April, 2018

Dear Friends,

I thought I would share with you several things that are on my mind now that Easter season is upon us.Tatges

First, some might know that Bruce and Jane Tatge, longtime members of this congregation and of the choir will retire from the choir at the end of May.  To honor their over 110 years of music ministry the vestry will honor them next fall during the dedicatory concerts featuring our refurbished organ.  Bruce and Jane, thank you for all the years of making wonderful music at Saint Stephen’s!

Second, speaking of the organ, I am deeply grateful for our congregation’s response to the “Pulling Out All the Stops” campaign.  As of this writing we have raised over $50,000 for the refurbishing of the organ.  With the vestry’s additional funds in honor of the Tatges, that means we can proceed with the organ repair firm, Rosenberry & Myers from StuyvesSusan Lohnasant.  They will take the keyboard console to their shop for repairs this month, so we will be using the piano for the spring and summer while the organ is being rebuilt.

Once again, I want thank Susan Lohnas, our organist, for all the time she has spent in working with the organ builders and giving us her guidance in this project.  We are blessed with her insight and experience.  It is also fortuitous that she had led a similar project in a previous church!

Third, I am impressed in the generosity of this congregation to the larger community.  This year we are giving more to Schenectady Community Ministries (formerly SICM) than ever before. In addition, we conducted several very successful Lenten fundraisers to help people both locally and globally.  The specific results can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.  And this does not even include the amazing amount of volunteer time our congregants spend in helping others. What an amazing congregation!

Have a blessed Easter season.


CROP Walk  2018  -  Sunday, May 6
Emmanuel/Friedens Church

The CROP Hunger Walk in Schenectady has consistently been in the top 25 in the country for over 25 years!  We have raised over $1.2 million in those years.  This Walk not only provides much-needed programs and services for the world's hungry but also for our own community.  Walkers and their financial supporters have raised more than $300,000 for this community.  Hunger does not only occur far away, the walkers know. 

When I am thirsty, I walk the few steps to my ’fridge for a cool drink.  There are women and children who walk for hours for a drink!  They then walk home with a bucket of water for their family.  CROP funds can help a community to drill a well to provide needed water for drinking, cooking, washing, laundry, and crops.  

The math is difficult to comprehend.  A person needs about half a gallon a day for drinking.  Water weighs 8.34 pounds a gallon.  That is a heavy load for a four-hour, or even a one-hour, walk for just drinking water for only two people for a day.  More water is needed than that. 

$1,000 builds a water pump for clean water and community training for long-term success.
$100 provides 200 chicks for families, as a self-propagating food source.
$25 supplies seeds and tools for a community garden to improve nutrition.

Please be generous to this year's CROP WALK TEAM.  Consider going online to register as a walker or to donate to a walker.   Go to  www.crophungerwalk.org/schenectadyny.  Follow the prompts either to set up an account and invite people to sponsor you, or to find the name of a team or walker to sponsor.  A St. Stephen’s team has been set up.

Get involved this year!  Help SICM feed our community!

Priscilla Sprague

The SCM website is at http://sicm.us/  Note that they aren't "Sick-em" any more; they're Schenectady Community Ministries, SCM.

Available in the St. Stephen’s Library

A full series of the 2016 Tearoom Mysteries published by the Books and Inspirational Media Division of Guideposts is ready to be read. This series, classified as cozy mystery fiction as their charming covers would suggest, deals also with some serious themes that might appeal to people in their outreach programs to military personnel, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, educational institutions. They are based on true stories originally published in Guideposts Magazine, and rewritten into novel form by some very good writers. If you read one of these books, you will very likely want to read them all.

To A Tea by Vera Dodge.  Theme: veterans dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder –
PTSD Tearoom for Two by Susan Page Davis.  Theme: A widow and widower open a Victorian teahouse in their home with a combination of British charm and Southern hospitality.

Tea Rose by Erin Keeley Marshall.  Theme: A young woman searches for her birth mother.

Burning Secrets by Rebecca Adams.  Theme: Buying and renovating an old Victorian home.

Crosswords and Chamomile by Elizabeth Adams.  Theme: Hidden messages in a series of crossword puzzles.

Remember, these are all mysteries, and, like peanuts, you can’t eat or read just one. To save you from searching all those authors in the Fiction section of our library, I’ve cataloged them under the series name Tearoom Mysteries.

Two more books in the Grantchester Mysteries series by James Runcie have been added also: Sidney Chambers and Dangers of Temptation and Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love.

Remember to write your name on the card in the back of the book and to put the card in the little grey box. When you return your book, just pop it in Return Box, and we will refile it.

