September Messenger

Dear Friends,

Dear Friends,

As recently as ten years ago the printed word seemed to be an endangered species, about to be crushed by the internet.  Today, books have survived, while many would-be replacements have vanished.   

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) keeps track of books published by country. It estimates that 2.2 million new titles are published worldwide each year. According to Stephen Hawking in his last book before his death, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, he states that “if you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.”

How many books have been published since the printing press was invented in 1440? According to Google, more than 130 million unique titles! In the U.S. total books sold is about 840 million unit sales, with about 20% being e-books and 80% being print books.

A huge area of growth has been the “self-publishing” industry. Self-publishing of print books increased by 38 percent in 2017 for a total of 879,587. This is the fifth consecutive year of print growth.

I remember a seminary professor whose study was lined with books.  When asked, “When are you going to read all those books?” his reply was, “When I retire.”  To the question “When are you going to retire?”  he answered, “I can’t afford to retire, I’ve spent all my money on books.”  Such is the dilemma of many.

When asked what I did this summer, I say, “I read, on the beach, in my hammock, and on those very hot and humid days, in my study.  Throughout the year I gather the books I plan to read over the summer.  I continue to read because reading keeps me in touch with the great company of men and women who across the ages have struggled with and reflected on the mystery of God.

It was a good summer and I look forward to a wonderful program year in the parish.  Many exciting courses will be offered and guest preachers will speak.  But for now, as I write, summer is not quite over and I am finishing a good book!

James+

Those who serve

To the chalicers, readers, counters, Altar Guilders, Book clubbers: The schedules are on this website. Under “Home Page”, click on “Members”. The password is the usual, what we used previously. Note that the online directory is also there, with the same access.                                             

Adult Education

Sunday Morning Forum: Living the Questions

This course brings together over thirty highly acclaimed scholars, theologians and other experts in a video exploration of an open, inclusive, broad-minded Christianity. Themes that will be covered include: Taking the Bible Seriously; Thinking Theologically; Stories of Creation; The Lives of Jesus and A Passion for Christ: Paul.

By living the questions we explore our own path of discovery, growth, and gratitude for the wonder of it all.  Each class begins by viewing a video featuring several acclaimed scholars, theologians and other experts and concludes by having a class discussion about that week’s theme.

Classes are held on Sunday Mornings from 9-10 in the Conference Room beginning September 15.   

A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Tuesday Morning Seminar: Science and Philosophy/Theology

Two crucial forces, science and philosophy/theology, helped shape Western civilization and continue to interact in our daily lives. What is the nature of their relationship? When do they conflict, and how do they influence each other in pursuit of knowledge and truth? Contrary to prevailing notions that they must perpetually clash, science and philosophy/theology have actually been partners in an age-old adventure. This course covers both the historical sweep and philosophical flashpoints of this epic interaction. 

We will begin each class by viewing a presentation by Dr. Daniel N. Robinson, who is a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he has lectured annually since 1991. He is also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University. Professor Robinson earned his Ph.D. in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. Professor Robinson is one of those rare teachers whose tremendous respect for his audience, vast expertise, relish for language, and engaging rhetorical flair create an exceptionally enjoyable learning environment.

Classes are held on Tuesday mornings from 10:30am – 12:30pm in the Conference room, beginning September 10.  A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Wednesday Evening Bible Study: Great Figures of the New Testament

Over the year this course will examine a different biblical figure each week.  We will begin by watching a presentation by Professor Amy-Jill Levine of the Vanderbilt University Divinity School. We will conclude with a class discussion about that week’s individual.

While most of the figures treated are real, historical people, at least two (the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan) are fictional protagonists in stories told by Jesus within Luke’s Gospel. Some figures are famous. Others, such as the Syro-Phoenician woman who must turn Jesus’ own words back upon him to gain the healing of her daughter, are not so famous but deserve to be better remembered.

Classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 in the Conference room, beginning September 11.  A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Thursday Morning Seminar: The Liturgical Cantata Project

Each week we will examine the cantata that Bach wrote for the coming Sunday. Especially, we will explore the relationship of text and music. This course is intended for music lovers who wish to learn more about this great canon of works and for students exploring the context, structure and inventive processes they exemplify. It attempts to address such questions as:

What might I listen for?  What is the work about?  How might it relate to other cantatas? What is the text about?  Does the work have its own particular narrative? What was Bach’s religious response to specific texts? How does Bach differentiate between individual and communal expressions of faith?  Which musical structural details (of melody, rhythm, harmony, instrumentation) will lead me towards a better understanding and appreciation of Bach’s cantatas?

Classes are held on Thursday mornings from 10:30am – noon in the Conference room, beginning September 12.  A sign-up sheet will be available at the Parish Faire or contact the rector at james.ross.mcd@gmail.com.

Youth Education: Church School

Welcome back!

Church school classes start September 15 when we return to two services.

The nursery will be open for infants and toddlers between 9:30am and 11:30am. This room is dedicated to the care of very small children. It should be used only by children 4 and under. If your child plays with toys or art materials in there during coffee hour, please make sure toys are picked up and art materials returned to the shelves under the counter before leaving.

We will return to running two classes this year. Pre-K – Grade 3 and Grades 4-6

Holy Spirit Kids is for students who are Pre-K through Grade 3. They come out of the 10:15 service right after the children’s message and return in time to participate in the sacrament with their families.  We will use the same curriculum as in years’ past. It follows the cycle of scriptures that are read in the early part of the service, usually focusing on the Gospel message but sometimes the story is based on one of the other readings. There will be juice boxes available but no baked goods.

Students in this class are Leah Christian, Brynn and Harper Grimason, Eliana Masambo, Emma Rice, Harry and Teddy Ruscitto, Samuel Schuldt.

Sunday Friends is for students Grades 4, 5 & 6. This class meets after the 10:15 service in the classroom immediately across the hallway from the Parish Hall and adjacent to the Music Room. The curriculum we will work with studies the scriptures from the perspective of what God has to say to us about preserving our natural resources and God’s gift of creation.

Students in this class are Timothy and Peter Klepeis, Matilda and Linnea Cooke, Amanda Guiles, Jack Grimason, Frankie Ruscitto. A light snack will be served if there is no-one providing coffee hour. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone on September 15.
In peace, Ms. Miranda

Miranda Rand, Education Director
518-229-5105 cell (text only)

Gallivant, v. to travel or roam about for pleasure

…and that is exactly what Chris and I did during the past summer, thanks to our loving and generous friends at St. Stephen’s. We roamed about from Monhegan Island on the coast of Maine to a cabin on the western edge of the Adirondack Park. We heard the glorious music of Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Benjamin Britten’s delightful setting of the tale of Noah’s Ark, both at Cooperstown.

In June we spent two nights in North Adams, near Williamstown, so we were able to visit both Mass MoCA  (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and the Clark Art Institute. On the first evening we attended an excellent production of “Raisin in the Sun”—excellent, that is, until at the last minute, when the curtain fell and so did the scenery, with a crash. So the last speech was not delivered! (Can anyone tell me how it should have ended?)

We did return to Williamstown twice more, to see a new comedy play, “Magnificent Horizons” and Ibsen’s “Ghosts”—which I think I should have read before seeing it. We live and learn.

Early in August we drove east, to Monhegan Island  in Maine, one of Chris’ favorite places to “roam about for pleasure” and take plenty of photographs. There are great porches at the Island Inn for people-watching, and plenty of passers-by. When we came off the island we took a slight detour to visit our Maine family: the oldest grand has his own apartment, the middle one will do her practice teaching starting in September, and the youngest now has her driver’s permit.

Later in August Chris  packed up his canoe and cameras, and I collected my books and puzzles and we headed out the Thruway to a lovely cabin on the Independence River, a few miles north of Utica.

And now we are safely home again, our gallivanting days are over, at least for this year. We have stayed in a B&B and an elegant inn, an artsy motel and a log cabin. But as Dorothy  says when she returns to Kansas, “There’s no place like home!”

Deacon Pat

Parish Faire and Homecoming Picnic

Once again, we will be having the Parish Faire, this year on September 15th following the 8am Eucharist and again during the coffee hour following the 10:15 a.m. Eucharist. There will be a table set up for each activity of the parish and a chance to sign up for each. There will be refreshments at 9 a.m., and at 11:30 a.m.

