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  • Writer's pictureUnion Church

Sept-Oct Newsletter


From Session and Worship & Music: Reverend Dr. Cathy Surgenor and Reverend Peter Surgenor have agreed to lead worship and provide limited pastoral services for five months beginning August 15 or until the next pastor is called (whichever is shorter). Worship services are now occurring live via zoom on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am. Virtual Fellowship follows for chats and updates.

Cathy Surgenor has served the Hudson River Presbytery since moving here in 1997 to pastor the Pleasant Plains Presbyterian Church. She has served White Plains and Wappinger’s Falls as interim pastor and Mount Kisco as interim associate pastor.

She also served as chaplain to the Wassaic DDSO facility for five years. Most recently she served as long term pulpit supply at South Salem Presbyterian Church. She has been a member/chair of the Grants Committee, member of the Personnel Committee, and currently serves on Council. Cathy has served on the HRP Self Development of People Committee and also served on the PUCSA National SDOP Committee for 7 years. She earned a DMin from New York Theological Seminary in 2011. Before going into ministry Cathy and her family were missionary co-workers in Njombe Tanzania for three years. She has also been an accompanier to the Presbyterian Church in Colombia, SA. Peter joined her during her last accompaniment in 2018. Before becoming a missionary Cathy worked at Lord Corporation on strategic/long term planning.

Peter Surgenor served Holmes Camp and Retreat Center (Holmes, NY) and Crestfield (Slippery. Rock, PA) as Executive Director and Director for over 40 years. He served as the second pastor to three Western Pa churches for three years before moving to camps. He was the director at Crestfield (the camp and retreat center of Pittsburgh Presbytery for 23 years before moving to Holmes Camp and Retreat Center. During his camp ministry he has been active in the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (serving as Board member, President and member of the Consultants Network) and the American Camp Association (serving local affiliates and as a member and also President of the National Board of Directors). He has been Moderator of HRP and affiliate Presbytery staff member. Peter volunteers at the Riverport Boat Building School in Kingston, NY.

Peter and Cathy Surgenor live in Newburgh, NY and are active volunteers at Habitat for Humanity Newburgh and enjoy rowing/kayaking on the Hudson River. They have five daughters and six grandchildren who keep them busy.



A special service was held in the church building on Sunday, August 9 to say farewell to Pastor Sandy Larson and her husband Reverend George Furniss. In appreciation for her leadership and spiritual guidance, Pastor Sandy was presented with a porcelain platter, hand made by a local potter, containing a colorful Hudson river scene to remind her of her time in the Hudson Valley and that she is always welcome. Thank you to Heather and Lindsay for playing the prelude and postlude on the organ and to Nancy for playing hymns on the piano before and after the service. Health screenings and social distancing protocols were followed to ensure the safety of the congregation. Pastor Sandy and George are now safely back in the Seattle area.

Our new pastoral leadership, Reverend Cathy Surgenor and Reverend Peter Surgenor, are now leading worship services via Zoom on Sunday mornings at 10:00am. The worship service is followed by Virtual Fellowship that provides a nice opportunity for those attending to chat. We encourage everyone to join the Zoom services!

The next Worship and Music will be held via Zoom and is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 3 at 6:30pm.



The PNC continues to negotiate the search for a new Pastor. We have reached to Seminaries besides the CLC website matches. We realize that everyone is anxious for a new Pastor and I wish we had end insight, but as always, I ask for prayers and patience in this process. Thank you!



Beginning Monday, August 24, our secretary will be returning to the church office to work. We ask that anyone who needs to visit the office call ahead so Krista can keep track of all who will be in church. We are trying to limit any unnecessary visits, if we can assist you without you being there that would be most helpful.

There are new office procedures posted outside the office. Please read before entering office. Masks are required when in the building. If the door is closed, on Food Pantry days and some other occasions, please call the office or knock on the door.

Thank you for your patience and consideration in this matter.



Our list is now at 350! The numbers are increasing for those served. Luckily, they don’t all come at once! In July we distributed food, clothing, and books, as well as other donated items to 198 people. We welcomed new volunteer from Bread for the World. We have been operating with eight volunteers on distributing days and four volunteers packing bags, keeping up with our every other week distributions.

Presently, we need good grocery store plastic bags and children’s clothing. However, we are happy to get adult clothes! We were happy to have Pastor Cathy’s help this week while distributing. Pastor Peter was also able visit with us this week. Please stop by on one of our distribution days and see what it’s all about! It’s your program! We operate every other week, as listed on our website: Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, Sept. 14 and 16, and Sept 28 and 30.

Thanks, as always, to our silent and known givers.



During this time of separation from our church family, the Deacons are still here to provide support to anyone in our congregation. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Sunshine Committee or any Deacon if you know of someone who could benefit from a card or phone call.

Thanks to the talents of Mina and her daughters a beautiful farewell video, made up of small clips from the congregation, was shared with Sandy and George on their last day with Union Church.



Fall will be upon us, and change occurs along with the seasons. This year especially held many life changes for all of us. Our church life has also been affected and there are many hurdles we still must address.

Union Church has adapted to many of the changes brought about by the pandemic, but we still face some difficult financial challenges. Thanks to Richard Smith and Jolee DuBois, the church received some financial relief by applying for the PPP loan; yet our revised budget still shows an estimated deficit of about $49,000.

Due to the pandemic, the church has lost two sources of income: rental usage of Fellowship Hall and fundraising. To help offset the deficit created by loss of fundraising, we are presenting the congregation with this challenge. We prayerfully ask those who are financially able and have supported fundraising events in the past to consider a one-time donation to help offset this loss of income. Please designate your one-time contribution to Union Church Fundraising.

Helping your church family is always appreciated, regardless of the amount, and it is a wonderful way of showing your commitment.



The wall of Fellowship Hall has been fully repaired. Thanks to Paul for overseeing that project. The wall was damaged in an accident last Fall and we were expecting the work to be completed in March or early April, but repairs were halted by the COVID pandemic.

Jim completed some touchup work to the steps.

Jim also cut down all the aging and nearly dying bushes that were planted alongside the circular drive in the front of the building. Dave and others spread many yards of bark chips (donated by 4 Seasons Tree Care) in the front gardens and along the side of the main building along the walkway. Dave expanded the chip coverage out to the walkway and the new look nicely accentuates the new handrail installed by Myles during his Eagle Scout project.

Many thanks to everyone for their work in sprucing up and revamping the Schaum Garden. It once again provides a beautifully manicured focal point for our historic property.

Buildings and Grounds developed a Reopening Plan for the church facilities and implemented portions of that plan, in collaboration with Worship and Music, in order for the church to host one final in-person “going away” sermon by Pastor Sandy on August 9. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the plan, and who assured we could gather safely to say thank you to Pastor Sandy before she departed.

The door to the Barn will soon be replaced. The door’s pully system, which was original to the structure, ONLY lasted 112 years before breaking down. Dave is overseeing the door replacement, which will include a pair of double doors to replace the large, heavy wood sliders.

And finally, work on Owen's Eagle Scout project, which involves refurbishing the main sign in the front yard and some new landscaping, is expected to begin soon.



The Outreach Committee ran Zoom Virtual Fellowship every two weeks during the months of May, June, July, and the beginning of August. These were away for congregation members to see each other while still being socially distant to keep up with each other’s news and pray for each other.

Union Church is now holding Zoom services, Virtual Fellowship will follow the service. James has been helping with any technical issues that you might have.

Most events that Outreach would have enjoyed participating in were canceled due to the pandemic, including Newburgh Illuminated and the Fourth of July celebration.

Hopefully, Outreach can start back-up this Fall with socially distant meetings or Zoom meetings. If anyone would like to join the Outreach Committee, we would love to have you! New ideas for how we can reach out to the community and how we can reach into our own congregation are always welcome.

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