St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
February, 2014

Discovering the Bible


February 5 - Getting Acquainted It's the all-time best-seller since the beginning of printing. It has produced passionate controversy for centuries. What is the book that is like none other in the history of the world? Where did it come from? What does it consist of? Does it still speak to us today?

February 12 - The Old Testament An ancient book? Yes, but far more! It's a kind of love letter and a still-living legacy that shaped the identity of a unique people. What about the Dead Sea Scrolls? The accurate preservation of the contents over millennia underscores the marvel of these writings.

February 19 - The New Testament It's a book that centers on Jesus. But how do we know we have the actual words of Jesus? How were the books of the New Testament gathered and selected? What’s it all about? How does the New Testament build upon but differ from the Old Testament?

February 26 - Survival, Spread, and Influence Despite attempts of tyrants to destroy it, the Bible has endured and become the most translated and circulated book ever. It was translated into various art forms and given to us in English through heroic efforts. It’s the book that influenced the lives that influenced the world.

All classes are held on Wednesdays in the Conference Room from 7:30pm – 9:00pm.
Please email the rector ( or call (522-3906) if you wish to attend.

Greetings from Father James!

Dear Friends,

I have several things on my mind as we head into February. First, I want to update you on the situation in the parish office. There will be three volunteers from the congregation in the office from 9am to noon each week. Carole Merrill-Mazurek will be there on Mondays; Jan Lovett on Wednesdays and Mary Ann Harrington on Fridays. They will be answering the phone, receiving visitors and generally being a presence in the office. Chris Jones has been sending out the weekly updates, as well as continuing to manage the web page and publishing other sundry items such as a parish
directory. Denise Crates has assumed data entry for pledges. I have been putting together the Sunday bulletin (and others as needed). Cathy Knauf will continue to put together the Messenger as a volunteer, as well as manage the tuition payments for our First Friends’ Nursery School. In the meantime, the Personnel Committee of the vestry is organizing for a search to fill this position.

Second, I want to thank all parish leaders who submitted reports for the Annual Meeting last month. Especially, I want to thank Chris Jones for compiling the reports into a very fine document. If you missed the Meeting, the report can be found on the parish web page. You will discover that we had a very busy year in 2013!

Finally, some thoughts on the near future. Ash Wednesday is rather late this year: March 5th. We will be giving a detailed description of our parish Lenten activities in the March Messenger, however, I want to hold up to your attention the Lenten study. We will meet on the five Sunday evenings of Lent for a simple bread and soup supper and a study of
J.S. Bach’s, St. Matthew Passion, a study of the last days of Jesus’ life based on the text of Matthew 26–27. The video presenter is a dynamic and entertaining musicologist and composer who shows the relationship between the text and Bach’s musical setting. He really brings the Passion to life! Please mark Sundays, March 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th and April 6th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm for an interesting and meaningful addition to your Lenten journey.

Peace, James+

Youth Education at St. Stephen's Winter 2014

Biuklding Faith with Fun

We celebrated Epiphany in both the Sunday Friends and the Godly Play classrooms by welcoming Meg Dominguez, Education Manager at MiSci. Meg brought some interactive star-gazing tools to help us understand the placement of the stars and constellations in the January night sky and discussed how the Magi might have seen those stars and been guided by them on their journey to find the Christ child. We
completed our Epiphany celebration by participating in the pot-luck luncheon. The Magi made an appearance and handed out gifts.

The rest of January found the Sunday Friends students studying John the Baptist and making a list of his attributes, using a craft project to learn about the evolution of a butterfly, from egg to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to hatched Subsbutterfly; and discussing what it means to trust.

Godly Play students reviewed the entire Christmas story from the annunciation through the flight into Egypt, using Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel frescoes as illustrations; learned the story of Jesus calming the storm and the story of his healing a paralyzed man.

Youth Group cooked and served an outstanding chicken dinner to the ongregation as a thank you for 2013 Work Camp support, and showed a video of their work week. On February 2nd, they sold foot-long subs for $7.50 each to help offset the cost of their 2014 mission trip.

Adult Education

Sunday Morning Adult Education:

Classes will be held on Sunday Mornings from 9:00-10:00AM in the Conference room.

Genesis: A Living Conversation

Bill Moyers gathers the voices of numerous thinkers and writers: novelists Mary Gordon and John Barth; theologians Elaine Pagels and Phyllis Trible; biblical critics Robert Alter (whose own translation of Genesis are published by Norton) and Walter Breuggeman; and cultural critics like Karen Armstrong and Carol Gilligan, among others, into a fascinating, often tendentious, conversation about the living character of stories that address everything from the creation of the world and the temptations of the first couple to the internecine struggles of Jacob's family and the slavery of Joseph.

Feb. 2 - God Wrestling: Apparently headed for his final comeuppance, the fugitive Jacob meets God in a dream and ultimately finds himself.

Feb. 9 – Exile: Gifted, talented, and handsome, Joseph survives slavery and exile by his wits. But his response to the advances made by his captor's wife raises troubling questions.

