The Messenger

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
April 2014

In This Issue

Entering Holy Week
Letter from Father James
World Labyrinth Day
Adult Education
Roxbury Farms
Ministry Updates
Important Dates
Vestry Information


Palm Sunday –April 13th MAKE THIS THE BEGINNING OF YOUR EASTER: We enter the most significant eight days in the Church’s calendar. It is of the greatest importance that we participate in the experiences described in the church calendar, because living through them, walking the way Christ walked, we uncover the core of Christian belief and living.
We invite all members and friends of St. Stephen’s, to be present at these services. If you are infirm, please call the office to arrange for communion to be brought to you at home by one of the clergy.

Maundy Thursday – April 17th FOOT WASHING At the 7:30 p.m. Eucharist we would like to have volunteers from the congregation for foot washing by the clergy. If you would like to be one of these representatives of the
congregation, please sign up at the parish shop.

PRAYER WATCH There is a sign-up sheet on the shop counter for the Maundy Thursday Vigil. It is suggested that two or more persons sign up for each one hour segment.

Good Friday – April 18th We remember in a unique way the witness that Jesus gave to us on the cross. Through his obedience and through his suffering -- through the fateful steps he took each day of Holy Week -- he showed the world just how much God loves us. Jesus' entire life was a witness to that love and the cross continues to be a sign of that reality. In the midst of religious tensions, historic animosities and political unrest, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East stands witness to the people of our Lord's homeland, proclaiming and serving the same message that Jesus brought to that land almost 2,000 years ago. On Good Friday we stand with the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem as it witnesses to the love of God in a strife-filled part of the world through our prayers and financial support. Please be generous in your support of the continuing ministry of our sisters and brothers in the Middle East.

EASTER VIGIL TO BEGIN THE EASTER CELEBRATION – 7:30pm. Easter is the festival of Baptism and we shall celebrate that sacrament as well as have the opportunity to renew our own baptismal vows. And then the shout be raised:


and so begins the first Eucharist of Easter, 2014. The Church will be in darkness. Into that darkness will be brought the new light of Easter and carried through the nave to the altar where the Paschal Candle will be placed in its stand to burn through the fifty days of Easter until the Ascension of our Lord. We will rehearse our history as a people of God, from creation through the Red Sea with God's promises for his people culminating in the story of the Resurrection.

Sunday, April 20th. 8:00am & 10:15am The Festive Eucharist’s of Easter Day Flowering the Cross with the Children. Special Music with the Choir and the Bell Ringers! This is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus here at St. Stephen’s. We join with all Christian people as they acclaim Jesus now risen from the dead and alive for evermore.

Dear Friends,

Later this month we will begin Holy Week. This is when we move back and forth from the sacred rites here in the church to the family traditions at home, and then back again to the richness of the church. Let me suggest a few simple gestures for church and home which can bring the sacred mysteries closer to us.

Our Procession with Palms begins the Week. We begin with a parade. But leading the parade, we notice that the cross is cover with red. Even from the beginning we are prepared for that Gospel story just given. We all participate in it: just as we waved our palm branches in greeting Jesus, so we yell, 'Crucify him!' We are aware of our human weakness that shouts praise and joy one moment and judgment and condemnation the next. When you leave the church, be sure to take extra palm branches for your house and leave one over the door or behind a cross or over the fire place or over your bed.

Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week are traditional days for 'spring house cleaning'. If you haven't done it already, do a special cleaning, spiffing everything up for the celebration of new life on Easter. Also, these are good days to bake and cook ahead for the Easter feast.

On Wednesday, begin to plan the Easter dinner. After the Eucharist at noon, I will have simple 'Blessings Over Food' for the special Easter dinner. Come by and pick up a copy for everyone who will be at dinner on Easter Day. Then come to our Seder in the parish hall that evening in which we will share a ritual meal commemorating the flight of the Jews out of bondage out of Egypt, foreshadowing the Last Supper for Jesus and his disciples. This is always an enjoyable time for families.

On Maundy Thursday, at the end of the church service, the altar is stripped, the red tabernacle light is extinguished, and the place is left hollow and empty. You are invited to stay as long as you wish in the church, but let me suggest that when you go home, talk as little as possible, keeping as much of the holy silence as you are able, as a family. If you have crosses on your walls, this would be a good time to cover them with cheese cloth or something similar.

On Good Friday, things are quiet: both at church and at home. Come at noon to the Stations of the Cross, a very moving pilgrimage through the crucifixion. St. Stephen's will be open all afternoon for silent prayer and meditation. At home it would be appropriate to quiet all radios, TVs and stereos. It is a day to turn inward and to keep in mind the way of Christ's passion. Our projects and actions could involve our children, and include their creative participation. A simple rugged cross can be made this day by fashioning two sticks together and putting or hanging it in a prominent place.

Good Friday is also a traditional day of cleaning out the fireplace, and laying kindling for the new fire of Easter night. The idea is to take home the fire from the Easter candle on Saturday night and to use this candle to light the new fire in your fireplace. At church there will be no Eucharist. In the evening we will share in prayers and anthems.

All the daylight hours on Holy Saturday are filled with the last preparations for Easter. Easter clothes are cleaned and pressed. Last minute groceries are purchased for the Easter dinner. And then we come to the decorating of eggs. The egg is a symbol of new life and the breaking through from imprisonment to freedom. It is a good idea not to finish decorating your eggs over the week, and to leave Saturday as the day to finish them. Some eggs can be dyed, but I suggest that each family member paint one egg, with symbols of the resurrection and new life, the butterfly, flowers for a new springtime, chicks and rabbits as signs of fertility and new life. And then reserve one egg, painted gold, on which the word

ALLELUIA is written. This is the best egg to find in the hunt on Eater morning. Saturday is also the day to make an Easter egg tree. In the evening at church we will have candles for everyone to hold during the service, but let me suggest that each family bring a their own fat candle, placed inside a can which the church will provide, so that you can carry home this new Easter fire which has been blessed in the worship service. It is sometimes a real trick to get the lit candle all the way home, but the adventure is worth it. When you come home after the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, light a candle in each our your rooms from the Easter flame. Light the kindling and nurse it into a good fire. Later, wish each other a warm and happy Easter, and turn in for the night.

During the next week we move from raw tragedy to reconciling triumph; from dying with Christ, we will be raised with him at the end of the week. Consider these suggestions for home and church. We won't have an opportunity like this for at least another year.




Be a part of a rolling wave of peaceful energy, come to St. Stephen’s and celebrate the sixth annual World Labyrinth Day on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 with Ms. Pam Walsh, a Certified Labyrinth Society facilitator. Pam Walsh will be at the church from 12:45 until 2:00 to lead us in a walk designed to bring people from all over the planet together in a symbolic gesture of global celebration. Pam will have some small finger labyrinths with her so that those with mobility issues can still participate. A smaller, ‘Story Path’ 12’ square canvas labyrinth, may also be available indoors.

A retired teacher and active member of the First Reformed Church of Scotia, Pam will visit the Sunday Friends classroom on April 27 at 9:00am to discuss the spirituality of sacred circles with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, and the Godly Play classroom on June 1, when she and I will work together – she will lead the children to the center of the labyrinth as a meditative exercise, and I will tell the story of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Please contact me for more information and plan to join me on World Labyrinth Day to walk for peace and solidarity at 1:00pm.

Miranda Rand
Miranda Rand, Education Director

Youth Education at St. Stephen’s

Spring 2014

Godly Play

(Grades Pre-K-3rd) -
Miranda Rand
On March 16, our friend Zipporah Harris, a Judaics instructor and entrepreneur, came marvelously dressed as Persian queen Esther, her costume completed by a sparkly blue mask. Zipporah talked to us about Purim, a Jewish holiday that celebrates the theme of good triumphing over evil, with a concentration of riotous fun and charity to others.

During Lent we have concentrated on a series of stories, The Faces of Easter, that outline Jesus life and ministry, from birth to death, with a special six-section purple underlay and 12x12 painted wooden plaques.

Youth Group

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

Youth meet weekly for discussion and worship in the Youth Lounge. Recently, in response to a call for youth to serve as acolytes, they have voted to go back to alternating between meeting at 9:00am and meeting at 10:15. For the most part, 9:00am sessions are designed to coincide with days when the youth would act as acolytes for the 10:15 service.

Contact Information:
Miranda Rand
George Woodzell
Peter Nelson

Sunday Friends
(Grades 4th-6th) -
This month each Sunday had a theme. Using bible stories and classic pictures from the internet, we discussed trust, greed, the Golden Rule, and forgiveness. On March 16, our discussion was on the Jewish celebration, Purim. Reading the story of how the Jewish people were saved from death and disaster from the Book of Esther, the students acted as “groggers” (noise makers), banging on the table every time the evil character, Haman, was mentioned in the script. Making masks completed our session with some very creative, and beautifully decorated, editions. I wished I had brought my camera to the session to take some pictures!

Holy Week and Easter for the lower grades:

Good Friday: a special program for children through 6th grade will focus on the Stations of the Cross with stories, activities, and prayer. We will start at 5:00 with a light dinner.

Easter Sunday: No classes. Students should gather at the back of the church to select flowers to place on the cross at the foot of the chancel steps, and be ready to join the choir in the processional at the 10:15 service.

Adult Education

The Way Things Are

In these classes we will view Huston Smith offering a uniquely personal perspective on his own spiritual journey through life. He speaks with passion and humor about his upbringing, the inspiring and colorful individuals he has known, and the wisdom he has gained from the different religious and philosophical traditions he has encountered.

Smith is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Syracuse University, and is considered the country's preeminent public scholar of world religions. He is the author of Religions of Man (1958), which was revised as The World's Religions in 1991, and of Why Religion Matters (2001).

In this course we will discuss Smith’s evaluation of the state of world religion and religious leadership, and the vital importance of the transcendent message of religion in the 21st century. Is life rich with purpose, value and transcendental meaning? Smith shows that that's the way things are.

Classes are held on Sunday mornings April 6th & April 16th from 9am to 10am in the Conference Room.

Enigma of the Dead Sea Scrolls

These two classes are an introduction and examination of key issues related to the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely regarded as the most significant archeological discovery of the twentieth century. But in addition to the remarkable discoveries there remains much mystery and intrigue as scholars and administrators have fought over access to the materials. These classes will investigate the scrolls, the controversies, the key players, and what the discoveries have contributed to our understanding of the ancient world and the Bible.

Classes are held on Sunday mornings April 27 & May 4 from 9:00am-10:00am in the Conference Room.

To Contact Father James:
Office: 346-6241

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

April 1 - Philosophy of Mind, If There Is One - The principal grounds of disagreement within the wide-ranging subject of philosophy of mind center on whether the right framework for considering issues is provided by developed sciences or humanistic frameworks.

April 8 - What makes a Problem Moral? - Is there a moral reality? We examine especially David Hume's rejection of the idea that there is anything moral in the external world.

April 22 - Medicine and the Value of Life - What guidance does moral philosophy provide in the domain of medicine, where life-and-death decisions are made daily?

April 29 - On the Nature of Law - Philosophy of law is an ancient subject, developed by Aristotle and elaborated by Cicero. We see how natural law theory has evolved through the Enlightenment and the writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin.

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.

Classes are held on Wednesday Evenings from7:30-8:30, April 2nd , 9th, and 30th in the Conference Room. Please inform the rector ( if you are interested in attending.

Are you interested in fresh, local produce delivered weekly this summer and fall?

Roxbury Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) still has openings for members. You may obtain information and enrollment forms on the farm’s website, , as well as from Richey Woodzell.

