All Souls and Saints


On the interesting aspects of living in France for four years was learning about their distinct holidays, most of which were religious in origin. Every October, schools in France close for two weeks for the “Toussiant” holiday break, and many French families travel across the country to visit relatives and loved ones.

“toussaint” is the French phrase for “All Saint’s” and is celebrated as All Saints Day. It is a deeply historic religious festival celebrated on the of 1st November each year in France. In other traditions and customs it is also known as “All Hallows” Day, with the preceding evening called “All Hallows Eve” (a.k.a Halloween by us Americans).

This tradition has been honored and held in high esteem here throughout Europe since around 609.  The feast of All Saints, on its current date of November 1, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III and is the day when all the Saints recognized by the Roman Catholic church are honored.

Today, La Toussaint is marked by the lighting of numerous candles in cemeteries and the decorating of graves with chrysanthemums, the flowers associated with death. Stone lanterns of the dead, which are lit during the festival, can also be found in many cemeteries, especially in the Massif Central region in central France, and in Brittany. Family reunions are held to honor the dead, church bells are rung, and churches are decorated with chrysanthemums, candles and banners.

On the eve of Le Jour des Morts churches are draped in black, funeral songs are sung and prayers for the dead are recited. People visit cemeteries to pray at their family graves, and then there are festivities involving singing and telling stories about their deceased relatives.

This day becomes a day of honoring and remembering loves ones and Christians who have gone before us.  This “great cloud of witnesses”, as the author of Hebrews states, can and should serve as examples of inspiration and perseverance.  It can serve us well to acknowledge these men and women of God and pay tribute to their lives and legacies.
Many Americans, like myself, still visit the graves of loved ones on special occasions (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries).

So as Autumn descends upon us, the leaves fall from their perches above and pumpkins are on great display on front porches throughout our communities, may we remember the origins of the old “Halloween” tradition.

In keeping to the true spirit and history of this day, let us pay tribute to those “saints” who let their light shine in the darkness long before us.  Old Testament heroes, the Apostles from the New Testament, the early church fathers and mothers , “saints” from the early century Churches, Protestant Reformers, and personal examples such as grandparents and other relatives are all part of our legacy of faith.
These people are, and should be, included in the “cloud of witnesses” that serve as an example to believers now.

I will conclude with a wonderful quote about the inspiration and example of “saints” and what I personally come to appreciate the blessing in setting aside time to honor them.

“ … In addition to the sun, which is the image of Christ, there is the moon, which has no light of its own but shines with a brightness that comes from the sun. This is a sign to us that we men are in constant need of a “little” light, whose hidden light helps us to know and love the light of the Creator, God one and triune. … One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light, which we cannot comprehend in the refulgence of its glory.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, as quoted in “Benedictus”

….to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

– Romans 1:7

Setting Sail Together


I am both challenged and inspired by the quote from Mark Twain:

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

I confess I am not much of a sailor.  I quite enjoy the experience but lack the knowledge and confidence to be out in open water by myself.  However, I have enjoyed the unique experience of sailing with a trusted captain and there is nothing like the freedom of open water with a fresh wind behind you.  For there lies freedom, liberation and an open horizon full of possibilities, discoveries and wonder.  Yet, this experience begins by a willingness to leave the dock and decide to set sail.

Though unpacked boxes still pervade our new living space, we already feel at home and deeply appreciate the warm welcome received upon arrival in our new community and congregation in Connecticut.   All of life’s changes and transitions can be challenging but I have learned that, in many ways, we are all constantly on a journey of process.  I have learned to be open to all that God has to teach me during these times of changes and to embrace new beginnings.

So here we find ourselves arriving in a new harbor fresh from France full of excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead.  Six months ago, my wife Lauretta and I could not have envisioned our young family relocating to a more perfect community than Greenwich and congregation than Round Hill Community Church.


We knew that change was in the air but had no idea how wonderfully God would breath into our sails and gently guide us here.  We have learned that God can be trusted to navigate our voyage and when we open ourselves to the guidance and direction of God’s Spirit, joy and peace empower our sails.

I am honored and humbled to begin my new calling as the Associate Pastor at Round Hill Community Church and am eager to dive into conversations, develop relationships and deepen our faith together in the weeks, months and years to come.

So I encourage us all to explore, dream and discover together all that God has in store for our communities in the year ahead!  May we embrace one another and encounter God in our midst as we live out the call to a be a force for God and good in our community and world.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Following the trail of Patrick

On March 17 I had the unique privilege of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland. This “bucket list” trip was special and memorable for many reasons. I was always able to spend time in Northern Ireland following the Saint Patrick trail and learn more about the the man and missionary called Patrick. Much information and inspiring was discovered at the brand new Saint Patrick Center, the only museum in the world dedicated to the history and story of Saint Patrick.










During my travels I visited a number of historic sites included Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where it is said Patrick baptized converts in a well in AD 450. IMG_4372







Saul Church, the site where Saint Patrick built the first Christian Church in Ireland in 432 AD.









also his burial site in Downpatrick.










It was a remarkable and memorable experience which I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to visit the island of the Irish.