The Picnic, after the 10:15 service: Hotdogs and hamburgers will be provided. Please bring a dish to share. There will also be sign up sheet in the back of the church. Help is requested to set up, grill, and clean up. Many hands make light work! Please contact Erin Cohen if you are able to volunteer. Cohenerine@gmail.com 518-346-9377

The Way of Love: Turn & Learn

            During the Summer we recognized and celebrated the Way of Love practice “Rest” by reporting our experiences on an easel in the Nave Extension (at the back of the church, through the large doors). Now it’s Fall! The program year is beginning. It’s time to “Turn” and “Learn”.

            We turn back to work or school. We turn back to our routines. At church we’ll be returning to our normal Sunday schedule . That may involve Altar Guild, ushering, choir, reading the lessons, chalicing, or serving as acolytes. Behind the scenes, the Over-the-Hill Gang, Parish Council, Vestry, and various committees will be meeting and working to keep St. Stephen’s the safe, welcoming, generous and thriving community we love. All of these activities embody our desire to Turn our attention to God.

            We Learn, whether in Sunday School, adult Christian education, or careful listening to the lessons and sermons on Sunday morning. We learn from each other as we share our summer experiences and our day-to-day joys and concerns. We learn from neighbors, new friends, and strangers to find Jesus in our work and our community as well as in church.

            These practices help us to focus our lives on Jesus, as Episcopalian members of the Jesus Movement. For more information on the Way of Love, talk to Mtr. Dennie Bennett or Allison de Kanel. Keep an eye out for resources on the Way of Love and a planned retreat later in the year.

Allison de Kanel

In preparation for the Annual Tag Sale for SICM:

Organizational meeting 9/15/19 after 10:15 service
Move up day– items from the basement- Sunday 9/29/19 along with coffee hour
If anyone needs items picked up please call Doreen May at 518-505-1913 (cell)

Tag Sale

The New Website

Our website is designed to attract new members and provide information for current members. It can be be read on a desktop or tablet computer screen but not very well on a cellphone. So we are now experimenting with a website design which will be readable on both desktops and cell phones.

We’re starting with (you’re on it right now) https://st-stephens.church/. The basic structure is provided WordPress which is basically a blog provider, but can also be used for “billboard” sites. The advantages of these sites are that they are compatible with different screen sizes, there are lots of template choices, they are free (in their most basic form), and the editing is all done on-line: no fancy software is needed to edit the site.

There is a learning curve, but not nearly as steep as Adobe’s Dreamweaver which is currently being used to design our website pages. If you would like to learn how to use WordPress, there are books such as “Wordpress the Missing Manual” by Matthew MacDonald. Just search your favorite bookstore or library. Setting up your own free trial website quite easy, and it’s just as easy wipe it out when you’re done playing with it.

Whether we’ll eventually stay with WordPress, or use some other service is uncertain, but I do know that I will not maintain two different websites for long. So in the near future, our old website will fade away. Exactly what form the new website will take will probably depend on who takes up the task. Right now, I am the “administrator” of this new website. If you would like to get involved in creating and maintaining pages, I will set you up as an “editor”. If you would like to be the Administrator, let’s talk!

Chris Jones (retiring website administrator).

I’m in a Jam…

Actually I’ve been making jam for quite a while this summer. It will begin to appear on the back table of the church sometime in October. Yesterday it was Elderberries, soon it will be peaches and quince. Pear is questionable, because the squirrels ate all my pears. Here’s the deal: take some jam home with you and leave some cash in the money jar, which will be on the table with the jam. All money put into the jar will go to SiCM and will support their various food programs: the Food Pantry, the Summer Lunch, and others.

Please return the jars and the bands. The lids and labels cannot be reused.

Please bring back the jars and the bands, otherwise I will have to buy some new ones. And enjoy that jam!

Thanks and Congratulations!

You’ve gotten to the end of the Messenger. Please note that this WordPress website is on trial. If you have comments, suggestions, criticisms, words of wisdom, now is a good time to express them.
Chris Jones, Temporary Administrator. jonesc@union.edu.