Our position is included in The Episcopal Church’s Office of Transition Ministry’s database of congregational portfolios. Please pray that God will direct our church’s next rector to us. During this time of transition, we are now served by The Rev. Jane Brady-Close, interim priest-in-charge. The Vestry of the Parish also serves as the Rector Search Committee.
|Name of church or organization|
|St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church|
|St. Stephen’s is a progressive family-friendly church rooted in a middle-class neighborhood. As a Broad church, we are an inclusive church family, welcoming each person as a child of God. St. Stephen’s has a long tradition of serving others through interfaith ministry. We are integrated into our community, operating as a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, site https://www.roxburyfarm.com/ having served as a free summer lunch location, and having a history of neighborhood chicken BBQs from the time our parishioners moved uptown, as a mission church. We offer a Eucharist experience with choir and organ in an intimate medieval style church (circa 1947) reminiscent of those found in England. Our “new” church hall is just over a decade old and provides comfortable and spacious breakout rooms. See the link illustrating the addition https://jgwaarchitects.com/project/st-stephensepiscopalchurch/ We provide an approx. 2000 sq. ft. rectory which has been recently repainted and updated, welcoming a rector, spouse and up to a full family. Our new rector will enjoy walking to Upper Union St. for a cup of coffee or bite to eat at one of the local eateries, or may fancy seeing a Broadway production at Proctor’s, downtown (a few minutes away). Schenectady has evolved from its industrial past, to technology, hospitality and the arts. But like any city, there are challenges. St. Stephen’s turned the attention to our neighbors in need: our sacred space is forever part of this community.|
|Type of Commitment|
|Does this job pay?|
|Contact the Diocesan Transition Minister via email or phone|
Here are the narrative questions which are part of our listing with the Office of Transition Ministry of The Episcopal Church.
1. Describe a moment in your worshipping community’s recent ministry which you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
Over the past year since our Rector of 33 years retired and before our Interim Priest-in-Charge arrived, St. Stephen’s was blessed to have two regular supply priests serve our parish, both offering special talents. For one, youth participation was a priority. Through collaboration with the Sunday School Director and parents, the parish youth planned and participated in all aspects of the Sunday Eucharist on two separate occasions – for Epiphany and Mother’s Day. Their contributions included acolyting, reading the lessons, writing and reading the prayers for the people, ushering and presenting the gifts as well as singing special selections during offertory, accompanied by older youth on percussion and upright bass.
2. Describe your liturgical style and practice for all types of worship services provided by your community.
Prior to the pandemic we offered two Sunday services: an early service without music and a mid- morning service with organ music and volunteer choir. This service included a children’s talk and Sunday school. Both services were Rite II except during Lent when Rite I was used. There was also a daily morning prayer service offered in the chapel. Since Covid we have been celebrating one Sunday service with music and Sunday school. Morning prayer is offered daily on zoom. Music is provided by the organist and offertory anthem sung by the choir. The Hymnal 1982 is primarily used with occasional Lift Every Voice and Sing hymns. We have also participated in several interfaith services. These have included joint choir programs with other churches, Seders and ecumenical Thanksgiving services at the Sikh Temple, among others.
3. How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?
As we welcome new individuals and families to St. Stephen’s, we invite them to join our coffee hour after the service. Fall begins with a Parish Faire displaying opportunities to learn about participating in the services each Sunday as well as the many special interest groups and outreach to our community. Acolytes, Lay Readers, Choir Members, Youth Group, Outreach, and Prayer Chain groups. Other groups including the Book Club, a quilting and knitting group, and a volunteer maintenance group, always welcome new members. And of course, we enjoy eating together: Foyer groups, Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Parish Picnics and Family Fun Nights.
4. As a worshipping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being?
St. Stephen’s is committed to caring for the needs of our community. We have a group of lay people who visit our homebound bringing communion, flowers and pastoral care. We also have members providing rides to services and appointments for those without transportation. We have coffee hour fellowship after the morning service and special programs for families as well as social functions like our Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. We gather to make palm crosses for Palm Sunday; the children provide the congregation with an annual Christmas pageant; we have a book club, a quilting and knitting group.
