November, 2017

Dear Friends,

Last month I had lunch with a senior pastor from a downtown church.  As you might have expected, we talked ‘clergy talk’. At one point he said that one of the benefits of having a large endowment was that it enables him to visit new members and tell them that they can be assured that every penny of money given to the church will go to outreach; that none of their money will go towards keeping the lights on, or to pay any of the salaries, or even to pay their denominational apportionment.  In other words, they can know that every cent of their pledge will go to helping the needy of our larger community. 

I sat there thinking what a contrast this is to Saint Stephen’s.  Without our members’ pledges, we could not pay our utility bills, our salaries or even our Church School curriculum.  In other words, without your generous giving to the church, we would have to do what so many churches in our area have done: close our doors for good.

Have you ever reflected on what a marvelous and fragile gift this congregation is?  Both in times of joy and crisis, we are here for one another, to support and care for what our souls need.  We are a family of brothers and sisters who can celebrate together, and yet challenge one another when that is appropriate.

Unlike my clergy friend’s congregation, we can not live off a hefty endowment and be unconcerned about our annual giving. The very existence of Saint Stephen’s rests with you who are willing to participate responsibly.  It takes a lot of money to maintain our buildings and our staff, to run a youth program and worship and to make a little difference on the streets of Vale and Hamilton Hill neighborhoods.James

But there is another and more important perspective aside from the running of an institution:  it is the ordering of our lives, personally and corporately.  For that reason alone, we are grateful to God that our worry about the bottom line of our church budget necessitates this annual wrestling with the meaning of stewardship.

Think back in your life. The people we remember, with affection, are not the people who saved up a lot of money, but the people who gave.  Try to name one person who is precious to you; who just had a lot of money, and who lived well.  You can’t do it.  The people who are precious to you, are those who gave.  That’s what our kids need to see in us, and that’s what our kids need to learn how to do.

And we needSanm to teach our children that giving to others is a source of joy. If you want to know what joy is, joy is the product, of your grateful response, to the gifts of God. That's why if you wait for joy to be thankful, you'll never find it. It's your thanksgiving that produces it.

That is THE issue, when it comes to our approach to giving money to the church. It all depends on one's beginning attitude. Really, the question is not: how much will I give, but how will I give: with a sense of thanksgiving? a sense of gift? A pledge to the church, which I believe is born out of a sense of life as a thanksgiving, is to give a proportion of what you have, for doing God's work.

We are a congregation that is seen as one of the stronger churches of our area.  We are growing and attracting young families – even if very slowly.  However, we are also a fragile parish that needs every one of our members in order to continue to thrive.  Your generous giving makes all the difference. 



Voting is the privilege of U.S. citizens and the duty of Christians living in a democracy.  Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 7th all day.

What are all those baskets?baskets

There are several baskets in the back of the parish hall, which overflow from time to time with food, books, toiletries, household items and even clothes!  We provide these baskets as a way to help parishioners share items with those who can’t always afford to buy them.

Suggestions for donations are listed with the baskets.

Food – goes to the emergency food pantry run by SICM, the Schenectady City Inner Ministry, of which we are members.  Wanted: non-perishable items, baby food, calendars and large paper grocery bags.
Children’s books – go also to SICM’s food pantry, so that children of clients may choose a book to have as their own.
Toiletries and baby items – go to Safe House, a temporary residence for teens and young adults who have no other home.
Household items – go to the Home Furnishings Program, which provides basic household items to those referred to them by local agencies or clergy.  Wanted:  clean items in good condition – sheets and towels, blankets, pots and pans, utensils, dishes.  If you wish to donate large items, (e.g. beds, mattresses, chairs, dressers) call HFP at 518-346-2444. to arrange for pickup.
Clothing – We prefer that you don’t bring clothing to the church.  You may donate it to the Bethesda House on Liberty Street, the Salvation Army or the City Mission.

As a reminder, all of these organizations also welcome monetary donations.  Thank you for continuing to contribute to this ministry. 

Parish Profiles

Parish Profiles is a bit different this month. Here is an article about the career of Evan Love that appeared on the Oct. 13-19 issue of "Your Niskayuna", a part of the Schenectady Daily Gazette. We begin with a note from Evan:

It was an honor to have served for 42 years in submarines, intelligence and emergency response.  I experienced some memorable adventures.  Most recently I was deployed to St Croix to assist with the recovery efforts on St. John and St. Thomas.  Your Navy was the first responder with three large amphibious ships which provided water, food, medical supplies and US Marines to help distribute commodities.


