St. Boniface grows

New view: “The Lamb of God,” the last of eight new stained-glass windows in the sanctuary of St. Boniface Episcopal Church in Guilderland, was dedicated on Sunday. Standing with Father Steven Scherck are the window’s sponsors, Bill and Kathy Van Wie and their children, and, behind them, next to Scherck, Sally Riggs.

GUILDERLAND — While many churches are facing declining congregations, St. Boniface Episcopal Church in Guilderland is growing — both in congregants and space.

Sixty-one years ago, members started meeting in Westmere’s firehouse, according to George Tregaskis, a member for several years. The current building at 5148 Western Ave. was built in 1965.

“We’ve gotten too big,” said Tregaskis, estimating current membership at 150, and growing. “We have so much construction around us, with townhouses in back of us and more going in where the Bavarian Chalet used to be.”

He is especially excited about the church’s young members, noting that Kaleigh Green received her First Holy Communion last week.

The new addition will accommodate those with limited mobility, he said. The front door will be moved and a ramp for the handicapped built; there will also be an elevator installed.

Tregaskis is not sure when construction will begin but said, “We got all of our town permits.”

He also said, “A large cross outside will identify the building as a church; we don’t have that now.” He added, “It will be lit.”

Inside the church, exciting changes are afoot as well. The last in a series of eight stained-glass windows was dedicated on July 27. All of them were sponsored by people in the congregation at a cost of about $2,450 each, said Tregaskis.

The idea for the windows came from Charles Gullio, a Latin teacher from Amsterdam, who has a Roman Catholic background and is now a congregant of St. Boniface.

“Our Mass is not so much different,” said Tregaskis.

Henry VIII famously broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 when the pope wouldn’t annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn; he founded the Church of England. Americans of that faith formed the Episcopal Church after the Revolutionary War so its clergy would not to have to pledge allegiance to the English monarch.

“The Roman Catholic Church is big for stained-glass windows,” said Tregaskis. “It was his idea,” he said of Gullio, “to make the sanctuary churchy.”

St. Boniface’s windows were created by David Pfaffenbach and installed by Smith Contracting. Tracy Smith is a member of St. Boniface and designed the installation of the windows so that they can slide open.

“It’s very clever,” said Tregaskis of the sliding design, which allows those sitting in the second-floor fellowship hall to see what is going on in the first-floor sanctuary when the windows are open.

“It’s good for when there’s an overflow, like for a funeral,” said Tregaskis.

The window project began about a year ago, he said. “People snapped the opportunity right up,” he said of sponsoring the stained-glass windows.

“They give more of a sacred appearance,” he said.

With or without the sacred backdrop, though, Tregaskis finds the sermons sustaining. “Father Steven’s sermons are so rich and deep and spiritual,” he said of Steven Scherck.

Tregaskis concluded of the growing congregation, “Everyone there is very open and sincere and honest, trying to live the Biblical truth.”

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