Latest Sermon :
- Posted on 18 Jul 2017

Thank you very much for visiting our website.

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.
All are welcome at God’s altar.  All persons, including children of all ages, are welcome at the altar for Holy Communion.
Families are encouraged to visit.  On the first Sunday of each month is our Program for Children and Teens.  Children of all ages join our program leaders, Ally Cheney and Lily Kane, two seniors 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 would be proud!

Jeff_about

Our Priest

Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard

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

Latest Sermons (click on the title to hear the sermon)

Notes from our Priest

Praying for the President?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the strengths of the Episcopal Church is that it shies away from telling people what they should think on most matters – expecting that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, people will prayerfully make decisions on their own.  One result of this expectation is that controversies – big and small – crop up regularly in the Episcopal Church.  Some find these controversies troubling and exasperating, others find them exciting and energizing.

A recent controversy is whether the Episcopal Church, parishes in the Episcopal Church, and individual Episcopalians should pray for Donald Trump.  Perhaps this is not unexpected, given the very strong opinions about him held by his supporters and those who do not support him.

A recent article by the Dean of the Berkeley Episcopal Seminary discusses how this controversy has affected the national church (there was significant debate about whether the Washington National Cathedral should host the traditional prayer service the day before President Trump’s inauguration) and individual parishes (some have decided not to include President Trump in their prayers).

At St. Paul’s, we usually rotate through the six forms of the Prayers of the People found in the Book of Common Prayer for our Sunday worship.  None of the forms pray for the President by name, although Form I has a specific prayer for “the President,” Form III includes a prayer “for all who govern and hold authority,” and Form V prays “for those in positions of public trust.”  Even when we use the form that names the presidential office specifically or generally, my practice has been to not include President Trump by name.  This is consistent with my previous practice of not including President Obama by name.

Should we pray, collectively or individually, for President Trump, even if he is not included in our Prayers of the People.  My reading of Scripture suggests that Jesus’s strong and unequivocal answer is “yes.”  Jesus challenges us to pray for everyone, just as Jesus challenges us to love everyone.  Each of us is a child of God and is loved by God – even those with whom we disagree strongly.  Consequently, each person deserves our prayers and love.

Jesus frequently challenges us to do things that are right but difficult.  Jesus lived his life that way and asks that we try to do the same.

While discussing the controversy about the inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral, our Presiding Bishop said of his work in the Civil Rights Movement: “We prayed for leaders who were often lukewarm or even opposed to our very civil rights.  We got on our knees in church and prayed for them, and then we got up off our knees and we marched on Washington.  Following the way of Jesus, we prayed and protested at the same time.  We prayed for our leaders who were fighting for our civil rights, we prayed for those with whom we disagreed, and we even prayed for those who hated us.  And we did so following Jesus, whose way is the way of unselfish, sacrificial love.  And that way is the way that can set us all free” (Berkeley at Yale, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2017).

Let us pray that President Trump, and each human, will be open to that wonderful experience of God’s love, and will be guided by that love to do what is right.  It is what we hope for ourselves; it is what we should hope for all others.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Baptism in the Early Church

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the Easter Vigil, we will be baptizing three children from our parish.  It will be a joyous evening.  I hope that you will be able to join us.  The Rite of Baptism has changed significantly in the history of the Church.  I thought that you might be interested in who was baptized and how they were baptized in the Early Church.

In the years after Christ’s death and resurrection, at the beginning of the Christian community as it emerged from its Jewish roots, baptism was fundamental to the life of the community.  This was when a person was born again into a life with the Risen Christ.

In Judaism, baptism was part of the ceremonies that were performed for those who wanted to join the faith and become Jewish.  Baptism in Israel was re-birth into a new way of life. Both men and women were baptized. Baptism signified becoming one of God’s people: “Coming out of the water, the candidate was signed as God’s sheep, slave, and soldier by the marking on the forehead with a Taw (Τ), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, symbol of the name of God.”83 This meaning and form of baptism had a significant influence on the early Christian Church.

In the early church, baptism was not simply administered because someone wanted to become Christian. The process of becoming Christian took up to three years.  This was a period of probation, education, and nurturing in what it meant to be Christian.  It is important to remember that many Christians at this time were persecuted by the Roman and Jewish authorities.  Consequently, becoming a Christian meant that the person was willing to become a member of a community that might cost them their earthly life.

During the Eucharist services in the early church, those who were not baptized were allowed to take part in the opening part of the service, which included hymns, scripture readings, and sermon.  Following the sermon, the catechumens, as those who were seeking to be baptized were called, were dismissed, the doors locked, and the deacon would declare that all was now ready to continue to the Eucharist.  Only the baptized were allowed to hear the prayers, because it was believed that only those who had been incorporated into Christ’s body could pray through his Name.

In the early Church, the baptism occurred after the lengthy, three-year catechumenate.  After the prayers and the celebration of the Eucharist, the candidate for baptism disrobed and removed all jewelry. Then nude, as at their first birth, the candidates entered the water. They were interrogated by the Bishop or Priest. Following each interrogation (“Do you believe … “) the person was immersed in the water. Following the baptism, they were anointed with oils of birth and clothed in new clothes. They had been reborn!

Go with God,

Fr. Haugaard

Listening for God

God lives where we let Him in.
Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk

I am about a third of the way through a fascinating book: The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Sacks argues that science and religion are both essential for understanding the universe and humanity’s place in it.  Science and religion are not competitors for “the truth,” he states, because each has a task different from the other.  “Science takes things apart to see how they work.  Religion puts things together to see what they mean.” By combining knowledge from science and religion, we understand our world better.

The three great monotheistic religions, all of which began with that conversation between Abraham and God thousands of years ago, have, at their foundation, personal relationships between God and humans.  Knowledge of God is not essential to humans; an intimate relationship with God is.  Sacks says: “Faith is not a form of ‘knowing’ in the sense in which that word is used in science or philosophy.  It is, in the Bible, a mode of listening.”

As I think about this, I wonder if one of the reasons that so few people in our community are engaged in a relationship with God is that they find it hard to do their part in that relationship, which is to sit quietly and listen.  Our culture is one of hard work and always being engaged.  Just watch young people as they have a conversation with friends while texting someone else and checking their Facebook page.  As adults, we get up early, go to work and work hard all day, prepare meals, finish work in our home office, and fall into bed exhausted.

God speaks with us mostly through quiet touches to our souls.  The subtleness of these touches makes it hard for us to notice them as we are busily involved in our lives.  Our earthly world impinges on us so much that there may be little or no time for us to listen, quietly, for these touches from God as God reaches out to us in relationship.

The relationship with God that can fill our lives with love, comfort, and a sense of purpose, is made so much more difficult when we cannot or do not take the time to sit and listen for God.  During this season of Advent, I hope that each of us can schedule a bit more quiet time each day – time dedicated to listening, quietly, for those nudges from God as God strives to have a closer relationship with us.

And, now that I am on this subject: do people notice, as I do, how little quiet time we have in church each Sunday?  It is hard to listen for God, even in our beautiful church building, when it is not quiet.  Perhaps we can take some more time Sunday mornings for listening for that quiet but insistent touch of God, as God reaches out to us.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Thanksgiving Blessings

Toward the end of this month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving this year is a few days before the first Sunday of Advent.  Historically, Advent has been a time of personal exploration in preparation for the joyousness of Christmas.  Perhaps the best way to prepare for this preparation is to take some time to express thanks and gratitude to God for life and the world in which we and our loved ones live.  I found a few Thanksgiving prayers at www.al.com that I thought might be helpful for this:

A Jewish blessing: We thank you, Lord our God, you – who gives food to all, who heals the flesh of all, creates wonders in this world, who forged mankind in great wisdom and who gives refuge beneath the shadow of his wings.  God, from your wisdom grant us wisdom, from your love grant us love, from your understanding grant us understanding. Feed us when we are hungry, give us strength when we are weak, raise us up when we are bent over, set us free when we are enslaved.  Just as our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were blessed in all, from all, with all – may the Lord bless all of us together with a complete blessing: of peace, of strength – with the blessing of being thankful.

A Baptist blessing:  O God of all things, on this special day of giving thanks we are even more reminded of the many blessings which come from you – blessings of comfort, blessings of healing, blessings of family, blessings of riches, blessings of your love. Hear us this day and every day, as we offer to you, our humble yet grateful hearts in thanksgiving for you.  Prompt us, O Lord, to be your hands, your feet and your outstretched arms today as we strive to do good by sharing our diversity of wealth among those who may be less fortunate. Times are difficult and we know that in helping others, we are being obedient to your command of loving our neighbor.  We thank you, loving God. We acknowledge that all good things come from you. Help us to never take for granted your gifts, your love, or the life we have through knowing your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. For it is in his name that we offer this prayer to you.

A Catholic blessing:  Father, we join all creation, in heaven and on Earth, in praising you, our mighty God.  You made man and woman in your own likeness and set them over your wonderful creation.  You gave them a destiny, when you brought them out of bondage to a land of freedom, as they carried with them the promise that all would be blest and free.  What the prophets pledged was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.  It has come to pass in every generation, as it happened to our parents, who came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope.  It happened to those pilgrims and Native Americans who gathered in thanksgiving on that first Thanksgiving Day for the bounty of this land.  And it happens to us still, as you call us to a vision of peace.  And so on this Thanksgiving Day, with hearts full of love, we give thanks for all the blessings we have received this past year.  We offer this prayer of praise and thanksgiving through our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever.