Schenectady Gazette

Navy retiree still has desire to serve as volunteer

Gazette Reporter

For more than 40 years, Niskayuna resiEvan and Cindydent Evan Love served his country, both on active duty and in the Navy Reserve. Now that he's retired, he intends to keep giving of himself, volunteering with veterans.

Not many people were signing up to join the military in the mid-1970s. The war in Vietnam ended in 1975 and Cold War tensions between the United States and the USSR were escalating.

"I had virtually no prospects for college at that time," Love said. "It was the result of not planning or maybe my parents weren't as involved as they could have been, but I felt that I needed to have some level of direction, some action."

His father had served in World War II in the Merchant Marine and talked with his son about his experience. Love decided to take an entrance exam for the Navy's nuclear program in 1975 and scored well enough to qualify.

This turned out to be a perfect fit for Love: It offered the direction he wanted while (unbeknownst to Love) setting him on the engineering path that he still walks.

"The Navy nuclear program is so structured," Love said. "There is two years of technical training and then four years on a submarine or aircraft carrier. I chose submarines because it's predictable, stable and certain."

Missile submarines, like the ones on which Love served, kept a regular deployment schedule - a few weeks out, a few weeks back - and, being that a submarine cannot hold a large number of troops, gave him a sense of belonging to a small family.

It was also an exciting time in U.S. military history as international teLovensions and technological advancements developed at a rapid pace. One of Love's most memorable moments aboard a submarine was the day it fired the first C4 Trident I Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles off Port Canaveral, Florida. .

"We launched eight dummy warheads in 1979," Love said. "That was a big deal. The ship got a meritorious unit commendation. I was privileged to be on board. [Launching missiles from a submarine] felt like an airplane with a slight turbulence, a slight drop."

During his time in the Navy, Love recognized the importance of a college education. Upon discharge from active duty in 1981, he enrolled in community college, then transferred to RPI. He was also working part time to support his wife and small child and was in the Navy Reserve.

"Nuclear training enlisted personnel got a real academic focus because Navy Nuclear Power School was so intense," Love said. "They were teaching us nuclear physics at age 17."

The academic focus and training formed the foundation from which Love would successfully graduate from RP1 and
pursue both engineering and a career in the reserves, doing intelligence work. He had been interested in intelligence history and was keen to pursue the field as a comissioned reservist.

"I thought it would be intriguing and was," Love said. "The things that I learned, and what I was able to contribute to, especially after 9/11."

Although he likes a good spy novel or television show, Love's intelligence world involved more analytics than made-for-TV covert operations and brush passes.

As an intelligence officer, you're not so much in an active pursuit role," he said. "It's a more academic role, a research and delivery role."

Love has found all the roles he has filled in the military to be rewarding in different ways.

"I really enjoyed being a reactor operator on a missile submarine in the Cold War," Love said. "The fact that the Navy trusted me and put that responsibility in a a teenager, that was a feeling of pride and responsibility at a very young age."

Love found Love fulfillment in being a commanding officer of an intelligence unit and took great pride in his one year of active duty in the Defense Intelligence Agency after 9/ll.

Though he retired from the service, Love continues to work in engineering at Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. (best known as Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory or KAPL) in Niskayuna as he has for the last 32 years.

He hopes to spend time with his family, including all five grandchildren and contribute to veterans causes.

"I'm going to be doing military outreach volunteer work", Love said.


 November 23rd, Thursday morning at 10 am, St. Stephen's Church


Sunday, Nov, 19th, 6pm, Sikh Temple on R t. 7

The Woman behind Thanksgiving Day

Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, for 40 years the editor of "Godey's Lady's Book," the mother of all magazines for women, was responsible for our observance of Thanksgiving Day.

In 1846 Mrs. Hale, a widow with five children, began her campaign to have Thanksgiving Day established as a national holiday.  Some individual states listened to her and acted, but the Federal Government ignored her pleas for 17 years.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln heeded Mrs. Hale, and the result was the first Thanksgiving proclamation by a president since George Washington. (Mrs. Hale not only edited a magazine, not only raised children as a single parent, not only was responsible for Thanksgiving's being recognized as a national holiday, she also wrote the poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb!")


Almighty and gracious Father, we give thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.

Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  AMEN.

Veterans Honored at St. Stephen’s

Historically and traditionally, Veterans' Day has been more a civic than a sacred observance.  World War I ended on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice by the Allies and Germany. In the first Armistice Day proclamation in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson called for the nation to remember those who had died in their countrys service and to make the day an opportunity for America to "show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nation."

In 1927 Congress called for the display of the U.S. flag on government buildings, and in 1938 Congress called for the observance of Armistice Day in churches and schools — again dedicating the day to the cause of world peace.
Note the order here: the nation was telling the churches to celebrate this day. This was not an initiative arising from the churches, but from Congress. The timing was significant. The strong stirrings of World War II had already begun in earnest in Europe. The United States was still reeling from the effects of World War I and the Great Depression, and the political climate overall was against any sort of engagement in wars.

