Clergy Working to Help New Refugees

UU Peace Ministry Network member, Rev. Chris Antal and his UU Congregation at Rock Tavern, NY are working with Syrian refugees.

By Leonard Sparks

Times Herald-Record CITY OF NEWBURGH – Chris Antal knows both sides of the refugee story.


Four years ago, as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan, the Unitarian Universalist minister befriended an Afghan man working as an interpreter for the U.S. military – an occupation that endangered the man and his family.
After returning to the United States, Antal and his Rock Tavern congregation became active in advocating for the man’s resettlement in the United States. In February, Antal drove to Buffalo to meet the man, his wife and their four children at the airport.

“I’m still tormented because I know that for every one that gets through the doors here, there’s a dozen or more that don’t,” Antal said.

On Thursday, Antal and local clergy representing the spectrum of denominations gathered at St. George’s Episcopal Church in the City of Newburgh to learn how they can help the refugees who will resettle in the area.


Organized by the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council, the gathering drew representatives from Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and UUC congregations; synagogues; the Newburgh’s mosque.

“All of our traditions – and we include Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Unitarian – value compassion and hospitality for those on the margins,” Antal said.

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