All of the vegetables are grown at Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, NY, using organic and sustainable practices. The produce includes lettuces and other greens, tomatoes, corn, green beans, snap peas, summer and winter squash, potatoes and herbs, to name just a few.

A full share provides 15-20 pounds of vegetables per week for 23 weeks, enough for 2-4 adults on a vegetable-based diet. The cost is $587, which can be paid in installments. There is also a 3-hour work requirement per share. For an additional $125, you may sign up for the winter share, which is three 30-lb. boxes of root crops, winter squash and cabbage, delivered in December, January and February. CSA members may also purchase pastured pork and grass-fed lamb and beef raised on the farm. The meat products are certified Animal Welfare Approved for humane animal husbandry.

Sign up for the Schenectady or Glenville delivery site. Pick-ups are on Tuesdays, June 10 – November 4, plus November 18. Schenectady: 4:30 – 6:30 PM at Mt. Olivet Church, 1068 Park Avenue Glenville: 4:00 – 6:30 PM at Immaculate Conception Church, Route 50

If a whole share is too much, consider a half-share – find someone to split a share with you! Or buy a full share and donate the other half to the SICM pantry!

Roxbury farm has a commitment to the hungry in the communities they serve. They pack an extra 10% in their weekly deliveries for local food pantries, and any leftover produce goes to the pantries as well. Last year the SICM food pantry received over 4400 pounds of Roxbury Farm produce from the Schenectady and Glenville delivery sites.

Questions? Ask Richey Woodzell. We’ve been members for 12 years, and eagerly anticipate the beginning of each new season.

St. Stephen's Book Club!

April: Blackbird House By Alice Hoffman

May: When God Was a Woman, By Merlin Stone

June: My Beloved World, By Sonia Sotomayor

We meet at 7:00pm on the second Tuesday of the Month In the Teen Lounge. Next meeting is Tuesday, April 8th

Ministry Updates

CHURCH WORLD SERVICE KITS During the week following Easter, St, Stephen’s will again be hosting a regional drop-off site for Church World Service kits. Drop-off times are 9:30-11:30 am on Mon, Wed & Fri, April 21, 23 and 25.

If you would like to contribute a kit, you can find instructions for assembly at or look for CWS Kits online. Church World Service can use any of the kits: School Kits, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets, for distribution to those in need around the world.
Parishioners have already donated enough materials and money for 27 School Kits and 5 Baby Care Kits, which were delivered to CWS in February. If you have questions, contact Richey Woodzell, 372-9398.

SICM Update

Thanks you to all who have donated food for the pantry and goodies for the kids Easter baskets. Your generosity means more than our words to the families served at the pantry.

There is a day of service April 5 to assemble the kids baskets and another day of service April to clean up
(if winter ever ends!) some of the summer lunch sites. Watch this space for news about summer lunch –
our week will probably by the first week of July.

Don’t forget the CROP Walk the first weekend in May!

Amy, Eunice and Marti

Church World Service

CROP WALK for the Hungry Sunday, May 4

I wondered about the slogan for the CROP Walk: “We walk because they walk.” For some reason I figured it was because there were other groups walking, St. Stephen’s did it too! But then I got reading and saw there are thousands of women around the world who walk for miles to get water for their families. Water is terribly heavy to carry. It would be backbreaking to get water for just one person for a day, but for a family it is mind wrenching!
The dollars we raise for the CROP Walk go to help the water carriers: with wells and with seeds and teaching how to grow family food in a planned garden. But the wells and seeds are only a small part of the work of Church World Service.

Let’s give our time to walk , our money to contribute to the walkers, and our prayers for the success of the walk and its service here and around the world. 25% of our contribution stays right here to help our local people who are hungry. Thank you for your generosity!

This year’s walk is the first Sunday in May. There is no snow date planned. See me for walker’s pledge envelopes or if you have questions. Peace to us all!

Priscilla Sprague

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
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.