The Messenger

Website edition

Saint Stephen's Schenectady
Thanksgiving Issue 
November 2011

in this issue


A. From Father James

B. School Days

C. More News

D. More Activities and Dates


Shield Dear Friends,

It's that time of year again -- the Stewardship Canvass.  In the next few weeks you will be hearing a good deal about the Christian vocation of giving...our call to give away some of what we have to God and to people who need it.  And you'll be hearing, too, about some of our hopes and dreams and needs for this parish if it is going to continue to grow as a vibrant community of Christians. 

     But maybe the first question is "why?"  Why give at all? There are pressures aplenty on us all.  We aren't exactly living in extravagant luxury, most of us.  So why?

     My answer to that isn't "because we ought to give", although I think that's true; or "because the Bible tells us to give", though it unquestionably does;  but rather because we need to give.

     We need to give our money, our time, away. How else can we acknowledge or respond to the Mystery of our lives that has given us everything we have -- our very existence, our families, our friends, our skills and intellect, our experiences of great beauty and great joy?

     We need to give for pragmatic reasons, too; because we need a place like St. Stephen's where we can share our lives, and ask our questions, and seek some sense, some Center to our days, and because we need a place where we can laugh and cry and feast and dance and learn and raise our children and make new friends and find a place to belong in a world where belonging is so rare.

     We need to give because we have to find some ways of responding to people who are hurting -- people hungry and lonely and left on the streets.  To live our lives without taking account of the pain around us is to live lives of moral blindness.  We need, we need to give away, for our own soul's sake, as well as for "theirs."

     But finally, we need to give just because we need to turn loose.  That's what Jesus hits us with over and over: 'You won't know real freedom until you're letting go of what you're holding on to so tightly.  Turning loose of our money, of some things we "had" to have this year, saying "no" to some ways we know we could spend that money, is to declare a kind of independence.  It is launching our into a mysterious and bracing deep, a new way of living.

     When we give away first, for no other reason than that we need to give out of our fullness to the world's needfulness, we are opening ourselves, in ways that at first seem strange, to the peace that passes all understanding.

Fr. James+

AA. From the Rector 

            All Saint's Day  October 30th 

All Saint's Day is one of the seven principal feasts of the church.  This day is a celebration of Christ in His whole mystical body.  We are reminded that the saints still support us by their witness and example and surround us with their love and prayers.  All Saint's Day is the one day set aside each year when our faithful departed are remembered.  If you would like to have a particular person remembered by name, it is not too late. Please call the parish office as soon as you receive this newsletter.  We will remember them on Sunday, October 30th at both Eucharists.



 November 24th

Thursday morning at 10 am

St. Stephen's Church



The Woman Behind Thanksgiving Day

Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, for 40 years the editor of "Godey's Lady's Book," the mother of all magazines for women, was responsible for our observance of Thanksgiving Day.

In 1846 Mrs. Hale, a widow with five children, began her campaign to have Thanksgiving Day established as a national holiday.  Some individual states listened to her and acted, but the Federal Government ignored her pleas for 17 years.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln heeded Mrs. Hale, and the result was the first Thanksgiving proclamation by a president since George Washington.
(Mrs. Hale not only edited a magazine, not only raised children as a single parent, not only was responsible for Thanksgiving's being recognized as a national holiday, she also wrote the poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb!")


    Almighty and gracious Father, we give thanks for the fruits of the earth in
    their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.

    Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision
    of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your
    Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
    the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.



Voting, the privilege of U.S. citizens & the duty of Christians living in a democracy.  Tuesday, Nov.  8th - all day.

Sunday Morning Adult Education: 
"Living the Questions"

Facilitated by Fr. James, these ongoing classes will continue a year-long conversation about how we live out our faith in the world.  What does it mean to be in relationship with God and our neighbors?    
We will have a conversation about these questions and more, supplemented by video clips of leading theologians and spiritual thinkers discussion their thoughts on being faithful Christians in a 21st century society.

Nov. 6 - Lives of Jesus  
Nov. 13 - A Passion for Christ: Paul  
Nov. 20 - Out into the World: Challenges Facing Progressive Christians  
Nov. 27 - Restoring Relationships

Class sessions are held in Fr. James' office on Sunday mornings, from 9am to 10am.


 Thursday Morning Adult Education:   
The "Disciple" Bible Study

Disciple Bible Study offers a complete and structured approach to Bible study that uses video presentations, discussion, individual study, group fellowship and prayer to develop deeper spirituality in participants. The Disciple Bible Study series focuses on the entire Bible and how God is in relationship with God's people.

Nov.  3 - "God Hears the Cry"    The Exodus Experience and Passover
Nov. 10 - "God Sends the Law"   The Ten Commandments
Nov. 17 - "When God Draws Near"   Sacrificing to God   

Class sessions are held in Fr. James' office on Thursday mornings, from 10:45am to noon.



 B. School Days

              Sunday School 2011 
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. 
High School students will continue to meet with George Woodzell during the time between the two masses - at approximately 9:00am.

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.






@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)

Godly Play - a curriculum of core Bible stories for children ages 5-12 is new to St. Stephen's this fall. It is a profoundly spiritual way of helping pre-school and elementary school-age children learn about the mystery of God.

The author, an Episcopal priest and children's hospital chaplain, developed the series to help children value the importance of a God who is "in every place," and to, "organize the educational time to follow the pattern of worship that the Christian tradition has found to be the best way to be with God."

For those who may not yet have had the experience of being a helper or onlooker, or who are afflicted with arthritic limbs that make climbing stairs uncomfortable, come with us in your imagination.

Come out of the sanctuary with us and come upstairs - take a mat, and find a place to sit comfortably on the floor.  Close your eyes for a minute and be conscious of God's presence. This is holy space. Hear the storyteller greet the children, and ask each one to share the joys and concerns of their week. Then get ready to listen to one of God's special stories. Listen carefully. Watch as the storyteller moves the story pieces, pay attention and be ready to respond when the storyteller asks you to "wonder" about the story... "I wonder what this story is really all about..." or, "I wonder what we could leave out and still have the story be the same..." are frequent concluding questions.

Now it's time for "art response" ... you take a tray to work on and select art materials. For about fifteen or twenty minutes you draw, work with puzzles, look at a book, or work with the story materials, occasionally asking someone to share a marker or pencil, or to answer more "wondering" question from the storyteller.

The storyteller gives the signal to stop your work. You put your supplies away, stack your mat and tray and come back to the circle.  The storyteller reads the story from the Bible and says a prayer. It is time to say "goodbye" and go quietly back downstairs. Your parents or your grown-up friends are waiting for you, and you join them in your pew or at the altar rail.

Stories for the month of November:

  • November 6: The Ten Best Ways (the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments)
  • November 13: The Ark and the Tent (God's presence in  the tabernacle)
  • November 20: The  Ark and the Temple (King David builds a house for God)
  • November 27: The Circle of the Church Year, the story of the Holy Family, and the introduction to Advent. Allison deKanel will be the storyteller this Sunday. She is also a trained presenter.


Harvest Festival

Walking through the Siena College campus one day earlier this month, I came across their first ever Sukkah, judiciously situated between the dining hall and the student union building. The structure was sturdy-made with plastic tubing and sheets of heavy-duty plastic sheeting, with the traditional roof of woven grasses and twigs. Laminated cards were suspended on strings from the roof with an explanation of the structure and the Jewish festival, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, that it was built to celebrate. 
In the Jewish liturgical calendar Sukkot is celebrated just five days after Yom Kippur, the most solemn of the High Holy Days. The festival, which celebrates the ingathering of the fruit harvest, is known for its liveliness and sense of joy.  Biblically, it commemorates the forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert, living in temporary shelters like tents or booths. It is referenced in Leviticus 23:33-36 and 39-43; and in Deuteronomy 16:13-15.


sukkot2As a young child, I clearly remember "Harvest Festival" as a liturgical celebration in the Anglican tradition. The church was decorated with corn stalks and fruit and vegetables, and jam jars and hedgerow flowers, and we sang hymns dedicated to harvest ingathering. I always loved that Sunday and I looked forward to it every year! As I grew older I appreciated the significance of giving thanks for the ingathering of crops in a small rural community that relied heavily on a healthy harvest not only for their sustenance and that of their livestock, but for income, too.

After I came to the States and started to worship in the Reformed tradition I missed celebrating Harvest Festival almost more than I missed my family! To this day, when it comes near to Thanksgiving and we start singing traditional harvest hymns like Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, I can't help it! I get homesick for that centuries old rural tradition, Harvest Festival Sunday.
Sukkot, the last of the three annual celebrations dedicated to agriculture-related pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish tradition, reminds me of Harvest Festival. As children, we used to build little huts like that on the Siena College campus to shelter our vegetable stand, but I really like the religious significance, and it gives me an idea. Perhaps St. Stephen's will have a Succah, next year, situated between the new kitchen and the church building!
Hmmm...I'll have to think about that!
In peace and love,
Miranda Rand
, Christian Education Director

 C. More  News
  Jump Back to B. School Days
  Jump Ahead to D. Activities & Dates 


                                                 Youth Group News


High Holy Days

For the fifth year in a row, some of our high school students have babysat at Congregation Gates of Heaven during the services for their High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  We are getting to know some of the kids there pretty well and we enjoy spending a few hours with them each fall. The money we earn from this delightful time helps to fund our workcamp trips each summer.

Also, we get to observe part of the service, which includes sitting on the bimah, the platform at the front of the synagogue from where the Torah is read, and hearing the sounding of the shofar, or ram's horn.  In addition, Rabbi Cutler has showed us the scrolls of the Torah which are kept in the Ark at the front of the synagogue.  He explained that Congregation Gates of Heaven is part of a world-wide effort to save Torah scrolls that were retrieved from synagogues which were destroyed by the Nazis.  The hope is to restore these eventually to synagogues in Europe.


Hurricane Irene Aftermath

The youth group went to the Village of Schoharie on Sunday, October 23, to assist in clean-up and rebuilding efforts.  We hope to make this a monthly commitment.


      Richey Woodzell




                     Vestry Meeting November 14th

Vestry meetings are open to all members of the congregation.  Vestry meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30pm.  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.


Our Pole  
Update on the
New Parish Hall


The pole is gone!  Verizon finished moving the telephone wires Monday and the next day Allegrone removed the pole.  Surprisingly the inside of the pole was completely rotten and eaten by insects.  If it weren't for the guy wires, it probably would have fallen.  By the time this article is published, the foundation and floor for the kitchen will be poured and the framing well under way.

Now that the pole is out of the way, a lot of activity is going on to close up the building and make sure the outside work is done before freezing weather.  New sidewalks are being poured.  The site will be graded and the new parking lot put in.  We expect the stone trim to be started next week followed by stuccoing.  The windows are on site and will be installed as soon as possible. The electrical and mechanical contractors have been working for the last couple of weeks installing heating ducts and starting the wiring.

My apologies for the delay on heating the church.  A new high efficiency boiler has been installed.  Unfortunately, at the last minute it was realized that the wrong voltage circulating pump  had been ordered.  The proper one is coming from California and should be installed shortly.
Austin Spang



  D D. More Activities and Dates

Our calendar is on line.  Click here:

 Link to the Saint Stephen's November Calendar 

 Jump ahead to Anniversaries and Birthdays
                                    SICM News 
As we all begin planning for Thanksgiving-who will cook the bird, who will bring dessert, which vegetables do most people like-the Emergency Food Pantry is facing a steadily growing number of individuals and families in need.  I noticed some unusual bargains at Price Chopper and Hannaford during the current supermarket wars.   

Could you join me taking advantage of these specials and pick up an extra can or box of food for our basket for the pantry? 

Amy, Eunice, Marti  

                   COMBATIVE COMPUTER?
If your computer has become a source of aggravation and frustration rather than a helpful home appliance, fear not! St. Stephen's Youth Group has the answer - our home computer consultation and assistance program (or, as we like to call it, the SSYGHCCAP.) Just imagine: for the cost of a phone call (or an email, if you can get your computer to send one) our highly trained, well-behaved, terribly competent staff will come to your home and tame that unruly beast.


Vicki H., of Schenectady, New York, writes, "The SASYORGHCCAP - gosh, I hope I have that right - was wonderful! Now I can see pictures of my grandchildren, I can send my own pictures, I can send email messages, and my sheets have never been whiter! Thank you STSSYGEHCOCAP - or whatever - Thank you!"


Contact George Woodzell or Matt Canavan if you'd like to arrange a consultation.

                 The Shop at Saint Stephen's
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, stop by and see our cards and decorations for your home.  Advent and Christmas are hot on Thanksgiving's heels and we will have a "great multitude of Angels" for sale  and other items for your gift giving.  Some Encore items remain at 50% off, stop and look, a treasure awaits you. 

Thanks for your continued support.

Lily, Louise, and Marilyn


Church Women United  
will hold their 2011 World Community Day
"Living Our Faith, Unlocking Action"
 St. George's Church, Clifton Park, Fri. Nov. 4 
 Refreshments at 9:30, program at 10:00



      The Yankee Hassock Raffle is now open 

THE Hassock is constructed of high end Vinyl and is fashioned with the Yankee Logo in the center, framed by the Blue and Grey Yankee pinstripes.  It is a one of a kind and very unusual.  Tickets are $5.00 each and the drawing will be on Sun. Dec. 18th [after the 10:15 sercice] just in time for Christmas giving.  Louise Peake will be handling the sales at the Shop counter after the 10:15 and the early birds at 8am can purchase their tickets from Marilyn Humphrey.  Let's expand our sales too----we will have sets of tickets for you to take to sell to our family and friends.   This Hassock was donated to us from a friend of Millie Gittinger's, thank you so much Millie.  The proceeds of this Raffle will go to our "new kitchen" appliance fund.  Thanks for your support and Happy Selling.  


 ERD Logo 


Ghana ranks 142nd on the United Nations Human Development Index. Natural resources have made Ghana more prosperous than many of its neighbors in West Africa. However, persistent poverty exists and most Ghanaians are small landowners relying on subsistence farming to survive, with one-third living below the poverty line.

Because of erratic rainfall and a short harvest season, the northern region of the country is particularly vulnerable to chronic poverty and food shortages. Malnutrition and child mortality rates are highest in this region, with malaria claiming the lives of 22% of children under 5 every year.

In Ghana Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Anglican Diocese of Tamale. The Diocese's development programs are implemented by the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organisation (ADDRO), which has over 20 years of experience working in communities in the Upper East region of northern Ghana.

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.


A Prayer from  
The Order of the Daughters of the King

Please pray for the Daughters and families affected by the recent storms around the United States.

Loving God, we know that our time is in your hands.  Protect now the people of Japan, New Zealand, and Haiti in their time of trial.  Cover them with your loving care and bring them that comfort that comes through you.  Guide and protect those in the Arab nations who now seek a just government.  Lead us all towards systems of governance in which all are safe to live out their lives in search of your will.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit.  


Marge Rogers, Worship & Devotions Chair


Contact information is:
101 Weatherstone Dr. Suite 870 
Woodstock, GA 30188
Phone: 770-517-8552 
General Email:

Episcopal Church Women's Group (ECW)

September 27 meeting

Fifteen women met at the home of Cheryl Syta on Tuesday, September 27, to form a women's group at St. Stephen's. Reading from the vision statement of the National ECW, Cheryl explained her reason for bringing the women together:

"Our vision for all women of the Episcopal Church is that we become a vibrant blend of all ages, coming together as a peacemaking, healing part of the Church. We aspire to be a God spark - shining and sharing the love of Christ.

We made plans for the formation of the women's group:

include a mix of social activities and service, including some family-oriented
meet monthly on the 4th Tuesday at 7:30 PM
form committees to research needs for service opportunities and plan social activities
publicize in the Messenger, bulletins and parish-wide emails and during announcements
have a representative on the parish council?

We formed committees for parish, local and global needs as well as for social activities.

Possible Activities / Projects:

sew "little dresses for Africa" (
help with flood relief (Miranda Rand is posting updates from CRTC)
provide meals / homemade baked goods for Bethesda House, Damien Center
make cat mats for Animal Protective Foundation
offer help for teenaged girls - makeup, hair, cooking, budgeting
help at SICM pantry, Regional Food Bank
support Pat Jones's jail ministry
hold fund-raisers for outreach or parish - lawn sale, card party, silent auction with potluck
have Bible study
hold classes - parenting, cooking, car mechanics
hold a wine-tasting party
see a performance together
invite outside speaker on specific topic

Next meeting: Coats & Cookies Tuesday October 25 at 7:30 PM at the home of Cheryl Syta, 852 Wright Avenue, Sch'dy. Bring sugar cookies to decorate for visitors at Bethesda House (and decorating supplies if you have them). We will also be collecting serviceable coats for the clothing room at Bethesda House. 


Schenectady Free Health Clinic
Providing Care to Uninsured Residents of Schenectady

The Schenectady Free Health Clinic is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. "We do not bill patients for medical care or medications. The clinic operates with donations of grants, supplies, or services. If you are interested in making a financial contribution of if you are a health care professional and would like to volunteer please contact us at 344-7067."

If you or someone you know has any medical supplies or (unexpired and unopened) medications please contact the clinic about the possibility of donating the supplies. Supplies needed include office supplies, filing cabinets, computers, new fax/copy machine, tables or chains, and medical supplies.

The current American Health Care system is in the process of a complete overhaul. Keep yourself updated about your status and what role the clinic may play in the new system. 

Three news links:

Reid: Health Care Reform
Government Health Care Reform Site
The New York Times: Health Care Reform

The Clinic is open for service two days a week:

Monday: 1-5

Thursday: 1-5

The Schenectady Health Clinic is ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS!
If you are a new patient please call ahead of time and make an appointment: 344-7067. The clinic is located at 600 Franklin Street, Schenectady.


by George Cooper

"Come, little leaves" said the wind one day,
"Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold."

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

"Cricket, good-bye, we've been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song-
Say you're sorry to see us go;
Ah! you are sorry, right well we know.

"Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we've watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"

Dancing and whirling the little leaves went;
Winter had called them and they were content-
Soon fast asleep in their earthly beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle over their heads.


Evan Love..............................11/2
Nicholas Stewart.....................11/4

Zachary Price.........................11/6
Priscilla Sprague.....................11/6
Eric Kilbourn...........................11/8

Rebecca Dominguez................11/12
Jesse Dipley...........................11/19
Isabella Dewhurst...................11/25
Mark Bayer............................11/30
Liz Stevens............................11/30
Carole Merrill-Mazurek............11/30
Travis Reedy..........................11/30

Bill & Hoagy Walker.................11/5

George & Bonnie Chambers....11/13
Jim & Cheryl Syta...................11/23
Al & Kabby Lowe.....................11/24
Ralph & Doreen May................11/25
Eugene & Mary Whitney..........11/28


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

 Church Staff   The Rev. Dr. James R. McDonald, Rector, 370-3573,
The Rev. Patricia L. Jones, Deacon

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