Holy Innocents Unanimously Approved for Council Membership
By Brian Sweeney
The Interfaith Council voted unanimously on Monday to accept the Holy Innocents Catholic Church as a member of the organization.
The vote follows a recent public outcry during which a number of area residents protested on Social Media over the council’s lack of action to admit the Halcottsville-based church as a member.
The church’s support of same-gender marriage was cited by supporters of Holy Innocents as the reason that the church had not been admitted into the council.
The Rev. Richard Dykstra Secretary/Treasurer of the Interfaith Council, told the News last week that the same-gender marriage issue was among the issues discussed at the group’s recent meeting, but he did not feel it would preclude the church from gaining membership.
That proved to be the case the council voted this week to accept Holy Innocents into membership.
Council President Adele Siegel said that all the board members voted to approve the membership.
“The Holy Innocents Church was unanimously voted in (today) by all of the faith groups. It was pretty much the outcome we expected because at our last meeting that was the direction in which we were moving,” Mrs. Siegel commented.
Leaders at the Holy Innocents Church were pleased with the outcome and said they were anxious for the group to move past the controversy.
“I learned today from Mrs. Adele Siegel that the Interfaith Council unanimously voted to welcome Holy Innocents into their membership,” Co-pastor Bishop Frank Betancourt told the News.
“In doing so the healing can now begin as will our praying and working together. I have always felt our inclusion in the Interfaith Council would benefit the larger community. Our parishioners have already dedicated many hours and donations to the community food bank. It is so important for all of us to concentrate not on our differences rather on what unites us.”
Bishop Betancourt continued, “Our community has been suffering for many years, long before the flooding and the storms. Just as all of this devastation does not discriminate, neither should we. All of us are brothers and sisters regardless of whether we belong to any one faith community or not.”
The Interfaith Council includes four Methodist churches, a Presbyterian Church, the Gould Memorial Reformed Church, the Catskill Mountain Christian Center, the Sacred Heart Catholic Parish and the Congregation Bnai Israel. The organization was formed about 40 years ago as the Interchurch Council. The name was changed when Congregation Bnai Israel became a member.