March, 2018

Dear Friends,

First, I want to thank all of our congregants for your generous out-pouring of support for our organ refurbishing campaign called “Pulling Out All the Stops”.  As of this writing we have pledged over $35,000 toward the fund!  We are halfway to our goal of $70,000.Organ

Second, let me give you an idea of what our proposed schedule will be.  I am asking for all pledges/donations to be given by Easter Day.  At its April meeting the vestry will finalize plans for the extent of the work that the congregation can afford on the organ.  In late May we are hoping that the organ repair firm, Rosenberry & Myers from Stuyvesant, will be able to take the keyboard console to their shop for repairs.  We will be using the piano for the spring and summer while the organ is being repaired. 

When our organ originally was built in 1981, two dedicatory concerts were given.  In keeping with tradition, I would like to suggest two concerts.  In the fall we would have a performance by two local, prominent organists with ties to St. Stephen’s.  And then a main concert might be when the bishop comes on (or around) Dec. 16th, performed by our organist, Susan Lohnas.

Finally, let me suggest that you contribute to the organ fund as a memorial for a loved one.  We would list such gifts in the dedicatory concert bulletins and also in the Memorial Book of St. Stephen’s. This would be a fitting memorial for those who have loved the church music over the years.  

Thank you again for your continued support.

Wishing you a holy Lent


Lent is like a long pilgrimage, is an opportunity to step back from your daily life and see it from a different perspective, the way a balloonist gains a new perspective from high overhead.  You may begin to see more clearly, for example, how God takes care of you and sustains you, or how precious you are in the Lord’s eyes despite your faults.

Think of a certain problem in your life and ask the Lord to give you a new perspective on it.  Now think of someone or something that you value very much, and ask the Lord to let you see that person or thing in God’s wider view. 

~Albert Holtz, O.S. B.,
Pilgrim Road, A Benedictine Journey Through Lent

The New Light of Easter

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
till the Ascension of our Lord.

We will rehearse our history as a people of God from creation
through the Red Sea out of bondage
with God's promises for his people
culminating in the story of the Resurrection.

Easter is the festival of Baptism and we shall renew our baptismal vows.

And then the shout be raised


and so begins the first Eucharist of Easter, 2018.


The service begins at 7:30 p.m.

Worship During Holy Week

Palm Sunday (March 25th) (8:00, 10:15) Branches of palm, honoring the King of kings, are blessed and distributed to the people. At the 10:15 service, an outdoor procession (weather permitting) leads the congregation into the church. This is a festive service, beginning with a parade and concluding with the Eucharist.  There will be no reading of the crucifixion story on this Sunday, saving that for its proper place on Good Friday. 
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (March 25, 26, 27) at 12:00: Holy Eucharist each day in the chapel
Wednesday Seder Supper (March 28th), 6:00 pm: We observe the Seder as Jesus might have at his last supper with his disciples. Jesus took some of the regular features of the Seder meal and gave them new significance. Jesus' celebration of the meal seemed to say, "Israel's story is now at last reaching its climax"; and Jesus' own story was also reaching its climax. He was the bearer of IsFoot washingrael's destiny. This Last Supper pointed to Jesus' own imminent suffering and death - the end of our exile on Easter.  Tickets for the Passover meal will be available mid-month.

Maundy Thursday (March 29th), 7:30pm: Following our Lord's example of loving service, the liturgy will include a ceremony of foot washing. After the Holy Eucharist, during the reading of a Psalm, the altar and sanctuary will be stripped of all the usual furnishings and the altar will be scrubbed. An all-night vigil will be maintained in the church.

Good Friday (March 30th) 12:00 and 7:30. The Way (or Stations) of the Cross will be conducted in the traditional manner at noon. From 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., a program for children will be held in the parish hall. The liturgy for Good Friday will be held at 7:30.Easter Vigil
Easter Vigil (March 31st) 7:30pm. This service is truly the central service of the church year. It moves from darkness to light, from the Old Covenant to the New, from death to life. After beginning in darkness, the New Light of Christ is brought into the church. Scripture readings sketch the history of God's mighty acts. Baptism is celebrated. Then, accompanied by the ringing of bells, the candles are lighted and "Glory be to God" is sung. A joyful Celebration of Holy Eucharist welcomes the season of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Note: Worshipers are encouraged to bring bells to ring at the singing of the "Glory to God." It really is a joyful noise unto the Lord!
Easter Day (April 1st) 8:00am & 10:15 am, our traditional Flowering of the Cross will take place during the processional at the later service on Easter Sunday. Children may bring flowers. Flowers will also be available at the back of the church.

Education News

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-2

Lentan diaper drive for SICM Food Pantry
For two weeks, from March 4 through March 18 we will be collecting disposable diapers in all sizes. A specially marked box will be in the nave extension for your donation.  Most food pantry patrons don’t have a car or do not live directly on a bus line making frequent access to laundry facilities inconvenient and the use of cloth diapers as an environmentally sound choice impractical. The cost of diapers is not covered by food stamps. Please plan to give generously.

Good Friday Children's Program
Friday, March 30, 6:00pm until 7:30. Designed for children pre-K through Grade 4, this program will consist of a light meal, an educationalelement and a number of theme-related learning stations from rockFlowering the Cross painting to Lego building. Watch for notices in the weekly bulletin and via snail mail/email to church school families.

Easter Sunday Flowering of the Cross
On Easter Sunday (April 1) the traditional children’s procession with flowers will take place. The cross will be situated on the altar steps and small bouquets of flowers will be available for children to carry up in the nave extension. Everyone who wants to participate is welcome – this is for all children, not just church school attendees. 

Nursery Care Opportunity
Lisa Zebrowski worked for us for three+ years and was a cheerful presence in the nursery. Lisa has left our employment to care for a family member’s child on weekends. We are looking for a mature adult to be in the nursery during the 10:15 service on Sunday mornings. An average of 4-5 children use the room at some point in the service, some of them are in the room the entire time.  This is a paid position. If you know of a person who really likes children and would be interested, please have them talk to me.

May your Lenten journey be filled with spiritual insight and the realization that the Lord God brought our biblical ancestors out of slavery to be good stewards of the earth and mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves. 

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

Announcements & Notices

Ladies' Luncheon - Save the Date

Our annual Ladies’ Luncheon at the Turf Tavern in Scotia will be at noon on Sunday, April 8.  Our guest speaker will be Shelly Ford, Director, SICM Food Programs.  Tickets will be on sale during March after the 8:00 and 10:15 services.  More details will be provided in the weekly bulletin.

Maundy Thursday 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

Making Palm Crosses

Please join us in the Parish Hall on Saturday, March 23rd at 10 a.m. to make Palm crosses in preparation for Palm Sunday. Everyone is invited to lend a hand. Come join us for some fun and fellowship and learn or relearn this special art! It takes just a few minutes to learn and a few tries to perfect.  Join us!

Foot Washing

On Maundy Thursday at the 7:30 p.m. Eucharist we would like to have Volunteers from the congregation for footwashing by the clergy. If you would like to be one of these representatives of the congregation, please sign up in the nave extension.

Please Participate

Help with the Seder Supper
Foot Washing on Maundy Thursday
All Night Prayer Vigil
Readers for Easter Vigil on Saturday night

Sign-up sheets in the parish hall

Lectors & Chalicers; Ushers

If you are scheduled to serve in any capacity during this season (acolyte, chalice bearer, lector, usher), and cannot serve, please arrange for a substitute and let the office (518-346-6241) know.

Seder Supper

St. Stephen's will be hosting a Seder Supper on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018.
The time is 6pm. the cost of the dinner is $10 per person. There will be a sign up sheet in the back of the church. Set up and Clean up volunteers are needed as well.
Vicki Hoshko, Carole Merrill-Marzurek or Liz Varno

Adult Education

Sunday Evening Bible Study:

Lenten Study:  The Last Days of Jesus This five-week course includes insightful interviews with expert historians. According to the Gospels, Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven. 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. We meet in the Conference Room at 5pm 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 continues this evening and will meet four more Sunday evenings.Class

Sunday Morning Forum:

Christianity & Religions of the World - We continue our 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 will help you better understand your neighbors AND strengthen your own faith through viewing well-produced videos and participating in constructive conversation.  In March we continue our examination of Islam. Classes are held on Sunday Mornings from 9-10 in the Conference Room. All are welcome.