Of course, within just three years, the United States became involved in the War "over there" in Europe and "way out there" in the Pacific.

Since the end of World War II, observances of Armistice Day have been held all over the nation, but especially in our national cemeteries and monuments and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. The president and many state governors have issued proclamations. Countless communities, veterans groups, and civic clubs and organizations have held local observances. Armistice Day became Veterans' Day by an act of Congress in 1954, changing its purpose and scope. President Eisenhower called on the nation to remember the sacrifices of those who fought in all our nation's wars, to celebrate the contributions of all veterans of military service, and to rededicate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace. It is Eisenhower's call that remains the three-fold purpose of Veterans' Day: remembering those who fought and died, celebrating all veterans, and promoting an enduring peace.
At St. Stephen’s at both services during announcements Fr James will ask all veterans to stand and ask each to say their branch of the service, when they served and where.  He will conclude with this prayer:

For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad.  Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen(BCP pg. 823)

Youth Education: November, 2017

Holy Spirit Kids

We continue to work through the lectionary texts each week using the Spark Activate Faith curriculum which includes a bible story with kid-friendly language and colorful 4-page leaflets that complement the story with short quizzes or puzzles and encourages the kids to think about the moral of the story. Sometimes we supplement the lesson with theme-related word search puzzles, jumbles, or coloring pages.

Once in a while the kids’ conversation turns from Bible times to modern times. When that happens I become the one being educated! A video game called Minecraft seems to be the all-time favorite right now and it sounds very creative. If I thought I’d learn how to play it myself I might even be tempted to download it!  lunches

The Sunday before Thanksgiving we will choose costumes and start working on our Christmas pageant.

Sunday Friends

This class has a potential of 4 students. Most Sundays there are 2. We are working with a curriculum called Spark Ancestors which uses a short video to examine well-known Bible characters such as Adam and Eve or Abraham and Sarah. The students watch the video and then use a quirky workbook to examine the characters in more depth. The week we talked about Noah, for instance, the students drew a huge ark on the white board and listed all the building supplies they would need to make the boat and all the things they would need to take with them on the journey (besides the animals).

lunchesOn November 19 we will assemble lunch bags for the City Mission Men’s Shelter. We will decorate the bags the week before. Each bag gets “stuffed” with a “love note” from St. Stephens, a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, a fruit cup and a snack bar. The bags then get packed in large boxes and delivered to the City Mission. We hope that members of the congregation feel free to work alongside us – our goal is to make 50 bags and if the old saw “many hands make light work” is applied, then we can assemble and deliver the bags in double quick time.

Most Sunday mornings I am in the church by 9:45. If you are curious about what we do, feel free to stop in and talk to me. I welcome company and questions!

Miranda Rand
Christian Education Director
518-393-5047 home, 518-229-5105 cell

Youth Confirmation Program Begins!

Confirm not Conform, or CnC, is a youth confirmation program that takes confirmation seriously. It exposes youth to a wide range of topics, including Scripture, sacraments, creeds, heresy, prayer, other religions, and serving others, and asks them to think through what they believe and why.

It is also a philosophy. Confirm not Conform emphasizes finding one’s own voice rather than simply conforming to an external standard. It is a program that respects the work youth and adults do as they explore their faith. We trust that when people put in the effort to articulate what they believe and why, they will make good choices about their next step in faith.

CnC is also a congregational development program. The entire church grows in faith by participating in Confirm not Conform, as mentors, parents, leaders, clergy, vestry, or supportive onlookers who all make the commitment to support participants in the program in their life in Christ.

We meet on some Sunday evenings from 6:30 – 8 in the Youth Lounge.

Adult Education

Wednesday Bible Study: Hebrew Scriptures and the Story of the Israelites

Persecuted and slaughtered for practicing monotheism at a time when the prevailing belief was in multiple gods, the Kingdom of David kept itself united and solvent by passing along the history and traditions of its elders in written form (the "religion of the book").

Among the subjects explored in this course are the formation of the laws of the Jews, the origins of their customs, and their strongly held and strictly enforced moral values. The video used was filmed on the exact locations where the historical events occurred.

Classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 in the Conference room.  If you would like to attend these classes please email Fr. James

Sunday Morning Adult Education Classes Class

This year we attempting a comparison of the main  religions of the world in an attempt to discern commonalities, general patterns, and associations with cultural and ecological features. This course is intended to help you better understand your neighbors AND to strengthen your own faith through viewing well-produced videos and participating in constructive conversation.  The first half of the month will be an examination of Buddhism, the second half of Confucianism. Classes are held on Sunday Mornings from 9-10 in the Conference Room.

Procvession enbters
All Saints Day

All Saint's Day is one of the seven principal feasts of the church.  This day is a celebration of Christ in His whole mystical body.  We are reminded that the saints still support us by their witness and example and surround us with their love and prayers.  All Saint's Day is the one day set aside each year when our faithful departed are remembered.  If you would like to have a particular person remembered by name, it is not too late. Please call the parish office as soon as you receive this newsletter.  We will remember them on Sunday, November 5th at the 8 & 10:15 Eucharists.  The later service will include an outside procession, weather permitting!

Sunday October 29: 8:00 Service; Baptism and Holy communion

Baptism Sleeper
Altar rail Deacon


The SICM Food Pantry needs folks to help “behind the counter”!  Do you have a couple of hours one morning a week?

America Recycles Day Schenectady will be Saturday November 11 from 10am to 2pm! Here’s a chance to recycle those items  that usually go into the trash – clothing, shoes, fabric, foil wrappers from snack bars, foil drink pouches, inkjet cartridges, styrofoam peanuts!  This will be at the Community College rear parking lot near the athletic fields.

Concert of Thanksgiving by The Music Company Orchestra!  Sunday November 12 at 3:00pm at Schenectady High School Auditorium.  Details on the SICM bulletin board.

Theresa and Marti

More SICM news at

SICM Harvest for the Pantry

Date: Sunday, November 5, 2017
Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Location: First Reformed Church of Scotia
224 North Ballston Avenue, Scotia

Tickets, if available, call the SICM Office, 
1055 Wendell Ave., 374-2683
$30 per person

The Music Company Orchestra

Sunday, November 12 at 3:00 pm
Join us for an afternoon of short classical pieces from Carmen, Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Strauss, etc

Schenectady High School
1445 The Plaza - Schenectady

Concert of Thanksgiving for the
Schenectady Inner City Ministry 
50th Anniversary Celebration

  •  Free will offering
  •  Collection of canned/non-perishable items for Thanksgiving dinner to benefit the SICM Food Program

Outreach Committee

Our plans for the holiday season (with the help of the ECW) are:

Collection of coats to be distributed to charities that help provide to women once they have been released from jail.

New hats and gloves to be given to Oneida School in January when we bring school supplies.  These hats and gloves will be the ‘ornaments’ on the Giving Tree.

New books to be given to SICM during their summer program.  Books can be our ‘presents’ under the tree.

Stephanie and Elissa

Episcopal Church Women (ECW)

We invite all women of St. Stephen’s to be a part of the ECW, to “become a vibrant blend of all ages, coming together as a peacemaking, healing part of the Church.”   (from the National ECW Vision Statement). 

At St. Stephen’s we enjoy a mix of fellowship, service and spiritual opportunities.  Watch for an announcement of a start-up gathering in November, when we can expand and firm up our plans for the year.   

Tentative ECW Calendar

  • November – start-up gathering on a Saturday with lunch, with details to follow soon
  • December – Advent outreach:  personal care items and clothing for The Shop at Oneida Middle School, for students in need who are referred by a guidance counselor, the nurse or a social worker 
  • January – Sorting and distribution of donated school supplies to area schools
  • February, March – Lenten outreach:  Episcopal Relief & Development
  • Wed. March 28 – Seder dinner for parish
  • April/May – Ladies’ Luncheon at the Turf Tavern, Scotia
  • April/May – hosting reunion for HAWS (Healing a Woman’s Soul) participants
  • June 3 – parish picnic

Also, each Saturday morning at 9:00, we gather in the parish hall as the Fabricators & Yarners, for quilting, knitting, crocheting, etc., under the guidance of Jean Versocki.   

If you have questions or comments, please speak to Carole Merrill-Mazurek or Richey Woodzell. 

Founders' Day: November 19th

In 1927 Fr. Bambach, rector of St. George's Church, Schenectady, called a meeting to consider beginning a chapel. Over the next year a house-to-house canvas of the Upper-Union area was made by Union College students. By October 22, 1928 there were 120 interested families, and an empty store on 1734 Union Street near Palmer Avenue was rented and prepared for the first service held on November 18, 1928. That first service marks our beginning.

On November 19th  we will remember that beginning by honoring all those who have been members for forty years or longer.

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: Our website is
Facebook Page:

The Messenger is published September - June. Chris Jones is the publisher.

Steve Woodzell
Thanks to Steve Woodxell, who used to do cartoons for the Messenger now and then!
This one seemed to meet the season!