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Seeking

a New Dean

MISSION STATEMENT

The people of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral strive to be a beacon of God's love in Western New York through transformative worship, inclusive fellowship, and active service in partnership with the wider community.

 

WHO ARE WE SEEKING?

St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, New York is prayerfully seeking a new Dean who will honor our rich history,

while leading us to new ministries and commitments.

 

OUR NEW DEAN WILL:
  • exhibit a passion for social justice, helping us expand our ministries to a diverse community, and to the environment in which we live; 

  • be an inspiring leader, motivating us to action;

  • be able to honor our style of traditional worship, that grounds us in a rich heritage, while finding ways to welcome newcomers;

  • be skilled at healing and reconciliation, helping us bridge congregational divisions, and minister to the broader struggles of the world in a local context.

 

If you are such an individual, we look forward to meeting you.

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To apply for this position, please send a cover letter articulating your sense of call

and fit for this position, along with your resume and Office for Transition Ministry profile to: The Rev. Canon Jason Shank at jshank@episcopalpartnership.org by 5/31/22

 
Strengths
  • A strong commitment to rich liturgy, excellent preaching, and superb music.

  • A reputation as a welcoming place for people from various traditions, including the unchurched. Even non-churchgoers have found spiritual sustenance at St. Paul’s.

  • A core of active members of the congregation dedicated to hands-on involvement with ministries to the poor, refugee resettlement, the building's upkeep, pastoral care, and outreach.

  • Enthusiastic support by other congregants through contributions of goods and funds, demonstrated by the overwhelming response to furnishing a home for an Afghan refugee family.

  • Our parishioners embrace a positive attitude and are energized to carry forward St. Paul’s mission, as we execute that mission in the center of a rejuvenating city and hope to attract new and young professionals.

Challenges
  • A long, challenging interim period, followed by the pandemic have contributed to:

    • A declining and aging membership

    • Dwindling pledges

    • The dismantling of our traditional strengths – specifically our music program

  • Our Cathedral (building) is both a strength and liability.

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The Cathedral Community

THE CATHEDRAL COVENANT

We agree to:

Love and respect one another

Listen to each other

Be honest with each other

Be slow to judge

Work together

Consider the common/greater good

Actively care for one another

Keep Christ as our focus

Be faithful in corporate worship

Communicate directly with each other

Work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God

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Our membership runs the gamut from cradle Episcopalians to those who have come from other faith communities. We are united in our appreciation of our long-standing traditions in both worship and music.

We are a destination church for people traveling from various parts of the city and suburbs to worship. At the same time, Buffalo is on the ascendancy and there is a neighborhood growing up around us. We are energized about the ways that we can reach out and minister to that population. The 2020 census enumerated 278,349 residents in the city, an increase of 6% over 2010. Erie County’s 2020 population was 954,236. Our growing immediate neighborhood offers both opportunities and challenges.  We hope to attract some of the new, young professionals to the congregation. 

Yet we are also aware that 30% of the city’s population lives in poverty, median income is a mere $37,354, over 10% of the population is foreign-born. We are presented with many opportunities to minister to our fellow citizens. We are both a parish and the Cathedral, with leadership responsibilities to the entire diocese. As with all churches, many ministries have been curtailed during the pandemic. As pandemic restrictions are lifted, and under the leadership of a new Dean, we look forward to renewing and expanding our ministries.

 

Worship

The Cathedral is a destination church. Both Western New Yorkers and travelers from outside the area expect an experience different from that of a local parish church. Our liturgical style is “Cathedral” worship. We have a history of, and appreciation for, good preaching that encompasses thought provoking sermons which are lectionary-based and also, at times, challenging in the message of social justice that they provide.

 

It is important to us that scripture, excellent preaching, and excellent music complement one another to help us reach a closer understanding of God’s purpose. Our liturgies tend to the traditional, and to high church. Seasonal, and occasion- appropriate liturgies are important to reach out to the broader community. These have included annual presentations of Messiah, The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, and a Lenten Service of Lessons and Carols.

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Our choir program has changed lives and enriched worship as young people between 8 and 18 have taken a significant leadership role in worship. We are seeking ways to engage families in that way by reinstating a Music Committee to provide support for choristers and their parents and recruit new choristers. We also seek other ways to engage families and train youth to exercise responsibility and develop leadership skills while participating in worship. We also aspire to return to the practice of having two worship services on Sunday morning, and adding still more services as the growth in the number of members allows.

A number of ministries support worship:

  • Acolytes

  • Altar Guild

  • Eucharistic Ministers

  • Readers/Intercessors

  • Ushers

  • Livestream Team

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Social Justice & Outreach

The “Homeless Jesus” sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz is a prominent feature on the Cathedral grounds, and a constant reminder of Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick. It is one of a number of these statues around the world, and a symbol that  as  St.  Paul’s Cathedral continues to reach out to the poor in the City of Buffalo, it shares in a worldwide ministry.

 

Early in 2021 the Cathedral envisioned enlarging the commitment and formed a Social Justice Action Team (SJAT) which meets monthly, engaging the congregation in initiatives to examine and take action in :

  • education justice in  Buffalo’s  Public Schools

  • climate justice and Care for Creation by sharing implementation plans within the Diocese and across faith boundaries for clean-up work on Earth Day weekend

  • exchanging plans and liturgies on Laudato Si’, to change our habits of consumption and waste in home and church

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Our most visible outreach ministry is the Garden of Love, a free clothing and food distribution ministry.

The Garden of Love originated when a parishioner put up gloves, mittens, and scarves near “Homeless Jesus” for homeless people to take. That act of kindness has expanded into a weekly, volunteer staffed, distribution of a healthy, cold lunch to those in need. Volunteers from the Cathedral and two other churches prepare sandwiches. The Cathedral solicits, collects, and sorts new and gently used clothing to give away to Garden of Love visitors. Before the pandemic the ministry touched approximately 60 people per week. It was paused during the pandemic, but after reopening, it eventually built back to serving between 30 and 40 per week, with the expectation of expanding to pre-pandemic levels.

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More recently St. Paul’s has committed itself to Afghan Refugee resettlement. It initially committed to filling two “Welcome Boxes” for a refugee family within a week of opening the campaign, the Cathedral, in conjunction with two other parishes then furnished an entire apartment. The partnering arrangement is typical, as the Cathedral regularly undertakes projects with the Union of Black Episcopalians, and social service/ housing organizations VOICE Buffalo, PUSH Buffalo, and Friends of Night People. 

In addition to hands-on activities, the Cathedral Outreach Committee regularly provides funds for a variety of church-affiliated, and secular social service agencies. As a Cathedral church, St. Paul’s has offered training and worship experiences for other churches throughout the area such as parish and regional choir weekends, and diocesan acolyte festivals.

Historically, we have offered special community services for important events and commemorations.

These have included:

  • Archbishop Tutu’s visit in 1989

  • A Diocesan-wide celebration of the Cathedral’s bicentennial in 2017 attended by the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who grew up in Buffalo and was ordained Deacon at the Cathedral

  • Solemn commemorations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

  • A community-wide service in honor of the freedom schooner Amistad’s port call in Buffalo in 2003

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Pastoral Care & Formation

An 8-member Pastoral Care Team that includes one clergy representative meets every 2 months to identify any member of the congregation who is sick or in need of pastoral care. Congregants in need of pastoral care are assigned to a member of the team.

 

Currently, members of clergy take communion to shut-ins, and nursing home residents. Other team members are now being trained as Eucharistic Home Visitors who will be able to take communion to sick members and shut-ins. In addition, daily prayers are offered for those in need on a regular basis.

 

The St. Paul’s Call Tree also helps provide spiritual, emotional, and physical support. Members of the clergy, the Pastoral Care Team, and Vestry members call parishioners every 2 weeks to assess well-being, solicit prayer requests, and identify special needs.

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A Prayer Shawl Ministry offers comfort to seriously ill and shut-in members of the congregation. Several church members hand knit the shawls that are then blessed during worship and distributed to the designated recipients.

 

We hope to soon be able to take meals to members who have been hospitalized, to help them with rides, and with other needs of daily living. To build a sense of community outside of worship, we also hope to revive parish Foyer Groups. Those afford parishioners a once a month opportunity to gather in small groups for a meal, and for lively discussion of church, community, and spiritual issues.

 

Adult Formation

A weekly Adult Forum before Sunday worship provides opportunities for members of the congregation to learn about Christian and Episcopal traditions, and a variety of community concerns, from education, to creation care, and other social equity issues.

 

Participants learn from guest  speakers, readings, and discussion, then consider ways for Christians to respond appropriately. We wish to reinstitute Bible study, initiate book groups, and to develop activities, such as becoming a zero-waste church. We want to empower our people to go “into the world in peace [with] strength and courage to love and serve . . . with gladness and singleness of heart.”

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Christian Education for Children

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Godly Play ministers every Sunday during the school year to children 3 years old through 6th Grade. This Montessori based program uses wood figures and props to tell Bible stories. Teachers are trained in the Godly Play Program and offer an art activity and feast (snack & drink box) from 10:15 – 11:10 am in the Godly Play room. Children participate in pastoral care through activities like creating valentines and other cards that are sent to elderly members of the congregation.

 

Stewardship

Stewardship of God's gifts to each of us - our resources of time, talent, and treasure - is an ongoing challenge for followers of Jesus. We make decisions to employ them in ways that benefit ourselves and all children of God, locally and globally. The Vestry itself, through its commitment to work toward a biblical 10% tithe, and its work planning responsibly for our life together oversees financial stewardship at St. Paul's.

We are also called to be stewards of our National Historic Landmark church building. We have successfully completed a capital campaign to fund maintenance of the church, purchase a new parish hall and renovate the parish house as a rental property. The latter is an ongoing attempt to create a stream of income to support ministries.

 

In the past the annual financial stewardship campaign has been robust. The Vestry selects someone to lead the campaign. That person enlists others to send letters to parishioners explaining what St. Paul’s has meant to them. Representatives from agencies receiving funding from the Cathedral speak at Sunday worship services to raise awareness about the church’s ministries.

 

Behind the scenes, previous Deans and other staff, including choirmasters, have engaged parishioners to build a substantial endowment that now totals approximately $18 million. While this contributes to the financial security of the parish, dependence on draws from the endowment was excessive, at one point supplying roughly three-quarters of operating funds. A committed Finance Committee has reduced this draw considerably.

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In recent years, stewardship campaigns have faltered. The pandemic has further disrupted them. Emphasis has shifted toward reducing costs, which has had a serious negative impact on everything from the music program to day-to-day maintenance. That trend needs to be reversed.

 

Financials

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The Campus of St. Paul's

The properties of St. Paul’s Church in Buffalo consist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Flickinger Ministry Center, Cathedral Park and Cathedral Commons, the former Parish House. These properties are situated within steps of each other and collectively form the beautiful campus of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Located in the heart of downtown Buffalo NY, the campus occupies just under one acre of land within the triangular block at Main, Church and Pearl Streets. The Cathedral is a sandstone structure containing the Sanctuary, Richmond Chapel, Oratory Chapel, Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Columbarium, Walker Room Parish Hall (equipped with a commercial kitchen), and children’s nursery. The Flickinger Ministry Center (FMC) is directly across Cathedral Park and houses the offices, choir rehearsal rooms, archives, and meeting rooms of St. Paul’s. The church acquired the five-story, brick building in 2000. After several years of planning and renovation, the FMC became home to the St. Paul’s staff and choir in 2014. All facilities are handicap accessible.

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Cathedral Park is a large outdoor area jointly owned by St. Paul’s and the City of Buffalo. In the summer, St. Paul’s has some Sunday services outside in the Park and conducts several outreach programs there, making it a valuable part of the campus. The previous Parish House at 128 Pearl St. is a four-story, 10,600 square foot building which was renovated into market-rate housing and managed by a for-profit limited liability corporation made up of cathedral parishioners and controlled by the vestry. Profits from the rentals benefit the ministries of St. Paul’s. The Cathedral Dean is President of the LLC.

We are blessed with outstanding physical facilities. With that blessing comes the responsibility to maintain them. Cathedral Park is due for significant maintenance, and, as with any historic building, upkeep of the Cathedral buildings is an ongoing challenge.

 

Historical Background

Rt. Rev. John Henry Hobart, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, consecrated St. Paul’s Church in Buffalo’s first building on February 25, 1821, four years after the church’s incorporation, and nine years after the British army had burned the village of Buffalo. The Holland Land Company donated the land to the young congregation in 1819 for what became Buffalo’s first permanent house of worship. The structure remained until 1849 when it was sold and moved to serve another congregation.

St. Paul’s retained Richard Upjohn, the architect of many Episcopal churches, including Trinity Wall Street, to design a new, sandstone edifice, consecrated in 1851. In 1866 Bishop Arthur C. Coxe designated St. Paul’s as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Western New York. Tragically, on Ascension Day, 1888, an explosion and fire destroyed the interior of the Cathedral. The Vestry, on that very day, voted to rebuild St. Paul’s anew from the ashes and rubble left by the conflagration.

 

The National Park Service designated the restored St. Paul’s Cathedral of 1890, our current home, a National Historic Landmark in 1988. The building had re-opened as rapid industrialization and social change transformed the city. Notably, the church

determined, despite surrounding urban changes, to  remain a  downtown community, and to continue ministering to poor, and immigrant populations. As early as 1877, the Rev.

Stephen H. Gurteen, assistant rector of St. Paul’s, helped organize an interfaith poor relief agency, the Charity Organization Society, to deliver assistance to those in need, albeit in a paternalistic, 19th century way. Charles Henry Brent, former missionary Bishop of the Philippines, and leader of the Social Gospel Movement became Bishop of WNY in 1918 and continued the tradition of ecumenicism and social justice advocacy. The 10 decades since the centennial year of 1917 have witnessed wars, booms, the Great Depression, decline and the recent resurgence of downtown Buffalo; all of which have presented new challenges and opportunities to the membership of the Cathedral.

 

Throughout, deans and the congregation have worked with other faith communities in the city and suburbs. The opening of the Flickinger Ministry Center in the fall of 2014, the installation of the “Homeless Jesus” sculpture, and opening of Garden of Love in 2015 show that the people of St. Paul’s Cathedral remain true to their heritage of commitment to social justice, ecumenism, and spiritual ministry in the metropolitan area.

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Our Region

If you enjoy a variety of world class artistic, musical, and other cultural offerings, four seasons, each with different pleasures, rich history, and a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, and in a city with an international flavor, you’ll love living in Buffalo. We have a diverse population with an ongoing immigrant heritage as we welcome new arrivals from Sudan, Burma, and Afghanistan. We have strong roots with our African American past, having been a stop on the Underground Railroad, and subject of a landmark school desegregation case. St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of 11 National Historic Landmarks in Erie County. No less than 245 properties on the National Register of Historic Places, including multiple Frank Lloyd Wright homes are in or near the city.

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We are blessed with a park and parkway system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. His plans won a gold medal at the US Centennial Exposition, making Buffalo the best planned city in America at the time. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Buffalo AKG Art Museum are admired across the country and around the world. We also have a thriving theatre community that hosts travelling productions, as well as new works by local playwrights. Nearby is Niagara-on-the-Lakes’ annual  Shaw  Festival.

You’ll have heard about our snow. It makes ski slopes and trails, and numerous ice skating rinks so much more fun. The rest of our seasons and lakeside location afford opportunities for swimming, sailing, cycling, and hiking. Two National Wildlife Refuges nearby, Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East,”

and many locally-managed nature preserves provide opportunities for birding and environmental education. Part of our harbor is a designated Globally Significant Important Bird Area and Ramsar Wetland of International importance. We’re also next to one of the Wonders of the World—Niagara Falls.

Educational opportunities abound. Public School Review consistently ranks schools in the city and nearby suburbs among the best in New York State. The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) is the largest of multiple degree-granting institutions nearby. The Center for World University Rankings ranks UB #293 of 19,788 universities worldwide by. It is one of America’s leading public research universities and a flagship of the State University of New York system. In short, this is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. If your family lives elsewhere, they’ll love coming for a visit.

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Buffalo Tidbits

  • Buffalo is known as The City of Good Neighbors.

  • It hosts the largest Dyngus Day celebration in the U.S.

  • The Turkey Trot is the oldest continually run race in America (1896).

  • Grain elevators were invented in 1842 in Buffalo.

  • Thanks to General Mills – downtown sometimes smells of Cheerios.

  • We were the first American city to have streetlights.

  • The pacemaker and air conditioner got their start here.

  • In 1946 a Canadian-American group proposed Navy Island, and/or parts of Grand Island as the site for UN headquarters.

  • In 1825 there was a proposal to make part of Grand Island a "City of Refuge for the Jews." The cornerstone for the proposed City of Ararat was dedicated in a service at St. Paul's.

  • On March 12, 1874, President Millard Fillmore's body lay in state in the Cathedral.

  • The World's first long distance transmission of hydroelectric power was from Niagara Falls to Buffalo in 1896.

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Useful Links about the Western New York Region

 

Parishioner Testimonials

"I was coming off a time of personal sadness, so I felt like I was in the presence of God who would take care of me. I only knew 2 people, but felt very welcome, and where I belonged. I stayed...11 years now."

"The outreach ministry of St. Paul's shows a caring and compassionate congregation."

"It was the music primarily that brought us to the Cathedral. What keeps us here? We have gotten to know the people here (lay and ordained) and enjoy being with them very much."

"I was not pleased at how things were going at the church I was attending which I had been at for over 65 years. I am very pleased that I made the change."

"A church in the middle of a business district requires more than Sunday services to thrive. What I cherish about St. Paul's Cathedral is that it has met the challenge by giving me and others the opportunity to serve the less fortunate in our community by providing free food and clothing on a given weekday in the 'Garden of Love.'"

"When I first came to St. Paul's, while I was thrilled with the music and felt at home in the liturgy, what drew me was it's broad support of Christian education - Christian formation - for all ages. I am blessed to have been able to teach God's little ones and to be taught, as one of God's people at St. Paul's."

"When I walk into St. Paul's, I feel a sense of peace and calm."

"St. Paul's has become a very special place to me for several reasons. The traditional sacred music, excellent preaching and wonderful people that have become good friends. The Cathedral is a welcoming home for me."

"When I got to Buffalo to start law school, I was in the market for a new Episcopal church. I started with the Cathedral; they were so welcoming and the sermons we so engaging that I never left."

"We love the space. The art, the windows, the feeling of worshiping there. It's not that God isn't present everywhere; it's that this space feels like so many people have prayed here and found the presence of God here."

"Some of my most valuable friends are members of St. Paul's."