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 and Teens meets on the first and third Sundays of each month during the school year.  Children of all ages join our program leader, Sophie Ritter, a sophomore 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!


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

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

St. Paul’s is Moving Forward

On October 10 at 7:00pm, our Bishop will be at St. Paul’s for a special service, with the somewhat long title of “A Celebration and Renewal of the Life and Mission of St. Paul’s Church in Waterloo, New York and the Welcoming of Jeffrey Haugaard as Rector.” It has been a bit more than 35 years since a similar service has been held at our parish.

The first part of the title of the special service is the more important part:

We are celebrating the life and mission of our parish in the Waterloo community. Many of you know, even more clearly than I, that St. Paul’s has been an important part of our community for many, many years. We will celebrate all that St. Paul’s has been to all those generations of parish members and community members.

We are renewing the life and mission of our parish in the Waterloo community. At the same time that we celebrate the past, we look to the future with confidence and hope. We renew our dedication to the life of our community, to the life of our parish, and to the lives of all those we serve.

The Waterloo community is smaller than it was a couple generations ago, and our parish is smaller. The Waterloo community is older than it was a couple generations ago, and our parish is older. But size and age do not devalue who we are as a parish and what our mission is. Size and age may change how our parish looks and how we work to accomplish our mission, but our mission remains the same: caring for those who need care, spreading the Gospel and bringing others to Christ, and bringing the Emerging Kingdom of God to our community and the world. As a parish and as individuals, we must continue to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and renew us as we rededicate ourselves to our mission.

The second part of the title of the special service involves welcoming me as the Rector at St. Paul’s. For the past three years, I have been on temporary assignment to St. Paul’s – a time for the parish to consider whether I should continue as priest and a time for me to consider whether this is where God wants me to serve as priest. I am so pleased that the leadership of our parish has asked me to become Rector in the place that I believe God has called me to serve.

During the service on the 10th, the Bishop will say to me, “your highest calling as a priest is to love the people of this congregation and to inspire them to live faithfully in the world Christ calls us to serve.” Beginning from soon after I arrived at St. Paul’s, because of the warm welcome that I received and because you all are who you are, I began to feel that sense of love. My love for you and for this parish has grown during the past three years. We have agreed and disagreed, we have changed in ways that some have liked and some have not, we have tried new ways of worshiping together that have worked and new ways that have not worked. It is that sense of love, through God’s grace, that has kept me close to you through all of it. I pray that the love will continue to grow.

As for inspiring you all to live faithfully, I hope that I have done some of that for the past three years and pray that I can continue to hone my inspirational skills over the next several years.

St. Paul’s is such a special place. And so, it will be with a true sense of personal joy that I will be welcomed as Rector in October. I hope that each one of you will also find this to be a joyous time in our parish history.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

We Must Reunite All Immigrant Families; We Must Never Forcibly Separate Immigrant Children From Their Families Again

As I write this note to all of you, we are one day away from the time that the court-ordered reunification of all immigrant children forcibly separated from their parents over the past several months must be completed. It seems unlikely that the federal government will meet this deadline. A recent court order has stopped our government from deporting parents who have been forcibly separated from their children – apparently a hundred or so of these deportations have already occurred. How those parents are ever to be reunited with their children remains a mystery.

The forcible separation of immigrant families was stopped by President Trump several weeks ago. Estimates of the number of children who were separated from their families before this range from 2000 to 5000 (the government will not tell us the number, and so estimates range widely). About 150 of these children are under the age of five. We are not told where the children are being kept, although it is clear that some of them are being kept in cells in detention camps.

Jesus taught about God and the emerging Kingdom of God during his earthly ministry. He lived a life that gives us the best example we have about who God is and what God’s hopes for humanity are. Jesus spent little time on public policy. Rather, he spent almost all of his time focused on the lives of individuals; teaching them and bringing them to physical, spiritual, and social health. Through his life, Jesus showed the concern that God has for each individual human.

God also showed this concern to the Nation of Israel through the prophets, over thousands of years. As Abraham Heschel says in his book The Prophets, “The sorts of crimes and even the amount of delinquency that fill the prophets of Israel with dismay do not go beyond that which we regard as normal…To us a single act of injustice – cheating in business, exploitation of the poor – is slight; to the prophets, a disaster. To us injustice is injurious to the welfare of the people; to the prophets it is a deathblow to existence: to us, an episode; to them, a catastrophe, a threat to the world” (p. 4).

One of the strengths of St. Paul’s parish is that, although we may disagree on public policy at times, we are all able to come together to worship and thank the God who is concerned for every human being – the God who sees injustice to any Child of God as a disaster. We may have disagreements about our nation’s immigration policy. However, we gather together at the altar rail each week for our communal Eucharistic meal, and thank the God who makes our meal possible and who hopes that every human can be gathered together after his or her earthly life into an eternal life in God’s presence.

As is true for many of us, I see the many sides to our nation’s debate on immigration. I understand that thoughtful people differ on the direction that our nation’s policy should take. I remain astounded at the complete inability of members of Congress to even begin to do anything about our nation’s immigration policy.

As is also true for us, I believe, my heart breaks when I think of that 3-year-old taken from her mother’s arms and placed in foster care many states away; I weep when I think of that 7-year-old taken from the side of his father and sleeping in a cell in a detention camp hundreds of miles away. Jesus weeps about this also. And God notices: “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds” (Amos 8:7).

What we have come to know about God, through the life of Jesus and through Scripture, tells us that God grieves for those individual Children of God – toddlers, children, adolescents, adults – separated at our border. We must reunite all these families. We must never separate families like this again.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard