Some of the ministries within St. Stephen’s include education (adult & youth), confirmation class, voice & bell choirs, Altar Guild, lectors & chalice bearers, ushers, prayer ministries, Daughters of the King, Parish Council, Vestry, Episcopal Church Women, CROP hunger walk, the Messenger, the website, Foyers, Coffee hour, and nore! Scroll down the page for brief descriptions. How would YOU like to participate?
The nursery is normally staffed from 9:30am until 11:30am on Sunday mornings, from the 2nd Sunday in September until the 4th Sunday in June. It may also be staffed for special services such as the Christmas Eve Family Service. Please check with the Education Director for confirmation. (The nursery remains closed at this time due to COVID.)
Sunday school is open to children grades k-5 at this time. Class meets each Sunday, following the school schedule, at 10:15 in the Parish Hall. We also have a community outreach opportunity the first Sunday of each month at 11:00. During this time we make bagged lunches for Street Soldiers Schenectady to be distributed later in the day to community members in need. This opportunity is open to all church members. Monthly family activities are also planned for families of all ages. Please check the family section of the website for more information, or contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confirmation: Confirm not Conform
The initial problem with most confirmation programs is that, from the moment a youth signs up, the assumption that they will be confirmed is in place. It’s a done deal. No student would want to spend so much time in study and not reach the goal. But how can you confirm your faith without opening your heart and mind to ask what it is you really believe? The process is meant to be about exploration, not memorization.
CnC is focused on helping young people ask the tough questions and search out the answers. Through innovative classroom work, field trips, mentor relationships and the challenge to do a whole lot more than just learn a few facts; CnC lets kids take real responsibility for understanding their faith and its power. When they do -when they see the church and faith as something that truly belongs to them, rather than something they’re forced to accept -it builds a bond that lasts.
Contact person: Fr. James
Adult Christian Education
Our congregation has an understanding of the Christian faith that informs but does not determine what ought to be done in living the Christian life. Our education programs take into account diverse understandings of issues within and without the church. Ambiguity and difference are not only tolerated but accepted, as long as issues and questions are probed and insights are gained. The content of our education programs for youth and adults is not a matter of setting down right belief. Rather, the aim of our teaching is to present the understandings of the inherited tradition and the questions, challenges, and understandings that arise in the contemporary church and world.
For all adult education classes, please contact Fr. James
Ministries involved in our worship services
The Adult Choir is active from the Sunday after Labor Day through early June. The Choir rehearses Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in the Choir Room, and participates in the 10:15 a.m. Sunday service, with a brief rehearsal at 9:45 a.m. The Choir also performs at special services during Advent and Holy Week. All are welcome to join. New voices are always welcome in the choir.
Contact person: Doug Lohnas
The Bell Choir
The Bells rehearse regularly on Wednesday nights at 7:30. A smaller group leads in the Irish Blessing at many services. The whole group performs now and then at the 10:15AM service. New members are always welcome. See Lisa.
The Altar Guild prepares the sanctuary for services: the Eucharistic vessels, candles, vestments and flowers. Three teams of three or more people take their turn every 3rd week. Setup is completed prior to each of the Sunday services, and some preparation is commonly completed on Saturday, including flower arrangements. The schedule is flexible and the group is supportive. New members are most welcome. Contact persons: Carolyn Moran
Two lectors read at each service. The lector of the first lesson reads from the Old Testament and leads the congregation in the appointed Psalm. The second lector reads from the New Testament. If you would like to participate in the services as a lector, please talk with Fr. James, Deacon Pat. There is a need for more lectors for the 8:00 am services. Lectors for the 10:15 service are now on a rotating schedule of every three months, but more names can be added at any time. Doreen May, Scheduler.
Chalice bearers are vested and process with the clergy. At the 8:00 service, the chalice bearer may also serve as an acolyte if no acolyte is present. (That role is completely voluntary). Chalice bearers, like lectors, are assigned to the service time that they elect. Some are willing to serve at either service, which is very helpful. When Deacon Pat is not present, Fr. James may ask the chalice bearer to lead the Prayers of the People. Again, that is voluntary. New chalice bearers will receive instructions before their names are added to the schedules. To learn more about becoming a chalice bearer, please talk with Fr. James or Deacon Pat. Doreen May, scheduler.
