The Messenger

St. Stephen's Church
September, 2012

Dear Friends,

In this issue of the Messenger you will find a time and talent pledge sheet. Please fill it out and if you need extra copies, they can be found in the Nave Extension.

I believe that God calls every one of us to some ministry; the trouble for us is to be open to what that calling might be.
One of the most compelling sermons I've ever heard was given by the senior pastor at an inner-city Gospel Church one cold January day. I arrived late with several friends; we were ushered up to the front as the music began. Though it was cold outside, the building's interior was filled with warmth and energy. I could feel it as the preacher invited us to stand and sing.

As he began to preach, a sense of anticipation filled the room. I had heard about this man and this community of faith led by him. "The message I want to share is familiar to us," he said. "Brothers and sisters, the theme for today's sermon has to do with selling out? Jesus says that if we are going to be his followers, we need to sell out and go with him?" "Amen...Amen....Amen" was heard throughout the room.

The preacher continued, "Let each of you lead the life which the Lord has assigned to you, and in which God has called you. Jesus has called us and wants everything from us. We know the struggles. Yes, Lord, you are our only hope."

As I looked around, I became increasingly convinced of this community's complete trust in Jesus, the one who saves. These people lived in very trying circumstances. Poverty, violence and broken promises marked their days. But this Sunday - that reminder that Jesus calls us to do his work - those words gave them food for their journey.

I hope this invitation to do God's work is also refreshing for us. So often it is just the opposite. Let me make a few points to remember the next time a parish leader is on the phone asking you to consider an activity of our congregation.

Nobody is called to do everything. God gives everyone gifts for building up the body of Christ and God expects all of us to be responsive to that call. Just because some are not responsive, doesn't mean a few of us are to do it all.

We, individually, are responsible to God for God's call in our lives. When something is presented to us, it is up to us to decide with God (through prayer) if we have the gift for the task, and if we will respond to God's call, or not. There should be no guilt trips, no coercing. A "No" is as holy as a "Yes" if considered prayerfully.

Our community at St. Stephen's needs the creative use of our members’ gifts if we are to follow our mission and to grow. To allow our gifts to go unused would be disastrous - and maybe even death. Bonhoeffer said that the community that exists with unemployed members will die because of it.

The prayer for those of us seeking to follow the Lord, is this: Lord, help us to discern your will for us, and when we are asked, help us to 'sell out' for the church's sake. AMEN.


Becoming a Member of St. Stephen's

Inquirers’ classes are a basic four week course which is held in an informal atmosphere and taught by the rector. For those who are new to the Episcopal Church, or looking for a new spiritual home, this course will provide an introduction to the Church -- its history, beliefs, worship, and work in the world.

Or, if you were confirmed earlier in life, and wish to renew your commitment at an adult level, consider this course as a part of your continuing Christian education. The course is required for all who wish to be confirmed or received into the church.

These classes will be held on Sunday afternoons at noon in the Vestry Room beginning September 16th.

Parish Faire and Homecoming Picnic

Letter from Father James

After Two Years the Parish Faire and Homecoming Picnic Resume

We will be having the Parish Faire and Picnic to begin the year. The Faire will take place on September 9th at 9:00 a.m. following the early service and again during the coffee hour following the 10:15 a.m. Eucharist. There will be a table set up for each activity of the parish and a chance to sign up for each. There will be refreshments at 9 a.m., and at 11:30 a.m. Also, the narrative results of the parish survey will be available.

And then on September 16th the Parish Picnic will be held. Our chefs will be cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. We ask families to bring a dish to share and to wear your picnic clothes. Sign ups for the picnic can be found in the Nave Extension.

We are a parish family, and as such, each one of us of every age has a responsibility to share in the life of the family. The possibilities are numerous as are the possibilities of avoidance under pressure of time and other commitments. I urge all members of the parish to set apart some time, however small, to participate in the life of St. Stephen's beyond our worship on Sunday morning. The Parish Faire is intended to allow all members and visitors of the church to share in small group activities of the congregation.

As we begin a new program year, the vestry and the parish council encourages the congregation to think about the way we spend our time. Here are a few simple suggestions that can help to structure our schedule in the months ahead.

1. Make worship a weekly priority.

2. Commit yourself to regular study through varied church school classes or Bible studies.

3. Look for opportunities where you can become personally involved in serving others.

Seminar of Theological Reflection

A Seminar of Theological Reflection on the
Great Ideas of the Western World

Tuesday Mornings 10:30-Noon
Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church
1229 Baker Avenue Schenectady, NY 346-6241

Between Athens…and Jerusalem: A Theological “Great Books” Discussion

What is the meaning of life? How do you define a just society? How should political systems work in order to best serve the will of the people? Can humans know whether the claim "God exists" is true or not?

If so, how? If not, why not? Are these questions actually useful?

This course is intended to introduce participants to theological reflection on the Great Ideas of the Western World from ancient Greece to more contemporary studies. Each class will begin with a lecture from “The Great Courses” series by Daniel Robinson via a video. Discussion will be focused on his topic for that week. Handouts, including some of the readings will be given out to participants in advance for preparation.

Dr. Robinson is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University. His doctorate was earned in neuropsychology! He is a fascinating speaker.

Classes will meet on Tuesday morning’s from10:30 – Noon and will begin on September 25th. Class size must be limited to 15 and St. Stephen’s members have priority, however, if there is room, the course will be opened to the larger community beginning Sept. 15th. Each class will meet in the Vestry Room. A sign-up sheet can be found in the Nave Extension and will be available at the Parish Faire.

Youth Education at St. Stephen's

Fall 2012

Godly Play (Grades Pre-K-6) - 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.)

Godly Play will continue as the curriculum of choice for students Pre-school through Grade 6. This year we will also be using some resources from Seasons of the Spirit – a lectionary-based curriculum that includes full color art posters. The Godly Play classroom will be immediately adjacent to the nursery to cut down on travel time to and from the sanctuary. Ann Rigley will continue as my storytelling partner. We will start with a 4-week series on Creation.

September 16: Planet Earth Sunday
September 23: Humanity Sunday
September 30: Blessing of the Animals Sunday and the story of St. Francis
October 7: Creation: God’s 7-day Miracle
October 6 (Saturday) 10:00am: Father James will bless our animals on the church lawn.

I look forward to fall’s happenings, and to seeing everyone, young and old, again very soon.

Many blessings,

Ms. Miranda, Christian Education Director

Godly Play (Grades 7-12 @ 9:00am) - George Woodzell & Peter Nelson

We are excited to be starting a new church school season in our beautiful new building. The Teen Lounge already looks settled and inviting with comfy sofas and bean bag chairs. George Woodzell and Peter Nelson will continue to work with youth in Grades 7-12. Last year they joined work parties in Schoharie County and designed their own worship service. I wonder what the kids will choose to do this year? George keeps everyone connected with weekly emails and Facebook posts – so be sure to request friendship at the St. Stephen’s Youth Facebook page and to give George your current email address. George and Peter meet at 9:00am each week.

Child Care will be available during the 10:15am worship service. Ellen Ormsbee will be the caregiver. If you need child care during the 8:00am service or for the adult education hour, please let me know and I will do my best to fulfill your needs. My phone number and email address are in the church directory.

Adult Education

Elie Wiesel's Great Figures of the Bible:
Thursday Morning Community of Friends

Great Figures of the Bible: Legends and Legacies of our Biblical Heroes with human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel DVD series. Throughout the series Elie Wiesel will be our guide as we examine the complex and challenging characters from the Hebrew Bible from the first apple.

Classes will meet on Thursday morning’s from10:45 – Noon and will begin on September 20th for six weeks. Each class will meet in the Vestry Room. A sign-up sheet can be found in the Nave Extension and will be available at the Parish Faire.

Sunday Morning Adult Education:
“How the Bible Came To Be”

The Old and New Testaments represent the memory banks of the Jewish and Christian communities. But are they reliable? How carefully were the documents copied? What about before things were written down? Were writers telling us the truth? These are just a few of the questions which are explored in this four-part course which uses such aids as copies of ancient manuscripts and modern television techniques.