And from our Book of Common Prayer:  Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Our Parish Priorities

I am very pleased to include a copy of our parish’s priorities for the next several years in this issue of The Epistle.

We worked diligently for the past five months to create these priorities.  The process began with a Vestry retreat at my home last May, where we established a set of five priorities.  We distributed the initial draft of the priorities to parish members and had a parish meeting to discuss them in July.  Based on feedback from that meeting, we significantly altered one of the priorities and clarified the others.  After several rounds of feedback from members of the Vestry on the next draft of the priorities, in August the Vestry voted to submit the priorities to the parish, by mail, and ask for further comments.  Based on those comments, which included no substantial changes to any of the priorities, the Vestry voted to adopt the priorities at its meeting in September.

I am pleased that we have adopted these priorities with a unanimous vote of the Vestry and with no voiced objection from any member of the parish.  I believe that they will provide us with significant direction as we work to make parish life more meaningful for our members, proclaim the Gospel in our community, and further the work that God calls us to do.

 

Parish Priorities

Bringing Others to God

We have a long tradition of actively welcoming all members of our community and those visiting our community to our worship services.  Further, we have a longstanding tradition of accepting individuals, couples, and families where they are in their faith journeys and helping them develop a closer relationship with God.  We believe that St. Paul’s parish promotes and enhances peoples’ relationships with God through our liturgies, our preaching and other forms of teaching, our service to others, and our supportive relationships with each other.

We understand that several issues can make it difficult for some people to begin or continue their faith journeys, including: (a) the busy schedules of many individuals and families, (b) the difficulties presented when children’s activities (e.g., sports) are scheduled during times when most church services are held, and (c) the anxiety that people can experience when they consider attending services at a new parish (e.g., whether they will be welcomed, whether they will be able to follow the service).

We take seriously our baptismal vow to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.”   We believe that encouraging individuals, couples, and families to join St. Paul’s parish is an important way that we can “proclaim by word and example.”

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to increase our parish membership.  We hope to accomplish this by: (a) expanding our efforts to make those in our community aware of St. Paul’s, our beliefs, and our practices; (b) continuing to create a welcoming environment for all who attend our services; (c) exploring additions to the times and places of our current services, and (d) developing strategies to reduce the anxiety that some people may experience as they consider attending services at St. Paul’s for the first time.

Enhancing the Experiences of Our Elderly Parish Members

We take pride in the fact that several members of our parish family are elderly and have been part of our parish family for decades.  During their decades of membership, these women and men have contributed to St. Paul’s in many and varied ways.  We cherish these members and are grateful for all they have contributed to our parish life and to the lives of other parish members.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to honor these men and women and keep them as active members of our parish.  We hope to accomplish this by reaching out to them and reminding them of the important place they have in our parish; taking the sacraments to them in their residences if they are unable to attend services; and creating opportunities for them to continue an active role in parish activities, as they are able.

Increasing the Use of Our Church Buildings

St. Paul’s has a strong tradition of serving our community and we believe that making our buildings available to community groups is one way that we do this.  In addition, we strive to be good stewards of our parish’s financial resources and believe that funds contributed by community groups toward the maintenance of our buildings can supplement parish funds.

Currently, four groups use our parish hall for meetings: the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts (Troop 74 and Pack 74) meet weekly except during the summer, the Finger Lakes Family Network meets every-other week throughout the year, and the Concerned Citizens Committee of Seneca County meets monthly and uses the kitchen and dining room for occasional fundraising dinners.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to increase the number of community groups using our parish hall for meetings and to explore whether it would be appropriate to make our church building available to other religious groups for services.

Helping Others Understand Who We Are as Episcopalians

We are proud of being a parish in the Diocese of Central New York, the Episcopal Church of the United States, and the Worldwide Anglican Communion.  We believe that Episcopalians share many basic Christian values and beliefs with those in other denominations.  In addition, over the course of several centuries, the theology, liturgical practices, and community involvement of the Episcopal Church have developed in specific and sometimes unique ways.

We believe that the Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s parish are well suited for meeting the faith-journey needs of those who share our interests in scripture, tradition, and thoughtfulness.  Further, we believe that helping others understand the values, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s will encourage them to visit our parish.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to inform those living in Waterloo and surrounding communities about the values, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Episcopal Church and our parish.

Being Attuned to the Changing Faith Needs of Our Community and Diocese

We recognize that the population of our region has decreased over the past several decades and that a smaller percentage of the people living here are active members of a faith community than were active members in years past.  We appreciate that our obligations and commitments are not only to St. Paul’s parish but also to our Diocese, the Church, and to the faith needs and interests of those living in our local communities.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to recognize the possible need to merge resources with other parishes in our Diocese in the future.  While we do not currently foresee this need, we express our willingness to explore it if future events suggest that it would be wise to do so.

 

This is an exciting time for our parish.  I hope that you will join in the excitement as we move forward together.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard