Website Edition - February, 2013

Lenten Spiritual Activity: Walking the Labyrinth







1. First, remember... there is no wrong way or right way to walk a labyrinth at any time.
2. Before starting to walk, spend a little time while still standing still. Allow your awareness to be with your body.
3. Take some deep breaths, inhaling deep into the belly. Put your full attention on the sensation of breathing. Then allow the breath to return to normal and notice it going on its own for a little while. Now bring your awareness to your body, noticing how your body feels as you are standing, and becoming aware of all the sensations going on in your body. Be aware of what is inside, possibly reflect on where you are in your life... bringing anything that may be burdensome to you or something you wish to receive an answer for into your conscious mind before beginning your walk... requesting spiritual guidance. Another option is to just be open to whatever comes, having faith that God will provide what is needed.
4. Begin walking. The entrance to the labyrinth is opposite the library courtyard doors. Walk at a relaxed, fairly slow but normal pace. When you walk a labyrinth, you meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you shift your direction you also shift your awareness from right brain to left brain. This is one of the reasons the labyrinth can induce receptive states of consciousness.
5. The walk to the center is a quieting of the mind... calming yourself, releasing all tension and conscious thoughts... opening yourself to receiving an answer or releasing whatever you need to... trusting and having faith that the labyrinth will assist you in this process.
6. Stop along the way if you wish and proceed again when you are ready.
7. After you reach the center, you may allow your attention to stay there for awhile, becoming aware of
what is inside you... whatever you are feeling in your heart... remaining in the center for as long as you
8. The walk back out from the center can be seen as returning to one's life... with a new approach toward
whatever question or issue you brought into the labyrinth... or new guidance received... feeling a sense
of empowerment from the experience.

Each person's walk is a personal experience. How one walks and what one receives differs with each walk.
Some people use the walk for clearing the mind and centering. Others enter with a question or concern. The
time in the center can be used for receiving, reflecting, meditating, or praying, as well as discovering our own
sacred inner space. What each person receives can be integrated on the walk out. Your walk can be a healing
and sometimes very profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk. Each time is different.

Greetings from Father James

Dear Friends,

This year Easter almost is as early as it can be! Therefore, Ash Wednesday is also very early – February 13th! The weeks before Lent are a good time to decide what your Lenten discipline will be this year. As I was growing up in church the emphasis was on giving up something for Lent. One problem with this is that we often get so caught up in trying to keep our Lenten denial, that we lose track of the true reason we are doing it. Another problem is that we can perform the denial for the praise of others, and thus rob ourselves of that which we seek: true intimacy with God.

There is another way to observe a holy lent. Instead of giving up, we can take on such activities as weekday Eucharist’s or participation in a Lenten study group. This year we have increased Lenten opportunities by adding additional spiritual study series. Increasing the amount of time spent in reading the Bible and other religious books, in meditation and prayer, and in doing extra work to help the poor and needy - are all worthwhile forms of Lenten discipline. Taking on additional activities during Lent is an excellent way to prepare for Christ's resurrection, because these are the very activities which were such an important part of Jesus' ministry. How many times in the Gospels can you remember Jesus urging his disciples to give up something? But think of the times Jesus urges his followers to feed the hungry and tend to the needy.

Up to a point Ash Wednesday is supposed to make us uncomfortable as we contemplate our sinful condition. However, this stark, penitential day, the first of the 40 days of Lent does not have to be the beginning of a time of negativity, when we dwell on denial. I am urging you today to consider taking on a spiritual activity, rather than giving up something. The difference between giving up and taking on is that taking on an activity is a creative act; giving up something is not. But don't think that taking on something for Lent is easier or requires less pain than giving up something. Taking on an activity is every bit as much a discipline as self-denial, but is more like the mother's joy at birth which overshadows the pains that precede it.

So Lent is not only a time for us to remember the shortness and frailty of human life, a time reflecting on our tendency to sin; it is also a time of spiritual refreshment and new commitment to Christ.

We shall not be unduly depressed, for we are children of God, in Christ. Lent is a time when all we are called to do is to be who we are created to be. We need only be human, a simple matter of being in relationship with God and other human beings.


Upcoming dates


Don't miss the traditional Pancake Supper on Tuesday, February 12th! It will take place at St. Stephen's, marking the last time for festivities before Lent begins, on Wednesday! This year we will be in the new parish hall!

Menu includes pancakes, sausages and a beverage. The price includes all you can eat!

Bring your family, your friends and your appetite! Volunteers are needed to help cook, serve and clean up.



Ash Wednesday is February 13th with the Imposition of Ashes and Eucharist as follows:

7:00 a.m.
12:00 noon
7:30 p.m.

Services will be held at various times so that each Christian can observe the beginning of this penitential period which leads us into our celebration on Easter Day. Barring illness, every Christian certainly will be in church on Ash Wednesday to begin his/her disciplined preparation for a meaningful celebration of Easter.


in the Parish Hall of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 1935 The Plaza, Schenectady, 12309

Friday, February 15th, 5 pm - 8 pm

Fine Art Photography exhibit by local artist, Ann Norsworthy-Rigley. “Traditions & Foundations", a collection of images reflecting historic sites and unique views of local landmarks as presented in Ms. Norsworthy-Rigley's contemplative and dynamic photographic style. Also on view, a comprehensive catalog of prior works. 10% of all sales benefit SICM, Schenectady Inner City Ministry. Admission: Non-perishable food item. Live music, food and drink. Contact the church office, 346-6241, or Ann

Opportunities for Spiritual Growth in Lent


Thursday Mornings: For many, the Season of Lent is a period of healing - - spiritually, emotionally, relationally and physically. The Sacrament of Healing is offered as a part of the Eucharist at 10:00 am. It involves the Laying on of Hands and anointing with Holy Oil of Unction.

Sunday Eucharists in Lent: The Prayerbook gives many liturgical observances that are especially appropriate for Lent. Each Sunday in Lent will be using the penitential elements of the liturgy, including using Rite I.

Sunday Morning Education – From Jesus to Christ (see education section of this newsletter)

Sunday Evening – simple bread and soup supper with spiritual

Wednesday Evening/Thursday Morning Bible Study – (see education section of this newsletter)

Fridays in Lent - Stations of the Cross: 'Station' is any place in the church where, during a solemn procession, there is pause for a prayer. 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 will be placed around the church for Lent and on Fridays ‘Station’ booklets will be placed in the back of the church. These booklets will lead the participant through each station in a meditative way. Please call the parish office if you wish to experience this tradition.

Throughout the Week – Walking the Labyrinth (A full description is listed on front page). Lent affords us a good opportunity to explore areas of our liturgical tradition that not widely used in our church.


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 toward Easter, please feel free to contact the parish clergy. A short brochure describing this sacrament can be found on the Welcome Table in the parish hall.

Local Opportunities


CRTC: ecumenical theological education, support for clergy, training for ministry, and resourcing services for congregations.

Do you know about CRTC scholarships? In partnership with your church board or denomination, we could pay up to half the cost of your next CRTC course! Contact us to apply today!

Nine Paths Lead to Home: An Enneagram and Spiritual Growth Workship, Radha Lion, Saturday, Feb. 23, 9 am - 3 pm, Union Presbyterian Church, This 9-point system explores your personality type through small group conversation, personal reflection and art; see how it can help you and others on the journey of personal/spiritual growth. $75 by Jan. 23: $90 thereafter. Reg. deadline: Feb. 6.

Coin & Kingdom: Would Jesus Toss Us Out Today?, Rev. Dr. Norm Tellier, First United Methodist, Sch’dy, Saturday, Mar. 3, 9am-3pm. For all who manage money in the church. $75 by Feb. 1; $85 thereafter. Registration deadline: Feb. 14.

Finding Your Calcutta, Gregg Barrett, Mar. 16, 10am-4pm. How do we discover where it is God calls us to serve? Journalist Greg Barrett continues the conversation that Shane Claiborne started last June, bringing us the real-life story of the Good Samaritan. Hear the gospel come alive with stories from your own neighborhood. A day of inspiration and surprise. $60 by Feb. 15; $75 thereafter. $10 for age 25 and under; Reg. Deadline: Feb. 28

Social Media for Churches: The Why & How, Rev. Dr. Tim Coombs & Rev. Dr. Michelle Bogue-Trost, Apr. 12, 9am-3pm, Liverpool United Methodist, Apr.13, 9am-3pm; Capital Region location tbd. Does social media ever seem like a different world? Why does the church need Facebook, Pinterest, texting and Twitter to communicate in today's digital age? Beginner and advanced level learning in this workshop on the how and why. $75 by Mar. 15: $90 thereafter. Reg. deadline: Mar. 27.

DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER MATTHEW FOX, Occupy Christianity: A New Reformation, Apr. 19, 7-8:30 pm, First Unitarian Society, Sch'dy, Apr. 20, 9am-3pm, St. George's Episcopal Ch., Sch'dy, Come hear Fox's call to reawaken the biblically-rooted tradition we now call Creation Spirituality; we will also talk about Saint Hildegard how she can help to guide us to an authentic Christianity. $105 by Mar. 22; $125 thereafter. Registration deadline: Apr. 3.

From Creation to Re-Creation: An Indoor-Outdoor Retreat, Apr. 29 - May 1, Fowler Camp & Retreat Center. Spend 3 days and 2 nights exploring scripture and the beauty of the Adirondacks; Hike, canoe and kayak during the days; in the evenings, reflect on humanity's role in creation through story, discussion and worship, while enjoying the comfort and amenities of Chi Rho House. $395 per person. All facility fees included; breakfast and lunch served at Chi Rho. Reg. deadline: Apr. 15.

Register online at or by phone at 518-462-2470. Watch our website and our Facebook page for information on these and many other courses available in 2013. Scholarships and group discounts available for most classes.

Youth Education at St. Stephen’s Winter 2013

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.)

Having enjoyed Meg Dominguez’ presentation on the stars on January 6, Godly Play sessions continued with a timeline of the events of Jesus’ birth and very early life, from the annunciation through the flight into Egypt. The story is based on a book by Madeline L’Engle, The Glorious Impossible, using Giotto’s Sistine Chapel paintings for illustrations.

We finished January with a couple of parables.

In February we will study Jesus’ wilderness experience with the Evil One, celebrate Chinese New Year, and start our Lenten series which traces Jesus’ life and ministry from birth through death and resurrection.

Contact Information:
Miranda Rand
George Woodzell
Peter Nelson

Youth Group

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

George Woodzell and Peter Nelson most recently used the Nicene Creed and the Confession as topics for discussion, along with some deep conversation about the word dichotomy – what does it mean, how do we use it, etc.

February will bring more discussion (George has a genius for finding interesting topics), Teen Worship on alternative Sundays, and a visit to the Hindu Cultural Center on Albany Shaker Road in Albany, for a tour and a short introduction to the practice of Hinduism.

Adult Education

Sunday Morning Adult Education: From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians

Drawing upon historical evidence that has created a revolution in New Testament scholarship, this course challenges familiar assumptions and conventional notions about Christian origins. Archaeological finds have yielded new understandings of Jesus' class and social status; fresh interpretations have transformed earlier ideas about the identity of the early Christians and their communities. Through engaging, on-camera interviews with twelve scholars-New Testament theologians, archaeologists, and historians-the series presents their contributions to this intellectual revolution. Together they represent a range of viewpoints, a diversity of faiths, and a shared commitment to bring new ways of thinking about Christianity.

February 3 – This class examines how Judaism and Roman rule, Pax Romana or "Roman peace," shaped Jesus' life. Jesus was an ordinary Jewish resident of this time, but new archaeological findings show that he was probably not the humble village peasant often portrayed. Nazareth, where he was born and raised, was a suburb of the major city Sepphoris. As a Jew, Jesus was influenced by the diversity and the tensions characteristic of Judaism at that time.

February 10 - Jesus was most likely arrested and executed by Roman authorities whose principal concern was to keep the peace. The Romans had little tolerance for those it judged disruptive of the Pax Romana, punishing them in many ways, including crucifixion. The death of Jesus was a Roman act; there was little if any notice taken by Jewish people. Jesus was another victim of the Pax Romana. It is a stark ending, and it leaves some important questions. Jesus was born before 4 b.c.e. and died around 30 c.e. ("of the common era," the equivalent of a.d.). The timeline is short, but the historical scale is large.

February 17- This class explores the period after the crucifixion of Jesus and traces the beginnings of the Jesus Movement, in those early years before it was called Christianity. It began as a sect within Judaism. Along the way, the early Christians began to branch out and to spread their message to non-Jews or gentiles (meaning "nations").

February 24 - Around 50 c.e., the Apostle Paul travelled away from the traditional centers of the Jesus Movement and began to found new churches in Greek cities. His letters to these fledgling congregations mark the first writings of the New Testament. Meanwhile, expectations about the coming of the Kingdom of God would culminate in a catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome from 66-70 c.e., ending in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple-the center of Jewish spiritual life. The traumatic failure of this revolt would dramatically affect the future for Jews and Christians.

All classes are held on Sunday mornings between 9am and 10am in the Conference Room. The rector will be the discussion leader.

Wednesday Evening & Thursday Morning: Community of Friends

Listening to Scripture: Strategies for Interpreting the Bible. The series of strategies that this course asks participants to undertake is carefully designed to enhance our ability to listen to the Bible on its own terms. We want to listen to what it once said to the audiences that read it first. Yet at the same time we shall keep front and center the very reason we bother to read the Bible at all: to understand what it means for us now.

February 6 & 7 - Identifying Oral and Literary Forms
February 13 & 14 - Analyzing the Structure
February 20 & 21 - Investigating Words and Phrases
February 27 & 28 - Putting It All Together

All classes are held on Thursday mornings between 10:45 and noon and again on Wednesday evenings
between 7:30 and 9:00 in the Vestry Room. The rector will be the discussion leader.

Between Athens…….and Jerusalem

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

Tuesday Mornings 10:30-Noon

February 5 Rome, the Stoics, and the Rule of Law. The Stoics found in language something that would separate humanity from the animate realm, and that gave Rome a philosophy to civilize the world.

February 12 The Stoic Bridge to Christianity. The Jewish Christians, Hellenized or Orthodox, defended a monotheistic source of law.

February 19 Roman Law—Making a City of the Once-Wide World. Roman development of law based on a conception of nature, and of human nature, is one of the signal achievements in the history of civilization.

February 26 The Light Within—Augustine on Human Nature. Thoughts and ideas from the fathers of the early Christian Church culminated in St. Augustine, who explores humanity's capacity for good and evil.

Thank-you's and Recognition


To Marilyn Humphrey for her outstanding help with setting up the Epiphany pot luck lunch. To the Magi who made a dramatic entrance to the strains of We Three Kings! To Father James who helped lead the singing. To all the members of the congregation who came out to enjoy food, friendship, and fun

~Miranda Rand, Christian Education Director

Happy New Year!!! I wanted to thank everyone for their hard work and support over the last month.The sale of the Christmas cards, which were made by the ECW, was very successful in our support of the outreach ministries. We raised $280 in monetary donations for Our Little Roses Ministries in Honduras along with the wish list items that were collected.

We also raised $295 for the Joan Nicole Prince Home in Scotia.

Thanks again for your generosity, Claudia

Anniversaries and Birthdays - February

Feb. 8 Patricia Jones Feb 23rd Mitchell Rigley
Feb. 10th Grace Strong Feb. 24th Pauline Northrop
  Donald Regula Feb. 25th Joan Halstead
Feb.12th Samuel Koch Feb. 28th Liz Pratico
Feb. 13th Dawn Rizzo    
Feb. 14th Marilyn Causey Weddings:
Feb.18th Ben Boese Feb. 7th Paul & Allison de Kanel
  Jane Tatge Feb. 20th James & Lisa McDonald
Feb. 19th Mary Alexander    

St. stephen's 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, Scott Kilbourn

Class of 2013: Treasurer: Denise Crates

Class of 2014: Carole Merrill-Mazurek

Class of 2015:
Jack Feyrer, Bill Frank, Jim Syta

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
Facebook Page:!/pages/St-Stephens-Episcopal-Church-Schenectady-NY/239025559532317?fref=ts

The Messenger is published September - June.

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