If you live in or around Waterloo, or are visiting this beautiful part of the Finger Lakes, we hope that you will join us for Sunday Worship at 9:30am.  We are a very friendly parish and welcome all visitors and everyone who is considering joining our parish community.  Those at all stages of their faith journey are welcome, including those who are thinking of starting a faith journey.
Families are encouraged to visit.  Our Program for Children This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Program-for-Children-and-Teens-3-1024x702.jpgand Teens meets on the first and third Sundays of each month during the school year.  Children of all ages join our programThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1020191003_HDR-1024x768.jpg leader, Sophie Ritter, a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, during the first half of our service.  They then join the rest of the congregation for Holy Communion.  All children and teens are welcome,  and should meet in our church building at the beginning of our 9:30am service.
On other Sundays, we have a family area in the back of our church building with games and activities for younger children.  Parents are welcome to bring games and activities to the pews or are welcome to take their children to the family area during the service if their children  need a break.  We LOVE to hear the sounds of infants, toddlers, and children – they add so much to our worship.

As you will see on this website, our parish is a vibrant community.  Not only do we worship together, we have many social and service events together.  The Women of St. Paul’s, the Men’s Association, and the Social Club meet monthly.  Many parish members serve during our worship services as part of the Altar Guild, the ushers, the lay readers, and the parish musicians.
Most importantly, we are a parish that celebrates with each other during times of joy and supports each other during times of sadness or anxiety.  We strive to be the type of community of which Jesus can be proud!

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Our Priest

Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
101 E. Williams St.
Waterloo, NY 13165
(315) 539-3897

Notes from our Priest

Confirmation

In our last Epistle, I wrote about Baptism and noted that our understanding of Baptism in the Episcopal Church has changed over time.  Changes in our understanding of Baptism, particularly since the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was adopted, have required changes in our understanding of Confirmation, since much of what was bestowed on a person at Confirmation before 1979 is now seen as bestowed at Baptism.  So, questions arise about Confirmation today.  What does it mean?  Is it necessary?  Is it meaningful? Should we even include Confirmation among the Sacraments and Rites of the Episcopal Church?

As described in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, there are two great sacraments of the Gospel: Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist.  These are the two sacraments in which Jesus participated during his earthly ministry.  Confirmation is described as a sacramental rite (along with ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and ministering to the sick).  Thus, Confirmation is not considered in the same category as Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist, but is still considered a sacrament.

Both in the past and today, Confirmation has been seen as the time when a person makes a mature commitment to Christ – affirming the promises made on the person’s behalf by parents and godparents at Baptism.

Before 1979, Confirmation was also seen as the moment when a person became fully a part of the Church – Christ’s Body on earth.  Consequently, only those who had been confirmed were allowed to receive Holy Eucharist. In addition, Confirmation was seen as the moment when the Holy Spirit descended fully on the person – through the process of the laying on of hands by a Bishop.

In described in Scripture, after his Resurrection, Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit on the apostles by breathing on them.  Later, the apostles bestow the Holy Spirit on others by laying hands on them.  The Apostle Peter (considered the first Bishop of the Church) consecrated Bishops in the early church by laying his hands on them.  Those Bishops then consecrated other Bishops by laying hands on them, and so forth during the two thousand years of the Church (this is called Apostolic Succession).  Consequently, when our Bishop lays her hands on someone – as she does at Confirmations and Ordinations – what she imparts to that person had its beginning with Jesus breathing on the Apostles.

Since 1979, Baptism has been seen as the time when a person becomes a full member of the Church (which is why all the baptized can now receive Holy Eucharist.)  In addition, the Holy Spirit is seen as being within every person from the beginning of life.  Consequently, Confirmation is no longer required to be a full member of the Body of Christ or to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  So, what is its purpose? 

Perhaps we can consider this question in two parts: membership in the Church and the experience of the Holy Spirit.  Before a person is confirmed, a period of study and personal reflection is required.  The Episcopal Church notes that this study should “help the candidates discover the meaning of Christian commitment in their lives and explore ways that their Christian commitment can be lived.”  Studying to understand more clearly what Christian commitment is, and then reflecting on how, specifically, God is calling a person into a life with Christ, can certainly make that person a better Christian and better person.  

As Alex Fogleman writes: Baptism is a beginning; Confirmation is a deepening.  Baptism is one’s birth into the Body of Christ; Confirmation represents one’s growth within the Body of Christ.  The Holy Spirit is present both at our Baptism and at our Confirmation.  At our Baptism, we are born into a new life through the Holy Spirit; at Confirmation, the Holy Spirit strengthens us in that life that began at our Baptism.

It is notable that only a Bishop can lead the sacramental rite of Confirmation.  In the same way, only a Bishop can lead the sacramental rite of Ordination.  Perhaps there is some meaning in this.  Ordination marks a person as having a special mission and role within the Body of Christ.  Perhaps we can think of Confirmation as having the same purpose: it is a time when a person – through study and reflection; through consultation with clergy, family members, and others; and through laying on of hands by a Bishop – accepts that he or she also has a vocation within the Church,  a role to play, a mission to fulfill.  

Go with God,

Fr. Haugaard

Joy and Baptism

Baptism has been important in the lives of the followers of Jesus and their families since Jesus himself stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized by his cousin, John.  However, within the Church, and more recently within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, the focus of baptism has changed over the centuries. 

Following the tradition of the Jewish faith into which Jesus and many of his early followers were born, baptism meant birth into a new life – a life focused on a person’s relationship with God.  For the early Church, baptism was primarily a new birth into the resurrected life of Christ – and Paul spoke about this rebirth in many of his letters. 

Baptism during the next few centuries focused more on the forgiveness of sins – following the teachings of John the Baptist.  At baptism, all one’s sins were forgiven.  However, all sins after that remained on the person’s “permanent record.”  Consequently, many people waited until they were on their deathbed to be baptized, so that a lifetime of sins could be forgiven, and they had very little time, if any, to commit further sins.

The primary meaning of baptism changed over the centuries to one of being marked as having faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of all.  This faith was believed to be essential to an eternal.  Given the high rate of mortality among infants and young children, parents were eager to have their child baptized as soon after birth as possible, believing that those who were not baptized would never be able to “go to heaven.” 

In more recent times, baptism has been seen primarily as the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon a person, much as what happened to Jesus at his baptism.  In the Episcopal Church, however, that belief was modified in the last few decades.  Our current belief is that the Holy Spirit enters a person at birth and that the Spirit is part of every human. 

Within the Episcopal Church, baptism is now seen primarily as a full initiation into Christ’s Body, the Church.  As it has been in the past, baptism also allows a person to share in the new life of the Holy Spirit and gives forgiveness of sins.  When I was growing up, Confirmation was required before a person was fully initiated into Christ’s Body.  Consequently, a person needed to be confirmed before receiving communion.  Now, nothing other than baptism is required for full membership in Christ’s Body, which is why all those who have been baptized, including infants, can receive communion.

Although thinking about baptism has changed over the centuries, the joy has always been there.  Joy at being given new birth into the life of Christ, joy at having one’s sins forgiven, joy at being named a person of faith, joy at receiving the Holy Spirit, joy at being part of the Body of Christ on earth.  Joy, joy, joy.

Go with God,

Fr. Haugaard

Fishers of People

I have attended several services led by our Bishop over the past few months, and so have heard her preach several times.  She is a very gifted preacher.  In this bit of writing, I have “borrowed liberally” from her recent sermons.

Our reading from Luke’s Gospel last Sunday was Jesus’s first call to his disciples.  He comes to them after their long day of fishing, invites them to follow him, and tells them that they will be fishing for people if they do.  Just as Jesus called upon his first disciples to “fish for people” 2000 years ago, he calls us to do the same today. 

For too many years, our Bishop warns us, this meant inviting people to church.  That, she says, is like going out on a first date with someone and having that person invite you home to meet parents.  Whoa!  It is just too much on that first date.  Yes, she says, certainly we may want to invite someone to come to church with us at some point – but not too early or too quickly. 

We should, though, always take the opportunity to talk with our friends and family members about the importance of faith in our lives.  If others are talking about feeling lonely, we can talk about our faith giving us a closeness to God that comforts us.  If others are talking about their struggles with illness, we can talk about our faith providing us comfort and strength.  If others are talking about missing something in their lives, we can talk about God filling that missing space in our lives through our faith.

In this day and time, we can worry about talking about our faith.  We worry about how others might hear it.  As our Bishop says, we can worry that talking about Jesus can make us seem odd.  But, she goes on to say with a smile, we are odd.  Yes, in our society we are odd – we are unusual – by having faith as an important part of our lives.  But, that is an oddness that we should embrace. 

Think of all that your faith brings to your life.  Sharing stories about that faith with others might set them on a path of increasing faith – faith that may bring to them what it has brought to you.  Certainly, that is the work that Jesus calls on us to do.

And then, perhaps, when the time is right, ask them to come with you to church, that wonderful place where we express our faith, give God thanks for it, and watch it grow. 

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Where Would Jesus Go?

During her sermon at our most recent diocesan convention, our Bishop asked an interesting question. I’ll paraphrase. “If Jesus were to visit Waterloo tomorrow, where would he be sure to go?” How each of us answers that question says something about whom we believe Jesus is in the world today. It also informs those of us who follow Jesus about what we should be doing in Waterloo.

 So, where do you believe Jesus would go in Waterloo? We will play a little music while you consider your answer. (Theme music from Jeopardy plays for one minute.)

 Here is my answer: while I am not certain about all the places Jesus would go, two of the places that I’m sure he would visit are the Elizabeth Crossing Apartments and the laundromat on Virginia Street.

 In the books of the Prophets, in the Psalms, and in the Gospels, God repeatedly shows interest in the people who are at the margins of society. This does not mean that God is not interested in those of us who are not at the margins of society. God’s love for each of us is intense – you, me, the woman down the block, members of Congress. But God makes a special point of noticing those whom the rest of us may fail to notice. God evens things out. Jesus, following The Father’s example, will do the same.

 Of course, it would be wonderful if Jesus were to visit our beautiful, historic church and talk with us. I am sure that he would be impressed with our faithful presence in Waterloo, and that we would be inspired to carry on the work that he began during his earthly ministry. Carrying on that work, however, means that we would need to go to those places in Waterloo where Jesus would go if he were to visit. Jesus would go to the places where he could comfort those who are struggling every day to meet the demands of the world by telling them of God’s love and care for them and by telling them that God would like to provide them with the strength and courage needed to continue their struggle. And Jesus would remind them that, through the promise of eternal life, they and their children have much to look forward to.

 It is unlikely that Jesus will be visiting Waterloo anytime soon. He may – Jesus has always had the ability to surprise those around him. But, it seems unlikely. And so the question is: how can we stand in for Jesus and visit these folks to give them what Jesus would give them if he were here. I think that, as a parish, we should be thinking about this and talking about this. Let’s try to do that soon.

 Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard