June 26, 2020
by Dr. Lindley G. DeGarmo, Interim Pastor
As we moved decisively into summer this past week, I was struck to realize it was still winter when COVID-19 forced us to suspend public worship. We have now spent all of spring–and then some–apart from one another. And the news about the pandemic around the national indicates that the crisis’s fury is not yet spent. When will it ever end?

As you may recall, the Church Council formed a Recovery Task Force last month to monitor the coronavirus situation and assess how and when we might be able to reopen the church and resume some form of public worship. As eager as we all are for things to return to “normal,” we even more concerned to do so in a way that protects the safety of all. You should be receiving an update on their work from the task force in the week ahead, along with a survey intended to help in their planning. I ask you to pay special attention to this material and to respond promptly to the survey.

For now, we are planning at least through Labor Day weekend (Sunday, September 6) to continue our current offering of virtual worship at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings, followed by a fellowship time on Zoom. For those who prefer, the worship services are also accessible on Facebook and YouTube. I encourage those of you have not participated in these virtual services for a while to check them out. Music Director Rick Coffey is now working with various choir members to provide vocal leadership for the hymns and lovely solos nearly every week. These strong voices add immeasurably to the worship.

While I will continue to lead weekly worship throughout the summer, but will otherwise be on vacation from July 1 through August 4. During this period, the Board of Deacons stand ready to provide pastoral care or other assistance to those who request it. To do so, please contact the church office at (914) 631-2069 or Deacon President Greg Perry at (646) 345-7077.

Union Church of Pocantico Hills is deeply committed to the needs of our church members, friends of the church, and the wider community that has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic. To help our community, the Benevolence Committee of the Board of Deacons of Union Church has established a campaign to raise funds for the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. The pantry is a 501(c) 3 corporation and is 100% staffed with volunteers.

The Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, located in Tarrytown, is a healthy choice pantry that provides food to the hungry in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, proportional to family size. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the pantry did a once per month distribution to 270 families (approximately 900 people) in the greater Tarrytown area. Since the pandemic started, the pantry has increased its distribution of food to twice per month and is now providing food to 450 families per day (2X per month). This represents a tripling of the needs of the food pantry and the families it serves.

Union Church will be running a benevolence campaign for the month of June and with your generous support, will be making a financial donation to the Community Food Pantry during the beginning of July. You may give online through the church’s website (select the “Food Pantry” Fund designation) or by sending a check to Union Church with “Food Pantry” in the memo line. The Deacons thank you in advance for your support of this important community cause.

If you would like more information about the Food Pantry their website is www.communityfoodpantryshtt.org. Besides financial donations, the Food Pantry is also always looking for volunteers to assist in shopping for the pantry as well as distributing food to families. Feel free to contact them if you are interested at 914-332-0182.

June 19, 2020
by Lindley G. DeGarmo, Interim Pastor
As we work our way through the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans this summer, one of the recurring themes we will encounter is the freedom from sin and death that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection have won for us. It is fitting, therefore, that we pay particular note to day’s celebration of Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.

The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.

As those who enjoy the freedom of life in Christ, let us both celebrate the emancipation under the law that Juneteenth commemorates, and also rededicate ourselves to achieving the full realization of a society in which Black Lives Matter in practice, too.