September, 2016

Contents of this issue

Rector's Letter Youth Education Parish Faire
Choir Bell Choir Adult Educatiuon
Oer the Hill Gang Lectors & Chalicers The Website
Foyer Tag Sale ECW
Quilts SICM Book Club
Blessing of the Animals 1970 Messenger Masthead

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

As I write this note my sabbatical is almost over.  When asked what I did this summer, I say, “I read: on the beach, in my hammock, and on those very hot and humid days, in my study.  Throughout the year I gathered the books I planned to read over the summer. I did not even come close to reading theMcDonaldsm all!  But I continue to read because reading keeps me in touch with the great company of men and women who across the ages have struggled with and reflected on the mystery of God.

One of my professors at the University of Chicago, Martin Marty, used to say that a major turning point in our lives is when we realize we are never going to read everything we want to read before we die.  Consequently, my reading has become much more selective.  Many of you will be hearing about this reading as I incorporate my experiences in bible study classes and in other presentations.

Many of you have complimented the excellent preachers who filled the pulpit while I was gone.  I am grateful to them and especially to those who kept the church running smoothly all summer long: Pat Jones, Dennie Bennett, Susan Lohnas, Paul de Kanel, Donna & Joe White and others.

Though my sabbatical was filled with study, I come back to the congregation well-rested and ready to begin the program year. I look forward to greeting you all soon.  But for now, summer is not quite over and I am finishing a good book!


Education for Children and Youth Miranda

Nursery Care and Holy Spirit Kids’ class will start on September 18. Due to the Parish Picnic after church services on September 18, Sunday Friends will recommence on September 25.

Lisa Zebrowski will again manage the nursery – caring for infants and pre-school children as well as providing a short age-appropriate lesson that mirrors the story that the Holy Spirit Kids’ class is learning. Parents with children in both rooms can thus reinforce the story during quiet time with their children over dinner or at bed time and older kids can tell the story to their siblings; younger ones can relate by showing their story cards. Take home material is handed out at the end of each session.

Miranda Rand will teach the Holy Spirit Kids’ program. If there are a lot of children on a consistent basis, parents may be asked to step in and assist.  We will use the same curriculum as we did last year with a Bible story page for the kids to read or follow along on, and a learning leaflet that presents the story from a more contemporary perspective and includes puzzles and word games. The curriculum will follow the lectionary so that in general, the Gospel lesson or the Old Testament text for the week read at the beginning of the service is the same as the text for the children’s lesson.

Sunday Friends will alternate games, service projects and Bible study.  When we gather for the first time we will discuss what service projects we want to support this year and how often we want to support the charities we choose.

Each student enrolled in our program will receive a personalized invitation in the mail a week or so before classes start.

I am excited to be starting a new school year and to seeing everyone again.

Miranda Rand, Education Director

Parish Fairehamburgers

Once again we will have the Parish Faire and Picnic to begin the year. The Faire will take place on September 18th at 9:00 a.m. following the early service and again during the coffee hour following the 10:15 a.m. Eucharist. There will be a table set up for each activity of the parish and a chance to sign up for each. There will be refreshments at 9 a.m., and at 11:30 a.m. 

As we begin a new program year, please think about the way you spend your time. Here are a few simple suggestions which can help to structure our schedule in the months ahead.

  • Make worship a weekly priority.
  • Commit yourself to regular study through numerous church school classes or Bible studies. 
  • Look for opportunities where you can become personally involved in serving others

The Choirchoir

A big “thank you” to everyone offering special music this summer: Mary Alexander, Chris Jones, Douglas & Susan Lohnas, Maggie MacDougall, Doreen May, Rick & Carolyn Morin, June Russell, Judy Versocki, and Richey Woodzell. We had vocals, instrumentalists, solos to quintets and everything in between!

From August 2 – 4 Douglas and Susan attended the “Music in the Mountains 2016 Church Music Conference” held at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. What a thrill to be with about 400 participants and sing over 300 pieces of music. Several of the composers led sessions.

Choir rehearsal will begin on Thursday, September 8th which will allow us to have two rehearsals before the homecoming on September 18th. We are always looking for more singers to join the choir. The ability to read music is helpful but not necessary.

The Bell Choir bells

“Come on, ring those bells!” The bells have been polished and are ready to ring out beautiful harmonies. Rehearsals will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 - 8:30, and will begin on October 5th.

This year, we need a few more bell choir members. The ability to read music is helpful, but not necessary. The only qualifications are being able to count, knowing left from right, and having fun working as a member of a supportive team. It is important to commit to attending rehearsals on a regular basis, and participating in Sunday services throughout the church year. If you are interested, please contact me.

In harmony,
Lisa McDonald

Adult Education

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:Bible 101

An Introduction to the Old and New Testaments

Many people would like to become more familiar with the Bible’s characters, stories and message. That’s a worthy ambition, but where do you begin? Many would-be readers are paralyzed by the sheer size of the Bible and by not knowing where to start.  The Bible is a big book with stories, advice, promises, good news, how-tos, letters, poems—all teaching us how to live now and forever. This course is one way to begin.  We will start with the very basics of navigating around the bible, and then add new skills with plenty of time to use them.

September 21 - Getting Acquainted
September 28 - The Old Testament
October 5- The New Testament
October 12 - Survival, Spread, and Influence

Classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 in the Conference room.  A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at

Tuesday Morning Seminar:

A History of Christian ExperienceLogo

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED:  What makes Catholics think differently from Protestants? How do different Christian denominations view the role of free will in salvation? Why did the Eastern Orthodox Church split off from the West? Are the divisions within Christian faith and worship inevitable or can they be mended in the future?

This year-long course is more of a spiritual journey than an academic endeavor.  As you take this journey through the development of Christian evperience, you will meet the many faithful who have committed themselves to the teachings of Jesus and encountered the diverse ways faith shaped their lives. You see how:

Christian faith determines not only what we believe, but also what we fear because our faith shapes our psyches. Catholics worry about whether their "good works" are good enough; Calvinists anxiously seek proof that their faith is real; Lutherans fear they may have already lost salvation. In these classes you have a chance to discover theologies of different traditions that shape the different kinds of anxiety that Christians experience and how these beliefs are manifested in spiritual practice.

Christian faith is a life-or-death issue. For true believers, faith is not just a matter of outward observance or intellectual conviction but is the very meaning of their existence.   at stake, Christian believers will suffer persecution and even death before they will deny their faith. From the martyrs of the early church to the Anabaptists of the Reformation, you witness how Christians throughout history have faced torment, suffered execution, and fled their homelands to preserve their faith.

Christian faith is a voice that speaks within. In Christianity, faith is a deeply personal experience. It has been a powerful voice of inner experience, from visionary encounters with Jesus by the 16th-century Spanish mystic Theresa of Avila to the practice of listening to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit that is widespread among contemporary American evangelicals.

Classes are held on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 – noon in the Conference room.  A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at

Sunday Morning Forum:

Public Policy and Our Christian Faithpenny

There is a strong emphasis in our Anglican tradition in which each believer is called to improve the future by searching for solutions to today’s problems.  This series of forums will present valuable information on today’s national issues.  The discussions will attempt to allow participants to form their own conclusions (very Anglican!)

Sept. 25  Immigration:  Should Immigration Be Restricted?
Oct. 2  Politics:  How Do We Want to Govern America?
Oct. 9  Affirmative Action:  How Can We Be Fair?
Oct. 16    The Economy:  The $16 trillion debt: tough choices about soaring federal deficits.
Oct. 23    Public Schools:  How do we got the results we want?
Oct. 30  Foreign policy:  Should we reassess America's global role?
Nov.  6   Health care:  The health care cost explosion: what should be done?

Sunday Mornings, 9am – 10am,
Conference Room

Over the Hill Ganglights

            How many of us look to heaven while in church? The bible teaches us that the heavens are above [Colossians 3:1-2] and not below. Those who have looked upwards in the nave at St. Stephens as part of your devotions may have noticed some subtle differences. You may have seen that some of the chandelier lights look different, some may be off and some may have even been missing altogether!

            The nave lighting dates back to the time that the church was built. The wiring is a very old fabric covered variety and is now degraded by the heat generated by the thermal lighting that used to be present. In places the wiring has become so degraded that just touching the insulation causes it to disintegrate. This summer the St. Stephen’s “Over the Hill Gang” has started the huge task of completely rewiring the chandeliers and providing a combination of LED [Light Emitting Diode] and compact fluorescent technology to substantially reduce power consumption and limit the heat generated. For the technically minded the LED units produce 6000 lumens of light but only consume 54 W.

            The project is likely to take several weeks since it involves a bunch of septuagenarians working high up in the roof of the nave with ladders and ropes. The units are then dismantled and rebuilt in the basement before being replaced with new modern wiring. We hope that the congregation will be patient with us during this period in the knowledge that very considerable funds are being saved by this DIY operation.

Lectors & Chalicers

Please consoder being a lector (someone who reads a lesson and directs the psalm) or a chalicer (one who passes the cup, following the deacon, with the words "the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation"). Being a lector or chalicer does not mean that you have more "religion" than anyone else, nor does it imply that you are "perfect" enough to do that. It means that you have a desire to deepen your faith experience and want to assist in the corporate wporship of St. Stephen's Church.

Feel free to talk to Fr. James for further information, or to arrange for some instruction. Doreen May does the scheduling, and she will work with you in terms of when you prefer to do this (8:00 or 10:15) and how to dovetail this with your travel or vacation plans.

Many, many thanks to those who are already performing this ministry!

The Website

The St. Stephen's websitr has a heap of information! We have an online directory, complete with pictures, so you can figure out who's who. There's a monthly calendar. The present and past issues of the Messenger are there. Want to see last year's Annual Report? Want to know what kinds of groups (ministries) are a St. Stepgen's? Want to volunteer for some ministry in Schenectady? there's even a page that describes the parish church over in England which was the model for our building. And more..

I try to keep it up-to-date, but often fail. If you see some stuff there that needs to be brought up to date, please let me know. Likewise, typographical errors. I'm not a very good proofreader.

I'm open to suggestions. If you need help to access the directory (username and password), I can help you.

It's been my policy recently to not list e-mail addresses or telephone numbers in the Messenger, since we do put it on line and make it visible to the world. Please use the on-line directory, or a printed copy of the Parish directory (you might have to ask for one) to get that information.

I didn't start our website, but it's been my pleasure to do it for a long time (twenty years or so?).

Chris Jones


The Foyer group would like to invite you to consider joining us this year.

We meet once a month in small groups at each other's homes for a pot luck supper. It is a great way to meet other members of St. Stephen's in a relaxed setting.

Groups will be formed in October. In the meantime, if you are interested in joining us or have any questions please email me.

Also, look for more information at the Parish Faire in September. 

Thank you,
Gillian Woodcock


The Annual Tag Sale will be held Saturday October 1st from 9 to 2 with the Bag Sale at 1.  Both Doreen May and Theresa Fay are accepting donations.   If you leave them in the narthex we will carry them to the basement.   If assistance is needed please let me know,  Tuesday evenings being the most available for meeting. 

Sunday September 25th will need ALL help to move items from basement to the hall!

Thank you,  Doreen

Episcopal Church Women (ECW) 

We invite all women of St. Stephen’s to come to a light potluck supper and mixer on Saturday, September 24 at 4 PM in the parish hall.  We would like to schedule about four gatherings during the year, for women of our parish to come together for spiritual growth, service and fellowship.  Do come!  Bring ideas; bring a friend.  Working together, we can make a difference!

Carole Merrill-Mazurek, Tracy Ormsbee, Liz Varno, Erin Cohen, Richey Woodzell

Quilts – QuiltingQuilt

Do you sew?
Are you interested in quilts?
Do you have a dream of making a quilt and don’t know how to start?
Have you started a quilt and put it aside for several years?

If you have answered “Yes” to anyof these questions,
contact Jean Versocki or Richey Woodzell.

Our quilt pattern starting in October is “Cathedral Windows.”


Our Summer Lunch teams started the summer at Jerry Burrell Park and served over 100 children each day!  These folks can pack a lunch and serve pizza or hot dogs with the pros!  We also provided boxes of books for the kids to look over and choose something they wanted to read and take home. THANKS TO ALL!

Thanks too to all who brought food for the Pantry to church each Sunday.  The number of folks who need help from the pantry to get through each month is not decreasing. 

Eunice and Marti

Editor's note: For more inmformation about SICM, visit the website at

Book Club

St. Stephen’s Book Club will resume on Tuesday, September 13 at 7 PM in the youth lounge.  We will discuss The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (with a plan to see the movie when it comes to town!), and decide on the books for the rest of the year.  Please join us!  Questions?  Ask Tracy Ormsbee.

Blessing of the Animals and St. Francis of Assisi

On October 4th we celebrate the life and work of St. Francis. He is probably better knanimalsown 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, Oct. 4. So we will celebrate St. Francis Day on the closest Saturday, October 1st  at 10:00am.

Here’s how it will work:

On October 1st the congregation and any animals (on leashes!) will gather on the front lawn 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.”

It’s quite a sight!

Some of the architect's photogaphs of our new parish hall

46 years ago...

These are a couple of pages from the Messenger September, 1970.




These were done in those days by the church secretary, in the office (which was then in the basement of the old parish hall) on a mineograph machine. Remember all that? Then you must be about as old as I am!

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, 
Susan Lohnas, Organist,
Douglas Lohnas, Choir Director, 
Lisa Zebrowski, Nursery Manager,
Laura Bynon and Chris Quinn, Nursery School 
Joe and Donna White, Custodians 

The Vestry
Sr. Warden, Brian Riordon
Jr. Warden, Jim Syta
Clerk: Tracy Ormsbee
Treasurer: Denise Crates

Vestry Class of 2016
Travis Reedy
Richey Woodzell
Joe Palko

Vestry Class of 2017
Joanne Frank
Peter Nelson
Elissa Prout

Vestry  Class of 2018
Linda Emaelaf
Liz Varno
Mary Alexander

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 editor Chris Jones by the 25th of the Month before.