Greetings from Father James!




Dear Friends,

I sat in the chapel having finished Morning Prayer and I was struck once again by how beautiful our Episcopal liturgy is written.  Today I recited:

Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

I will recite those words every day for the next fifty days and I will never tire of their poetry and truth.  I will recited the same prayers that I have recited for months and years. 

Earlier this week a friend who is Baptist asked me curiously, “Don’t you ever want to have variety in your worship?”  For a moment I felt like an ecclesiastical conservative, a creature of dull habit and unimaginative routine.

But this morning I emerge from the chapel with the words of thanksgiving still ringing in my ears:

We bless you for our creation, preservation
and all the blessings of this life;

The scripture readings and responses change day by day.  The prayers change by the day and week and season.  Yes, they are all written down, in a book of common prayer, but my spirit prays them anew each time.

It is not as if I am unacquainted with other ways of worship.  For several years I worshipped with the Quakers in silence.  I went to a Lutheran kindergarten and lived in Lutheran housing in seminary.  I have worshipped with Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists.  I have attended some very original, creative liturgy (if you can even call it ‘liturgy’).  And yet, I always come back to the words of our prayerbook.

There are two ways to live, wide or deep.  Sooner or later we have to decide whether and where we want to land.  We have to choose the people and the place we call home.  We have to choose how we want to pray.

Others may need much more variation in their worship.  But today I felt God touch my heart with the familiar words of Psalm 18.  That’s all the variety I need.

Peace,                                                                                                         James+

Youth Education at St. Stephen’s

Spring 2013












Godly Play – Post Easter Season
(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.)

During Lent we recreated the stories of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry and death, and celebrated his resurrection. In the weeks since, we have found ways to recreate the stories of his post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, focusing particularly on the story of Jesus helping the disciples with a large catch of fish on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. 
We told the story with the Godly Play manipulable figures, cooked fish fajitas, and built a boat with blocks to sit in and imagine ourselves in 1st century Palestine. 
During the month of May we will celebrate Cinco de Mayo and imagine ourselves again in 1st century Palestine as the disciples gathered for Pentecost.



Youth Group – May & June
(Grades 7-12 @ 9:00am) -
George Woodzell & Peter Nelson

George Woodzell continues to provide the youth group with articles for discussion from newspapers and magazines and to guide the conversation with his customary skill and humor. Karol Augspurger, a GE attorney and trained Kripalu yoga instructor, will visit on May 12 and 19 to lead the group in a lively yoga practice. Youth will participate in the CROP Walk on May 5 and provide entertainment for the picnic on June 9. They will soon be selling shares to raise funds for Workcamp, when you are approached, please give generously.
There will be no education classes on May 26, due to the Memorial Day weekend.
Our sessions will end for the season with a church-wide picnic lunch in Begley Hall following the 10:15 worship service on June 9.

Contact Information:
Miranda Rand
George Woodzell
Peter Nelson

Feast of Pentecost




The Feast of Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Festival in the Liturgical year, but it is not the end of anything, but the beginning of that new life in Christ.  In our prayer book Pentecost is properly designated as the fiftieth day of Easter    the celebration begins with the day of Resurrection and ends with the gift of the spirit to the Church.  That giving of the Spirit is to be understood as a resurrection appearance.

The import of Pentecost as the final Resurrection appearance is that through the gift of the Spirit, Christ's presence is forever insured for the community of the faithful.  This we indeed celebrate!

We will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 27th.  This feast is as important as Christmas or Easter and St. Stephen's is hoping to have everyone present for the celebration.  There will be a renewal of our Baptismal vows, especially appropriate on this day, and special music.  Please wear something red to commemorated the coming of the Holy Spirit “in tongues of flame”, and listen carefully as the gospel is read in over a dozen different languages!

Local Opportunities




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! 

ADDED BY POPULAR DEMAND:  Unity & Diversity in the Theology of the New Testament: New Testament III, Dr. Peter Bedford, May 7, 14, 21, 28 and June 4, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Scotia.  Explore the theological ideas and themes that unify the New Testament, as well as the ideas and themes over which the New Testament authors differ. Among the topics to be discussed will be various early Christian confessional formulae: Jesus as Son of Man, as Messiah, as Son of God, as Lord.  All are welcome to join in this advanced study; students should have completed some New Testament study before taking this course. A Lay Theological Education Program enrichment course.  Reg. deadline: Immediate

All's Well That Ends Well: The Transformative Work of Retirement, Alban consultant Larry Peers, May 8 & 9, St. Edward the Confessor, Clifton Park.   This workshop will provide  pastors with tools for practical and spiritual questions that lead 2-10 years into retirement; prepare your congregation and yourself.  $165 by April 10; $190 thereafter; Reg. deadline: Immediate 