5. How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshipping community?
Beyond our local community, we support the work of Episcopal Relief & Development and Church World Service. In April, St. Stephen’s again served as a drop-off point for school kits, hygiene kits and emergency cleanup buckets assembled by area church groups; then we delivered the kits to a church in Bennington, VT, to be picked up by Church World Service. The kits are sent to warehouses all over the world, in preparation for their response to disasters. During Advent 2022, we raised $1300 to send to UNICEF for children in Ukraine, to help in providing safe water, nutrition, health care, education, and protection. We regularly participate in the Crop Walk and in 2022, raised over $1600 to help the hungry and thirsty in our community and around the world.
6. Describe your worshipping community’s involvement in either the wider Church or geographical region.
Prior to the pandemic we provided space for several community organizations, such as Scout troops and the Adirondack Club, and are slowly opening up again. We have hosted events to support victims of domestic violence and the elderly. Our kitchen was used to prepare meals for a summer lunch program for children. Currently we host a delivery site for a local CSA farm and host sewing bees for the MoonCatcher Project to provide washable menstrual pads to allow girls to stay in school. We are members of Schenectady Community Ministries, a partnership of over 50 faith groups with a shared vision of social service and social justice, supporting their work financially and volunteering in the programs, such as their food pantry. We provide monthly lunches for a homeless program and for a drop-in center; and we give both money and needed items, such as clothing, to a shelter for homeless and runaway youth and to a nonprofit that provides crisis intervention services to children. Our sewing group has made quilts for those in hospitals or nursing homes.
7. Tell about a ministry that your worshipping community has initiated in the past five years. Who can be contacted about this?
We have begun making monthly lunches for a drop-in center in a densely-populated area of the city near the largest food pantry. The center is a ministry of a Catholic church nearby, providing a safe place for people to gather, talk and receive counseling.
8. How are your preparing yourselves for the Church of the future?
St. Stephen’s has always been a family-friendly congregation as we are anchored in a residential neighborhood. We know attracting families with children is critical for the future of our church. On Sundays during the Eucharist, we offer a children’s sermon, followed by Sunday school. We have recently restarted our Youth Group and have found the teens are eager to engage with each other and the larger community. We have an active Facebook page and we are in the process of updating our website, as we understand outreach through social media is necessary.
9. What is your practice of stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshipping community?
We are reminded that everything we have comes from and belongs to God, and giving of ourselves back to God should be done in a spirit of thankfulness and joy. Each member of the church is asked to make a monetary pledge every year. In addition, we provide opportunities for members to donate their time and talents as they feel called. The Vestry has established committees to administer the operation of the parish; each Vestry member serves on a committee: parishioners outside the Vestry may serve as well. In addition, there are many ministries of the church in the areas of worship, pastoral care, and service to the community. Our Parish Faire each September highlights all the opportunities for service, with sign-ups and follow-ups by committee or ministry leaders. During the year, as needs within and outside the church arise, we may ask for further contributions of time, talent, or treasure.
10. What is your worshipping community’s experience of conflict? And how have you addressed it?
A generous bequest created excitement and disagreement in our parish late in 2005. Some wanted to invest the money in our Endowment Fund to expand our outreach to the needs of our community. Others, aware of increasing problems in our Parish Hall, wanted to move ahead with replacing the building. An Endowment Trustees committee was formed, also a Foundation Committee to receive and evaluate applications for grants and make recommendations to the Vestry. Sometimes heated discussions led us to the conclusion that the problems in the Parish Hall (growing mold issues, lack of insulation, and floor problems) demanded action. In 2009 a contract with an architect was signed and plans were presented to the congregation. The new Parish Hall was completed in 2011. Since then, we have included line items for outreach ministries in the parish budget. Recently new disagreements have centered around taking money from the Endowment (interest and principle) for needed repairs to the church campus.