Ushers serve at the 10:15 service handing out bulletins and assisting people as they come into church. They take up the offering and assist the congregation as they come up the the altar rail during communion. They count the house and straighten up a little after the service. Additional ushers are always welcome. Contact person: Dave Caruso
The Worship Committee is a forum for the ongoing renewal of our approach to God in worship through informed discussion and regular re-evaluation of our liturgy. We seek to assist the Rector in his responsibility, both to help the people of Saint Stephen’s grow in their awareness of the deep meanings contained in our liturgy, and to provide for liturgy that engages and renews our faith, strengthens our spirit, and enables us to boldly live out our lives as Christians.
Activities: Committee members meet monthly (4th Monday at 7:30) in the evening with the Rector and other members of the clergy to further these aims.
Special prayers offered daily
Daughters of the King, St. Clare Chapter
The Daughters of the King is an Order for women in the Episcopal Church, begun in 1885 at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in New York City. Now there are chapters of the Daughters of the King worldwide. The St. Clare Chapter at St. Stephen’s began on Pentecost Sunday, 2000. We take a lifetime vow to live by a rule of life, which is a spiritual discipline of daily prayer, service and evangelism.
The Prayer Chain is a circle of volunteers who pray for people added to the list on request. Anyone in the Prayer Chain may add names of those who are sick or in need. List changes are e-mailed to members, and the full list is mailed monthly. It is also on the web site. Our Prayer Chain contact can add you to the distribution list, or you can share in this Ministry by printing out the web site page and using it in your daily devotions. Send your prayer concerns to Suzanne Taylor or Louise Peake and they’ll get the word around. Contact people: Suzanne Taylor or Louise Peake
Sunday Prayer List
Prayer concerns can also be shared by adding names to the list on the table in the back of the church on Sunday mornings. This list is placed on the prayer desk in the chapel, and those manes are prayed for during the daily morning prayer service at 9:00 weekday mornings. Please add your prayer concerns to this list.
Keeping things running smoothly
St. Stephen’s has an important book other than the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Called simply “The Book,” it contains a list of parishioners who have volunteered to help other members of our church who are temporarily in need of meals, transportation and/or just a visit, as well as a log of services provided. Examples of a time of need are following an operation, recovering from an illness, when a family is blessed with a new member, or when there is a serious family situation.
If you are in need of this kind of help, call the office (346-6241) or the “Keeper of the Book” for that week, who is listed in the bulletin. The Keeper will coordinate meals or transportation for the individual or family by calling on the volunteers in the Book. PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP. Many of us have had times when knowing that dinner would be provided meant that time and energy could be used for more important tasks. For those who live alone, a ride to the doctor’s or to church could be a great help.
The Parish Council
The Parish council offers advice and consultation to Fr. James in the programs areas of the church. The programs areas include service, worship, education, evangelism, pastoral care and fellowship. They meet on third Monday at 10:00am in the rector’s office. Membership includes Carole Merrill-Mazurek, Deacon Pat, George Woodzell, Erin Cohen, and Doreen May. These meetings are open to members of the parish. Contact person: Fr. James.
The Vestry is the body within our congregation that, with the clergy, leads the parish.
The Vestry is responsible for personnel management and the stewardship of our money and property. The Vestry has a legal and moral responsibility to manage our congregation’s resources, including operating funds, investment, furnishing, buildings and grounds, as well as as insuring the care of paid and volunteer personnel, so that they receive adequate compensation, benefits, equipment, resources, training, and support.
Vestry are elected by the parish at our annual meeting. Vestry meetings are open to members of the parish. Please drop by sometime and see how the vestry works.
Nursery/Sunday School (see listing above)
In keeping with the mission of St. Stephen’s Congregation, the Community Outreach Program seeks to help individuals in need whether it be through the annual school supply drive in September, manning the truck to deliver furniture for Home Furnishings or sending two delegates to the monthly SICM meetings. Our objective is to put our Christian intentions into action in our community by enlisting the personal effort of our members. Currently, there is an overall chairperson and each committee has an additional chair to organize the activities.
Schenectady Community Ministries
(Formerly called SICM)
Schenectady Community Ministries (SiCM ) has many areas of service for those in need. Two members of St. Stephen’s serve as chair of this committee. Whether it be participating in the the Crop Walk, attending monthly SiCM delegate meetings or keeping the SiCM bulletin board (located in the back of the church) up to date with all the opportunities to volunteer at the emergency food bank on Albany Street and the Damien Center, there is room for everyone to get involved. There is also a basket for parishioners to donate food each week located by the SiCM bulletin board. We also support the Damien Center (picnics and dinners), the Summer Lunch Program, and supply mentors for the “Work Matters” Program. Contact: Theresa Faye and Marti Spang.
The annual Schenectady CROP Walk is held in the early afternoon on the first Sunday of May each year. This is a 5 KM (about 3.1 miles) walk to raise money to relieve hunger. Schenectady’s walk is one of the largest in the state, raising over $50,000 each year.
From the Church World Service website: “CROP Hunger Walks help to support the overall ministry of Church World Service, especially the grassroots, hunger-fighting development efforts of partner agencies in some 80 countries.
Registration forms and information are made available several weeks before the walk. Walkers/runners sign up sponsors who pledge money to CROP, either using this form or an online registration.
Contact: Priscilla Sprague
Episcopal Church Women – ECW
The ECW’s mission is to provide fellowship, spiritual growth, and service opportunities to women 18 & older. The ECW provides an array of opportunities to meet new friends and impact the lives of the disenfranchised within our community, nation and world. The ECW accomplishes these goals by monthly meetings (4th Tuesday of each month at 7 PM, except July and August). The intent of the meetings is to become knowledgeable, motivated and goal centered to impact societal problems near and afar. The group has been involved in assisting third world countries as well as supporting the needs of individuals in our small community. In addition to addressing service needs, the group has bi-yearly luncheons, potluck dinners and an inviting informal atmosphere. We encourage all women at St. Stephen’s to become part of ECW, so that together we can help impact global situations that affect the lives of the needy and work togetherher to transform our little corner of the world.
Contacts: Liz Varno and Richey Woodzell
Keeping in touch with each other. Knowing what’s going on!
The Messenger is a monthly newsletter of the parish that is e-mailed to all of the families and friends of St. Stephen’s. It contains articles about church events for the month, Christian education information, and descriptions of various activities and ministries that make St. Stephen’s church a special place.
Many people contribute articles to the Messenger. Of course the clergy write, but members of the congregation also contribute book reviews, articles about new people, articles about what’s going on in the Sunday School or Youth Group, and so forth. If you would like to write something for the Messenger, please do so.
The current issue is usually available on our web site.
The St. Stephen’s facebook page was started in mid-2012 by David Fronk.
Contact person: Erin Cohen or Bethany Schuldt
The Web Site
People looking for a church don’t use the yellow pages or the newspapers any more, they use the internet. When they do that, we want to be sure to be there, and we want to present a reasonably accurate view of who we are. Service hours, directions to the church, educational offerings, a description of what happens Sunday mornings, and many photographs provide an introduction to people who are looking for a church home. In addition, the website serves as a resource to the members by providing an on-line picture directory, various schedules, a listing of activities and activity heads, and much more. Contact: Chris Jones, Daniel or Bethany Schuldt
The St. Stephen’s Library is a congregational library for the use of all members. Library Committee members seek to select books for our collection which illuminate our Christian faith and Judaic heritage. Prayer and devotional material is chosen to guide the spiritual growth of all ages. Film and audio materials are available to be taken home and can be signed out through the church office. The library is responsible for the display of books for special occasions, i.e. Christmas, Easter etc. The loan period for all material is one month, and all books must be signed out with the circulation card (found in the back of the book) left in the metal box on the shelf. Parishioners are encouraged to donate books given as a memorial, or as a celebration of a special occasion such as a birthday. A bookplate may be inserted if desired. Readers are encouraged to write book reviews for The Messenger and to put suggestions for purchases in the library mail box.
Directions for borrowing and returning books can be found on the bookshelf. Our collection is arranged by the Dewey Decimal System – which is posted. The card catalog, located on top of the mailboxes, can be searched by author, title or subject.
Contact: Jo Adams
Being Social: Fellowship
Enjoying each other’s company
We usually have a coffee hours after the 8:00 and 10:15 services on Sundays. The Foyers Program (sharing meals in member’s homes) is going well. We usually have picnics, pancake suppers, and more.
St. Stephen’s Book Club
See the latest messenger for up to date information.
Contact person: Vicki Hoshko
Would you like to get to know other people at St. Stephen’s?
Foyer is a great way to meet old and new friends. We get together in groups of 6 to 8 people for an informal dinner each month. Groups change every month with each couple/person taking a turn at hosting the gathering. While the host provides the main course and venue the other members of the group provide the salad, dessert etc., so it is a collaborative effort and not all the burden falls to one person. Singles as well as couples are invited to join us.
For more information or to sign up please phone Gillian Woodcock
We look forward to meeting you soon.
The coffee hour is part of our ministry to each other and to visitors. One way to carry out this ministry is for you to be there and strike up conversations with people who may be new (or old!) to the parish. Making connections with people is what it’s all about.
Another way to help is to do a coffee hour now and then. There is a sign-up sheet back in the parish hall with a set of directions and suggestions. Once you find out where things are in the kitchen, it’s really pretty easy. Most people prepare (bake or buy) goodies, but that’s optional. The essentials are coffee and tea, paper cups and napkins.
Tasks/Serving Each Other
Doing some of the jobs that need to be done…
(and usually having a good time doing it!)
The church gardens need volunteers in the spring when it’s time to weed, spread mulch, and plant some annuals; and in the fall,when we prepare the gardens for the winter. There will be a work morning publicized for anyone wanting to help with either of these sessions. No special talent or knowledge is necessary, just a willingness to get a little dirty! Throughout the summer the gardens just need weeding. Volunteers can sign up for a week to weed and come down to the church whenever it suits them. They can contact Marilyn Causey. If there is anyone who loves and knows about gardening and would like to take charge of the gardens, PLEASE have him or her contact me or Fr. James. We have a professional trim the shrubs and trees.
In the spring we will ask the parish for donations of tools and a wheelbarrow to be kept in the shed. This will make tending the garden easier as now we haul tools, wheelbarrow, etc from our homes.
The Over The Hill Gang
Do you ever wonder who replaces those burned-out light bulbs in the church, or who sands and varnishes the big oak doors, who does the painting, or who installed the new lighting fixtures in the Sunday school classrooms? All of these jobs, and countless others are done by the Over The Hill Gang, a group of people who meet each Tuesday afternoon to repair and maintain the church buildings and grounds.
We in the Over The Hill Gang don’t sing much, and the only time we hit a high note is when a hammer malfunctions and hits a thumb, but our work has compensations: the satisfaction of a job well done (usually), wonderful camaraderie, lots of jokes, after-work executive sessions at Bruegger’s, and those nifty red sweatshirts.
If you enjoy working with your hands, come join us any Tuesday afternoon. It helps if you have a sense of humor, but that isn’t required.
The Over the Hill Gang meets every Tuesday afternoon to do whatever work is needed to keep the church and grounds in good working order. We do minor electrical and plumbing work, we paint, we do carpentry, we clean gutters, we move topsoil and clear brush – in fact, we do almost anything that permits a group of people to gab and joke while they work. And after we finish solving problems at church, we adjourn to Bruegger’s, where, over hot chocolate and coffee, we solve the problems of the world.
Contact person: George Woodzell