Tuesday Morning Seminar:

Comparative Religion - This year-long seminar attempts a systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. Religious belief has been innate to humans everywhere and in every age, from the time of the Neanderthals to the 21st century. It's also one of the strongest motivators of human behavior and has a profound impact on all aspects of our culture - our spiritual beliefs, our rituals, our politics, and the very foundations of our democracy.  Classes are held on Tuesday Mornings from 10:30 to noon in the Conference room.  Topics in March are:

March 6               The Daodejing
March 13             Daoist Politics and Mysticism
March 20             Kami and Spirits—Shinto and Shamanism
March 27             East Asian Buddhism—Zen and Pure Land


Marti Spang & Thesesa Fay.   Lent Madness contributions for the Food Pantry are a great addition to the donations you make throughout the year, especially the canned goods which are a key part of the regular distributions at the pantry.

We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of SICM’s creation on March 20 with an opportunity to meet two of the founding pastors and a dinner at the Glen Sanders. All are welcome.

Note: Reservations are required for the 50th celebration. See

Presentation by ROXBURY FARM CSA
Community Supported Agriculture
Sunday, April 22, with potluck lunch

Richey Woodzell.    Roxbury Farm is a community supported farm in Kinderhook, NY, a partnership between the farmers and the customers.  Member shares pay for the operation of the farm; in return, they receive weekly distributions of fresh organically grown vegetables, delivered to locations in the Capital District, Westchester County and New York City.  The Schenectady delivery site is at St. Stephen’s.

Help us welcome Jody Bolluyt and Keri Latiolais, sister farmers from Roxbury Farm, after the 10:15 service on Sunday, April 22.   This will be a potluck lunch, open to everyone.  I will be sending invitations to area churches and to the members of Roxbury Farm as well.  We hope not only to answer any questions about the farm, which will be delivering fresh vegetables weekly at St. Stephen’s beginning in June, but to interest more people in signing up for a share or a half-share in the farm this season.

The February Messenger has more details about Roxbury Farm; you can also check their website at

Dear Rector

I had an interesting conversation with a Jewish neighbor who argued that Christians should refrain from participating in Christian Seders as a matter of historical and ecumenical respect. We, at St. Stephen’s have had such meals for many years.  Are we being disrespectful of our Jewish brothers and sisters?
Sincerely, Bewildered

Dear Bewildered

I, too, have had such conversations.  However, I keep coming back to the notion that learning more about and participating in Seders can help Christians better understand the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. In particular, knowing more about the Seder helps Christians explore the Jewish background of the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus, whom we know was a first-century Jewish teacher, and his disciples, who were also Jewish. Both Jesus and his disciples would have grown up observing the Passover in whatever fashion Jewish people living at the time observed the feast.

I think it is important that we remember that Jesus did not celebrate the Passover the way Jewish people commonly observe the festival in the 21st century. However, the Last Supper accounts in the Gospels record a number of themes and practices held in common with the Passover Seder. I think that Christian observance of the Passover is a sign of appreciation and a way of honoring Jewish tradition. In fact, many Christians who take the Lord’s Supper in the context of a Passover Seder find it far more meaningful as it ties two of the most profound statements of Jesus to both Jewish and liberation history.

So, far from being disrespectful of our Jewish brothers and sisters, perhaps our “Christian Seder” could be one of the greatest complements we could give them!

Shalom, James+

Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne

Jim Ormsbee and Millie Gittinger.   As many of you know, we teach adaptive skiing at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne.  This is a program for children with life threatening illnesses and crippling diseases and is completely free for the children, and on special weekends for parents and siblings as well.  On March 17th, we will be celebrating our 4th annual “Winter 500”. This is the final day of the winter program and is a fund raiser for the program.  If you would like to donate to this very worthwhile cause, please make checks payable to the “Double H Ranch” and put “Winter 500” in the memo line.  Please leave them in the envelope so marked in the nave extension by March 11th.

Please note that many corporations (including GE) will double donations to The Ranch.  Thank you.


Priscilla Sprague.   When I lived in St. Croix our rain water collected in cisterns under out houses. Mostly there was sufficient for our needs.  We turned on the water for a shower,  got wet,  turned off the water,  soaped up,  turned on the water and rinsed off,  turned the water off and that was that.  That was the norm in Tucson too.  In the Adirondacks our friends got drinking water from a spring miles from the camp.  We all took empty plastic bottles and hauled them up to the spring and filled them.  It was an uphill climb to the camp. Water is heavy!

In St. Croix we could have well water delivered but it tasted terrible and it was a relief when the rains came back.

We were at the Adirondack camp for a few weeks at a time so it was an adventure.

There are people all over the world who have to carry the water they use by hand, even in the U.S. Please support the CROP walk. Wells can be built with only our donations, for one thing.

The CROP walk is Sunday May 7th.  Please be generous. Look at www.crophunger for online donation options.

Church World Service Kits

Richey Woodzell    Following the horrible disasters of World War II, many churches all around the United States teamed together for the first time to provide food, clothing and medical supplies to war-torn Europe and Asia.

Church World Service continues to provide this service through their Kits program.  CWS Kits are small packages of supplies assembled by volunteers and shipped to families and communities in need around the world.

Hygiene Kits  In the face of natural disasters, violence, or grinding poverty, hygiene kits can mean the difference between sickness and health for struggling families.

School Kits  Give children in impoverished communities and refugee camps the basic tools for learning.

Emergency Cleanup Buckets  You can provide assistance to families and communities affected by flooding, tornados and other disasters.

If you would like to assemble a kit, you can find directions at

St. Stephen’s Church is serving as the local drop-off site for kits this spring.  Please leave completed kits in the nave extension by April 22. 

Episcopal Relief & Development

From Throughout Lent, St. Stephen’s will be raising money for Episcopal Relief & Development, with a special focus on Nurturing and Nourishing the Early Learners:  supporting preschool programs that help children develop language, social and motor skills, as well as provide healthy snacks and education on healthy eating.  

Nourishment for one child costs $15, so for each $15 donated we will put up a picture of a child on the display in the nave extension.  This will include any money brought in as part of the Lent Madness challenge.  Please donate generously and help to cover the display board completely!

A Case Study:  Zambia

An estimated 86% of Zambians are living in poverty.  HIV/AIDS prevalence in Zambia is at a high with 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS.  Zambia also has one of the highest incidences of malaria-related deaths in the world.

Episcopal Relief & Development partners with the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programmes (ZACOP) to provide critical care and support for vulnerable families with children under the age of three.  The program focuses on strengthening the role of parents and primary caregivers in nurturing care and stimulation of their children, while supporting families to improve health, nutrition and livelihoods.

ZACOP’s rural program is based in local churches and schools serving as Early Childhood Development Centers, supported in part by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. A new Hilton grant will support 60 new ECD programs in rural areas of Zambia and engage an estimated 14,400 children under three along with 7,200 primary caregivers.

Photo ExhibitHanging Pictures

Have a look in the Parish Hall, where Goerge Woodzell has hung some of his photos.

Here's George, up on the lader, and Ron, helping out, hanging pictures in the parish hall.

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, Dan Ruscitto; Jr. Warden, Linda Emaelaf
Clerk: Elissa Prout; Treasurer: Denise Crates

Vestry  Class of 2018
Liz Varno, Mary Alexander, Jean Stefanski

Vestry Class of 2019
Stephanie Grimason, Mary Ann Harrington, Jamie Cooke

Vestry Class of 2020
Theresa Fay, Denise Crates, Erin Cohen

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.