So....What's Christ Church About?
In American culture, "small" often has a bad connotation, while "big" equals good or successful. But small churches have much to celebrate and it's part of the pastor's job to make sure churches have good self-esteem.
Dr. Marilyn Johns, Director Small Church Program, Virginia Theological Seminary
Christ Episcopal Church in Cuba is a small church. We view that, in the light of Dr. Johns' statement above, a strength and a gift to celebrate. It means our relationships as a community of faith can be strong and vital as we bear one another's burdens and celebrate each other's joys. We are a Church which prays together and is able to come togther around our Lord's holy Table despite the many differences that are present in even a small community of people. The strength of the Episcopal Church, and of Christ Church, is that there is room for all sorts of conditions of people. The flip side to our being a small Church is that it's not easy to get lost among throngs of people and dozens of myriad programs. At the same time, that also means there is room for personal growth and expression with others who are traveling the same journey as you are. We are a Church where conversation is frequent and valued; but we also value and allow those seeking quiet and meditation to find that.
A little about our history . . .
The Episcopal Church in Cuba dates to 1839 when services were held using the Cuba Presbyterian Church and the Cuba Methodist Church. A congregation continued this way until 1859 when an Episcopal Chapel in Cuba was built and became home to the Episcopal congregation until it burned in 1871. At that time the present property was purchased on South Street and the Church as we see it today was built. The architect was Col. C. N. Otis, a noted church architect throughout New York State and into the midwest. The Church's first members were, characteristic of Episcopalians, very much involved in the development of Cuba and the surrounding area. The early Vestry members' names are found on street signs, parks, and elsewhere throughout the village today. The Church continued to grow through the latter part of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.
Starting in the 1920's Christ Church has begun a century of clustering and yoking with other Episcopal parishes in Allegany County. In 1975 Christ Church joined with the parishes in Angelica, Belmont, and Bolivar in forming a regional ministry called the Allegany Counnty Ministry, sharing their clergy. During this time there was a priest resident in the Rectory of St. Philip's Churh, Belmont and the next door Rectory of Christ Church, Cuba. During the 1980's the four parishes of the Allegany County Ministry were joined by St. Andrew's Church in Friendshiip and St. John's Church in Wellsville. The six Episcopal parishes were then served by one stipendiary priest and several resident non-stipendiary priests. Through this time the six Episcopal Churches of Allegany County continued to decrease in size with evetually St. Andrew's Church, Friendship, Church of our Savior, Bolivar, and St. Philip's Church, Belmont all closing within the past two years.
In October, 2014 the Allegany County Episcopal Ministry was dissolved as a regional cluster of parishes united within the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. It was decided the ACEM no longer well served the needs of the individual congregations and, consquently, each parish would continue to explore its own life indendently and as will make most sense in each of the three remaining communities having an Episcopal Church: Angelica, Cuba, and Wellsville.
As a result, Christ Church is now revitalized in our faith to remain a vital outreach for the Episcopal Church in the Cuba-Friendship-Belfast area. We have secured the priestly ministry of an Episcopal priest who recently retired and moved back to Allegany County, The Rev. Richard Hamlin. Fr. Rick is not a newcomer to us as he was one of two priests who founded the Allegany County Ministry in 1975 and who for several years lived in Christ Church's Rectory with his wife Stephanie. Two of their children were baptized in Christ Church and Fr. Hamlin was ordained to the priesthood in Christ Church in 1976.
The Reverend Richard L. Hamlin
6258 County Road 31A Phone 585-973-8838
Friendship, New York 14739 Cell 305-772-8309
Please click the button below to be directed to Fr. Hamlin's Email
What others have to say about the Episcopal Church . . .
“I even feel it in the design of the wooden pews. They are well worn, but polished. There is something about it that is used and old, but well maintained. It’s like it’s been touched by so many people that it takes on oil from people over time... You can tell people have held onto them over time, and the wood has been smoothed by age. I think it’s a good image in my mind of this church. It’s been shaped by people over time, and yet it’s timeless and substantial.
I don’t have to go through all these steps to be with God. It’s good to find a church that is simple. A complicated church has a million different rules, one that requires a lot of you to perfect it, and to be a good follower of God. Church shouldn’t feel like a task, or an obligation or pressure. You should be going because you want to worship God in your own personal way with other people. My church is simple and open.
The Episcopal Church is striking, particularly because of the rituals that we participate in. The prayers we are saying are spoken through time by Anglicans around the world. It’s like a time warp, and you come as an individual, but become part of a collective force of people, all speaking the same words as part of the same ritual. It’s a comforting feeling to know that others are experiencing the same thing at that moment, and that you are grateful for Jesus coming. It makes you feel that you are becoming part of the ritual.
One of the first Sundays I went to this church, I remember being on my knees in the chapel, at the altar. I see the priest standing in front of me and I am sharing that I have been away from the church and that I want to renew my faith. The priest lifts my head up and says, ‘You left the church, the church never left you. And all you have to do is come back, because Jesus always loved you.’ It made me feel welcomed, loved, and cared for. It’s some- thing I never felt in my previous church experiences.