SAVE THE DATE!  CRTC 2013 Spring Event aboard the Captain JP Cruise Line-- Monday, May 20, 2013, 6-9 pm.  Bring a team from your church and join the fun when CRTC casts off on the Captain JP Cruise Line in Troy.  Find "The Hidden Treasures of  Resourcing!"  $225 for your team of four; Ticket deadline: May 1. 
Faith Seeking Understanding- Introduction to Theology, Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast, Saturdays July 13 and 20, 9am - 3:30pm; Sundays July 14 and 21, 1- 5pm.  This course will be an introduction for those who want to learn more about the central theological tenets of the Christian Church.  A Lay Theological Education Program 20-hour core course.   $275 ($225 to audit); Reg. deadline June 27. 
Canoeing Through Creation, Rev. Kent Busman, 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9 through 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, Camp Fowler in Speculator, NY.  Enjoy the beauty of the earth and reflect upon your place in nature.  Discover how to live better live as stewards of God's good Creation.  $350  (Sorry, no discounts.); Reg. deadline: August 23.

Faith Shaping the Western World: Introduction to Church History,
Rev. Dr. James McDonald, 20 hours beginning 9/18 (6 Wednesday evenings and 2 Saturdays), St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Schenectady.  Survey the history of Western Christianity from the age of the apostles to the present day.  A Lay Theological Education Program core course; open to all.  $275, or $225 to audit; Reg. deadline: September 2

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.

Mr. Bob Acosta –

Choirs and the People Who Make Them Up





Choirs are made up of people who assemble together, rehearse, and produce the singing which takes the Sunday anthem from an abstract concept to a sonic reality.  No amount of hand waving or direction from the choir director can produce any useful sound in and of itself.  The essential component here has been and always will be the individuals comprising the chorus.

From time to time choir members may have to be away to visit relatives, go on a vacation, attend to business, or they may become ill.  This has the effect of changing the sound of the chorus simply because those producing the vocal tones are now absent.

Imagine if on a given Sunday a certain portion of the pipes in the organ were removed.  The resulting sound of the organ would change.

A versatile choir, which I feel St. Stephen's choir is, can adapt and accommodate such absences.  But it can become stressful, on occasion, to the members and detrimental to the morale of the group.

The answer...more choral members. With a larger pool of singers, this accommodation of absences will become a non-issue.

Please see a choir member or contact me if you have any information on this which you might share.



It feels good to give.
Blood donors report feeling a sense of great satisfaction after making their donation.
Why? Because helping others in need just feels good.
Red Cross

There will be a Red Cross Blood Drive in Begley Hall,
Friday, May 24th, between 1-6PM.

Donations are greatly appreciated and save lives! 
It is open to everyone so please recruit your friends and family!
Please contact Roseann Caruso at 688-9524 or go to‎ to schedule an appointment.

Ministry Updates




ECW Update

The ECW met on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 to assemble baby care kits for Church World Services. These kits provide assistance to mothers and their newborn babies in areas of extreme poverty or following a natural disaster. The ECW assembled the kits using items donated by St. Stephen's members. Many kits were assembled and packaged so that they can be taken by Richey and George to the distribution center in western New York. Attached are photos from the evening.






The ECW also discussed next month's wrap-up meeting. The group will be having a guest yoga instructor who will teach a chair yoga session to the group. The cost is $5.00 and all are welcome to join us. After the yoga session, we will have a potluck wrap up dinner to celebrate all of the hard work that was done by the members throughout the year. An important change is that the yoga session will begin at 6:00 rather than 7:00 on Tuesday, May 28th. And if you can't make the yoga session, please join us for the potluck. A sign-up sheet will be going around soon.
Finally, it was announced that Claudia will not be organizing the ECW next year. She would like to give everyone an opportunity to impart their ideas on the group and to shape it in a variety of ways. The group looks forward to new ideas and another great season of good deeds from the ECW.

St. Stephen's ECW is looking for someone to lead the Episcopal Church Women starting next September. I'm going to keep to the tradition of a one- term organizer in order to give everyone an opportunity to share their ideas for the group. I have enjoyed organizing the ECW this year and I am proud of all the hard work and good deeds that we have accomplished as a group. Many people, in communities near and far, have benefited from our efforts. I hope that the group continues to grow and expand its endeavors to help others who are in need of services. So I hope you thoughtfully consider taking on this position so that others can be helped.



Join the Hunger Fighters!

When: This Sunday, May 5, 2013
Registration: 12:30-1:20
Walk begins at 1:30 (after brief opening)
Rain/Snow Date:
None, collecting funds “upfront” is “rain insurance”

Where: Emmanuel Friedens Church
218 Nott Terrace

Start and end Route loops up State Street, then downtown to return. One rest stop approximately half way –
5 K Walk - Optional “Golden Mile” available - Runners welcome but not an official race

-walkers get Sponsor Records from Priscilla Sprague 393-9262 or SICM office at 1055 Wendell Avenue,
374-2683 or Email –

SO! We can all join in by walking, supporting the walkers with a contribution, and praying for the success
of the walk. Let’s all join in making this 32nd anniversary walk the BEST YET!


