March 2012
March 2012

Look How Far We Have Come!

Building Start

Demolition Begins March 2011



Building Progress in August 2011

You can see from the following pictures how the building has progressed over the past year!

We went from demolition in March 2011, to framework in August 2011 to right now.

Outdoor work is being done on the stucco and the roof and drywall is being hung and
prepped on the inside.

Building Today

Building Progress Now 2012!

Thank you to Chris Jones for all these amazing photos! 

ShieldDear Members:
A rabbi friend of mine shared with me this story: Once, in a small village, there lived a poor tailor who just barely subsisted from week to week. He worked hard all week long, sewing and mending and stitching and fixing. But he had a strange habit. Each Friday afternoon, after he closed his small shop, he would gather up the fallen pieces of material, the wasted ends and the odd shaped remnants, and he would lovingly sew each one into a tiny, perfect square, and put it inside a box with the squares he had created the Fridays before. Week by week he would turn that weeks scraps into a perfect, tiny square. One happy day, his daughter became betrothed to be married. She tearfully came to her father to inquire about a wedding dress, knowing they could never afford one. With joy and excitement, he took her hand and led her to the back of the shop. There upon a hanger was the most magnificent wedding gown the town would ever see, made of tiny little squares, each one different, each one perfect, sewn together into a gorgeous pattern.

The secret is: to be ready, willing, and able to take small pieces, and weave them into something of immense value.
A great teacher once taught about concentric circles of giving which I believe can be helpful this Lent. We all have limited resources, so he suggests dividing them wisely: first, to yourself; then, to your immediate family; then, to your wider family; then to your community, then to your village, to your state, to your country and then to the world. While we might wish this guidance to be more universal, taking into account our ultimate responsibility for the entire human race, it is, in effect, extremely realistic and practical. Each of us has limited resources, and one of our greatest frustrations is that we constantly forget - or deny - that we do. Then we spread ourselves too thin, and we feel that stretch and its subsequent pain. We are always harried, always frantic, always hectic.

This Lent, can we attempt to manage the already unmanageable pace of our lives? Can we enrich, and deepen, and make safe and comfortable the lives of the people next to us first? I am all for selflessness, all for volunteerism, all for giving, but do you know the story of the Giving Tree? The tree gives and gives until there is nothing left of it. You can't be a good parent, or a good friend, or a good worker, or a good Christian, if you don't pay attention to your own life first. If you are not for yourself, who will be for you? The life of the spirit demands that we pay attention to our needs this year, that we eat properly, and exercise, and take the time to think and read and pray and do the things we love and which give us a feeling of satisfaction. And then we can be for others.

We can be for our concentric circles, our small squares of fabric: ourselves, our families and friends, our community. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, a scientist accused in the 50's of being a Communist, denounced by his coworkers and tried for treason, wrote the following after his trial, " Each of us, knowing his limitations, knowing the evils of superficiality and the terrors of fatigue, will have to cling to what is close to his friends and his tradition, to love, lest he be dissolved in a universal confusion and know nothing and love nothing." This Lent I suggest that we love and cling to what is close. Master that which is at hand instead of conquering worlds far away. Practice a universalism rooted in the love of the particular. If we would pay close attention to our small squares this year, then we would be ready, and willing, and able to move out from there to the wider community and its needs. Sometimes it's easier to repair something big when you start with the smaller corner.

By paying attention to each small piece, we, like the poor tailor, may be able to make something incredibly beautiful. If each of us would demand of ourselves that we carefully stitch the corners of our own small square until they are perfect, we'd be ready to sew them together with another square which had been stitched carefully by its owner, and then stitch those squares with yet another and another, creating the pattern. And maybe then God will stitch them together into one heck of a marvelous gown.

Have a blessed and holy Lent,


Reminders During Lent Season

Making a confession in preparation for Easter is a long-standing tradition for many in the Church. This is an individual confession to a priest. The service of Reconciliation of a Penitent in the Book of Common Prayer provides an excellent form for personal self- examination, confession and reception of God's forgiveness. If anyone is interested in participating in this rite as we move towlentard Easter, please feel free to contact the rector.
A 'Station' is any place in the church where, during a solemn procession, there is pause for a prayer. At St. Stephen's these include the creche at Christmas, the entrance to the church on Palm Sunday and the baptismal font on the day of Pentecost (when there are no actual baptisms!)  
During Lent there is a practice in which fourteen 'stations' are visited in turn, with a pause for a reading, a versicle and response, a prayer, and a time for meditation. In this case, the 'stations' are fourteen pictures depicting incidents in the narrative of Christ's passion, from Pilate's house to the entombment. These pictures are placed around the church for Lent. In the back of the church you can find booklets which lead the participant through each station. If you wish to practice this ancient form of worship on your own, please call the parish office so that the church can be opened and heated.

                      KEEPING LENT AT HOME                          
The following suggestions are meant to jog your own family creativity, for children benefit especially from active participation and tangible expression of what may otherwise become too abstract or boring as a long Lent draws itself out.

To give an outward sign to our Lenten efforts, we can make and hang something over the hearth or, for that matter, the kitchen sink, which will encourage us and make us mindful of our resolutions.

A banner or poster with that three-fold theme of prayer, fasting, and alms giving is a fine place to begin. Illustrate their symbols next to them and draw out a discussion at dinner time about how the family might interpret these disciplines during the next six weeks.

Lent means spring, another theme for this season, can be lettered on a length of shelf paper and illustrated with everyone's signs of springtime. Guests and visitors and the children's friends can be invited to add to the illustrations as they come to visit.

A mask or a drawing of a face with two halves, one side cheerful and one gloomy, can illustrate Christ's suggestions to us that Lent not be a dismal affair but actually something that contains its own rewards, shining out of a happy face. "When you fast, do not look glum as the hypocrites do...When you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see that you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; and your Father who seems what is hidden will repay you." (Ash Wednesday's Gospel).

A simple cross made of two twigs can be planted in a desert pot with cactus. Add the inscription: "If any man loves me, let him take up his cross and follow me." Or make an arrangement of bark and twigs and dry weeds, and as Lent progresses, make some changes by adding spring greens, pussy willows and new life to the dry collection.
A flower garden chart is a help for small children. With each day that passes, or with each good deed or experience, they can add a flower and watch Lent bloom.

An alms box or a tin to collect your money for the poor can be set on the mantel or prepared as a table centerpiece. St. Stephen's can provide boxes for the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund. Omitted desserts, cheaper cuts of meat, meals at home rather than eaten out, movies not seen, miles not driven, un-essentials not bought all add pennies to the mite box.

Have a blessed and holy Lent!

Upcoming Events


Girl Scout Sunday
                March 11th @ 10:15 service

This year St. Stephen's will be hosting
Service Unit 210. Girls and their families from troops in Schenectady will come worship together.

The purpose of this special day is to emphasize that we take the Girl Scout Promise seriously -
"On my honor, I will try to serve God."
It is a time for Girl Scouts to reflect upon the importance of the words, "to serve God".

If you are a Girl Scout in another service unit and would like to wear your uniform, or a former scout and would like to wear your pins, please do. We would love to recognize all current and former scouts.

-Erin Cohen

 - - - - - - - -

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Women

All ladies are invited to the meeting of
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Women
on Tuesday, March 27th, 7:00pm
at the home of Carol Merrill-Mazurek,
1085 Ardsley Rd in Schenectady. 
Her phone is 346-8959. 

We will be collecting items for the women in Schenectady County Jail, one aspect of Deacon Pat's ministry. 
The women need items such as stamps, underwear, socks and t-shirts in various sizes.  Bringing something is not required. All are invited to come, indulge in coffee and treats, and enjoy each other's company.   Invite anyone else to come along!

  - - - - - - - -

Save the date:

Jesus as Viewed by the Three Abrahamic Faiths -
Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6:30pm
at Immaculate Conception Church,
400 Saratoga Road, Glenville
Cost: $12.00

Guests Speakers: Rabbi Beverly Magidson, Rev. James Kane,
Imam Djafer Sebkhaoui

This dinner and dialogue is co-sponsored by the Church of the Immaculate Conception Amazing God Team and the Interfaith Community of Schenectady. 

Call the IFC office (370-2150) or the Church of the Immaculate Conception (399-9168) for reservations.

I am a regular attendee at the IFC dinner meetings and am always encouraged and stimulated by the content of the presentations. Each year they focus one meeting specifically on the interrelatedness of the three Abrahamic faiths, and while I have never been disappointed, this particular program seems to be both timely and stimulating.

If anyone would like to go but is hesitant to drive, I have room for three adults in my car and am willing to pick up and deliver... just call me at 393-5047 and give me a couple of days notice so I can plan a route.

