County Faith Leaders Discuss Issues Over Breakfast

Originally published in Hudson Valley Press on December 08, 2021.

NEWBURGH – Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) welcomed dozens of faith leaders from congregations across Orange County on Monday for his annual breakfast roundtable, an opportunity to share resources and ideas across faiths and communities. The breakfast was held at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on South William Street to best accommodate social distancing.

Elder Jesse Howard of Newburgh’s Cross International Ministries offered an opening blessing to the interfaith group before turning the floor over to Senator Skoufis for brief introductions. The group then began an open, wide-ranging discussion of issues impacting the lives of congregants and communities throughout the county: gun violence and school safety, resources for the homeless, the need for job training programs for young adults, enhanced tax relief for seniors, and more. Hector Lucero of Newburgh’s Centro Cristiano Renacer spoke of the language barriers his congregants face when searching for and accessing available county and state services to support their families. Pastor Valerie Paul-Greenaway of The United Churches of the Highlands touched on the entrenched inequities and feelings of mistrust that fuel many of the issues facing Orange County communities.

“I leave this morning’s breakfast feeling inspired and hopeful for the new beginnings ahead of us,” said Senator Skoufis. “Our faith leaders, more than almost anyone else, have their finger on the true pulse of their communities, which is why gatherings like this are so critical for making sure I’m best representing the priorities of my district in Albany. My team and I will continue to extend a hand and an ear to faith leadership throughout Orange County, and I encourage attendees to see my office as a resource in the months and years to come.”

The office would like to thank Cross International Ministries, Centro Cristiano Renacer, United Churches of the Highlands, Union Presbyterian, Cornwall Baptist, Hudson Valley Christian Church, Chester Presbyterian, King of Kings, Penuel Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, New Harvest Christian Church, HRP Life Changing Ministries, St. Thomas Episcopal, and many others for participating in the gathering, as well as Bill Kaplan and the entire Armory Unity Center team for their generous support of the event.

If your congregation’s leadership is interested in attending Senator Skoufis’ faith leaders breakfast in future years, please contact skoufisevents@gmail.com.