January, 2012

Website Edition

Rector's Letter

Dear Friends,

Last year at the annual meeting I said that 2011 would be the beginning of a re-building year for this congregation, both in the physical complex and in the congregation. In the past year we have hired a new staff, have begun a new ministry with the Little Ones nursery school, have lived through more than half of our new building program and have begun a very successful capital campaign program to furnish the new building. In all of these activities I have heard members say that they have not felt this kind of vitality in the congregation for several years.

This coming year will continue the re-building of the congregation. Many of you have asked when the new building will be complete. With all the set-backs experienced this past fall, I have ceased making any predictions about completion, except to say that it will be finished in 2012! There is much to be done even before this happens. My goal is to have the new building used throughout the week. The parish council has been talking about this and it is time to ask you all for your input. How can we use the building that will meet the spiritual needs of our own congregation and the members of the community around us? Support gproups? Fellowship activities? Educational events? I ask you to think now of creative uses so that very specific activities can be ready in the new building very soon after it is occupied.

We also need to continue re-building the congregation. Many of you commented to me how wonderful it was to have so many children at the Christmas worship services. Some were from out of town, but many were from here in our community. When the new building opens we will have a state-of-the-art nursery room close to where our worship takes place. Also, our Christian Education Director, Miranda Rand, has put together one of the most creative and lively Church School programs I have ever witnessed called Godly Play. It is being used by hundreds of Episcopal Churches with wonderful outcomes and I believe it is just what St. Stephen's needs at this time. When we occupy the new building we will have plenty of space for Godly play! So let's get the word out to our friends and neighbors, now, that we are a 'kid-friendly' congregation where Christian learning is fun.

I don't believe the adage, "Build, and they will come." However, I do believe that God is doing a marvelous thing here in our congregation and that we can continue to 'build on God's blessings' in the coming year.


Fr. James+

The Epiphany of Our Lord      

The name "Epiphany" is derived from a Greek word meaning "manifestation" or "appearing." It is also called "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles."  This phrase is a reference to the story of the Wise Men from the East.

A Christian observance on January 6 is found as early as the end of the second century in Egypt.  The feast combined commemorations of the visit of the Magi, led by the star of Bethlehem; the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan; and Jesus' first recorded miracle, the changing of water into wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee    all thought of as manifestations of the incarnate Lord.

The Epiphany is still the primary Feast of the Incarnation in Eastern Churches, and the three-fold emphasis is still prominent.  In the West, however, including the Episcopal Church, the story of the Wise Men has tended to overshadow the other two events.  Modern lectionary reform, reflected in the Book of Common Prayer, has recovered the primitive trilogy, by setting the event of the Baptism as the theme of the First Sunday after January 6th.

Our celebration of Epiphany at St. Stephen's will take place on Sunday, January 8th at 8:00am and 10:15 a.m. and 7 pm with Eucharist and renewal of our Baptismal vows. 

Household Blessing for Epiphany

A custom from Eastern Europe that is presently being recovered in North America is the practice of blessing homes on Epiphany.  Members of the household go from room to room expressing thanks to God for each room and asking God to bless the room and its intended use.  Some small symbol of the blessing may be carried to leave in each room: a candle, a cross, "gifts" of the Magi.

The procession ends outside the front door where the door's lintel is marked in chalk with the year and the initials C,M,B each separated by a cross recalling the traditional names of the Magi: Casper, Melchior and Balthazar.  The members of the household are then invited to add their own initials.  Also, at this time it is appropriate to pledge volunteer time or other gifts for Bethesda House or some local homeless shelter as signs of our thankfulness to God.  The ritual ends with a celebration of the Eucharist.

Talk to the rector if you would like to have your home blessed.

Annual Meeting of
Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church
on Sunday January 22, 2012
11:45 am
In the Church

Each year on the third Sunday in January, our congregation holds its Annual Meeting.  The purposes of the meeting are to elect representatives to the vestry, to review finances of the parish for the past year and to examine the budget of the current year, to hear brief reports from parish leaders and the clergy, and to discuss other issues which affect the congregation.

What Is The 'Vestry'?

pThe vestry is a group of eleven lay representatives from the parish who are charged with the temporal affairs of the congregation. They meet monthly with the rector presiding. The vestry spends considerable time on income and expenses and on writing the annual budget. They set the salary scales and are responsible for raising the money to meet expenses. The vestry also has the important job of finding a new rector whenever a vacancy occurs. Three representatives are elected at the annual parish meeting for a term of three years. In addition, a Warden (vestry officer) is elected for a term of two years. 

Nominating Committee Appointed

The vestry has appointed Scott Kilbourn, Jim Ormsbee, and Peter Nelson as the nominating committee. They are securing the nominations for the positions vacant for next year. In addition, nominations will continue to be made from the floor of the Annual Meeting of the parish. The elected offices are:

3 - three year terms for 2012 Vestry

1 - Warden - two-year term

Requirements for Vestry Membership

Basically there are only three requirements for vestry membership:

(1) being a confirmed member of the parish church. This can be accomplished through confirmation or reception by a bishop or through a transfer from another Episcopal Church.

(2) having been regular in attendance of Sunday Eucharists.

(3) having been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God. This includes giving of Time, Talent, and Treasure.

When to Call Your Clergy

 Many people have the idea that the only time they should call their priest or deacon is when someone is critically ill or when there is a death in the family, and some don't even do that. Here are ten occasions when you should have no hesitation in picking up the phone to call James or Pat:

1. Before going to the hospital. It makes no difference whether you are going to the hospital for major surgery or for a routine checkup - call before you go.

2. When alcohol or drugs become a problem for you or for someone you love. The alcoholic or drug dependent person is not a hopeless sinner - he or she is a person with a disease who needs treatment. There are no easy answers to chemical dependency, but the clergy can help you to understand these problems or to assist families and individuals in locating help.

3. Before you engage a lawyer. This does not mean before you get an attorney for any purpose, but before engaging one when a husband and wife are considering separation. If you take the Christian view of marriage seriously, you will wish to talk through your situation with clergy or other pastoral counselor before matters proceed to the point of seeking legal counsel.

4. When a baby is born. When a new member of our family is born, James or Pat would like to call while the mother is still in the hospital. This is a good opportunity to rejoice with the family and to ask God's blessing upon the child.

5. When you would like to talk or pray about a difficult decision. The big decisions in life are so important that they should be "talked out and prayed through". Your work, perhaps getting married, a change in jobs - are all included.

6. When you know someone in need of spiritual help. It is part of our Christian responsibility to be alert to the needs of others. If you know of someone who needs help, do not hesitate to call.
Together, we may be able to find a way to minister to those in need.

7. When there is a death in the family. No matter what the hour of day or night the clergy should be called at once. Their task is to bring you to strong consolation offered by our Christian faith and to counsel with you concerning arrangements for the funeral.

8. When you are spiritually depressed. Remember, help is available! The finest Christians have all gone through their dark night of the soul. Don't try to fight it through alone. If God seems far off and religion has lost its reality, you are not the first person to feel that way. Don't struggle with spiritual depression by yourself.

9. Before anyone enters the armed forces or leaves for college. Not only will the clergy want to know their address away from home, but would like to opportunity to make a personal visit to assure them of the concern of their home parish while they are away.

10. When you want to share a thanksgiving. When a parishioner wants to share a thanksgiving for all God's gracious gifts, the clergy will be delighted to share this with you.

"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.

Jan. 1 - The Myth of Redemptive Violence
Jan. 8 - Practicing Resurrection
Jan. 15 - Debunking the Rapture
Jan. 22 - Honoring Creation

Jan. 29 - A Kingdom without Walls

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.

Jan.  5 - "God Restores the People" Presenter: Walter Brueggemann

Jan.  12 - "The Psalms: Songs of the Heart" Presenter: Walter Harrelson

Jan.  19 - "Return from Exile: The Righteous Are Like a Tree"Presenters: Albert C. Outler
and Richard B. Wilke

Jan.  26 - "The Book of Job: When Trouble Comes"Presenter: B. Davie Napier

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

Sunday School 2012 

 Grade 7-12: 9:00am in the chapel
 Pre-K through Grade 6: during the 10:15 service in the Tower

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)

Godly Play

During the season of Advent our Pre-K through Grade 6 group re-traced the steps of the Holy Family as they went to Bethlehem to be included in the census. Along the way they stopped to wonder about the shepherds, magi, and curious bystanders who came to pay their respect to the newborn little-one. This series of stories culminated in a procession on Christmas Eve to the crèche. Each child placed their animal or character in the manger as a narrator told the story from the lectern. Thank you to all the parents who lent their children, grandchildren, and organizational skills to us for the evening, and to the children themselves who deserve a great shout-out:


On January 8, our class resumes with a lesson on Baptism -- initiation by water and the Holy Spirit.
During the balance of January and the early part of February we will move through Ordinary time with a series of parables.

> January 15: The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke
    10:30-35) Brian Riordon, storyteller

 >January 22: The Parable of the Good Shepherd (Matthew
    18:12-14) Miranda Rand, storyteller

 >January 29: The Parable of the Great Pearl (Matthew 13:45)
    Miranda Rand, storyteller

 >February 5: The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9) Allison
    deKanel, storyteller

Grades 7-12 George Woodzell and Peter Nelson

During the month of December George and Peter led their group in an exploration of Christianity's Judaic roots, culminating in a visit from Zipporah Harris, local Judaics teacher, on December 18. Because Zipporah has a well-honed understanding of major Christian festivals, she was able to draw comparisons between Jewish festivals and High Holy Days and their Christian equivalents, and a lively discussion resulted.

The high school students have also been going hands-on in the Schoharie Valley Recovery Effort on alternate Sunday mornings after their lesson time.

The Book

St. Stephen's has an important book other than the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  Called simply "The Book," it contains a list of parishioners who have volunteered to help other members of our church who are temporarily in need of meals and/or transportation, as well as a log of services provided.  Examples of a time of need are following an operation, recovering from an illness, when a family is blessed with a new member, or when there is a serious family situation.

If you are in need of this kind of help, call the office, 346-6241, or Richey Woodzell, 372-9398.   She will contact the "Keeper of the Book" for that week, who will coordinate meals or transportation for the individual or family by calling on the volunteers in the Book.  PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP.   Many of us have had times when knowing that dinner would be provided meant that time and energy could be used for more important tasks.  For those who live alone, a ride to the doctor's or to church could be a great help.

Or, if you would like to offer your help, either in providing an occasional meal or an occasional ride, please call Richey Woodzell. In this way you will be helping to minister to those of our parish community in need. Thank you.

What Is The 'Vestry'? 

The Vestry is the body within our congregation that, with the clergy, leads the parish.

What are the responsibilities of the Vestry?

The Vestry is responsible for personnel management and the stewardship of our money and property. The Vestry has a legal and moral responsibility to manage our congregation's resources, including operating funds, investment, furnishing, buildings and grounds. As well as insuring the care of paid and volunteer personnel, so that they receive adequate compensation, benefits, equipment, resources, training, and support.

How does the Vestry accomplish this goal?

The Vestry engages in short and long range planning, both directly and through committees of the parish. We review our parish's mission, our current programs, staff and facilities, and plan for the future. A strategic plan can be delegated to a subgroup, but it is the Vestry's responsibility to make sure that such planning occurs, is formally adopted, and is supported.
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 congregation needs resources to accomplish our mission. Vestry members play a key role in gathering these resources. They actively give of their time, talent and treasure.

What is the time commitment of Vestry members?

The Vestry meets on the second Monday of each month beginning at 7:30. Each Vestry member is also assigned to a subcommittee of the Vestry. Much of the communication between meetings is completed via e-mail. Vestry members serve three year terms.

Vestry meetings are open to members of the parish. Please drop by sometime and see how the vestry works.

When are Vestry Meetings?  

Vestry meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30pm in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

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.

Please note the Vestry does not meet in July or August

Tutors Needed!

Literacy New York Greater Capital Region - serving Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington Counties.

One out of five adults in our region cannot read a map, fill out a job application, or follow directions on a medicine bottle. This means that more than 55,000 adults in our five county service area read or write below a fifth grade level.

Every day, more and more learners seek us out as they strive to improve their ways of life, increase their confidence, and concentrate on becoming more integrated into their communities. There is always a need for tutors!

Literacy New York Greater Capital Region provides confidential instruction by trained staff and volunteers. Their free educational services include: basic literacy instruction in reading, writing and math; ELL (English Language Learning) tutoring and conversation groups; and preparation for the GED and citizenship exams.

Tutor training is offered several times a year. The next one starts in January (see the following schedule).

Training sessions include Orientation, TWO sessions on strategies (Basic Literacy 1&2 or ELL 1&2), Writing and Successful Tutoring.... 5 total.  LNYGCA asks for a donation of $35.00 for the book and the handouts. Upon finishing the training, each tutor is matched with a student. Tutors and learners meet at least once a week at mutually agreed upon times in public locations such as libraries and coffee shops.

Richey Woodzell

Literacy New York Greater Capital Region


The need is great for tutors to work with both basic literacy and English language learners in Albany and Schenectady County. Please consider attending the orientation session to learn about our services and to see if this is a program that you might become involved in.

January 12, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                         Niskayuna Public Library
January 14, 2012 10-1 pm                                    Guilderland Public Library

Basic Literacy 1

January 23, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                         Niskayuna Public Library
January 28, 2012 10-1 pm                                    Guilderland Public Library

Basic Literacy 2

January 26, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                         Niskayuna Public Library
January 28, 2012 2-5 pm                                     Guilderland Public Library

English Language Learner 1

January 30, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                         Niskayuna Public Library
February 4, 2012 10-1 pm                                  Guilderland Public Library

English Language Learner 2

February 2, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                          Niskayuna Public Library
February 4, 2012 2-5 pm                                       Guilderland Public Library

February 6, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                          Niskayuna Public Library
February 11, 2012 10-1 pm                                   Guilderland Public Library

Successful Tutoring
February 13, 2012 12:30-3:30 pm                        Niskayuna Public Library
February 11, 2012 2-5 pm                                     Guilderland Public Library

For more information or to register, please visit www.literacynycap.org or call Sherry Haluska for Albany County at 452-3384 or June O'Connor for Schenectady County at 452-3382.

Jewelry Fund Raiser For Tails of Treasure

All ladies are invited to the meeting of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Women on Tuesday, January 24th , 7pm at the home of Sara Palko. We will be collecting gently used jewelry for the Animal Protection Foundation (APF). The APF provides sanctuary to unwanted animals, places them in homes, and provides low cost spay and neuter services for the community. Bring jewelry you no longer want, clean out your jewelry box and donate it for this worthy cause - invite your co-workers, friends and family to do the same and join us!   

The APF jewelry event "Tails of Treasure"accepts fine, vintage, costume, handcrafted, silver, gold and gemstone jewelry and benefits all the animals at the shelter.

 Christmas Card Report

"Christmas Cards! We have enough for everybody--4 cards apiece, and they are already stamped. How many people in your tier? Ten? Here you go...will you take a paSaintNicolasOldcket to the fellow who's locked in his cell, please? Thanks. Where are we from? Two of us are from St. Stephen's Church, and one from Trinity Presbyterian over in Glenville....You are welcome. Merry Christmas, and God bless you, too."   That's how it went on December 18th, when We Three Elves
put on our little elf hats and delivered about 1250 cards to the inmates at the Schenectady County Correctional Facility. We delivered to all the housing units (except for the Special Housing Unit, where they were not permitted to receive the cards). Last of all we visited the women, who we visit every Sunday, and they welcomed us as gladly as the men did. 

Thanks to all of you who brought in cards and/or postage ahead of time, and that includes parishioners from Trinity Presbyterian and St. George's Episcopal churches. And thanks to all who stamped and packaged the cards. Mary Francis Hatfield and Mariellen Boomhower and I find it very rewarding to visit the jail, and we appreciate your support.

Deacon Pat

 Bethesda House Dinner in January

Plans are being made for St. Stephen's and St. George's to provide dinner for the guests at Bethesda House on Sunday, January 29. We will probably serve later in the afternoon than previously, due to St. George's Annual Meeting on that day, so please stay tuned for more details. 

Deacon Pat

Do You Know Your Baptismal Date?

If you don't you are not alone. You may have noticed the rather long list of baptismal anniversaries at the Christmas Eve services. Many of them were of parishioners who are baptized, but we have no record of the exact date, so their names fall to the end of the calendar year. If your name was read, please find out the correct date of your baptism and notify the secretary, Cathy Knauf. (If you know only the month, even that partial information is helpful.) Your baptism is one of the most important events in your life, and deserves to be remembered. And if you have not been baptized, please speak to Father James  about receiving this most important sacrament.

Deacon Pat

Holiday Outreach Thank you

Thank you to all who supported St. Stepehn's Third Annual Holiday Outreach.  We have sent a check to Mi Refugio for $655.00 and delivered a check to the Schenectady Free Health Clinic for $730.00.  Both organizations were very grateful.    

Christmas Decorations Thank You!

What a wonderful response to the request on Sunday, Dec. 18th to decorate the Church for Christmas services! "What can I do to help?" came a small voice. It was Mitchell Rigley! He was so patient as he followed me into the choir room and back into the Church again as I quickly gathered some greensand candles for the 11 windows. Then, came another voice. "What can I do to help?" said Gannon Riordon and his brother, Brady! This was so exciting to have 3 such great helpers at a moment's notice! Before I knew it, all the window sills glowed with the anticipation of Christmas. Thank you so much Mitchell, Gannon, and Brady, for helping to make the Church look so beautiful.

It was amazing to see how quickly all the poinsettias were placed , and the wreathes were hung. Many thanks to Fr. James, the Altar Guild, Millie Gittimger, Paul & Allison De Kanel, Austin & Marti Spang, and those who assisted in this special day at St. Stephen's .
June Russell, Altar Guild

booksStephen's Book Club

Over the past year we have shared good books, good laughs, good cries, and most of all, good times.  Even if you can't make a monthly commitment, please consider joining us when ever you are able to attend.  We will continue to meet at the Feyrers, 1198 Lowell Rd., Schenectady on the second Tuesday of the month from 7:00 - 9:00.

January book:  Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving February book:  Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

                                                               Susan Feyrer    


St. Stephen's Shop
The Shop will be having Jan. Sales of all our merchandise.  Stop by, many treasures await you.  Thanks for your continued support.  

Lily, Louise and Marilyn



There is no SICM Assembly in January, so no special news. But the pantry has been very busy giving food to families in need for the holidays so there is the usual need for more canned good, baby food Stages 1 or 2, tuna, peanut butter, pancake mix, syrup, and pasta.  

Thank you for your generosity in the past and our hope you will continue to be as generous. If you would prefer SICM is always in need of monetary donations in support of the pantry or other programs; summer interns, summer lunch, SKIP, or the Damien Center. Volunteers are always welcome to help with any of the programs.

Thank you.
Amy, Eunice and Marti 

Home Furnishings Program

Please help! Our cupboards are going bare! Lately we've been doubling our truck runs and our "Elsie's Room" appointments for clients seeking small household furnishings - and one client might have five children, all needing beds and blankets - so we're running our of everything. The need is great, especially in this cold weather.

Furniture most needed: small kitchen table sets (we're out), coffee and end tables,  dressers and bookcases (for when we have no dressers).
Housewares most needed: twin, full and queen blankets (desperately needed),towels, large pots and pans, baking pans, can openers, cooking utensils (especially spatulas), glasses - all sizes,  small appliances (toasters, mixers, blenders, coffee makers, microwave ovens).

Please leave small items in the basket at the back of the church.
For larger items, call 346-2444 to arrange a pick-up or drop-off at our warehouseor e-mail homefurninc@aol.com .

Jamie Doriguzzi, Program Director
Thank you for helping us help others!

From their website ( http://schenectadyhomefurnishings.org ): The Schenectady Home Furnishings Program provides household furnishings in excellent usable condition to people and families in need residing in Schenectady County.


Emerson Mykoo..................1/3
Sam Boese.........................1/5
Robert Bailey......................1/7
Audrey DeBritz....................1/7
Emma Koch.........................1/7
Barbara Dobbins Stratton.....1/7
David Taylor........................1/9
Kayla Gibbs........................1/11
Laura Pratico......................1/12
Susan Goldthwaite..............1/13
Akash Prasad.....................1/13
Pearl Burton.......................1/17
Andrei Crates.....................1/18
Marshall Cohen...................1/22
Megan Norris-Dominguez.....1/22
Debbie Trawick....................1/23
Scott Kilbourn......................1/26
Carolyn Morin......................1/27
Adam Boese........................1/29
Cathleen Knauf....................1/30 


Mark & Galina Bayer..........................1/23
Harvey & Mary Alexander.................1/31
Bruce & Jane Tatge...........................1/31

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
Robert Acosta, Director of Music

  The Vestry   

Sr. Warden, Millie Gittinger
Jr. Warden, Linda Emaelaf

Class of 2011 
Austin Spang
Richie Woodzel

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:  james.ross.mcd@gmail.com
Our website is www.saintstephenschenectady.org
The Messenger is published September - June.
Please submit articles to Larry Levine