Miranda Rand

Adult Education

"Living the Questions" on Sunday Morning

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

This Lenten Study includes DVD presentation followed by small group study exploring beyond the traditions and rote theologies in which so many people and local churches seem to be stuck. The purpose of the study is to help participants discover the relevance of Christianity in the 21st Century and what a meaningful faith can look like in today's world.

We meet on Sunday mornings at 9am
in the parish office for our study.


The "Disciple" Bible Study on Thursday Morning

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

The Mormons: Sundays at 5:00pm.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of America's fastest growing religions, and its influence circles the globe. Yet the birth of Mormonism and its history is one of America's great neglected narratives. 
 Lent Series
We will view an in-depth documentary about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, produced by PBS Frontline & American Experience. The presentation does not try to promote the faith, but it takes an unbiased path to explain the Mormon religion from a historical perspective. The aim will be to compare beliefs and practices of Mormonism with those of the Episcopal Church in an attempt to better understand our own beliefs.  The presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney offers particular timeliness to an exploration and discussion of the Mormon faith. 
We will meet on Sunday evenings at 5pm in the church for our study on March 11th, 18th, 25th and April 1st.

Contact Father James for more information. 
Office: 346-6241

A Word from Father James

Let me make a few suggestions concerning the Bible in our homes. The best course of daily Bible readings can be found in our own Book of Common Prayer beginning on page 936. "The Daily Office Lectionary" would allow you to read most of the Bible over a two year period (leaving out passages containing long lists of names, esoteric places, etc.)

For those times when the family does sit down together for a meal, the "Order of Worship of the Evening" (p. 109, Book of Common Prayer) offers a wonderful opportunity for a brief liturgical act at the dinner table. Use a real Bible, not the bulletin insert from last Sunday's Eucharst) for the Scripture reading. There's something very powerful about worship and the dinner table!

Finally, another natural time to share the Bible with children is at bedtime. In this case I would suggest using the book of Bible stories for children. (I would be happy to suggest such a book for your use.) Ideally, you could choose stories for reading that would familiarize your child with the Bible readings they will hear on Sunday. In that way children begin to make connections with what happens in church and what happens in the home and in their lives.
I believe that our perception of the Bible is shaped for adults and children by the way we see it used in the congregation and in the home. No amount of teaching about the Bible is going to replace the experience of seeing the Bible placed at the center of life in the congregation and in the home.


Bob Acosta

A 19th Century Approach to the St. Stephen's Organ

Like all pipe organs, the organ at St. Stephen's requires a source of pressurized air to play.  At St. Stephen's this is provided by an electric turbine.  However, in the 19th century this would have been provided by a large air bellows operated by a hand lever which fed a large accordion-like reservoir.  For an organ to play you needed both an organist and an individual to pump the organ. 

The organ pumper was a dedicated individual, hid from view behind a screen or inside the organ chamber, who was physically fBob Acostait enough to provide the considerable effort to keep the organ chamber pressurized.   Work breaks were allowed only during sermons and when the choir was not singing during rehearsals.  There was an indicator on the organ monitoring the level of pressurized air present in the organ reservoir.  If the organist saw that this level was dropping too far, he would activate a "bellows alarm" which would alert the pumper to increase his effort.  This situation would arise typically for full organ situations when many pipes were speaking and using up wind. 

The organ pumper was present at church services, organist practice sessions, choir rehearsals, weddings, funerals, and other events requiring the organ.  Typically, the organ pumper also received a salary.  Presumably, this individual was interested in this line of work; in fact at least one organ pumper became a noted organ builder, Ernest Skinner.

There is a You Tube video which would give one a better appreciation for this activity which you are invited to see at  The organ is one built by the Boston firm of Hook and Hastings in 1893 and is of a size approximate to that at St. Stephen's.  

Sunday School Winter - Spring 2012 


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)

Effective the first Sunday in March and continuing until the education program restarts after the summer break, there will not be child care during the 10:15 service, with the exception of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. While we recognize the need for this service, our current experience is that it is seldom used. Very often the teenagers who staff the chapel on Sunday mornings are also involved in the mission trips to the Schoharie Valley and thus are torn between staying with the possibility of having no children to take care of, and going with their peers to take part in meaningful manual labor.
During the spring and summer we will be looking at establishing a roster of adults who would be willing to provide this service on a once-a-month (or less frequent) basis. If you are interested and willing, please contact Miranda Rand (393-5047).


