will meet during the 10:15am mass, leaving immediately after the children's message and returning in time to participate in the Eucharistic sacrament with their parents. 
o   High School students will continue to meet with George Woodzell during the time between the two masses - at approximately 9:00am.

o   Students in Grades 6-7-8 are welcomed at either of these groupings, but in addition we are planning for a special time once or twice a month, on either a Sunday afternoon or a mid-week evening, that will include Bible study, food and games.

o   A special introduction to our new curriculum, Godly Play, will be held in the chapel immediately following the 10:15am mass on September 18. Everyone, regardless of age, is encouraged to attend - the curriculum is so simply, yet so profound, that it truly impacts every age group!

Lastly, you should know that I am in the process of developing a form that will serve two purposes-one side will have pertinent health information which I consider imperative - allergy data, person to be contacted in case of an emergency, etc. The other side will serve as the official registration form for students in our education program.  Look for this form, along with more detailed information about our programming in your email in-box or via the USPS mail system, right after the Labor Day weekend.

Many blessings; much peace and love...
Miranda Rand, Christian Education Director


 A Sense of Community:
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:10-11)

I have been blessed with invitations to "supply" pulpits for vacationing pastors this summer up and down the greater Capital Region, from the Catskills to the Hill Towns. Almost every week, during June, July and August, I was welcomed as the guest minister in one community or another.

Over and over again, as I studied the lectionary texts and read commentaries from a variety of traditions, I was struck by the unique message that strung together these Ordinary Time readings. 

Week after week, the common thread for the gospel and epistle readings was the emerging Christian community. From St. Paul's earnest letters to the fledgling churches he founded, in which he exhorts the group to look out for one another, to the string of Matthew's stories of Jesus' interactions with Peter, to the story of the boy with a lunch pail and the string of parables, it was all about community. It was all about caring and sharing.

During the short time I have been doing education ministry with you all at St. Stephen's I have been repeatedly impressed with how you all "hang together" and "make do" despite the inconveniences of construction work which limits the choice of meeting spaces and cramps your social life.

With a new school year just about ready to kick in and plans for our new program year developing nicely, I look forward to continuing to build relationships with St. Stephen's children, youth and adults.

And, oh boy, do I ever look forward to occupying that new building!!!

In community... Miranda Rand

Here we are at 7:30 Sunday morning before our trip to 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.  It was a successful, and happy mission. 

 C. More  News
  Jump Back to B. School Days
  Jump Ahead to D. Activities & Dates 
                       Tour of the new parish hall

On September 18, after both the 8:00am and 10:15am services, I will provide a tour of the new building for anyone who wishes to join me.  It won't be complete, but you will be able to see the location and size of most of the rooms especially the new parish hall.  Join me after both the 8:00am and 10:15am services at the back of the church for a preview of God's Blessings.

Austin Spang
New Parish Hall - It's coming along

During the summer, considerable progress has been made on construction our new parish hall. . Chris Jones has provided an excellent photo documentation of this progress on the church's website, Starting with just the foundation in June, the framing is now just about complete.  Having looked at plans for so long, it thrilling to me to see in 3D the size and shapes of all the rooms. The large roof trusses were installed today and more will added with the roof to soon follow. 

Allegrone has been working around the old power pole. It is holding up building the kitchen and the classrooms near the Nursery School.  A new pole has been erected and finally National Grid has moved all of its lines.  Although preliminary work has been done to move the telephone wires, Verizon has been on strike.  It will be awhile before the telephone wires are moved.


                  BIBLE STUDY -- GET READY! 

Now that the dust has settled from earthquake and Irene, let's dust off our Bibles (I hope that isn't really necessary) and prepare for the start of the new season. Beginning in early October, we will study the book of Exodus, one of the epic stories of the Old Testament. Time and place will be announced. There is a sign-up sheet in the back of the church; early registration would be greatly appreciated.

                Deacon Pat



                           VESTRY MEETINGS

After the summer off, Vestry meetings resume September 12th.  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
Dove Glass
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.

Sundays  Morning Prayer at 7:30 am
Holy Communion at 8:00am and 10:15am
Nursery care, Sunday, 10:00am to 11:30am

Monday-Saturday  Morning prayer, 9:00 am

Thursday:   Holy Communion & Healing: 10:00am

How to get to St. Stephen's Church
MESSAGE for the church?


Our secretary, Cathleen Knauf, will
be checking the e-mail frequently.

Schenectady Remembers:
Moving Toward Peace


9/11  Memorial
Interfaith Commemoration


Sunday, September 11
 2 pm
Veteran's Park
(across from the Schenectady County Court House)


This hour service, sponsored by the Schenectady County Clergy Association, will focus on the needs for peace.  Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian leaders will participate.


In case of rain, the service will be held at
First United Methodist Church, 603 State Street

  D D. More Activities and Dates





SICM News 

Upcoming Events and Dates








Last day of summer lunch




AIDS walk




Harvest for the Pantry Dinner
First Reformed church of Scotia


Assembly Meetings








Silent Auction for the Building Fund

A very generous friend has made us a beautiful leather ottoman with the NY Yankees logo in the center.  This is to be sold at a silent auction to help raise money for our Capital Campaign.  Bids can be left at the Shop.  The cost to make this was $125 just for the materials so bids should come in accordingly.  Similar ottomans have sold at other silent auctions for as much as $500.  Wouldn't it be great if we can match - or even surpass this amount? 
                                      Millie Gittinger   


Schenectady Remembers:
        Moving Toward Peace
911             9/11  Memorial
 Interfaith Commemoration

     Sunday, September 11                    2 pm
           Veteran's Park

          (across from the Schenectady County Court House)


This hour service, sponsored by the Schenectady County Clergy Association, will focus on the needs for peace.
Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian leaders will participate.


In case of rain, the service will be held at
First United Methodist Church, 603 State Street


Thankyou note 


ERD LogoUS Disaster Program

Episcopal Relief & Development's US Disaster Program inspires, connects and equips leaders of the US Episcopal Church and its partners to prepare for hazards that might affect their communities, to mitigate the impact of those disasters, and to help the vulnerable make a full and sustained recovery.

US Emergency Relief Program - Episcopal Relief & Development assists diocesan leaders in building effective emergency response programs by providing them with access to the "Ready to Serve" volunteer database, technical resources and connections to their peers around the country who have faced similar challenges. When necessary, Episcopal Relief & Development may provide emergency funds to supplement these resources, allowing churches to assist people most impacted by disaster.

US Disaster Recovery Program - Episcopal Relief & Development provides long-term support to dioceses following disasters, helping affected populations recover. Recovery programs build on the growing energy within The Episcopal Church to engage in hands-on service. Programs also combine Episcopal Relief & Development's financial resources with additional technical support to reach the most vulnerable populations as effectively as possible in the local context.

US Disaster Preparedness Initiative - Through this initiative, Episcopal Relief & Development works with targeted dioceses to improve their preparation for a disaster and mitigate local impact. This is accomplished by building the "Ready to Serve" national volunteer and skill database, holding local and regional trainings and assisting dioceses with regional planning and coordination. A US Disaster Program resource library facilitates the sharing of information and best practices throughout the Church.

To support Episcopal Relief & Development's work, please visit 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



Tim Olsen.........................9/4
Sid Woodcock..................9/11
Juliette Syta....................9/12
Linda Perregaux................9/14
Bob Strong......................9/14
Jo Ann Adams..................9/16 
Angel Anthony.................9/17 
Lily Holcombe..................9/21
Rick Morin.......................9/21
Clark Gittinger..................9/23
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 
Evan & Cynthia Love........................9/19 

Paul & Liz Pratico............................9/22

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, Millie Gittinger
Jr. Warden, Linda Emaelaf
Class of 2011:
Austin Spang
Richie Woodzell

Class of 2012:
Scott Kilbourn
Jim Ormsbee
Peter Nelson

Class of 2013:
Erin Cohen
Brian Riordon
 Treasurer: Denise Crates

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 Rector's email is:
Our website is
The Messenger is published September - June.
Please submit articles to Larry Levine, 377-9657,