St. Stephen’s Rummage Sale
Another Success!!







We lugged and tugged;
packed and unpacked;
priced and set-up
and all of our efforts were worth it.
We had a successful rummage sale
that brought together our parish
as well as the community.
So many thanks to all who helped-
all efforts were greatly appreciated.

Your Rummage Sale Crew,
Cindi, Evan, Claudia and Stan

Greetings from Father James!



Dear Friends,

I just finished lunch with Dan Hahn, pastor of Grace Lutheran and he informed me that at their congregational meeting on Sunday, Grace voted NOT to continue our conversation toward merging the two congregations. The sole reason for this was that they didn't want to enter into a relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. The decision had nothing to do with who we are, as a congregation. In fact,all that we have discovered about each other’s congregation still applies: the mission, values and vision of Grace’s congregation is very similar to ours; the liturgy of the Lutheran Church is very, very similar to ours - both are sacramentally minded and Eucharistically based. Grace’s decision was all about the views and legislation of the Albany Diocese: exclusive actions taken against same-gender unions and not recognizing all Lutheran pastors’ ordinations (despite legislation of the national Episcopal Church).

I voiced my disappointment as did Pastor Dan; but that is the way things go sometime.

So at this point I am reflecting upon what we can learn in this experience.

 First, we can affirm that we are the welcoming congregation that we thought we were! Members from Grace Lutheran have mentioned how warmly they were received when visiting this past summer.
 Second, we have learned about ourselves. In meetings with interested parishioners at St. Stephen’s this past summer I was struck by the level of theological education that occurred. We discussed issues such as apostolic succession and Eucharistic sacramental theology. We also reviewed reformation history and its present implications.
 Third, we have seen that the Diocese of Albany and its actions really do make a difference in terms of how ‘outsiders’ view our congregation. St. Stephen’s has often travelled in a different direction from the Diocese (women’s ordination, bible interpretation, inter-faith relationships, etc.) and many of our members have distanced themselves from Diocesan views. However, like it or not, we are a part of the Diocese and this will affect us for years to come.

I am writing a letter to the Grace Lutheran Council suggesting that our two congregations could participate in joint Eucharistic worship and pulpit exchanges in the near future. My hope is that we keep this relationship alive.


Upcoming Events



Inquirer’s Class

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 rector’s office beginning October 20th.

Church Women United

World community Day

“Walking Through the Doors of Opportunity”

Friday, November 1, 9:30-11:30 @ St. Stephen’s

St. Stephen’s Episcopal will be the site for this year’s celebration of World Community Day. Mark the date – Friday, November 1, 9:30 for continental breakfast; 10:00 for the celebration. Church Women United (CWU) is a national volunteer Christian ecumenical women’s movement that brings together women of diverse races, cultures and traditions in prayer, advocacy, fellowship, and action for peace with justice in the world.

Each year there are three major celebrations to which the public is invited, and each has a specific theme. A common theme runs through each –this year’s theme explores the biblical text, Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock”.

The 2013 World Community Day celebration invites participants to consider four questions: What are barriers to peace? What are the barriers in our communities? What will bring more unity? How can we honor our diversity and our unity?

I am co-chair of the local chapter of CWU and chair of this year’s World Community Day Celebration – please come and help me extend hospitality to the community and share my pride in our beautiful space.

Miranda Rand

Blessing of the Animals & St. Francis of Assisi

On October 4th we celebrate the life and work of St. Francis. He is probably better known for preaching to birds than for the poverty he embraced in his passion to be like Christ. Yet, Francis' love of God's creation has given his statue a place in many church and home gardens.

No mere nature lover, Francis saw in nature's paradoxes and mysteries a revelation of the presence of God. He marveled at the simplicity and obedience of the birds, fishes, rabbits, doves, the falcon who wakened him for Matins, the famous wolf of Gubbio who gave his pledge of peace to Francis and kept it.

Because of St. Francis' connection to God's creation, and especially to animals, a tradition arose in England whereby the parish priest would bless the villagers' animals on St. Francis' Day. Since Oct. 4 falls on a Friday this year, we will have the Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 5th.

Here's how it will work:

On Saturday, Oct 5th, the congregation and any animals (on leashes!) will gather on the front law of the church.
WE WILL REMAIN OUTSIDE DURING THE ENTIRE SERVICE. The rector will begin a brief worship service and then will bless each animal saying: "O God, who has made all things for yourself, bless, we pray you, this animal; that it may be a source of love and joy to those with whom it dwells."

Hope to see you there!

Mr. Bob Acosta
-The Journey, Not the Destination




The trip from Rensselaer New York to Raleigh North Carolina takes 15 hours by train. The same trip by plane takes 4 to 6 hours including layovers. Why do I prefer the train? I prefer the train because I feel you see more during the trip on the train which you miss if you are traveling by air.

After all, there is more to a trip than just arriving at the destination.

Likewise, setting goals and only awaiting the achievement of the goal may miss the experience of the process. In music, much is gained in participating in the process of preparing to present a piece of music in its finished form, be it an offering by the bell choir or an anthem by the vocal choir. It is this journey of practice and rehearsal which makes choir rehearsal so rewarding for those who choose to participate.

It is easy to understand how discouragement during rehearsal may happen from time to time. But we should not miss the point of the value and growth obtained by this experience. Let us not lose sight of the value achieved by being a part of this rehearsal process.

Youth Education at St. Stephen’s
Fall 2013



Education Website:

Our new education website – is now published. On it you will find a general page about the education ministry at St. Stephen’s and a page for each of our groups. In addition, a short blog, Snippets from the Director’s Cutting Room Floor, is updated every two or three weeks. The blog is posted to my personal Facebook page as well as on the website.

Sunday Morning Adult Education

9:00am – 10:00am in Conference Room

A Reformation Overview

The Reformation dramatically changed the course of Christian history and western civilization. The issues they faced then still confront us today. This course will bring the reformation alive and introduce the key reformers and major turning points. Of course, special emphasis will be on the Anglican and Lutheran reformations.

The six classes are based on dramatic footage edited into dynamic half hours with introductions and transitions added from the very places where the momentous events originally took place. Discussion after each video will explore how each reformer has affected our faith today.

Sept. 29 – Oct. 13 - Martin Luther. Seeking the quiet solitude of the monastery, this guilt-burdened monk discovered justification by faith and the freedom of the Gospel.

Oct. 20 - Ulrich Zwingii and John Calvin. Leading the Reformation in Switzerland, these two scholars had to interpret the newly recovered dimensions of the Gospel in the midst of change, chaos and opposition.

Oct. 27 – Nov. 10 – Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation – Henry VIII’s often misunderstood break with papal authority initiates the shaping of classical Anglicanism.

Nov. 17 – Menno Simons and the Anabaptists. Called "the Radicals," they were opposed by just about everyone--Catholics, Protestants, and political leaders, but their legacy endures to this day.

Nov. 24 - William Tyndale. A hunted fugitive, this humble, young scholar translated and circulated the bible in English.

To Contact Father James:
Office: 346-6241
Cell: 522-3906

History of the Christian Tradition

This course will survey twenty centuries of the history of Western Christian thought, from the age of the apostles to the present day, paying attention to the continuity and change in major themes of Christian life and doctrine and the relationship between Church and society. It is designed to stimulate students’ curiosity, by providing glimpses of some of the pivotal events in the spread of Christianity and sketches of great Christian figures who have significantly affected Christian history, thereby shaping the history of the world.

Explore the Christian church as it moves into all of the world!

Wednesday Evenings @ 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturday Mornings @ 9:00am – 1:00pm

The Anglican Ethos

Four classes are intended to give an overview of how Episcopalians fit into the complex of protestant and catholic churches. Topics covered are the National Episcopal Church, our own Diocese of Albany, our own parish of St. Stephen’s and the relationship among all three.

The classes are held in an informal atmosphere. It is required for all adults who wish to be confirmed or received into the church, but is open to all members of the Parish Family.

Most people who attended the classes have enjoyed them, even if they did not decide to take the important step into formal membership into the congregation. Lively discussions are a hallmark of this class.

Sunday Afternoons - noon - 1pm
October 20th - November 10th

Seminar of Theological Reflection on the Great Ideas of the Western

Between Athens and Jerusalem

Based on “The Great Ideas of Philosophy” By Professor Daniel N. Robinson
Tuesday Mornings 10:30 – Noon

September 24 Hume and the Pursuit of Happiness. David Hume was perhaps the most influential philosopher to write in English, carrying empiricism to its logical end and thus grounding morality, truth, causation, and governance in experience

October 1 Thomas Reid and the Scottish School. Thomas Reid was Hume's most successful and influential critic,
with a common sense psychology that was both naturalistic and compatible with religious teaching and which reached America's founders

October 8 France and the Philosophes. The leading French thinkers of the 18th century: Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, and Diderot - appealed directly to the ordinary citizen, encouraging skepticism toward traditional authority

October 15 The Federalist Papers and the Great Experiment. The extraordinary documents written in support of the proposed constitution, representing a profound legacy in political philosophy

October 22 What Is Enlightenment? Kant on Freedom. Here the limits of reason and the very framework of
thought complete -and in another respect undermine – the very project of the Enlightenment

October 29 Moral Science and the Natural World. Kant traced the implications of a human life as lived in both the natural world of causality and the intelligible world of reason (where morality arises).

Keeping you Informed


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

Joy in Worship: Feeding Preacher, Congregation and God , Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas, Saturday, October 19, 9am - 3pm, Mt. Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, Sch'dy. Celebration is a natural and important part of the gospel. It feeds the people of God, giving them life and hope. Discover the distinct perspective and celebrative joy the African American Church brings to the task of preaching. $75. Reg. deadline: October 3.

Fall Celebration, "Catch the Vision" with Sr. Anne Bryan Smollin! October 7, 6:00-9:00 pm, Glen Sanders Mansion. Join CRTC for a great night of laughter and inspiration! The evening features live music, dinner, time to (re)connect with fellow church and community leaders, news from CRTC, and a silent auction. Plus Sister Anne! Who knew religion could be so funny? Reg. deadline extended to September 30.

Breakfasts for Champions: Marketing Your Church's Message, Fred Daniels, Tuesdays, October 15, 22 and 29, 7 - 8:30am, Lynwood Reformed Church, Schenectady. Are you active in the world…but hidden in plain sight? Marketing is an important tool, and this breakfast series will help your ministry share news of programs, mission and even your future vision. Spreading the word is, after all, a part of your job description! $75 for a team of two (includes breakfast). Reg. deadline: October 8.

It's All About the Stories: How to Effectively Advocate for Others, Rev. Daniel B. Hahn, Wednesdays, October 23, 30, November 6, 13, 6:30 - 9pm, The City Mission/Schenectady Works Building, Schenectady. Outrage over the plight of people living in poverty is an important theme throughout the Bible. How can we advocate
more effectively? Discover tools for shaping and sharing the stories of those who need a voice. $135 by September 25; $150 thereafter. Reg. deadline: October 7. SHUTTLE SERVICE

Boundary Awareness: Do You Know Your Limits? Rev. Dr. David Olsen, Thursday, November 7, 9am - 3pm, Delmar Presbyterian Church. Explore the power and authority inherent in the minister’s role, techniques for handling difficult situations, as well as the overall setting of healthy boundaries in relationships. $90. Reg. deadline: October 31.

21st Century Faith Formation for All Ages, John Roberto, Thursday, November 14, 9am - 4pm and Friday, November 15, 9am - 3pm, Community United Methodist Church, Slingerlands. Most Christian churches have similar goals for faith formation. In this hope -filled workshop, learn practical tools for envisioning new opportunities for your church and for developing leadership capacity. For Christian Educators, Sunday school teachers, mentors and everyone who cares about a new vision for today's church. $135 by October 16; $160 thereafter. Reg. deadline: October 28.


