Pastoral letter to New York City Congregations – by Rev. Christopher Ney

In mid-April, I heard reports from two colleagues in New York City about the impact of the pandemic there. The Rev. Emma Jordan-Simpson, the Executive Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation and pastor of the historic Concord Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn and the Rev. Kaji Douša, a leader in the New Sanctuary Movement and pastor of my former congregation Park Avenue Christian Church, both reflected on the demands of pastoring in the epicenter of the COVID-19 break out. I wept after hearing their comments and felt called to act. With guidance from the Rev. Don Remick of the Southern New England Conference-UCC and my peer support group, I drafted this letter and circulated it among clergy in Southern New England. Over 90 pastors and lay people added their names and it has been distributed to churches in the New York Metropolitan Area.

“Seek the welfare of the city…and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your own.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

In a time of exile, the prophet Jeremiah urged our ancestors in faith to care and pray for the city.

As clergy and lay people in the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, we want to express our care and offer our prayers particularly to our fellow clergy and lay people of New York City during this pandemic. While many of us feel vulnerable in new and unfamiliar ways, it is clear that the burden of this pandemic has not been equally distributed. The contours of social situation and the circumstance of geography have meant that some communities and areas have suffered much more grievously than others.

We are acutely aware that New York City and the surrounding metropolitan region have been widely recognized as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic within the United States. As of this writing, an estimated one in 800 residents of New York City have lost their lives.

This level of human suffering is beyond anything we have seen in this country for generations; for most of us it is beyond imagining. Yet we know that religious leaders in the New York metropolitan region are responding to this crisis with courage, determination and compassion to provide comfort and support to their communities.

To the clergy of NYC—we want to say that we see you and honor your service. We are praying with you—and for you and the people you serve. Many of us in New England feel deep ties to New York City. We have friends and family who live there. We enjoy all that New York has to offer its visitors. We love to cheer for or against your sports teams.

In this moment of crisis, we stand with you and your congregations in prayer and faith. As we move into the future and conditions change, please let us know how we can offer you more tangible support.

Serving Christ and God’s people with you,

The Clergy and Lay People of the Southern New England Conference of the UCC

Rev. Christopher Ney, Newburyport MA

Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt, Beverly MA

Rev. Joan MacPherson, Amesbury MA

Rev. Alice W. Erickson, Gloucester MA

Rev. Rona Tyndall, Gloucester MA

Rev. Dr. Dennis B. Calhoun, Marblehead MA

Rev. Amy Bruch, Topsfield MA

Rev. Kent Siladi, Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Don Remick, Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Michael Ciba, Southern New England Conference, UCCTop of FormBottom of Form

Michele Mudrick, Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Cathlin Baker, West Tisbury, MA

Rev. Carolyn L. Young. Hamden, Connecticut

Rev. Vanessa Cardinale, Amherst, MA

Rev. David F. Peters, Roxbury, CT

Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, Bloomfield, CT

Rev. Dr. W. Alan Froggatt, Chester, CT

Rev. Tom O’Brien, Memorial Congregational Church Sudbury, MA

Rev Emelia Attridge, First Congregational Church of Reading, MA

Rev. Peter Johnston, Monson, MA

Rev. Shawn Fisher, Bloomfield, CT.

Rev. Sarah Weaver Rehoboth, MA

Rev. Quentin Chin, Pittsfield, MA· 

Rev. Larissa Forsythe, Glastonbury, CT· 

Rev. Jeff Gallagher, United Congregational Church of Tolland, CT

Rev. Sara Krhla, Church of Christ Congregational, Goshen CT · 

Rev. Amy Lunde-Whitler, South Acton, MA

Rev. Dr. Rochelle A. Stackhouse, Hartford, CT

Rev. Kathy Cunliffe, First Church Wallingford, CT

Rev. Dr. Karen Nell Smith, Lunenburg, MA

Rev Christie Burns, West Parish of Barnstable, MA

Rev Bill Ferguson, Pilgrim Church Duxbury MA

Rev. Christa Swenson, Mystic Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Robert L. Livingston, Belchertown, MA

Rev. Dr. Maritza Angulo de Gonzalez, Manantial de Gracia, West Hartford, CT

Rev. Denise Clapsaddle, Plymouth CT

Rev. Dr. Sue Foster, East Woodstock Congregational, CT

Rev. Mark Pilletere, Berlin CT

Rev. Jane Rowe, South Church, New Britain, CT

Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, First Church Guilford, CT

Rev. Mary Perry, First Congregational Church of Stoughton, MA

Rev. Jinny Smanik, Hampton Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Emily J. Kellar Congregational Church of South Dartmouth, UCC, Dartmouth, MA

Rev. Kevin Williams, Hebron and Killingly, CT

Rev. Kelly Thibeault, First Congregational, UCC, North Attleboro, MA.

Rev. Pamela Wannie. Hyannis, MA.

Rev. Sue Timony-Hall, North Madison Congregational Church, UCC, Madison, CT

Rev Michael McSherry, Edwards Church, Northampton, MA

Rev. Joe Tripp, Newport, RI

Rev. Pamela Rose Vollinger, CT

Rev. Nancy Rottman, Lynnfield, MA

Rev. Marilyn Wilcox, Clinton, MA

Rev. Lisa Eleck, West Suffield Congregational Church, CT

Rev. Margret Hofmeister, First Church of Christ, Congregational New Britain, CT

Rev. Todd Weir, First Churches ABC/UCC, Northampton, MA

Rev. Joseph W. Bradley, Hartford, CT

Rev. Lucille L. Fritz, Huntington Congregational UCC, Shelton, CT

Rev. Robert W. Nolan, Warwick, RI

Rev. Sarah Sund-Lussier, Hadwen Park Congregational Church, Worcester, MA

Rev. Julia Burkey, First Church in Middletown, CT

Rev. Karl Duetzmann, The United Church of Christ in Devon, Milford, CT.

Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer, Newtown Congregational Church, UCC

Rev. Debra Adams, North Andover, MA

Rev Mary Luti, Lowell, MA

Rev. Kimberly J. Murphy, Quincy, MA

Rev Robin Bartlett, Sterling, MA

Rev. Karyl J. Leslie, Worcester, MA

Rev. Debbie L. Cipolletti, Mansfield, MA

Rev Paul Goodman, Plantsville Congregational UCC, Plantsville, CT and UTS 1983.

Rev Lindsey Peterson, South Church UCC, Springfield, MA

Rev. Meg Boxwell Williams, First Congregational Church, Stratford, CT

Rev. Cheryl A Caronna First Congregational Church of Canterbury, Canterbury CT

Rev. Lauren Lorincz, Colchester Federated Church in Colchester, CT

Kathy Jellison, Providence, RI

Rev Lynne Dolan, First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury, MA

Rev. Mia J. Douglas, Glastonbury, CT

Rev. Bill Ketchum, United Parish of Carver, MA

Rev. Rhonda Myers, United Congregational UCC, Torrington CT

Rev. Jennifer Geary, RI

Rev Liz Yoho, Congregational Church of New Fairfield, CT

Rev. Carla Dietz Fairfield CT (born in NY!)

Rev. Cleo Graham, Providence RI

Rev. Laura Westby, Kensington Congregational Church, UCC, Kensington, CT

Rev. Kelly Thibeault, North Attleboro, MA

Rev. Dr. Peter Wells, Springfield, MA

Patricia A. Barry

Leo Eliasson

Brittany Alison

Elaine Seval Gaetani

Bonnie Odiorne

Nell Fields

Christopher Farrington

Nancy Hamlin Soukup

James Darwin-Reiss Admans