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,