March, 2015


Celtic Spirituality: A Lenten Study

Bread, soup, and study:  This Lenten series examines the spiritual aspects of Celtic lore. We will trace the roots of Celtic Christianity through the lives of the men and women who kindled its fire in Jamesthe British Isles during the Dark Ages. We will also explore the length and breadth of the ancient land to uncover the source of today's renewed interest in Celtic spiritual traditions---meditation, prayer, and music rooted in the ministries of the Celtic saints. We will hear John O’Donohue, one of the world’s foremost thinkers and writers on Celtic literature and spirituality, who will offer deeply personal views of how he came to the Celtic vision. We will explore ancient sacred places, the crucifixion, monasticism and the Book of Kells. Finally, Fr. James will make a presentation on five thinkers who were shaped by Celtic spirituality.

 We will meet in the Conference Room at 5 pm for the video and presentations and then retire to Begley Hall for a light soup and bread supper which will be prepared by the participants. This series began on February 22nd and will continue for five Sunday evenings.  There’s still time to join us!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Dear Friends,

The cold winds blow and we have had a bitterly cold winter this year.  But I assure by the end of Lent we will see crocuses asserting themselves, even through the snow.  Very soon it will be time to pack up our winter wools and retrieve things bright and cotton and cool to hang defiantly in our closet until the thermometer takes notice and begins to rise with some regularity.

iceThe winter's harshness has taken its toll within the hearts and spirits of many members at St. Stephen's Church.  Depression became more than a passing mood and deepened into a daily struggle for some to rise in the morning.  For some of our congregation sadness lingered longer than it was warranted.  For some the irritable escalated to irreconcilable anger.  I remember a winter in Chicago when city workers stood on top of their snowplows and went berserk and began crashing into parked cars.  Winter does this to people sometimes.

I mention this for a couple reasons.  First to assure any of you who have kept to yourself during this winter that you may not be as alone as you assumed.  Second to remind all of us that for some people the only hope they have is the coming of spring daffodils.

During this month, no matter the weather, we will be reminding each other that, though we are eternally grateful for the coming of springtime, we are saved not from within ourselves or the earth, but we are saved from without - by God who refuses to let anything separate us from the love which is for us forever.  So spend days listening again, in classes, in the liturgy, through music and with this congregation.  Listen again for a hope that does not depend on the weather or on our moods or on anything else less that the dependable, steadfast, unshakable love of God made known to us on the cross.

James+


ERD - Episcopal Relief and DevelopmentERD photo

Alleviating Hunger

Hunger and poverty affect close to a billion people worldwide.

Each year, more than 10 million children under five die from malnutrition and hunger-related causes. Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners work to alleviate hunger and improve food supply, through integrated community-based programs.  Working with Church partners and local organizations, we empower people to live healthier and more productive lives.

In underserved areas, we collaborate with community members to expand food access and availability. By helping people identify their own unique resources, knowledge and skills, our efforts create long-term agricultural strategies that will help families feed themselves while protecting the environment. These locally developed programs address the specific context of hunger and have a wider impact on the health and economic well-being of the community.

Your support helps us fight poverty and increase self-sufficiency by:

Visit the Agriculture page to learn more about how we work to alleviate hunger and improve food supply.

Editor's note: ERD is found at http://www.episcopalrelief.org/


Some recent snapshots...

lunch
Lunch at the annual meeting
bell project
Please remember to support the bells refurbishment project!
cake
Pat's birthday cake.
soup
Soup/bread supper Sunday evenings

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW)

The Episcopal Church Women have a number of projects to take us through the end of the year, starting with Tools for Lent, which is under way now. The women are collecting donations for tools to be posted on a bulletin board with the donors name in the nave extension.
And more ...

Tools for Lent -- throughout Lent

Tools for Lent for Episcopal Relief and Development will kick off Feb. 22 with the theme of empowering women with tools, education, food and supplies.

We will once again tell stories of women in need during the two services.

Once again, we will keep a bulletin board of our giving using silhouettes of tools, such as hammers, sewing machines, animals and symbols of education. Parishioners will make a donation and write their names on the silhouettes, which will be pinned on the board.

Looking for ECW members to collect money after services. Sign-up sheet to come via e-mail.

Family Friday Frolic -- 3/20

We will hold a dinner and game night for young families March 20 -- a potluck with pizza, veggies, potluck for parents, cookies and ice cream.

Games will include Guesstures and animal charades, clothespin relay and a music dance party, including line dancing.

Sign up sheet for food assignments to come via e-mail.

Ladies luncheon -- 4/12

Please Join Us! ECW luncheon will be held at Turf Tavern on Sunday, April 12th at  12:00. Tickets will be sold after Church services for only $10.00.

Entrée Choices: Baked Scrod, Chicken Florentine, Roast Tip Sirloin of Beef. Meal includes salad, bread, brownie sundae, coffee, tea, and water.

A very special treat this year as our presenter will be our very own Claudia Jakubowski! 
She will offer thoughts on personal style by giving quick and practical ideas to help every
woman become her most stylish self!   Ten Easy Steps for Stress-Free Style!

Do hope you’ll join us! Any questions?  Please ask Sara Palko or Linda Perregaux

Healing a Woman's Soul -- 5/9

We will provide breakfast, lunch and fellowship for the Healing a Woman's Soul reunion for about 30 women affected by domestic violence. Will ask congregation for items to fill goodie bags for participants. More to come on this.


Children and Christian Education

Lent is here already! I cannot believe how fast the year goes by…

Here is a recap of some of the things we talked about in the classrooms during the month of February, and an outline of what we will discuss in March.

Sunday Friends

We did a lesson on the Western Wall in Jerusalem, concentrating on the historical and biblical aspects of the wall, as well as contemporary and political usage, and the current conflict between the Palestine and Israel. At the end we wrote prayers to put in the wall. Our Judaics instructor, Zipporah Harris, offered to carry them for us and put them in the wall because she was going to visit family in Jerusalem, and planned to visit the site. She is there as I write this, and I am sure she will have inserted our prayers for us, or if she hasn’t had the time yet to visit the wall, she will do that before she returns.

We also discussed the quality of inner beauty versus outward attractiveness, using the example of the story in Matthew of the woman who used her life savings to buy a jar of Nard (a type of costly perfume), and crashed a dinner party to anoint Jesus’ feet with it, using her hair to wipe them clean. Images for this woman generated on Google Images portray an attractive woman of early middle age with long black hair, bending over Jesus’ feet.  
 
During Lent we will use the lectionary texts and appropriate crafts to investigate the liturgical meaning and social texture of Lent, and to develop a visual time-line of the events in Jesus’ life that led to his death and resurrection.

Godly Play

Because this group has such a variety of ages and maturation levels, and some of the younger ones have short attention spans, we start each week by lighting the Christ Candle, then chanting and signing, “Be Still and Know That I am God,” three times. This serves as a reminder to the children that when we have sung that song through and finished, it is time to sit still and pay attention to the story.

During the month of February we had a special visit from Planetarium manager, Meg Norris, who told us about the night sky in winter and helped us identify stars and constellations.

On the first Sunday in Lent we talked about the rotation of the liturgical seasons and the appropriate colors for each, and worked with a wooden story puzzle, “The Circle of the Church Year.”  Based on several different interpretations of the circle pulled from liturgical and church websites, the children then drew their own pictures of the church year and colored them appropriately. This coming Sunday, March 1, we will celebrate Chinese New Year and entertain a special dragon guest.

During the rest of Lent we will follow the stories of Jesus’ life and ministry from birth to resurrection with a special series of plaques laid out on a long purple runner and decorated as the story line progresses with offerings of flowers, shells, colored beads, and sparkly stones.

Miranda Rand, Christian Education Director


Keeping Lent at Home

The following suggestions are meant to jog your own family creativity, for children benefit especially from active participation and tangible expression of what may otherwise become too abstract or boring as a long Lent draws itself out.

To give an outward sign to our Lenten efforts, we can make and hang something over the hearth or, for that matter, the kitchen sink, which will encourage us and make us mindful of our resolutions.

A banner or poster with that three-fold theme of prayer, fasting, and alms giving is a fine place to begin.  Illustrate their symbols next to them and draw out a discussion at dinner time about how the family might interpret these disciplines during the next six weeks.

Spring, another theme for Lent, can be lettered on a length of shelf paper and illustrated with everyone’s signs of springtime.  Guests and visitors and the children’s friends can be invited to add to the illustrations as they come to visit.

 A mask or a drawing of a face with two halves, one side cheerful and one gloomy, can illustrate Christ’s suggestions to us that Lent not be a dismal affair but actually something that contains its own rewards, shining out of a happy face.  “When you fast, do not look glum as the hypocrites do...When you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.  In that way no one can see that you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”  (Ash Wednesday’s Gospel).

 A simple cross made of two twigs can be planted in a pot with cactus.  Add the inscription: “If any person loves me, let him/her take up his cross and follow me.”  Or make an arrangement of bark and twigs and dry weeds, and as Lent progresses, make some changes by adding spring greens, pussy willows and new life to the dry collection.

A flower garden chart is a help for small children.  With each day that passes, or with each good deed or experience, they can add a flower and watch Lent bloom.

Finally you can pick up a ‘Hope Chest’ from the Nave Extension to collect your money for the poor.  It  can be set on the mantel or prepared as a table centerpiece.  Decorate with the inscription: “The Fasts of the Rich are the Feast of the Poor’.  Omitted desserts, cheaper cuts of meat, meals at home rather than eaten out, movies not seen, miles not driven, unessentials not bought all add pennies to the mite box.


Lent

Lent, the annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, is an intense period of Christian teaching and training.  In earlier centuries, the season provided the background for the preparation of the catechumen (new converts) for baptism on Easter morning.

The catechumens were later joined in their studies by professional Christians seeking continued study and spiritual renewal.  By the third century, Lent also was a time when Christians who had lapsed in the faith could prepare for reuniting with the body of Christ on Maundy Thursday (Great Thursday).  Their journey began on Ash Wednesday when ashes gathered from the burnt palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday were placed on the confessor’s forehead as a sign of repentance and total dependence on God.  Thus, Lent has become a time for all Christians - new converts, committed followers, and renewed believers, to reflect on their baptism in the light of Christ’s baptism and temptation. 

Lent is a time for spiritual preparation; a time for discipline; a time to ‘repent’ or ‘turn around’ as the Greek words “metanoia” implies.  The spirit of Lent is to take on anew all that it means to belong to Christ.

Lent is a way of growing into Easter.


Sunday Morning Adult EducationCrucifixion

The Last Days of Jesus: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Final Days in Jerusalem

This course uses videos that delve into recent discoveries about the events leading up to the crucifixion and sheds new light on the unanswered questions that still surround this defining moment in world history.  The Last Days of Jesus includes insightful interviews with expert historians. According to the Gospels, Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and he ascended into heaven. But how much is legend and how much is truth? This course is a fascinating journey back to ancient Jerusalem. We will investigate the disappearance of Jesus Christ after his death and attempt to gain new insight hidden within the diverse accounts of his resurrection that may ultimately shed new light on the mystery of Easter.

Classes are held on Sunday Mornings – 9am to 10am in the Conference Room.


Wednesday Evening Bible Studybible

Discovering The Bible:  An Introduction to the Old and New Testaments

March 11 - 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?

March 18 - 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.

March 25 - 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?

Classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 in the Conference room.  If you would like to attend these classes please email Fr. James james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.


Tuesday  Morning  SeminarJesus and Socretes

Philosophy and Religion in the West

Philosophy and religion ask many of the same questions:

These are questions no thoughtful person can evade.
They are enduring and perennial. And they are possessed of a history whose twists and turns have left their mark on almost every person on earth.

March 3           Kant - Morality as the Basis of Religion
March 10         Schleiermacher - Feeling as the Basis of Religion
March 17         Hegel - A Philosophical History of Religion
March 24         Marx -  Hermeneutics of Suspicion

Classes meet on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 to noon in the Conference Room. 


Faces of Faith: A life that exemplifies ecumenism

Miranda was interviewed by Rob Brill, editor of the Times Union Newspaper’s "Faces of Faith" column for her role as coordinator of Ecumenical Witnesses of Baptism (witnesses have several times been present at baptisms at St. Stephen’s in the past several years).  The article appeared on Saturday, January 17, 2015.

Published 9:16 pm, Friday, January 16, 2015

MIRANDA RAND

Background: Born the daughter of a British army officer in Stratford on Avon, a town in southMiranda Randeast England famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and named after the heroine of "The Tempest," she came to this country in 1966, where she met her husband. They raised their two sons in Schenectady. Her husband died in September. She has two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

What was it like growing up in many places around the world?
When I was five my mother, my sister, and I traveled by army transport ship to join my father who was stationed in Rawalpindi, India. I celebrated my sixth birthday there. Shortly afterward the civil war and unrest escalated and British armed forces were ordered home. My clearest memory of that time was leaving Rawalpindi in the last passenger train bound for the coastal town of Karachi. The platform was densely packed with Indian families sympathetic to the British, desperate to flee the unrest. As the train pulled out of the station, people leaped from the platform to cling to the sides of the train in the hopes of escaping refugee status.

That was one of several moves as my father advanced his career in Edinburgh, Scotland, Plymouth, England, and the island of Malta in the Mediterranean, where he was promoted to major general. Moving and frequently changing schools was a hardship for me. When I looked to the future, I was determined to marry someone whose job did not require moving from place to place.

You're active in Ecumenical Witnesses of Baptism, the Capital Area Council of Churches group that marked its 20th anniversary this month.
I have been a member for three years and coordinator of witnesses since May. There are 28 participating witnesses representing 21 congregations in nine mainline denominations. When we witness a baptism we say, "We come representing different communities of faith, and we also come in the name of the unity of the church." This statement reminds me that despite doctrinal differences, the sacrament of baptism is universal across the faith community.

How has your own life embodied ecumenism?
I grew up a member of the Church of England. When my father retired and settled in a small English village, he became a church warden, and my mother organized the ecumenical World Day of Prayer. When I emigrated to the U.S.A., I lived in Guilderland and was a member of St. Boniface Episcopal Church. My husband was Presbyterian, and we were married in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany. After we moved to Schenectady I joined the Woodlawn Reformed Church. I was elected to Consistory, the church council, became the volunteer Christian education leader, and took courses to become a commissioned preaching elder, trained to lead worship and interpret the Scriptures. I am active in the geographical cluster of Reformed churches known as the Schenectady Classis. At St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Schenectady, I am the Christian education director, a 15-hour a week salaried position with responsibility for selecting curriculum and teaching children pre-school through high school. I am very hands-on with the kids, I love their curiosity, and I encourage them to understand Bible stories in their historical context, rather than as the literal word of God.

My love of working with children spills over into the community. I work with seventh-grade girls in the Schenectady City School District in a self-empowerment mentoring program devised by the League of Women Voters. I coordinate a monthly support circle for Christian educators in the Schenectady area, and I am a member of the Capital Region Theological Center Education Committee, which explores ways to bring quality religious education to clergy and laity alike in an ecumenical setting.

What are hopes for the future of the ecumenical movement?
I am passionate about ecumenism but ambivalent about its future. As a member of various interfaith groups I am discouraged that their programs do not seem to reach people in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, and that those who worship in a community setting at all, seem to find solace in the evangelical, non-denominational churches where the Word is preached as literal and the worship setting is theatrical versus contemplative. My training as a preaching elder taught me to respect the rightness of order in worship and the tedious but rewarding process of picking apart a Scripture passage. While I strive to understand the growing movement of those who claim themselves "spiritual but not religious" – who reject commitment to conventional worship and structured religious study— I guess I am at heart a traditionalist who appreciates structure!

Rob Brill

Note: "Getting to know you" will be a regular feature of the Messenger.


Caregiver Group at St. Stephen’s Church

Do you care for a family member?  Maybe you check in on a neighbor. A support group for caregivers will be starting at St.  Stephen’s on Wednesday, April 15th at 1pm.  We will meet in the parish hall once a month.  The group will be facilitated by Vicki Hoshko, Caregiver Support Coordinator from Senior and Long Term Care.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 518-382-8481 ext. 1008


The 1983 Cookbook

The recipes below were taken from "The Feasts of St. Stephen's", published in 1983, and I dare say that there are a few copies floating around somewhere. Sue Feyrer and Betsy Neal were the entrepreneurs for this splendid cookbook. We all love desserts, and there are lots of cake and cookies recipes in that book. There might have been a bit of (friendly) competition, because they both submitted recipes for Whoopie Pies.

WHOOPIE PIES

2 c. (heaped) flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
½ c. shortening
½ c. hot water
½ c. sour milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together above ingredients. Drop on ungreased cookie sheets by spoonfuls. Bake 10-11 minutes.

Filling:
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. milk
2 c. confectioners sugar
¾ c. Crisco and butter (¼ of one, ½ of other)

Mix together and spread generously between 2 cookies. Susan Feyrer

BETSY’S WHOOPIE PIES

2 c. sifted flour
6 Tbsp. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. milk
1½ tsp. baking soda
5 heaping Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. salt

Filling:
¾ c. confectioners sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. marshmallow fluff

Cream ingredients. Drop by large spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Spread filling between 2 cookies when cooled. Betsy Neal

Take your pick. We're neutral!


The Calendar: March, 2015

This is a draft copy of the calendar for March. For the latest information, watch the Sunday bulletin, hear the Sunday announcements in church, watch the bulletin boards, and/or go to the website calendar.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 Lent 2
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Nursery Care
9:00 Education Hour
10:15 Communion & Kids' class
5:00 Soup/Study
2
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Parish Council
3
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:30 Religion and Philosophy

6:00 Girl Scouts
4
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Handbell Choir
5
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Communion & Healing


7:30 Choir
6
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer
7
9:00 Morning Prayer
8 Lent 3
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Nursery Care
9:00 Education Hour
10:15 Communion & Kids' class
5:00 Soup/Study
9
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Vestry
10
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:30 Religion and Philosophy

6:00 Girl Scouts
11
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Handbell Choir
12
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Communion & Healing


7:30 Choir
13
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer


14
9:00 Morning Prayer

15 Lent 4
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Nursery Care
9:00 Education Hour
10:15 Communion & Kids' class
5:00 Soup/Study
16
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

6:30 Girl Scouts
7:30 Communication Committee
17
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:30 Religion and Philosophy

6:00 Girl Scouts

18
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Handbell Choir
19
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Communion & Healing


7:30 Choir
20
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

5:30 Family Frolic
21
9:00 Morning Prayer
22 Lent 5
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Nursery Care
9:00 Education Hour
10:15 Communion & Kids' class
5:00 Soup/Study
23
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer


7:30 Worship Committee
24
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:30 Religion and Philosophy

6:00 Girl Scouts
25
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

7:30 Handbell Choir
26
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Communion & Healing


7:30 Choir
27
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer
28
9:00 Morning Prayer
HOLY WEEK
29 Palm Sunday
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Nursery Care
9:00 Education Hour
10:15 Communion & Kids' class
30
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

12:30 Eucharist
31
9:00 Morning Prayer


12:30 Eucharist

6:00 Girl Scouts

1
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer

12:30 Eucharist

6:00 Seder meal
2 Maundy Thursday
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Communion & Healing


7:30 Communion & Foot Washing
9:00 Prayer Vigil
3 Good Friday

Noon: Stations of the Cross




7:30 Good Friday Prayers
4 Holy Saturday






7:30 Great Easter Vigil
5 Easter Day
7:30 Morning prayer
8:00 Choral Eucharist
9:00 Nursery Care

10:15 Choral Eucharist
           

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,
Laura Bynon and Chris Quinn, Nursery School
Joe and Donna White, Custodians

The Vestry
Sr. Warden, Erin Cohen
Jr. Warden, Brian Riordon
Clerk, Tracy Ormsbee
Treasurer, Denise Crates

Class of 2015:
Jack Feyrer
Bill Frank
Jim Syta

Class of 2016:

Travis Reedy 

Class of 2017

Josanne Frank
Peter Nelson

Thanks, Richey, for lots of proofing and corrections!

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: james.ross.mcd@gmail.com
Our website is http://www.saintstephenschenectady.org/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SaintStephensSchenectady
The Messenger is published September - June. 
Please submit articles to our secretary at
StSteph1229@gmail.com by the 25th of the Month before.