My time and travels in Ireland provided me an opportunity and invitation to expand the horizons of the Christian faith as well as sounds, sights and spirits of this great culture. During my remaining few months living in Europe, I do hope to experience a few other new countries and cultures, as so much can be learned that help broaden and expand our minds, hearts and lives.

I leave you with these words from Patrick that serve well for us all as we enter into the Eastertide season celebrating Christ’s resurrection and presence with us!


Christ be with me, Christ within me,


Christ behind me, Christ before me,


Christ beside me, Christ to win me,


Christ to comfort and restore me,


Christ beneath me, Christ above me,



The real Saint Patrick


I have the privilege this year of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland this year.

This has long been a dream of mine and thanks to a kind and generous friend (and supportive wife) I will be taking in the sounds, sights and spirits in Dublin on March 17th.

I have also longed to visit Ireland to learn more about its rich cultural and religious history.  Though damaged by religious and political divisions and still scarred by the remnants of anger and hostility, much reconciliation has occurred and often through the Church.

The recent critically-acclaimed movie Calvary delves into this topic and I would recommend the viewing.


But since this is Saint Patrick’s Day, I wanted to write briefly about the story behind the celebration…the man called Patrick.  If you have never read or familiarized yourself with his life, I highly recommend it.

Once kidnapped in slavery at age 16 and brought from his home in England to the land of savages in Ireland, Patrick had visions from God that gave him strength and lead to his escape.

So inspired and moved by God once home, he felt compelled to return as a missionary to preach the gospel to a land that had never heard the message of Christ before.  The story continues and his writings are full of profound insights, theology, prayers, and confessions that challenge and inspire me deeply.   I have included at the end a hymn written by, or least attributed to Patrick from around 430 AD.

It should also be noted that Patrick was not recognized as a “Saint” until decades later, did not drive out snakes since there were none in Ireland at the time, did not use the 3 leaf clover to describe the Trinity, and was basically kicked out of the priesthood for failure to submit to authority. He was however a great contextual theologian and missionary who reached an entire people for the Kingdom of God!

We have much to learn and celebrate from the rich and diverse history of our faith. The traditions of past and present, while different from our own, provide a wonderful opportunity for our faith to increase.

This national “holiday” of sorts, Saint Patrick’s Day has given me an opportunity and invitation to expand the horizons of my congregation as we learn together to appreciate what God has been doing through his servants throughout the centuries. Of course, we can also expand our food and spirits horizons at your local Irish pub!


So, as you listen to U2 or The Cranberries (depending on your style) and raise a pint of Guinness  thank God for examples like Patrick, and may we all follow the example of a life of obedience, sacrifice, servant hood, faith, prayer, and mission.


I bind unto myself today

The strong name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,

By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan River;

His death on cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;

His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power

Of the great love of the Cherubim;

The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour;

The service of the Seraphim,

Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,

The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea,

Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay,

His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, his shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,

The vice that gives temptation force,

The natural lusts that war within,

The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,

In every place and in all hours

Against their fierce hostility,

I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,

Against false words of heresy,

Against the knowledge that defiles,

Against the heart’s idolatry,

Against the wizard’s evil craft,

Against the death-wound and the burning

The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,

Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,

The strong name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of whom all nature hath creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

salvation is of Christ the Lord.


Being in the moment…a Lenten reflection

As I continue my Lenten journey, I am encouraged to reflect on the idea of what stands in our way in experiencing God anew this season. For some, Lent simply becomes a time to give up a favorite snack or drink, somehow confirming personal endurance or strength. Yet, Lent is to remind us that we cannot do it on our own power, but need to rely daily on God. Perhaps it is not chocolate or wine (both very popular here in France and indeed difficult to go without!) that we need to think seriously about. Perhaps busyness, worry, stress, or even our personal agenda is distracting us from experiencing freedom and new life this spring.


I remember a time one month ago when I was with my boys, Jack and Blake. It was one of those magical moments when they were laughing and playing and simply enjoying life. Rather than being captivated by this moment, I wanted to capture it and so naturally I took out my cell phone and attempted to take pictures and videos. Of course, my phone was not very “smart” then and did not work. Meanwhile, I realized I was missing the moment with my boys: so preoccupied with technology and maintaining a memory, that I was unable to create a memory.

Sometime, I confess, I am too busy taken up with life to step back and record such moments. Even if I am physically present, my mind is full of chores, duties, worries, or other preoccupations. I feel this impacts my time with my boys; and I fear this also has a profound impact on our relationship with God. Could it be that God in fact delights in our presence…our full and attentive presence?

But often we get too easily distracted by life’s worries. Even good things such as food, drink, and technology can become hindrances to entering fully and freely into God’s presence. This Lent, let us each reflect on what we can say “no” to and leave behind, so that we may be open to receiving the joy of God’s company.

One final springtime summary.

As I continue my reflections on what I will miss most here in Paris, I hear the birds chirping outside my office. Growing up in the northeastern United States, I remember that spring rarely showed her face until late April or May, whereas here in Paris, the month of March manifests miraculous new beginnings as the weariness of winter warms away. I have always appreciated and anticipated the early arrival of spring this month. The green grass, bulbs of flowers beginning to blossom, and the once barren trees beckoning forth their leaves. This serves as a hopeful reminder that during Lent, the deaths we may experience during winter, serve as fertile soil for new life to burst forth. May we let go and behold the beauty of it all!



A Long Goodbye


Below is a article published in the Spire newsletter of The American Church in Paris.

In my article, I shared my recent news, emotions and reflections on my family’s decision to leave Paris this summer and therefore leave my position of Associate Pastor of Youth and Young Adults.


I like the French term “au revoir” for while we customarily use that to say good-bye, the actual translation implies a “till seeing again” or seeing again of someone.

This past summer, after two months of extended conversations and prayerful conversations, my wife Lauretta and I made a difficult decision regarding our time in Paris. What began as an initial two-year assignment has grown to four extraordinary years of personal and pastoral growth and development and quite literally the growth of our young family. We could not be more grateful and appreciative of our time here. The love and support of our ACP family has been overwhelming from the moment we landed with our dog Brady, multiple suitcases and nervous anticipation. How can one know what life in a foreign country and culture will be like? Would we make new friends and integrate well to our new church family? Would we enjoy life living in the city of Paris? We would be able to communicate and understand a new language?

An emphatic “YES” was our answer to all of those questions

(Well, maybe except for the last one!”

Our time here has indeed been remarkable, memorable and truly life-changing.

Which is why it is sad to announce that at the end of the summer we will be leaving.

Paris has become a “home away from home” to us. T.S. Eliot once said, “The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant”. It has been exhilarating to live and minister in this beautiful, historic, artistic cultural capital of the world. More than a physical residence and geographic location, Paris and ACP has captured our hearts. They say that home is where the heart is, and for so many reasons, ACP will forever be our home church.

And yet, our home is where our family reside. Many understand the challenges of living so far away from family. Our parents, now grandparents to Blake and Jack, long for closer proximity to be able to celebrate holidays, birthdays and baseball games together. We long for that as well and understand the benefit of returning to our roots and a sense of familiarity as we raise two toddlers. We know that the transition back will not be easy and reverse culture shock is quite real. Yet we are confident in God’s timing and at peace with the process of transition. At this time we do not know what God has planned for us, but are learning to trust more each day in God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I titled this “A Long Good-Bye” because we have the blessing of another nine months of ministry, service, fellowship and friendship together. As Pastor Scott has said in the past, when you live in Paris, the days are long but the years are short.

Well, I sincerely hope that this is a long year together full of laughter, memories and moments we will cherish forever. And rather than actually saying good-bye, I rather like bidding an au revoir, confident that we will see each other again.

On behalf of the Haugh family, we want to thank each and every individual of The American Church in Paris for your love, care and support. Thank you for praying for us this year as we remain committed to praying for you.

I conclude with this thanksgiving and prayer from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, which I now say to The American Church in Paris:

 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”

-Dan, Lauretta, Jack and Blake Haugh

Haugh family2

Sun, where art thou?

I continue my reflections on what I will miss here in Paris.

To be honest, February is the difficult month for me and many residents of our great city. With a slight vitamin D deficiency, the winter months of clouds and darkness do not bode well for my body or spirit at times.


Since I am not an avid skier, my plan over these past four years has been to travel to warmer climates and sunnier skies in February. Many Parisians take to the slopes during the 2-week holiday break in February. The Swiss and French Alps are among the most beautiful mountain rangers in the world and are located only a few short hours from Paris. For me, a 3-hour TGV ride to the South of France to visit places such as Cassis, Montpelier or Nice provides a nice change of atmosphere and pace during the normally dark days this month.


Of course, February 14 is Valentine’s Day and indeed there is no city more romantic than Paris. While the city does not celebrate this day quite like in America, one cannot go astray making a reservation at your local bistro with that special friend, significant other or spouse. The general ambiance of French restaurants or wine bars reflects romanticism at all times, but add a nice box of fine French chocolates, some freshly cut flowers and a bottle of wine, you will have a Valentine’s Day to remember! Although many could argue this description is a typical weekend date here in Paris!


Personally, I have been blessed each February to attend the Youth Pastors Conference sponsored by the AICEME (Associate of Churches in Europe and the Middle East).

Each year, my friends and colleagues from other international churches in our region gather together for a few days of fellowship, worship, learning and inspiration. It can be a lonely path serving in a large city away from your home country and culture. Fortunately for me, during my time here at ACP I have met incredible men and women serving in similar roles and contexts. I have cherished my time with them and can honestly say that their encouragement and example throughout the years, and especially during our times together in February, provided me much-needed support in my own ministry here at ACP. My last conference with these youth pastors will be in Basel, Switzerland and I eagerly look forward to connecting and reflecting together.

Through February can feel long, dark and dreary at times, it is helpful to know that the days are actually getting longer. The darkest days are behind us in fact. I believe this is true for our city as well in light of the tragic terror events in January

Spring will arrive and light will shine forth through the clouds increasingly as the days progress. and winter melts into spring. As it does, may our hearts be lifted up with hope and our lives reflect God’s love and light.