Godly Play (Grades Pre-K-6 @ 10:15 in the Tower) -
Miranda Rand
(This group leaves with their teachers after the Rector's children's message, and return to participate in the sacrament with their families.)

This group uses the Godly Play curriculum which is based on core Bible stories told in the oral tradition with manipulable props. The curriculum was designed by an Episcopal priest who developed it while working as a chaplain in a children's hospital. The children are encouraged to use their imagination when they respond to the stories through art work or journaling.  

During the Season of Lent we will be using a new series of stories called
The Faces of Easter. This series connects the key moments in Jesus' life and ministry through placing a different picture of Jesus each week on a roll-out purple and white underlay strip. By briefly retelling the story from the week before, when the new story is presented, the children see the connections between each stage of Jesus' development.


Christian Education Director


The schedule of stories for March are as follows:

  • March 4: Jesus' Birth and Growth
  • March 11: Jesus is Lost and Found
  • March 18: Jesus is Baptized and Blessed by God 
  • March 25: Jesus Desert and Discovery Experience


Grades 7-12 @ 9:00am in the Chapel-
George Woodzell & Peter Nelson

Their curriculum flows from hands-on mission work with the SchoharieValley recovery effort to discussions of social justice issues and Christian reactions to world affairs.  

Anyone who is interested in Godly Play is
welcome to come up and observe on any Sunday morning. 
Anyone with questions about either group is
welcome to call me at home. 


May your Lenten journey be filled with blessings.

First Friends Nursery School News

Mission Statement: First Friends Nursery School offers children learning experiences in a happy, relaxed and motivating atmosphere. A young child learns through play. At First Friends, we offer a carefully planned, balanced routine for playing, learning, exploring and enjoying school. Hands-on activities promote learning in important developmental areas. Short, focused large group activities are alternated with playtime, small group, and individual learning times. Children are encouraged to make friends, feel secure, be happy, and most importantly, have fun!


Valentine's Day


First Friends Nursery School

They are now enrolling students for next year. If you are interested, or know someone looking for a preschool, give Laura Bynon a call.

Tributes, Thank You's and Recognition

pThank you for your 2011 gift to the work of the Schenectady City Ministry in the amount of $500!

Your support for SICM works in many ways. Thanks to you we can not only provide direct, effective assistance to those in need, but also work on changing policies to address some underlying situation for individuals and our community. Your support encourages us to keep addressing critical concerns and issues in our community, and seeking ways to respond.

In looking towards the 45th anniversary, we know with your support we can look forward to celebrating more anniversaries. Thank you again for your support.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Phillip N. Grigsby


A Note to the Episcopal Church Women's Group:

apfThank you for your recent donation of jewelry, cat food, mats, paper goods, bleach and household cleaners valued at approximately $200. We are truly blessed with the support of animal lovers like you. These types of contributions are very important to the Animal Protective Foundation because they allow for budgeted funds to be spent on other programs.

Your support is critical to our work. We thank you very much for understanding that, and for acting on behalf of our animals.


Rosalie R. Ault
Executive Director

1. There are only two fast days in our Church Calendar. What are they?

2. Why do we call Sundays following Ash Wednesday Sundays in Lent rather than Sundays of Lent?

3. In addition to replacing the Gloria in excelsis with the Kyrie during Lent, there is a word noticeably absent from hymns and the liturgy during Lent. What is it?

4. Satan presents Our Lord with three temptations in the wilderness. What are they?

5. What did the word Lent originally mean?

6. The Prayer Book forbids the celebration of the Eucharist on what days?

Ministry Updates

St. Stephen'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.
 The Immortal Life

March book:  "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot


April book:  "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier" by Thad Carhart                   

We recently received some Food Pantry totals from 2011 - 43,486 individuals were served and this equaled 391,374 meals provided. Your donations on Sunday mornings help to serve a continuing group of folks in need (including some of Deacon Pat's girls). There is a need for volunteers at the Pantry. Do you have one hour a month, a few hours a week, or a regular day that you can volunteer? Call Gail Van Valkenburgh at 346-4035.

Saturday, April 21 will be a SICM Day of Service. Those of you who helped on the "Day of Service" last year will remember that we had a great group helping on a variety of projects around the community. Help was provided at BNI, Bethesda House, Damien Center and the Food Pantry. We painted, picked up outside, washed windows and filled Easter Baskets for children who come to the Pantry. More details coming next month.

Amy, Eunice and Marti 

St. Stephen's Shop News

          St. Patrick's Day is coming!
The Shop has a wonderful assortment of
Magnets, Wind Chimes, Cards and Sun Catchers
all waiting for you to take home.

Stop by and say hello to Claudia, Louise and Lily,
the shop is open after both services.


Thanks for your support, Marilyn

Important Dates for St. Stephen's!

Happy Birthday Wishes and Blessings Go out to:

03/01 - Brody Riordon
03/04 - Ethan Brooks-McDonald
03/06 - Paul PraticoBirthday
03/10 - Diane Bengtson Kilbourn
           Logan Olberg
03/11 - Norma Piscitelli
03/12 - Kathryn Hoffman
03/13 - Shriley Voelker
03/15 - Roseann Caruso
03/16 - Budd Mazurek
03/22 - Joanne Frank
     Susan Townsend
     Darlene Antoine
03/23 - Marti Spang
03/27 - Linda Emaelaf
03/29 - Tracy Ormsbee
03/30 - Ralph May


March 2012











Sunday's Service
8:00am & 10:15am 

Morning Prayer
Sundays @ 7:00am
Mon-Sat @ 9:00am 

& Healing
Thursdays @

Choir Practice








Lenten Study


Polishing of
the Brass
9:30 am








Girl Scout Sunday-10:15

Lenten Study
5:00 pm 

Vestry Meeting
7:30 pm 

Book Club
Meeting 7:00
@ Feyrers' house








Lenten Study
5:00 pm

Parish Council
Meeting - 7:30pm 

Daughters of the
King Meeting
10:00 am


Nothing Going on


Nothing Going on








Lenten Study
5:00 pm 

Worship Committee
Meeting - 7:30 pm 


Polishing of
the Silver
9:30 am

Morning Prayer - Monday thru Saturday @ 9:00am and Sunday @ 7:00am
Sunday Services - 8:00am & 10:15am
Sunday School - 9:00am
Sunday Adult Education - 9:00am
Communion & Healing - Thursdays @ 10:00am
Kerygma Bible Study - Wednesdays @ 7:30pm
Vestry Meeting - March 12th @ 7:30pm
Book Club - March 13th @ 7:00pm
Daughters of the King Meeting - March 21st @ 10:00am
Parish Council Meeting - March 19th @ 7:30pm
Worship Committee Meeting - March 26th @ 7:30pm
Lenten Study - Sundays @ 5:00pm

St. Stephen's Website

Do you know that St. Stephen's Church has had a website for about twenty years? It has changed a bit since those early days, but the purpose remains the same: to be a source of information for members, and to be a window on the world of people who are looking for a church home.

In the attempt to keep it up-to-date, it is edited frequently.
If you haven't been there in a while, please pay a call:
You'll find lots of "stuff" there, hopefully stuff that presents a picture of our parish that is accurate and attractive.

Our links page has many sites related to the  Episcopal Church, but also a listing of a few of the websites created by our members. If you are a member and have a website, we would dearly like to include you in our listing.

In the meantime, if you have any comments about the website, please let me know.

Chris Jones

Answers to Transept Trivia for Lent

1. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (BCP p. 17). Back to Questions

2. All Sundays are celebrations of the Resurrection and cannot be penitential days. They are not part of the "40 Days of Lent". Back to Questions

3. Alleluia. Back to Questions

4. to make stones into bread; to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple and be saved by angels; and to rule over the kingdoms of this world. Back to Questions

Answerfive5. Spring; the verb 'lengthen' also comes from the same root, since in Spring, the days lengthen once again. Back to Questions

6. Good Friday and Holy Saturday (BCP pp. 275, 282, 283).

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

Miranda Rand, Christian Education Direcor

Robert Acosta, Director of Music
Cathleen Knauf, Administrative Assistan

The Vestry
Sr. Warden, Linda Emaelaf
Jr. Warden, Scott Kilbourn, 393-4701

Class of 2012:
Michael Dixon
Jim Ormsbee

Peter Nelson

Class of 2013:
Erin Cohen

Brian Riordon
 Treasurer: Denise Crates

Class of 2014
Carole Merrill Mazurek
Joe Palko
Stan Jakubowski
The Parish Office:
Our office is located at 1229 Baker Avenue.
The telephone number is (518) 346-6241
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 Cathleen Knauf