May, 2017


Dear Friends,

The African Church Father Tertullian, the earliest Christian writer in Latin, grew up a Roman citizen in North Africa. Educated in literature and rhetoric, he became a lawyer. Later in life, this brilliant thinker became a convert to Christianity in the year 197 A. D. Tertullian wrote that he had come to faith, not because of its reasonableness, but because it was a religion which no ordinary mind could have invented - particularly, the core belief of the resurrection. To put his philosophy in a nutshell, Tertullian said: "I believe because it is outrageous." 

Indeed, the whole story is outrageous. No wonder some people have such a problem with the JamesResurrection. You can't blame them. No wonder Thomas Jefferson, the "Renaissance man" extraordinaire, down-played it in his version of the New Testament. Easter is outrageous. It turns upside down our conceptual control of what is, and what is not, possible. It offends our sense of justice. It takes reason and rationality to the woodshed. If, then, we somehow fail to sense the Resurrection's outrageousness, then we have missed its mystery - and have yet to be grasped by its power of its love.

One of my favorite stories is told by Mary Alice Byrd.  When Mary Alice Byrd was a little girl growing up in a small town, everybody knew she came from a very broken family with many problems.  In addition, she was born with a cleft palate and they couldn't do anything to fix that disfigurement in those days.  With the family situation and the cleft palate, she says she doesn't know what would have happened to her if it hadn't been for Miss Leonard and the whisper test."

Miss Leonard was her Elementary School teacher.  Twice each year they had a whisper test that was really a hearing examination.  The children would come individually up to the teacher and put a hand over one ear.  Miss Leonard would cup her hand around the child's other ear and whisper something which the child had to repeat.  She might whisper, "Your shoes are blue."  The child was to whisper back, "My shoes are blue."  In this way, the teacher could discover if the child had hearing problems.

Mary Alice says, though, that Miss Leonard broke the rules with her.  To all the other kids, she would say something innocuous and they would repeat it back.  To Mary Alice, though, she said the same six words each time.  Mary Alice got to hear them twice a year and those six words, she believes, changed her life.  They transformed her into someone of worth and substance and strength.  They gave her hope.  Whenever she stood up and Miss Leonard leaned down close, she would whisper, "I wish you were my child."
Then, not only would Miss Leonard break the rules by repeating those same six words to Mary Alice every time, but Mary Alice would also break the rules.  Instead of repeating them back to her teacher, she would turn to her and with tears in her eyes and say, "Thank you.  I love you."
If you don't hear anything else in this message, hear this: on Easter, Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the tomb, that, through Him, God might not whisper but shout, "I want you to be my child!  Give me your hand.  Trust me.  You don't have to be in this life on your own."  Remember what you mean to the One who has all power and experience the outrageous  love of the Risen Lord.  Alleluia!

James+

Labyrinth WalkLabyreinth

Walk the labyrinth by candlelight and music and pray for peace in our hearts and peace in the world on Saturday evening, May 6th from 7:30 to 8:30. The labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool that is thousands of years old, walked by millions of people across time and traditions. The walk will be preceded by a brief introduction to the labyrinth.

In his little book He is Risen, Thomas Merton describes the existential dimensions of our life in Christ.


True encounter with Christ
liberates something in us,
a power
we did not know we had;
a hope,
a capacity for life,
a resilience,
an ability to bounce back,
when we thought
we were completely defeated,
a capacity to grow
and change,
a power
of creative transformation
.

Praying the Bible by Elizabeth Canham
Dennie+, Spirituality Committee

Are You Interested in Becoming A Member of St. Stephen's?

THE ANGLICAN ETHOS is a series of four classes that are held in an informal atmosphere and taught by the rector.  For those who are new to the Episcopal Church, or looking for a new spiritual home, this course will provide an introduction to the Church; its history, beliefs, worship, and work in the world.

Or, if you were confirmed earlier in life, and wish to renew your commitment at an adult level, consider this course as a part of your continuing Christian education.  The course is required for all who wish to be confirmed or received into the church.

These classes will be held on Sundays at noon beginning on May 7th.  New members will be welcomed on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

Education for Youth

Holy Spirit Kids (Elementary students)

Shehecheyano (a blessing recited only on the first night of Passover):

 Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v’klyemanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us,
and for enabling this chocolate day.
(Introduction to “A Chocolate Seder Haggadah” ReformJudais.org)

Easter was a busy week with the Chocolate Seder program on Friday evening (special thanks to Allison deKanel who gave generously of her time officiating at the Seder and helping with set-up) and the Flowering of the Cross on Sunday morning.

In the classroom the last few weeks of Lent we learnt about Lazarus, about Jesus’ relationship with his disciples, and the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and death.  

During the remaining weeks of church school classes we will look at the stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters with the disciples and discuss the events leading up to the Ascension.

Sunday Friends (Grades 5 & up):

The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern and humbly obey your God.” (Micah 6:8).

During Lent we looked at this passage from Micah and discussed some of the issues surrounding justice and vengeance. We compared the American symbol for justice (a blindfolded figure holding scales) with the declarations of the c.722 BCE Judean prophet. Students illustrated the quotation by decorating “Super Justice Dude” (a human-form outline). A couple of these are posted on the classroom door.

We also studied the Parable of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13: 24-35). When asked to write a short sentence describing the Kingdom of Heaven in contemporary terms, responses varied – here are two:

“The Kingdom of God is like a school. It teaches many people many different things.”
“The Kingdom of God is like a rose; because you have to go through things in life
but you will eventually get to the blossom.”

Regional Food Bank: Saturday, May 6, 1-3:00P.M.
965 Albany Shaker Road

Our last service date for the season is Saturday, May 6, from 1:00pm until 3:00.  This is an all-ages opportunity to help the needy by sorting donated goods into bins dedicated to local food pantries such as the one we support at SICM. Volunteers should be age 6 and up, wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes. Meet in the warehouse at the back of the lot (enter through the door marked “volunteers” at the top of the ramp.

Miranda Rand, Christian Education Director (mirandarand411@gmail.com)

Adult Education

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:

Discovering the Bible: Hebrew Scriptures Overview

This course is a survey of the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), while discussing some of the scholarly issues surrounding each part of the Old Testament (such as the JEDP theory). The videos take account of new research in the field of biblical studies.

These classes are presented as a survey, not a theology. So don't expect it to stand up for any particular theological perspective (you will be given the tools to do that on your own). It is a useful introductory-level course for students starting out in biblical study.

May 10 – From Abraham through Conquest of Canaan
May 17 - From David through The Exile
May 24 – From the Return from Exile through  Alexander & Hellenism
May 31 - From The Apocrypha through  Maccabees

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.

Sunday Morning Forum:class

In the Footsteps of St. Peter

In this course we will trace the travels from St. Peter's humble Galilean birthplace to Jerusalem to the miraculous post-resurrection transformation.  Discussion led by the rector will follow. Classes are held on Sunday Mornings from 9-10 in the Conference Room.

Tuesday Morning Seminar:

A History of the Christian Tradition

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?

It is never too late to join this seminar! We meet on Tuesday mornings from 10:30am to noon.  If you might be interested, or have any questions, please contact the rector at  james.ross.mcd@gmail.com

Topics for May are:

May 2      Neo-Orthodoxy—From Kierkegaard to Barth
May 9      Protestantism after Modernity
May 16    Catholic Theologies of Grace & Mystical Theology. Class at 10:00
May 23     From Vatican I to Vatican II & Vatican II and Ecumenical Prospects. . Class at 10:00

Episcopal Church Women (ECW)

Refugee Resettlement

On April 2, about 30 women from St. Stephen’s gathered for lunch at the Turf Tavern, where we heard Dahlia Herring of the Capital Region Refugee Roundtable speak about supporting refugees  in the Albany area.  A community-based volunteer network that partners with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Albany (USCRI – Albany), the Roundtable provides information and support to volunteers and service providers, as well as advocating for refugees and working to improve and expand community support for them. 

Dahlia Herring, being a first generation Jewish immigrant, has worked with refugees for the past 11 years.  She provided handouts of facts about refugees and immigrants, as well as a list of opportunities for supporting them through donations or volunteering.  You may find copies on the shop counter.
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
A brief description of the refugee process:

  • The refugee escapes from persecution, either to a refugee camp or a nearby country.
  • Refugee applies for refugee status in the U.S., and is put on a long list.
  • Refugee goes through an extraordinarily strict vetting process, which takes 18 months to two years.
  • Refugees are resettled by the government in certain regions which have agreed to host them, usually keeping communities together.
  • USCRI has two weeks advance notice to find housing, schools, temporary assistance.
  • Refugee has three months to find employment, but even with English-speaking ability it’s hard to find anything other than a low-level job.
  • In addition to receiving orientation to U.S. culture in refugee camps, during first three months in U.S. refugees attend weekly meetings on laws, traditions, etc.   Most come from highly communal cultures, and find life in U.S. very lonely.

The Refugee Act of 1980 created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.   It set a cap at 50,000 per year, giving the President the power to raise that amount for one year.  Currently it is set at 110,000.

Help?  If anyone at St. Stephen’s is interested in helping, Dahlia suggested getting a group of people to work together.   Pick up a copy of the local resources on the shop counter.

Healing a Woman’s Soul Workshop – May 6

St. Stephen’s ECW will be hosting a one-day workshop entitled Hearts Broken, Hearts Healed, conducted by Healing a Woman’s Soul (HAWS) for victims of domestic violence.  The event is on Saturday, May 6, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM in the parish hall.  We provide snacks and beverages during the day, and serve a lunch of lasagna, bread and salad.  Contact Carole Merrill-Mazurek or Richey Woodzell by May 1 if you can help with food, serving or cleanup.

It feels good to give.

Blood donors report feeling a sense of great satisfaction after making their donation.
Why? Because helping others in need just feels good.

There will be a Red Cross Blood Drive in Begley Hall, 
Friday, May 19th, between 1-6PM.
Donations are greatly appreciated and save lives!  
It is open to everyone so please recruit your friends and family!
Please contact Roseann Caruso at 688-9524
or go to www.redcross.org - to schedule an appointment.

AAUW

The American Association for University Women recently reported that 53% of women have high student loan debt just one year after graduation, compared to 39% of men. Many women also face the added difficulties of trying to go to college for the first time later in life, returning to school after long gaps of time, and attaining a degree while being a single parent.

To help make college more accessible for them, our college planning experts at OEDB.org developed two holistic financial aid guides specifically for women. It breaks down available grants, scholarships, and fellowships, along with useful tips and tricks.

An open letter to Fr. James McDonaldSid

On behalf of the 20 or so congregants who attended this year's  Lenten Program (The Story of Music in Church Worship). I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the time and effort Fr. James put into preparing and presenting this program. The program was expertly supported by visual and audio presentations and I found it really most interesting. I also found it quite nostalgic, bringing back memories of my days as a choirboy back in England during the 1940s. I am sure that all the attendees enjoyed the program as much as I did.

Our thanks also go to the various people who very kindly prepared the soup and bread for our suppers that we all enjoyed after Fr James' presentations.

Sidney J. Woodcock.  

Classified

See your own ad here; reasonable rates!

Help the trees!

I need fifteen or so half-gallon cardboard milk or juice containers in which I can start seedlings of American Chestnut trees. This is part of a program to develop blight-resistant strains and, hopefully, eventually reestablish these beautiful trees.

- George Woodzell

Support the CROP walk

The CROP walk takes place Sunday May 7th. You can can walk, or you can contribute money to support CROP for those who do walk.

Priscilla Sprague is the contact person.
My old computer

Anyone want my old computer?  It works fine for word processing or searching the web, it just got too slow to manioulate my picture files, which sometimes get as big as 100MB.
Specs: 4GB RAM, 700GB HDD, Win 7 Pro. The catch:  no screen. Maybe it’s good for parts? Who wants it?? 
Chris Jones
Spring Pernnials

Are you ready to divide your perennials? Put them in a pot and bring them in.  I’ll be bringing elderberries (large schrub), thornless blackberries, rhubarb, and maybe a few more. Maybe some big blue iris after they bloom.  Chris Jones

The Calendar - May - 2017

Thius can change! Tune in sunday mornings to get the latest information.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Th Fri

Sat

  1
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer

2
9:00 Morning Prayer 
10:30 Seminar

3
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer



7:30 Bells
7:30 Prayer study
4
9:00 Morning Prayer




7:30 Choir
5
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer

6
9:00 Morning Prayer
9:30 HAWS Workshop
11:00 Isabnella


1:00 Food Bank

7:30 Labyrinth Walk

7
7:30 Morning Prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Adult Class
9:45 Choir
10:00 Nursery Care
10:15 Communion
10:30 Holy Spirit Kids
11:30 Sunday Friends
12:00 Anglican Ethos
1:00 CROP Walk
8
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer



7:30 Vestry

9
9:00 Morning Prayer 
10:30 Seminar



7:00 Book Club

10
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer




7:30 Bells
7:30 Bible Study
11
9:00 Morning Prayer




7:30 Choir
12
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer
13
9:00 Morning Prayer
9:00 Quilts
14
7:30 Morning Prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Adult Class
9:45 Choir
10:00 Nursery Care
10:15 Communion
10:30 Holy Spirit Kids
11:30 Sunday Friends
12:00 Anglican Ethos
15
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Parish Council
16
9:00 Morning Prayer 
10:00 Seminar



17
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer




7:30 Bells
7:30 Bible Study
18
9:00 Morning Prayer
19
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer

20
9:00 Morning Prayer
9:00 Quilts
21
7:30 Morning Prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Adult Class
9:45 Choir
10:00 Nursery Care
10:15 Communion
10:30 Holy Spirit Kids
11:30 Sunday Friends
12:00 Anglican Ethos
22
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer
23
9:00 Morning Prayer
10:00 Seminar

24
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer



7:30 Bible Study

25
9:00 Morning Prayer
26
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer
27
9:00 Morning Prayer
9:00 Quilts
28
7:30 Morning Prayer
8:00 Communion
9:00 Adult Class
9:45 Choir rehearsal
10:00 Nursery Care
10:15 Communion
10:30 Holy Spirit Kids
11:30 Sunday Friends
12:00 Anglican Ethos
29
8:30 Osteo Exercise 
9:00 Morning Prayer
30
9:00 Morning Prayer 


31
8:30 Osteo Exercise
9:00 Morning Prayer



7:30 Bells
7:30 Bible Study

   

 

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Church Staff
The Rev. Dr. James R. McDonald, Rector, 
Rev. Dennie Bennett, Assisting Priest,
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, Jim Syta
Jr. Warden, Claudia Jakubowski
Clerk: to be appointed
Treasurer: Denise Crates

Vestry Class of 2017
Joanne Frank
Peter Nelson
Elissa Prout

Vestry  Class of 2018
Linda Emaelaf
Liz Varno
Mary Alexander

Vestry Class of 2019
Stephanie Grimason
Mary Ann Harrington
Daniel Ruscitto

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