This class will meet in the Vestry Room
at 9:00am on Sunday mornings.

Education for Ministry

The Education for Ministry (EFM) Program is the theological education extension program of the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee designed for the laity. The course requires a one-year commitment and can be taken for four years, during which participants study the Old and New Testaments, church history, and twentieth century theology. The purpose is to provide lay members of the church with a comprehensive foundation for understanding and experiencing Christian faith. A special emphasis is on doing theological reflection on daily life issues. Students meet weekly in seminars led by trained mentors.

Classes will begin this fall and a sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire.

Bible Study on the Lord's Prayer

Beginning on Wednesday, September 19, a six-week Bible study on spirituality and the Lord's Prayer, "Lord, Teach Us to Pray" will be offered. The Lord's Prayer is among the greatest treasures of faith. This study explores the key phrases of the Lord's Prayer as they lead us to greater spirituality and growth.

This course will provide a good opportunity for anyone who has not done Bible study before, to learn in an informal small-group setting. Resource books will be made available for students, and we will use the resources of the parish library for additional reference as needed. Classes will meet on Wednesday evenings, from 7:30 to 9:00 in the Vestry Room of the parish hall. There will be a sign-up sheet in the back of the church until September 9, after which books will be ordered. Please come, and bring a friend. Deacon Pat will lead the study; contact her for further information.

Pat Jones

Music Corner - with Bob Acosta

On Thursday September 6, the choir returns to its weekly rehearsal schedule at 7:30 PM. Prior to this rehearsal, Fr. James has invited all choir members and anyone else interested in the choir, all are invited to a “Beginning of the Choir Season” get-together at 6:00 PM at the rectory. This will be an opportunity to become re-acquainted as well as, hopefully, to meet new members.

It is worth noting that this first choir rehearsal at 7:30 PM will take place in our new Music Room located in the new addition of the church.

The choir needs additional new members to continue fulfilling its role of leading the congregation in worship as well as providing inspiration through music. Accordingly, throughout this year there will be an ongoing emphasis in engaging others in the role of music at St. Stephens. I personally hope to converse with others in helping to foster a better understanding of what participation in the musical life of St. Stephens can bring.

For starters, plan on dropping by on the 6th of September, or give me a call at 229-7788 or drop me an email at
Bob Acosta

Thank You's & Kudos



Our super group of volunteers for Summer Lunch were great. Jerry Burrell Park was justas busy as previous summers, and one day we had Mayor McCarthy, some of the city council members and the press join us! The press coverage is good for the program, but it can be awkward filling lunch bags with a line of hungry children on one side and reporters and cameramen on the other. During our four day week we fed more than 600 children!

The Food Pantry continues to be busy. Thanks for your donations during the summer. We are starting to receive 2013 calendars in the mail, more than we can use. If you too receive extra calendars the pantry could use them. Please put them in our food basket and we will deliver them.

Getting to know St. Stephen's Members

Featuring – Linda Emaelaf (Vestry Senior Warden)

I was born in Schenectady, NY, and baptized in June 1955 at St. Stephens, so I’d venture to guess that I’m probably the longest standing active member of the parish. My parents, Dorothy and Stanley Wieczorek, were members of St. Stephen’s, and I was confirmed here in 1967. I grew up not far from the Church on the corner of McClellan St. and The Plaza, and attended Schenectady City Schools. Upon graduating from Linton High School in 1972, I went on to SUNY Plattsburgh, where I received a BA in Geography in 1975. While at college, I met and married my husband of 38 years, Belachew, an international student from Ethiopia. After college, we decided to settle in Schenectady, and I eventually got a job as an Administrative Assistant at General Electric in 1978. In 1980, after the birth of our son, Daniel, I reconnected with St. Stephen’s. Our daughter, Rebecca, was born in 1983. For many years, I tBelaught Sunday School at St. Stephen’s. I was also an active Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader for many years. My children grew up in St. Stephen’s, were both baptized and confirmed here, were active members of the Sunday School and Youth Group, and participated in many Work Camps.

Belachew and I have lived for 31 years on Garner Ave., just a few blocks from the Church. I have been on the Vestry since 2010, and I became Jr. Warden in 2011, and now Sr. Warden in 2012. I work in the Pension Department at the Main Plant at GE in Schenectady, and my husband owns Bell’s Auto Sales and Service on Freeman’s Bridge Road in Scotia. Our son, Daniel, was married in 2010 and now resides in Seattle, WA, with his wife, Michelle. Our daughter, Rebecca, lives in Lodi, NJ. When I’m not working or helping out my husband at his shop, I enjoy reading, particularly history and biographies, and spending time with friends and family.

Ministry Updates

Parish Visits:

Pastoral Care teams and “Visits” log

A vital ministry of our church is keeping in touch with those who are not able to worship with us on Sunday mornings. Some of our parishioners sign up to take the altar flowers to the homebound or those in nursing homes or hospitals; others make visits on their own.

With the end of summer approaching, we are resuming a schedule for pastoral care visits. Please consider being a part of this ministry to spend time with our absent members, sharing the beauty of our altar flowers to brighten their week. If you would be willing to do this once every other month, or even occasionally, that would be a great help. Speak to Richey Woodzell.

We will also have a “Visits” sheet at the back of the church. If you have visited an ill or elderly parishioner, please make a note of it there. If there are any concerns or needs, speak with Fr. James or Deacon Pat.

Altar Guild – New Members Needed!!

Come and join the Altar Guild. We need new members as soon as possible to serve in any way for the services. There are many ways to do this:

a.Prepare the Eucharist for Sunday services
b.Arrange Flowers
c.Fill candles with oil
d.Keep linens clean
e.Polish the brass and silver (with the group for Easter & Christmas)
f.Assist at Easter and Christmas with decorations

Teams A, B and C serve for one week at a time. There is a training period, usually for the first three months to guide new members.

Many or our members have retired because of illness, age, or other reasons; so we are reduced to a group of five. We need to have twelve members to function properly, so we are looking for seven new members.
September is a good time to decide how you would like to serve your church. Please pray about this choice. We appreciate any assistance that can be given.

With Thanks, June Russell

Episcopal Women’s Group


I hope everyone had a relaxing and rewarding summer. The weather was great for swimming and outdoor activities. Or when it got too hot, a good book and glass of something iced and sweet fit the bill. But as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” Fortunately, the second season of St. Stephen’s ECW will move in to fill the void left by the winding down of the summer season.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 25th at 7:00pm, so mark your calendars. The ECW’s second season will be held in the new parish hall. Did we ever think it would happen? I will provide refreshments for our first meeting.

So please bring yourself and friend for an evening of fun and fellowship. I would like for our first meeting to be an organizational meeting to map out the rest of the season, so please bring ideas on how to make St. Stephen’s ECW the place to be on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Also, if everyone could bring a canned good to benefit SICM it would be greatly appreciated.
I look forward to seeing you and hearing about your summer activities. If you have any questions before the meeting, please contact me

Thank you,
Claudia Jakubowski

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
Miranda Rand, Christian Education Director
Robert Acosta, Director of Music
Cathleen Knauf, Administrative Assistant,

The Vestry

Sr. Warden, Linda Emaelaf
Jr. Warden, Scott Kilbourn

Class of 2012: Michael Dixon, 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 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

The September calendar is on our website:


Wedding Anniversaries

Sept. 1st - Stephen Woodzel
Sept 11th - Sidney Woodcock
Sept. 12th - Juliette Syta
Sept. 14th - Linda Perregaux &
Bob Strong
Sept. 16th - Jo Ann Adams
Sept 17th - Angelique Anthony
Sept. 21st - Lily Holcombe &
Richard Morin
Sept. 23rd - Clark Gittinger
Sept. 26th - Maxwell Bailey
Sept. 27th - Mary Michelson &
MiKayla Preece
Sept. 28th - Tim Huggett

Sept 4th - Oto & Josephine Jones

Sept 7th - David & Roseann Caruso

Sept. 19th - Evan and Cynthia Love