Enjoy! Jo Adams, Librarian

Adult Education

Inquirers’ Classes

This course is an introduction to the Episcopal Church in the United States.  These four classes give an overview of how Episcopalians fit into the complex of protestant and catholic churches.  The National Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Albany, the congregation of St. Stephen’s and the relationship among all three will be explored.  Frank discussions include both the wonderful things about our Church, and also some not-so-wonderful things. This course is required for all adults who wish to be confirmed or received into the church, but is open to all members of the Parish Family.

Classes will be held on Sunday afternoons at noon during the month of April in the rector’s office.  Please talk to the rector (518-522-3906) or email at james.ross.mcd@gmail.com if you would like to attend.

Sunday Morning Forum:
Christianity & Religions of the Worldworld

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 class examines Christianity as an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as the Christ, or "Messiah", who is the focal point of  all Christian faiths. It is the world's largest religion, with over 2.4 billion followers. We will look at Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christianity separately as they have played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization. Classes are held on Sunday Mornings from 9-10 in the Conference Room.

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:
Christian Scriptures – from Jesus to Christ

Drawing upon historical evidence that has created a revolution in New Testament scholarship, this bible study challenges familiar assumptions and conventional notions aJesusbout Christian origins.

Archaeological finds have yielded new understandings of Jesus' class and social status; fresh interpretations have transformed earlier ideas about the identity of the early Christians and their communities. Through engaging, on-camera interviews with New Testament theologians, archaeologists, and historians, the bible study presents their contributions to this intellectual revolution. Together they represent a range of viewpoints, a diversity of faiths, and a shared commitment to bring new ways of thinking about Christianity.

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 james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.  Also, a sign-up sheet can be found in the Nave Extension.

Education for Youth

Thank You

Thank you all for your generous donations to our Lenten Diaper Drive for SICM. We filled two 16gl trash bins and a large basket. Diapers are among the many essentials that are excluded from purchase with food stamps. Food pantries around the Capital Region are always in need of them. I am certain that SICM’s patrons are appreciative.

Church School

Holy Spirit Kids (pre-K-Grade 4) curriculum follows the lectionary so most often the featured story for their studies is the same as the Gospel lesson read in church. Sunday Friends (grades 5-8), have been studying Old Testament characters with the aid of a series of quirky videos and an accompanying work book. For our Palm Sunday lesson, I departed from the video and used an age-appropriate play that reflects the actions of Judas and Peter. Doing some back-story research, I came across a contemporary rewrite of the Peter story. I printed it for the students and asked them to rewrite the story for themselves. Since it turned out to be a no-show Sunday, their rewrites will happen the next time we meet.

Why did Peter deny Jesus three times?
You're sitting at home reading the newspaper when your door flies open with a bang. Hands up, and don't move," shouts the first officer of a SWAT team. "You have the right to remain silent," says another as he pulls your wrists behind your back and slaps handcuffs on them.
Two hours later at the police station, you're relieved to see your best friend walk into the room. You know he can verify you were with him earlier in the evening when a man was shot at a convenience store one block from your house.
"I don't know this man," says your friend. Your mouth drops open in disbelief, but then, you think this has to be a practical joke.
"Are you sure?" asks the detective. "Absolutely!" he says.
Pointing to you, the detective says to your friend, "He claims you're his best friend."
After swearing, your friend says, "Never saw him before in my life!" and walks out of the room.

Peter is one of my favorite disciples because he is so human. One moment he’s on cloud nine, swearing perpetual allegiance to Jesus and to the God in whom Jesus has taught him to trust and the next he’s in a tough place and shaken by the series of events that led from Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to his trial and crucifixion, Peter decides that it would be politically correct to disassociate himself from the Jesus movement.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday

As in years’ past our Good Friday program will feature food, fellowship and fun along with some instruction. This year we will start with supper, listen to the story of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem told in the oral tradition and offer a variety of arts and crafts stations for the children to choose from. The program runs from 5pm until 7.

On Easter Sunday there is no instruction but children are invited to participate in flowering the cross – an annual ritual in which the younger ones are invited to process with the choir carrying flowers to place in the wooden cross which will be located at the bottom of the altar steps. Flowers are provided. Children are asked to arrive by 10:10 to select flowers and line up.

Miranda Rand, Education Director

Dear Rector,

My sister’s husband is undergoing chemo & it’s a really tough time for the whole family.  How do I go about having the congregation pray for all of them?

Signed, Believer in the Power of Prayer

Dear Believer,

First let me say that your family is fortunate to have you in their lives.  You sound like a wonderfully caring and compassionate person.

You have identified one of the benefits of being a member of a church community.  That is, having the community support you through their collective prayers.  At St. Stephen’s, there are at least three ways you can ask for prayers, for yourself, and for others.

One is by using the Prayer List at the back of the church on the ‘Intercession lectern’.  It’s usually a yellow piece of paper in a binder.  You can write the person’s whole name or just their first name on this list.  This list is available at both services every Sunday.  Throughout the week, at daily Morning Prayer, Fr. James, Deacon Pat and others pray for the people listed.  There is no limit to the number of names you write down, nor is there any limit on the number of weeks you can ask for prayers.

Another way is to contact a member of the Daughters of the King.  The Daughters are a group of women whose mission is the extension of Christ’s kingdom through prayer, service and evangelism.  They pray daily for the concerns of people at St. Stephen’s.  The names of those they pray for are known only to them (and God).  To ask the Daughters of the King to pray for your concerns, contact Richey Woodzell -erwoodzell@gmail.com.

A third way prayers may be requested is through what is called the Prayer Chain.  This is a group of people from St. Stephen’s who, as a part of their daily discipline of prayer, include the petitions of our congregation.  To ask for prayers through the Prayer Chain, contact Suzanne Taylor - Popage@aol.com.

Of course, in addition to these three “formal” ways, there are many others.  Simply talking to your fellow parishioners and asking them to pray for your concern is always an option.  You can speak privately to our clergy: Dennie Bennett, Pat Jones and/or me at any time to ask for prayers.

The bottom line is that you can choose one or all of the options.  The most important thing is that the focus is prayer – I don’t think God is too particular about the process!


Editor: The prayer chain is at http://www.saintstephenschenectady.org/prayer_chain.html

Thank you......Thank you.......

...... To all cooks who cooked and baked our suppers before the Sunday Lenten studies.
...... To all those who set up, cooked and cleaned up for the Seder Supper.
...... To the Altar Guild and to brass polishers par excellence who polished all the brass in the church, and made Easter Day beautiful with flower arrangements.
...... To Susan and Doug Lohnas  and the Choir members and to our brass instrumentalist who helped to make Easter Day joyous.
...... To the lectors, chalice bearers and acolytes who made our worship possible.
...... To all those who helped in the nursery room.
...... To the ushers and to the offering counters.
...... To Donna and Joe, our Sextons, who made the church shine again.
...... To the Church women who made our palm crosses.
...... and the list goes on and on!

Notes - Happenings -Stuff - Requests - Attention - Urgencies - Notices - Etcetera

Church World Service Kits.  St. Stephen’s Church is serving as the local drop-off site for CWS kits this month.  If you would like to assemble a hygiene kit, a school kit or an emergency cleanup bucket, you can find directions at www.cwskits.org.  Please leave completed kits in the nave extension by April 22. Richey Woodzell 

Mother Nature Needs You!   Well, actually, I need you, but I’m trying to help Mother, so…I need cardboard half-gallon containers (the sort that milk and juice come in) in which I can start seedlings as part of effort to restore the American Chestnt tree. Rather than recycling such containers in the usual way, please bring them to church, and I’ll recycle them as tree-planters.
       The following information is for the interested student - it won’t appear on the quiz. There are at least two efforts being made to recover the American Chestnut: one locates trees that are known to be blight-resistant, and distributes nuts from such trees to people who will plant and raise them; these are some of the trees I’m planting. The second effort involves the development of a tree that has been genetically modified to have a gene that provides blight-resistance; the distribution of seeds from these trees is now awaiting approval by the Department of Agriculture and the FDA
George Woodzell .

Lenten Outreach.   From mid-February through Palm Sunday, St. Stephen’s parishioners donated over 100 pounds of food and two large bags of disposable diapers to the SCM emergency food pantry.  In addition, you have contributed over $370 to Episcopal Relief & Development for their program to nurture young children.   Thank you for helping those in need in our community and abroad.

Help Wanted - Nursery Manager  Sunday Mornings – 1.5 - 2 hours caring for babies, toddlers and pre-school children in our attractive nursery. Position is for a reliable, mature, non-church-going adult who loves children. Pay is commensurate with experience. Please contact Miranda Rand, Education Director (518-229-5105 – text or voice mail) to recommend a candidate. Miranda

Appreciation for 2018 Lenten Program. On behalf of those who attended “The Last Days of Jesus” Lenten Program I would like to express my sincere thanks to Father James for all the work he put into preparing for this program. While all of us are generally familiar with the Easter story, this program went into more of the details and nuances of this story than we normally consider – including many Bible references. Thanks also to the various people who provided the soup and bread for the suppers which we all enjoyed after the program.
         Father James runs a number of excellent educational programs, the Lenten Program being only one of these programs. I have attended a number of these programs and would like to encourage all the members of our congregation to partake of some of these opportunities.  Sid Woodcock


And the doorstop.
  Thanks to Judy Versocki for her beautifully crafted and much-needed doorstop for the door to the parking lot! Richey Woodzell


Several ECW members organized, set up, cooked, served and cleaned up for the Seder dinner on March 28.
     The annual Ladies’ Luncheon will be Sunday, April 8 at 12:00 at the Turf Tavern in Scotia.  Cost is $12 per person.  Guest speaker is Shelly Ford, the director of the SICM food program. 
     The ECW will be hosting a retreat for domestic violence survivors on June 2, 2018.  We will offer lunch and refreshments throughout the day.  The retreat will start at 9:00am and end at 2:00pm.  We will have a sign-up sheet closer to the event.  This is our fourth year hosting this event. The ECW is also sponsoring lunches for guests at St. Joseph’s Place on Albany Street.  Dennie and I are the contacts, and have been buying sandwich platters and delivering them on a monthly basis.  If you would like to make a monetary donation toward the platter or to volunteer your time please see either of us.
     The YWCA & the DAR were planning a high tea in honor of Prince Harry's marriage, to be held at our church on May 19.  Unfortunately, the event has to be cancelled due to the illness of the coordinator. Carole Merrill-Mazurek

Come to a potluck lunch!

Learn how to get fresh, organic local vegetables delivered weekly, while becoming part of a farm community that promotes healthy food, practices soil conservation and raises animals humanely.

Sunday, April 22 at 11:30 in the parish hall
If you would like to attend the potluck, please sign up in the nave extension. 

Farmers from Roxbury Farm will be our guests, to make a presentation and answer your questions.  The following article tells about an award they recently received. 

The co-owners of the farm, Jean-Paul Courtens and Jody Bolluyt, recently received the 2018 Farmers of the Year award from the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.  Roxbury Farm is a 425-acre organic/biodynamic farm in Kinderhook, NY, one of the largest community supported agriculture (CSA) programs in the region, serving over 1,000 members.  The farm is known for its innovative practices in production systems and soil health as well as its pioneering efforts in the CSA movement, farmer training, long term land tenure model, and vegetable production systems.  Jean-Paul also has spent the past three years developing a professional farmer training program at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub and helped transition their 1200-acre conventional sweet corn farm to organic and ecological practices. (from www.nofany.com)

This is how the Roxbury Farm CSA works:  

  • You purchase a share in the farm for the season (or split a share with someone else).
  • You agree to provide 3-4 hours of work during the season, usually at the delivery site.
  • The farm delivers crates of fresh produce each week, with a list of what “one share” consists of.
  • During a 2-hour period, members pick up their shares.
  • Members are responsible for setting up, monitoring the pickup and cleaning up afterward.
  • Each week a member delivers leftover produce to the SICM food pantry.
What: Roxbury Farm vegetable pickup
Where: St. Stephen’s Church parish hall
When: Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m., June 5 to November 13 (24 weeks)
Cost: $627 for one share (approx. $26/week)
Amount: 15-20 lbs. of fresh organic vegetables

More information is in the February Messenger, as well as on the Roxbury Farm website, www.roxburyfarm.com.  For those interested in trying out a farm share this year, you can pick up an enrollment form in the nave extension or enroll online. Richey Woodzell

Money Matters!!

Each month our Treasurer, Denise Crates, presents a brief summary of the financial situation to the vestry. Assuming that some of you might want to know, here is one of them. Denise has MUCH more information than what we see below, but we won't burden this space with all of that. So, here it is:

Fr. James and Members of the Vestry,

Please find attached the financial reports for February 2018.  Income and spending should be approximately 16.66% of the budget for the end of February.

Points of interest in this report:

pledge payments were at 14% (a total of $20,306.24)
overall income was 14% (a total of $26,240.52)
spending for utilities (page 3) was at 29% ($4,000.62)
spending for lawn care/snow removal (page 5) was at 50% ($3,525.00)
overall spending against the 2018 budget (page 5) was 20% ($38,725.85)

There is a balance of $30,114.19 in the church's "Operating Reserve".

Please let me know if you have any specific questions.

Thanks.  Denise Crates, Treasurer

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, 
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: 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. Chris Jones is the publisher.