March, 2014

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 Eucharist’s in Lent: The Prayerbook gives many liturgical observances that are especially appropriate for Lent. Each Sunday in Lent we will be Rite I. Sunday Morning Education – (see education section of this newsletter)

Sunday Evening – simple bread and soup supper with study (see education section of this newsletter)

Wednesday Evening 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 (providing the snow melts!) (see description in Begley Hall)

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 in the parish Nave Extension.

Greetings from Father James

Dear Friends,

“I would have joined this church years ago, if only I had known about it.” This was a statement made to me recently by a new member. “If only I had known....” There are many people living all around us who need the caring and nurture of this wonderful congregation. Our neighborhoods and workplaces are filled with confused, lost, yet seeking people. Many of them have been ‘turned off’ religion because they have had unfortunate experiences with a kind of Christianity and even a form of the Episcopal Church that is limited and shallow. The solid Christian nurture given at Saint Stephen’s is what many people are seeking. Try to share this with them.

Episcopalians have our own way. We don’t knock on doors the way the Mormons do. We don’t preach on the street corners as some Fundamentalists do. Episcopalians live out the joy of Christ in their daily life and then when someone asks us why we live the way we do, we use that opportunity to share our faith and our church. But we need to create
that opportunity.

But how do you know what to say about Saint Stephen’s? You could tell them that our tradition provides a way to faith that embraces mind and spirit, that affirms the goodness of the material world, that speaks to the value of work and worth and community. Tell them that at Saint Stephen’s questions can be raised, concerns can be voiced, the
contradictions found in scripture can be confronted and engaged as we read the story of faith in which we find our stories lifted up. You could also tell them that Saint Stephen’s is a community that embraces newcomers. We possess a spiritual tradition that nurtures our members and a liturgy that engages us. We respect individual freedom and the right
use of rational thought and we fully accept a person regardless of his/her race, gender or sexual orientation. We are like a broad sidewalk, not a narrow sectarian path. See, you probably already know enough about our congregation to talk about it.

As you talk to others about Saint Stephen’s, please remember that it is not just to build up the size of our parish. We talk to others because we, ourselves, know God and love God and give thanks for the Good News God has shared with us in Jesus Christ. We have accepted Jesus and we know the joy of that relationship. We share that joy because we want to bring it to as many people as possible for the Kingdom’s sake and for their sake.

Upcoming Events


Don't miss the traditional Pancake Supper on Tuesday, March 4th!
It will take place at St. Stephen's, marking the last time for festivities before Lent begins, on Wednesday!
Menu includes pancakes, sausages and a beverage.
The price ($ 6.00 – Adult, $ 3.50 - Ages 5-12, $ 15.00 – Family, age 4 and under – free)
includes all you can eat!




Ash Wednesday is March 5th, 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.

Bring your family, your friends and your appetite! Serving begins at 5pm and ends at 7pm. Male volunteers are needed to help cook, serve and clean up. Sign-up sheets can be found in the Nave Extension.

Youth Education at St. Stephen's

Wiunter 2014

Miranda Building Faith with Fun
Miranda Rand, Education Director




Godly Play

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

Students started the month of February celebrating Chinese
New Year during which the children learned something of the culture and traditions surrounding this important festival, made dragon pictures with their hand prints, enjoyed some typical Chinese deserts, and received small gifts. The rest of February focused on Jesus’ parables. The Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Leaven tied in with a couple of activities relating to bread – we made the letters of the alphabet from refrigerated bread dough, and had a bread-tasting party with many types of bread and different spreads – honey, jam, peanut butter, etc.

In March Godly Play students will receive a special visit from Zipporah Harris, a local Judaics instructor who teaches children and adults in local synagogues. Zipporah has been with us several times before and is no stranger to St. Stephen’s. She will come in costume to instruct and celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the Jewish peoples’ release from oppression when Persian queen, Esther, agreed to help them. (March 16). Sunday Friends will continue to discuss hunger while working with the curriculum, Faith Practices, Experiencing Beauty, an exploration of the beauty of God’s created world.

Sunday Friendslids

(Grades 4th-6th) - Students worked with Allison de Kanel during the month of February to learn about hunger. Using a curriculum designed especially for their age group published by Bread.Org, this series of lessons was designed to be supportive of the ECW’s challenge to the congregation to make 2014 the year to educate ourselves about hunger issues in our community, state and nation, and around the world.
The students discussed the difference between a food pantry and a food bank, traced their feet to reflect the CROP Walk concept, (we walk because they walk) to symbolize walking lock-step with those who suffer permanent, chronic and unrelieved hunger; and participated in a distribution exercise that provided a visual example of the distribution of the world's food and wealth. Another lively discussion focused on how fairness and justice were related to food distribution.

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

Youth Group continues to meet weekly with George Woodzell and Peter Nelson, to engage in healthy discussion about world affairs and moral issues of consequence, and to celebrate worship in their own specially-designed format.

Adult Education

Sunday Morning Adult Education
9:00am – 10:00am in Conference Room
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.

Classes are held on Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am in the Conference Room.
Advanced handouts are available in the Nave Extension.

Sunday Evenings:
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: A Lenten Study

Bach wrote his St. Matthew Passion for a single purpose—to present the biblical passion story, in music, at Good Friday vesper services. Bach's Passion continues to move audiences more than 280 years after it was first heard in St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig, Germany. Standing as one of the pillars of Western sacred music, it is at once monumental and intimate, deeply sorrowful and powerful.

This study will examine both the musical structure through video talks by a noted musicologist and the theological structure through talks by the rector. Class discussions will seek to connect Bach’s musical interpretation of texts with his work as a theologian. The main assumption is that Bach was just as important of a theologian as he was a musician!
Classes will take place March 9th, 23rd – April 13thfrom 5pm to 7pm in the Conference Room and in Begley Hall. It is necessary to sign-up in advance (by March 2nd) for this course, since extensive materials must be prepared. The sign-up sheet can be found in the Nave Extension.

Seminar of Theological Reflection on the Great Ideas of the Western
Between Athens…….and Jerusalem

Tuesday Mornings 10:30-Noon

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

March 4 Four Theories of the Good Life. The contemplative. The active. The fatalistic. The hedonistic. There are good but limited arguments for each of these.

March 11 Ontology—What There Really Is. From the Greek “ontos”, there is a branch of metaphysics referred to as ontology, devoted to the question of real being. Ontological controversies have broad ethical and social implications

March 18 Philosophy of Science—The Last Word? Should fundamental questions, if they are to be answered with precision and objectivity, be answered by science? We consider Thomas Kuhn's influential treatise on scientific revolutions

March 25 Philosophy of Psychology and Related Confusions. Psychology is a subject of many and varied interests but narrow modes of inquiry. Today cognitive neuroscience is the dominant approach, but other schools have reappeared.

Classes are held on Tuesday mornings from 10:30am to noon in the Conference Room.
Advanced handouts are available in the Nave Extension.

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:
Intro. to the Old Testament: The Saga of the Israelites

This course is an introduction to the Old Testament and 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. This an eight week course beginning March 12th. Classes are held on Wednesday Evenings – 7:30-8:30 in the Conference Room. Sign-up sheet and advanced handouts are available in the Nave Extension.

Transept Trivia for Lent

1. There are only two fast days in our Church Calendar. What are they?

2. Why do we call Sundays following Ash Wednesday Sundays in Lent rather than Sundays of Lent?

3. In addition to replacing the Gloria in excelsis with the Kyrie during Lent, there is a word noticeably absent from hymns and the liturgy during Lent. What is it?