Building Faith with Fun

Adult Education

Youth Group
(Grades 7-12) -
George Woodzell & Peter Nelson

This group continues to meet using the same format as last year – one week at 9:00am and the next week at 10:15am. George Woodzell leads with his own incomparable sense of what makes good discussion material, and his innate appreciation of teenage values. Peter Nelson assists. On September 22 and 29, Karol Augsperger, a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor, led the group in a lively yoga practice. On October 27, Kent Busman, Executive Director of Camp Fowler in Speculator, will meet with the group at 9:00am to lead a discussion on environmental values.

Godly Play
(Grades Pre-K-3rd) -
Miranda Rand

This group meets in the classroom adjacent to the nursery during the 10:15am Eucharist. We continue to use the curriculum after which the group is named, presenting the great stories of the Old and New Testament in the oral tradition using simple props. Sessions are followed by songs, crafts, and snacks. During the month of September we studied the story of Moses leading the Hebrew people out of bondage and the Jewish Festival of Booths, in which we built a Succoth and sampled typical food. On October 27, Kent Busman, Executive Director of Fowler Camp and Conference Center, a stay-away camp in Speculator, New York, and storyteller extraordinaire will share stories about nature and the environment.

Sunday Friends
(Grades 4th-6th) -

This group meets the needs of students in the upper grades of elementary school or those who are just starting their middle school years. Our curriculum, Faith Practices, explores major biblical themes through the use of art work, crafts, games and discussion. This group meets at 9:00am in the classroom adjacent to the choir room and is open to students of all faith traditions (see our board at Teachers rotate at three-week intervals to provide continuity. On October 27 Sunday Friends will join Godly Play students for Kent Busman’s presentation.

Ministry Updates



St. Stephen's Book Club!

Oct: Traveling Mercies
By Anne Lamott
We meet at 7:00pm on the second Tuesday of the month in the Teen Lounge.

Next meeting is October 8th.

Hello from Across the Pond





Hello from sunny (ha ha) Scotland! I think many of you remember me, Robyn Stewart.

I and my son, Nicholas, were members of St. Stephens for nearly 20 years. As some of you may know, I moved to Scotland over 3 years ago to attend the University of Stirling for my BA Honours in Film and Media. I'm proud to report that I did indeed attain my BA degree on June 26 of this year.

My son Nicholas is attending Fulton-Montgomery Community College, looking to transferring next year to SUNY IT in Cobleskill for a degree in Network Security/Computer Science.

I think of everyone at St. Stephens most fondly, and I always have and always will consider St. Stephens as my church home, with a really remarkable church family. Slainte!

So what am I doing now? Well, I've been accepted at UWS (University of the West of Scotland) in Ayr to attain my MA in Creative Media Practices. So finally I'll be over-educated! I've moved from my flat in Stirling where I lived for 3 years and into a lovely flat in Ayr (on the coast of the Irish Sea). I am enjoying living in Scotland and in getting to know my new home in Ayr. I don't own a car but travel by train, bus and bicycle. I've taken some lovely photos here in Scotland and truly believe that Scotland is the home of my heart.

Robyn Leith Stewart

Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries in October





3 Katharine Lowe
11 Herbert Gretz
  Sara Palko
  Janet Schlansker
13 Joe Palko
14 Diana Belardo
15 Susan Feyrer
21 Dante Anthony
22 Karen Holcombe
27 Peter Nelson
28 Eunice Chouffi
30 Samuel Holcombe
  Josefina Nevius
31 Vera Crates
  Christopher Morin
  Emily Riordon

9 Robert & Bonita Bailey
14 Bob & Angela Strong
19 Herbert & Shirley Gretz
20 Christopher & Jennifer Kirby

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:
The Messenger is published September - June. Please submit articles to Cathleen Knauf - by the 22nd of the Month before.