Thursday, December 29, 2005

Crazy Rant: Iced Tea

Those of you who know me well, know from time to time I have a crazy rant. That is an opinion that swells up in me to crazy illogical proportions and requires venting. It is crazy because it assumes a level of feeling inappropriate to the subject matter -- speeding in the parking lot is a favorite, politics occasionally, but today's rant is about the unexpected subject of iced tea versus soda or even bottled iced tea.

People buy tremendous amounts of soda. Soda has sugar (or sugar substitute), chemicals, goodness only knows what kind of water they put in it. It costs a lot of money and it is hard on your kidneys and gall bladder.

Iced tea on the other hand is good for you. It has anti-oxidants in it and studies have shown it helps you avoid getting colds and flu. There is even a study that shows it can reduce your risk of cancer. If you make it yourself, it is incredibly cheap. You can make caffeinated, decaf, green tea, white tea or good old fasion Lipton's. No chemicals, no scary words that end in -ate, just good old-fashioned tea.

A few Yankees at this point are rememberiing that in the 70s they made "sun" tea. This process involves filling up a big jar of water, putting tea bags in it and letting the sun make the tea. How easy right? Wrong. When's the last time you did it? Get over it. If you have a jar the right size, it probably used to have pickles in it and then you are drinking pickle-tea. Besides there is nothing efficient about waiting hours for the sun to warm your water when you live in a high ranch. It's a fun project to teach kids about solar energy, but we are now adults and we don't live in solar energy homes. So now I am going to reveal to you the recipe for perfect iced tea.

Sweet Tea the mother of all Southern drinks, sweet tea is the gold-standard
Take a two quart pot and fill it about 3/4 of the way to the top with water. Boil it. When it comes to a boil add 1/2 cup sugar (you can fiddle with this amount as you become proficient). Let the sugar water come back to a boil and then add 3 tea bags and turn the heat off. Let the tea cool and enjoy.

Unsweet Tea I usually drink a pitcher of this a day
Take a two quart pot and fill it about 3/4 of the way to the top with water. Boil it. Turn off heat. Add 3 tea bags. Let cool. (I use one pink packet of sugar substitute per glass.)

What could be easier, cheaper, more delicious, or healthy than a nice glass of iced tea. Thank you for indulging me in my rant of the day. God Bless and drink tea!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Bentley Cross

Last year, we lost our wonderful friend Bubbles Bentley. In her memory, we have commissioned a local sculptor, Carl Rattner, who is on the faculty on St. Thomas Aquinas College, to create a new processional cross for us. Verger Pat and I viewed the prototype today and I am delighted to say that it looks fabulous. Carl expects to have the cross finished in March sometime which would mean we could have its debut at Easter time!

Monday, December 26, 2005

National Church Survey

The ECUSA (National Church) is asking everybody to take this on-line survey. It is very quick and painless, so let's help out!

Greetings, y'all --
Are you an online junkie, checking blogs and websites several times a day for the latest opinions and news? Or do you consider yourself an e-mail neophyte, worried that you'll hit "reply all" and blat a private message to the whole list? Do you refer to your handheld as "my CrackBerry" and can't imagine life without it? Or does the idea of being unplugged and unwired sound really quite lovely, thank you? Church Publishing Inc. and the Church Pension Group are interested in learning more about how Episcopalians use technology in their daily lives and in their church and devotional lives. We've created a brief online survey, available at, which asks some questions about general technology use, computer platforms, Internet connectivity, worship patterns, personal devotional habits, etc. It's entirely anonymous – your e-mail address won't be collected or tracked. But your participation will help paint a clearer picture of how we as Episcopalians are incorporating technology into our lives. We'd appreciate it if you'd go to and spend a few minutes taking this short survey. Feel free to forward this message to other folks or lists whom you think might like to participate. And if you have any questions about the survey, don't hesitate to e-mail me at serdey@c...

Faithfully, Susie Erdey

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Church is Clean!

Thanks to all who came and spent an hour or so cleaning the sanctuary -- Pat, Gisela, Elaine, Laural, Katherine, Bob, and Jeanne. We got so much done and it looks wonderful! See you all tonight!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

Our services are as follows:

Christmas Eve
7 p.m. Carol Sing
7:30 Festive Eucharist
Christmas Morning
8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
Have a blessed and holy Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

New Copier!!!

Thanks be to God we got a new copier today! The Evening Guild has generously gotten us a brand-new copy machine. Entering the 21st century, our new copier collates, staples, does two-sided copies. And best of all, we got it re-furbished from Konica and so it was very reasonably priced.

Next time you stop in the office, give yourself an extra moment to admire our new machine!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Eve Cleanup

Christmas Eve is the busiest night of the church year! To get ready, we will be having a special cleanup of the church on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. It should only last an hour and will give us a chance to make everything beautiful for the evening.

In case you missed hanging of the Greens (which was, as usual, a blast!), the church is beautiful with all of the beautiful flowers and greens. Thank you for all of your memorials and thanksgiving donations and also to the Birthday Barrell for making all the decorations possible.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

100 Hits!!!

Today we reached 108 hits on our blog. I love this blog! The counter on the bottom measures the number of visitors we have had (31 while I write this). Most importantly though, it gives us a chance to stay in touch with one another on a daily, heck even hourly, basis.

Thanks for checking in!

Thanks be to God, It's Christmas!

In this very special season, I have been overcome with thanks for all the wonderful people here and the gifts they share so freely. Thanks for our wonderful creche in the sanctuary, thanks for the beautiful abundance of Christmas flowers in the church, thanks for all of you.

I especially want to thank the vestry today. What a marvelous group of men and women we have serving on the vestry. They struggle with tough issues and there is plenty of heated discussion, but at the end of the night they are really united by a spirit of respect and love. If you ever have the opportunity to serve on the vestry, please do. It is an experience that is both soul-stretching and remarkably faith producing.

And they do not get enough credit, to be sure, but thanks to the wonderful office staff. Jackie is here on Mondays, Gayle on Tuesdays, Gisela on Wednesdays, Pat on Thursdays, and Kathleen on Fridays. Without them, this place just wouldn't work and I am grateful to them all and the special gifts they each bring.

Thank you for reading our blog and may God continue to bless you greatly!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Stewardship Results


Sorry for the delay in reporting our Stewardship Results, but believe it or not pledges have still been coming in! As a reminder in 2005 we had 70 pledges for a total of $145, 000. This year we have 74 pledges for $142,400. This is especially impressive since we have lost 6 households last year.

Thank you so much for your continued stewardship of this wonderful place!

Thank you from the Romers

This comes to us from our friends. . .

Dear Susan and the St. Stephen's family,

What a tribute!

There are no words to truly express our thanks. You have succeeded in overwhelming us and leaving us grasping for words to describe the depth of our gratitude.

What a lot of thought, caring, and energy went into the beautiful Romerfest celebration! Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude, thanks and praise for this wonderful family of St. Stephen's. We love you dearly and will miss you in so many ways.

It's incredible how many ideas and memories went into the preparation and execution of the delicious candlelit meal, loving poem by Susan, the reading of letters afar by the "mature" youth group members, Casey's loving tribute, the incredible DVD by Ray and Jane, the banner of leaves leading from St. Stephen's to the Cape Cod lighthouse.

Talking and sharing memories with you who braved a very cold Wednesday night was so special and touched us deeply. Even as we drove away, seeing the cleanup crew at work we remembered when we helped with cleanup. Your hugs and love will help us through our new adventure. We pray that out contact with you will span the distance and always keep us in touch.

Wednesday night worship in the church with so many friends, with such special music, sermon and sending forth has left us with feelings of love and appreciation. God has truly blessed us all in this special place.

We've had but thirty years in its ongoing life but know St. Stephen's will move into greater and greater witness of God's love within and without its light-filled walls. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hanging of the Greens

I can hardly wait until tomorrow! Not only is it Advent 4 (Mary's Sunday) but in the afternoon we have Hanging of the Greens. This is one of my all-time favorite events at the church -- the magic and excitement of getting the church ready for Christmas, as well as the coziness of our church family.

At 4 p.m. (on the 18th) we gather at different areas of the building and begin decorating the church. At 5 p.m. we stop and go in the Parish Hall for some delicious hamburger soup. At 5:30 we go back in the church and see the wonderful Christmas pageant starring all of our kids. Then we go back in the Parish Hall for Christmas cookies and cider. A wonderful time for us all.

There is, of course, the nasty business about the transit strike on Monday. What a potentially disappointing start to Christmas week. If you, or someone you know needs a ride to the City on Monday. There will be a sign-up sheet for drivers and those in need of a ride. Let's all pitch in and make sure everybody gets where they need to go!

God's Blessing to You All!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Book Club

Today is our Book Club luncheon at C&D's to celebrate that we finished "The Gift of Change" by Marianne Williamson in just over eleven and a half months. These ladies (and we all are) are a suprisingly rowdy and insightful bunch and we have the best time reading and talking.

We have chosen our next book: "The Kite Runner". It will begin in January and we meet on Thursdays at 10 a.m. The discussions last one hour, but often spill out onto the parking lot afterwards. Please consider joining our happy group for tea, conversation, and the gift of books!

FYI Romerfest was a great success! We had sixty people come and there was much love and remembrances. We will miss them so much! Thanks to all far and near who sent their memories to share.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No Church on Christmas?

I found this article on the WREG-TV Memphis wesbite, hmnnn:

Posted by Tom Powell
No Church on Christmas?

MEMPHIS - As you know, Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. It's the first time that's happened since 1994. Many churches across the country are canceling services. The idea is, with other services in the days before Christmas, having no church on Christmas Day allows folks to spend more time with their families.
World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church on Winchester is among the churches that will not have services on Christmas. The church's pastor was not available for comment Wednesday.
World Overcomers is not alone. Do a quick search on the internet, and you'll quickly discover lots of Christians will be celebrating Christ's birth from home this year. Some of the biggest mega-churches in the country will be closed on Christmas. They include; The Chicago area's largest congregation, Willow Creek Community Church, Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, and North Point Church in Georgia.

Parish Library

This was submitted by Kathleen Konno, our new parish librarian

We are currently getting our Parish Library organized so that it may be utilized effectively. You might have noticed that the shelves have been rather bare for a while. Perhaps some of our members have books they would like to donate to our library.

Please don't get the idea that this is a good way to get rid of all those books that have been taking up needed space. We would, however, welcome books that you have enjoyed (no more than 10) that you would like to share with others and feel might be appropriate additions to our shelves. Audio books, which so many of us like to take on trips, can also be included.

Please continue to be mindful to return all books borrowed from out library. Thank you for your help with this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Coming Events

As we all prepare for Christmas, here are a few dates to keep in mind. . .

December 14, Romer-Fest 6-8p.m.

December 15, Book Club Luncheon 12:15 p.m.

December 18, Hanging of the Greens 4-6 p.m.

December 19, Vestry Meeting 7:30

December 24, Christmas Eve Clean-up 9-10 a.m.
Christmas Eve Service 7 p.m.

December 25, Christmas Services 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

January 8, Reid Baptism and celebration of the Baptism of Jesus

January 22, Annual Meeting and Election of new Vestry and Officers

Monday, December 12, 2005


As Christmas approaches, it seems particularly appropriate to practice the discipline of prayer for those in need. Please join me in offering prayers for those on our prayer list:

Kara, Kathleen, Matthew, Kerri, John, Marilyn, Jean, M'dear, Louise, Jane, Scott, Mark, Yuki, Richard, Joe, Evelyn, Eva, Susan

To add a person to our prayer list, speak with me, call the office between 9-12 noon, or send me an e-mail.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Advent Three

The weather was kind to us today and church was wonderful. A few people asked me about the pink candle that is on the Adnet Wreath. Many people assume that it is lit on the third Sunday in Advent. My understanding is that it is the candle for Mary, so I prefer to light it on the Sunday that has readings about Mary. Sometimes that is the third Sunday, but this year it happens to be the 4th Sunday of Advent.

Keep in mind that Wednesday will be Romer-fest. A chance to say goodbye to our wonderful friends. Please e-mail (or bring to church) what the Romers gave to you -- a sleigh ride in their yard, a good lunch, an encouraging talk -- and let us know for the Romer Giving Tree.

Many Blessings to you all!

Friday, December 09, 2005


It is snowing furiously here in Pearl River, New York! The office will be closed today, the nursery school is closed today, and unfortunately we have not been able to connect the new answering machine yet. Or, more precisely, we have not been able to successfully connect the new answering machine yet.

So if there is an issue, a problem, a concern . . . please call the rectory and if I am unavailable (watching an old movie or taking a nap) please leave a message.

May you all have a blessed day! I hope everybody plays in the snow and drinks cocoa!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Letter from our family from Haiti

This letter was given to us by our new friend Florence early in the fall. . .

Dear Friends of St. Stephen's Church,

My message to you will be brief

When we were living in Haiti, my husband was a college professor on a part-time basis and a Director of Administration and Finance at another university. I was a nurse and also did volunteer work at a church and a center for handicapped people.

I was always trying to help others, especially the poor and other people in need by giving them a number of things even what we needed at home. Sometimes, I had to go and buy what I had given and although my husband was not always happy with me, I felt that it was necessary to give to others and that I was doing God's will that way.

As you know, the political and economic situation in haiti is very bad and can be very stressful and we feared for the welfare and well being of our children. Although my husband was doing well professionally, we felt it necessary to consider moving to the US where the security situation was much better and our children could get a good education. We knew that life was not going to be easy for us, specially in the beginning, but we decided to face the difficulties ahead of us. As I was getting ready to leave Haiti, I gave away most of what I had instead of selling my furniture and appliances.

As you know, I had come here two months before my husband did to enroll the children in school so they could have a head start and we lived with members of my family. Life was not good and I was not a happy person and was discouraged and sad.

However, 10 days before my husband arrived, I received a message from God through a cousin of mine who told us that he had a plan for us. He would intervene and make things better for us at a church. We did not know when that would happen and in which church it would occur.

So when we finally found the apartment in Pearl River, we were planning to take our time buying the furniture since rent was high, and my husband had not yet found a job and we did not have much money.

But when we came to church on Sunday, Reverend Susan and all the members of the church welcomed us with open arms and helped us get settled in our house, which is fast becoming a home.

Because of your generosity and kindness, I am a firmer believer in God and I am again smiling and looking at the future with renewed confidence and trust in God.

And although we still don't have living room furniture, nor a car, computer, a car, a job, and a number of other things that people take for granted, I am happy and I want to thank Reverend Susan and every one of youy for what you have done for us and what God will allow us to do for each other in the future.

What else can I say. I believe that God will be merciful and generous toward you as you have been to us and will bless you as abundantly as I feel blessed today.

Thank you.

Update: They now have a fully furnished apartment and computer, but still no job or car. Please keep the family in your prayers.

Food Cupboard

Valerie Malkus submitted this article from the Food Cupboard. . .

The St. Stephen's Food Cupboard needs your help. In addition to any of the regular food items you may donate, we especially need the following items:

Baby diapers

Personal hygiene items - shampoo, soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, etc. . .

Household Cleaners

You may deposit any of these items in the Food Cupboard basket in the Narthex. If you wish, you can take a grocery bag (to put your donations in) from this basket.

The bag has a list of needed items on it -- with the "especially needed" items highlighted.

We help at least 20 families each month with bags packed by our Food Cupboard. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated!

Our New Blog

Well, we haven't been able to maintain our web page, but while we are trying to sort that out, how about our very own blog as a way of keeping in touch, praying for people, and posting upcoming events?

Keep In Mind. . . .

Wednesday, December 14 is Romer-Fest, a chance to say goodbye and good luck to our friends before they leave.

Sunday, December 18 is the Hanging of the Greens 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
For an hour we decorate the church, then we come together in the Parish Hall for Hamburger Soup, then we go back to the church for our Christmas Pageant, and then to the Parish Hall for cookies and cider. What a nice way to get ready for Christmas.

Saturday, December 24 is Christmas Eve. The service begins at 7 p.m. with Christmas Carols and wonderful offerings from our Choir. At 7:30 the Eucharist begins. Get there early to get a great seat!

Sunday, December 25 is Christmas! How special to have Christmas morning fall on a Sunday morning. Come to the 8:30 service or join us at 10:30 for a presentation of "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry. A moving story that helps us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Advent to you all!