The May SICM Assembly will focus on health and wellness in the community.  We will be meeting on Wednesday May 8 at First Unitarian Society on Wendell Avenue.  There will be light refreshments at 6:45 and the meeting will begin at 7:00pm.  Our guest speaker that evening will be Jim Connelly, CEO of Ellis Hospital, to bring his fresh vision on health care on a community and collaborative basis.

Amy, Eunice and Marti

St. Stephen's Calendar

May Birthdays and Anniversaries

May 2 Jennifer Kirby
  4 Miranda Rand
  5 Bruce Tatge
  12 Belachew Emaelaf
  17 Maggie MacDougall
  21 Steven Koch
  24 Cheryl Syta
  25 Claudia Jakubowski
  26 Phyllis Chapman, Allison de Kanel, Emmy Grub, Marilyn Humphrey, William Schlansker
  31 Dawn Kaler, Lisa McDonald
May 3 Vincent & Norma Piscitelli
  23 Dave & Denise Crates; Brian & Kate Riordon
  28 George & Richey Woodzell
  30 Robert & Phyllis Chapman

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, Scott Kilbourn
Jr. Warden, Carole Merrill-Mazurek
Class of 2013:
 Erin Cohen
Brian Riordon
Peter Nelson
 Treasurer: Denise Crates

Class of 2014:
Joe Palko
Stan Jakubowski

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.
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.
Please submit articles to Cathleen Knauf -



The Messenger

Adult Education




Sunday Morning Adult Education: 

The Kingdom of David
The Saga of the Israelites

Adult Ed

This course tells the epic story of the Jews and the creation of the world's first and most profoundly influential monotheistic religion. The stories of the patriarch Abraham, the liberator Moses, the poet-king David and his son Solomon all come to life in the dramatic tale of loss and triumph that shaped humanity's basic moral struggle for more than three millennia.
May 5 - This class deals with Judea under Roman rule and the ensuing civil war among the Jews when Herod.  It also explores those who refused to fight, especially the Essenes who withdrew from civilization and spent most of their time copying religious texts and hiding them in caves near Qumran
May 12 – This class explores the world of Judea during Jesus’ time, especially how the people of Jerusalem were deeply divided until the Roman governor launched a siege of the city which led to the destruction of the Temple.
May 19 – This class deals with the aftermath of  Jesusalem’s destruction and how the rabbis rebuilt Judaism from the ashes of the destroyed temple.  They transformed the synagogue into the main center of worship and instituted the Seder meal celebrated in the home. Finally the class will explore a second rebellion led by Bar Kochba crushed by Rome and led to a diaspera to all parts of the Roman Empire.
May 26 - The final class explores how the rabbis organized and wrote down the oral tradition of laws, rituals and customs that eventually formed the Talmud, which is a set of ethical commandments meant to compliment the ritual commandments set forth in the Hebrew Bible.

All classes are held on Sunday mornings between 9am and 10am in the Conference 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 in the Conference Room

May 7              Descartes and the Authority of Reason
Descartes is remembered for "I think, therefore I am." With his work, the
authority of revelation, history, and title was replaced by the weight of
reason itself.

May 14            Newton—The Saint of Science
In the century after Newton's death, the Enlightenment's major architects of reform and revolution defended their ideas in terms of Newtonian science and its implications.

May 21            Hobbes and the Social Machine
As the idea of social science gained force, Hobbes's controversial treatise helped to naturalize the civil realm, readying it for scientific explanation.

May 28            Locke’s Newtonian Science of the Mind
If all of physical reality can be reduced to elementary corpuscular entities, is the mind nothing more than comparable elements held together by something akin to gravity?


St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
May 2013 -- Web Edition

New windows in the Vestry Room
New windowa










We Want to Hear from You

St. Stephen’s long term desire is to always seek better ways to serve our community and to serve our members.  Now that we are relatively settled in our new building, having almost completed a full program year here, the parish council is beginning to make plans for next year, but not before we hear from you. Please consider and pray about your answers to these questions.  You will have a chance to formally answer them on Sunday, May 19th during both Eucharist’s.

Please join us and make your voice heard.

What do you see as St. Stephen’ strengths?
What do you see as St. Stephen’ weaknesses?
How does St. Stephen’s support your spiritual journey?
Share with us ideas of how you help others on their spiritual journey?

What current St. Stephen’s program should be enhanced or expanded? How could you contribute?
What current St. Stephen’s program should be enhanced or expanded? How could you contribute?
What new programs to you suggest for St. Stephen’s? How could you contribute?
What resources do you need?
How do you see St. Stephen’s serving the greater community in the future? How do we get there? What can you contribute?