The Question of God

This course explores two diametrically opposed views of human existence through the lives of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis. Both wrote passionately on the subject of God’s existence, rigorously and relentlessly pursuing truth, and both displayed courage of conviction in the ways they lived their lives. Their intellectual work strives to answer not only what we should believe, but also how we should live.

Each class raises several fundamental questions: Does God exist? How does one decide what is moral? What does it mean to love your neighbor? How are we to understand suffering and death? Through dramatic storytelling and compelling re-creations, Freud and Lewis debate the answers to these questions, and a video panel of seven men and women, from diverse walks of life, confront these issues in their own lives.

Feb. 16 - Transcendent Experience: How much do our early childhood experiences shape our worldview? Sigmund Freud began his life in a traditional Jewish household surrounded by the archetypal figures he would one day write about, while “Jack” Lewis grew up in Belfast, with his brother as a constant companion. Freud and Lewis encountered loss early in life, but their reactions sent them on divergent paths. The panel discusses Freud and Lewis’s early experiences, as well as their own; so will our class.

Feb. 23 - The Exalted Father: Do our early relationships color our attitudes in later life toward the concept of an ultimate authority? Bereft by his mother’s death years earlier, Lewis witnesses brutality and harsh conditions in WWI that leave him furious at God. The tragedy of his disintegrating practice and dying father leads Freud on a journey of self-analysis, culminating in his conclusion that fear, longing, and admiration for our fathers are manifested in every religion as attitudes toward God. The panel discusses the role of human relationships in one’s choice of worldview; so will our class.

Between Athens…….and Jerusalem

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

Tuesday Mornings 10:30-Noon

Based on “The Great Ideas of Philosophy” by Professor Daniel N. Robinson

February 2 The Radical William James. Mortally opposed to all block universes of certainty and theoretical hubris, James offered a quintessentially home-grown psychology of experience

February 9 William James's Pragmatism. Working in the realm of common sense, James directed the attention of philosophy and science to that ultimate arena of confirmation in which our deepest and most enduring interests are found.

February 16 Wittgenstein and the Discursive Turn. Meaning arises from conventions that presuppose not only a social world but a world in which we share the interests and aspirations of others.

February 23 Alan Turing in the Forest of Wisdom Turing is famous for breaking Germany's famed World War II Enigma code, but, as a founder of modern computational science, he also wrote influentially about the possibilities of breaking the mind's code.

Inquirers’ classes

Inquirers’ classes are intended to give prospective members an overview of how Episcopalians fit into the complex of protestant and catholic churches. Discussion topics include the world-wide Anglican Church, the National Episcopal Church, our own Diocese of Albany, our own parish of St. Stephen’s and the relationship among all four. Discussions are candid and open.

This course is required of all adults who wish to be confirmed or received into the church, but is open to all members of the Parish Family. Confirmation will take place in late spring.

All classes take place in the rector’s study from February 2nd - 23rd on Sunday afternoons from noon – 1:00pm.

Ministry Updates

The 2014 St. Stephen’s Book Club

Book 1 Feb: The Sandcastle Girls
By Chris Bohjalian
March: Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel
By Jeannette Walls
This will also be a game night!
Book 2
Book 3 April: Blackbird House
By Alice Hoffman

We meet at 7:00pm on the second Tuesday of the Month
In the Teen Lounge
Next meeting is Tuesday, February 11th


The February SICM assembly will be on Feb. 5th at Immanuel LutherSCMan Church on Union St. in Niskayuna. Refreshments are available at 6:45 and the meeting will begin at 7:00.

Our guest speaker will be the new Human Rights Commission Executive Director, Angelica Morris. She will be talking about the future direction of the commission,
including the new End Poverty Schenectady coalition. There will also be information about the SICM Service Saturdays in April and the Crop Walk in May.

If you can’t join us look for information we’ll be bringing on the information table in the nave extension.

Amy, Eunice and Marti

Calendar: February, 2014


Birthdays and Anniversaries

Feb 8th Patricia Jones
Feb 10th Claire Syta
Feb 12th Donald Regula
Feb 13th Dawn Rizzo
Feb 14th Marilyn Causey
Feb 18th Jane Tatge
Feb 19th Mary Alexander
Feb 21st Mary Kate Cestaro
Feb 23rd Mitchell Rigley
Feb 24th Pauline Northrop
Feb 25th Joan Halsted
Feb 28th Elizabeth Pratico

Feb 7th Paul & Allison de Kanel
Feb 20th James & Lisa McDonald

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,

The Vestry
Sr. Warden, Carole Merrill-Mazurek
Jr. Warden, Erin Cohen
Clerk, Susan Feyrer
Treasurer, Denise Crates

Class of 2014:
Joe Palko
Stan Jakubowski

Class of 2015:
Jack Feyrer
Bill Frank
Jim Syta

Class of 2016:
Brian Riordon
Travis Reedy
Richey Woodzell

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.