Unitarians welcome new minister

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:57

NEW WINDSOR — The Rev. Chris Antal has joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern as its half-time minister, effective in September. He was ordained by the First Unitarian Society of Albany. He is an experienced teacher, preacher, and counselor, as well as a chaplain in the New York Army National Guard. He has preached in over a dozen congregations, served as a hospital chaplain and interned at the First Unitarian Society of Albany and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie. The Rev. Antal and his partner, Mitsuko, and their five children live in Wappingers Falls. He currently serves as garrison chaplain at Camp Smith Training Center in Cortlandt Manor. "I am thrilled to be the new minister at and serve as bridge between Unitarian Universalism and the great number of military families and veterans in the region," he said. "The congregation is a caring group of visionaries and free thinkers with great potential for growth." The Rev. Antal replaces the Rev. Jim Bridges, who retired in December. "It was very clear to me shortly after first meeting Rev. Antal that he was the right spiritual leader to guide us further along our path to an even richer congregational life and a stronger presence in the larger community," said board of trustees President Claire Reineman. The congregation is located in a one-year-old sanctuary/fellowship hall on 9 Vance Road off Ruote 207 in New Windsor and serves the greater Orange County area. The congregation's fellowship hall burned to the ground in September 2006. They found a temporary home at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Washingtonville while a new home was designed and built on the site of the old hall. "Unitarian Universalism is a centuries-old, free thinking liberal religion guided by shared values," said a statement issued by the congregation. "At its core, this faith emphasizes the worth and value of every person and the interconnectedness of all things." Today Rock Tavern has more than 70 congregants and has undertaken a variety of initiatives, including becoming a Welcoming Congregation and seeking Green Sanctuary accreditation.