4. Satan presents Our Lord with three temptations in the wilderness. What are they?

5. What did the word Lent originally mean?

6. The Prayer Book forbids the celebration of the Eucharist on what days?

7. How many churches in our diocese are named for the "red-letter" saint whose feast day falls in March?

Mr. Bob Acosta - Suite Medievale

organThe Suite Medievale (En Forme De Messe Basse) is a collection of five organ improvisations on Gregorian chants. They were composed by the blind French organist Jean Langlais (1907-1991) who was the head organist at the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris. A picture of the late Jean Langlais accompanies this article. The chants, some of which are in our 1982 Hymnal,
are Asperges Me, Kyrie, Adoro te devote, Ubi caritas, and Christus vincit.

This suite of organ pieces can be performed in a responsorial fashion, with an a cappella (unaccompanied) choir singing the chant followed by the organ improvisation based on that chant tune. I have played two selections from this suite in the recent past, one for a prelude and one for a postlude. This music may sound different to the ear, not quite like Bach or Mendelssohn. But when one becomes acquainted with the sound, it can be appreciated. Some have described the Langlais style as impressionistic or as an example of tone painting. A link to a You Tube video of the first improvisation is given:

Ministry Updates

ECW Update!

The ECW has dedicated this year to serving the hungry in our community. The group has done events to raise money to support SICM and educate parishioners on the struggles of families living with food insecurity. The ECW is planning an intense focus on community hunger during this Lenten season. Events taking place during "Bread for Lent" are as follows:

*Sermons that address hunger
*Music that supports Christian Responsibility
*"Minute for Mission" stories of guests that visit the SICM food pantry
*Prayers and reflections from "Bread.Org" an organization dedicated to eliminating hunger
*Raising money for SICM by selling small empty bags, with hunger facts attached for $10, which will buy$40 worth of food at the food bank. Each bag purchased will be attached to the bulletin board with the purchaser's name.
*A crib will be set up to for contributions for the needs of babies, diapers, formula, baby food etc.
*The lessons during the "Children's Sermon" & Sunday School will talk about hunger.
* Pre-written letters to legislators that are available from in pre-addressed envelopes will be available for parishioners to sign if they so desire.

Carole & Tracy

St. Stephen's Book Club!

March: Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel
By Jeannette Walls
This will also be a game night!

April: Blackbird House
By Alice Hoffman

May: When God Was a Woman
By Merlin Stone

We meet at 7:00pm on the second Tuesday of the Month In the Teen Lounge

Next meeting is Tuesday, March 11th

SICM Update

On April 5 SICM volunteers will be filling Easter baskets for children who come to the Food Pantry with their parents. In March we would love to have donations of items for these baskets – jump ropes, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and similar items. There will be an extra basket beside our usual food donation basket. Thanks for all your donations!
The next SICM Assembly will be Thursday March 13 at Stanford UMC, 1569 State St.

Refreshments at 6:45 and the meeting will begin at 7:00.

Amy, Eunice and Marti


1. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (BCP p. 17).
2. All Sundays are celebrations of the Resurrection and cannot be penitential days.
They are not part of the "40 Days of Lent".
3. Alleluia
4. To make stones into bread;
to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple and be saved by angels;
and to rule over the kingdoms of this world.
5. Spring; the verb 'lengthen' also comes from the same root,
since in Spring, the days lengthen once again.
6. Good Friday and Holy Saturday (BCP pp. 275, 282, 283).
7. None; there are no churches named after 'Saint Joseph' in the Diocese of Albany.

Calendar - March - 2014


Birthdays in March

March 1st Brody Riordon
March 5th Hannah Cestaro
March 6th Paul Pratico
March 10th Diane Kilbourn
March 11th Norma Piscitelli
March 12th Kathryn Hoffmann
March 13th Shirley Voelker
March 15th Roseann Caruso
March 16th Budd Mazurek
March 19th Amanda Guiles
March 22nd Joanne Frank
March 23nd Marti Spang
March 27th Linda Emaelaf
March 29th Tracy Ormsbee
March 30th Ralph May

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

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,

Lisa Zebrowski, Nursery Manager,

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.