The Episcopal Diocese of New York has launched the Harlem Valley Regional Ministry, an area pastorate that is a collaboration of two Episcopal churches and a mission in Putnam and Dutchess counties.
The three parishes are St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Brewster, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pawling, and MESA in Dover Plains. MESA stands for Misión Episcopal Santiago Apóstol / St. James’s Episcopal Mission.
Having ministered to MESA for a number of years, the Rev. José Martínez is joining the Harlem Valley Regional Ministry to serve as Priest-in-Charge and will lead services at all three churches. He will celebrate Holy Eucharist on alternate Sunday mornings at St. Andrew’s and Holy Trinity, and hold services at MESA on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. He will be available to each parish for pastoral care.
The goal of the Harlem Valley Regional Ministry is to bring together two small parishes and a mission in the Episcopal Diocese of New York to better serve the diverse needs of the people in the area, said the Rev. Canon Deborah Tammearu, Canon for Transitional Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Similar shared pastorates have been created in other dioceses, she noted; she led a shared pastorate in Dutchess County in the 1980s and 1990s.
“This is the way the church is going to look,” Canon Tammearu said. “What I hope happens with this is that the priest is not the only resource that is shared. It is a much smarter use of office space and bookkeeping and can help reduce overhead.” There can be communication and cross pollination of ideas among the parishes, which can help their ministries flourish, she added.
“Another upside is that these churches will have 24-hour access to a full-time priest, even though Father Martínez will not be there on site all the time,” she added.
“The wardens, vestry, and people of Holy Trinity Pawling are thrilled to be moving forward with the collaboration of these three congregations,” said Debbie Lee, junior warden at Holy Trinity in Pawling.
“We are hoping to establish a stable ministry by ‘growing’ the Episcopal Church along the Route 22 corridor,” said Lorraine Scuccimara, senior warden at Holy Trinity.
“The creation of the Harlem Valley Regional Ministry collaboration has been a long and worthwhile process,” said Christina McGann, senior warden at St. Andrew’s. “St. Andrew’s is looking forward to having Father Martínez ministering to our parish and the others in the region.”
The Rev. José Martínez was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He studied in Guatemala and earned an accountant degree. He also studied in New York, and received a Bachelor of Science degree.
He has been married to Herminia Martínez for more than 36 years, and together they have three children and four grandchildren.
Father Martínez and his family emigrated to the United States in 1989 and joined the Episcopal Church in Los Angeles in 1992.
They found St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles and quickly felt at home.
“It was at St. John’s that my family and I grew as lay leaders and ministers,” he said. “We took formal lay leadership training and right away became very active in our church’s ministry, outreach and social justice concerns.”
In 1993, Martínez became a licensed Eucharistic Minister and home visitor, and served as director of acolytes and director of adult Bible study.
That year, Martínez joined a non-profit organization called Hope-in-Youth, an ecumenical effort supported by the Diocese of Los Angeles, and worked with families at risk in south central Los Angeles. The Industrial Areas Foundation invited him to become a community organizer and helped him develop organizing skills for building communities.
In 1995, Martínez was called to be a lay diocesan missioner for the Diocese of Oregon. He became a church planter – a person who helps create congregations – mainly in bilingual settings. In other words, he developed a Spanish-speaking ministry within an existing English-speaking Episcopal ministry.
“I had no intention to become a church planter, but God led me into this wonderful missional ministry,” he said.
Martínez entered General Theological Seminary in Manhattan in 2001, earning a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained as a priest in 2007 and served for several years at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hartford, where he developed the Good Shepherd Family Support Center, a community center where people can go to share clothes, food for body and spirit, hot soup, and furniture, among other items.
“While providing for this community, I discovered a new calling from God: to create a 21st century church among the poor,” he said.
Eventually the Martínez’ were led to do church services in a parish hall and outdoors.
In 2013, he was called by the Episcopal Diocese of New York to serve as vicar to MESA in Dover Plains (MESA is the mission that is part of the Harlem Valley Regional Ministry) to help continue the development of the Spanish language ministry of the diocese.
“I am blessed to be called to also serve at two more wonderful churches: St Andrew’s in Brewster and Holy Trinity in Pawling,” Father Martínez said.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has been a part of Brewster for more than 130 years. The church’s grey stone building on Prospect Street is a local landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to the Brewster Theater Company and the Brewster Community Food Pantry. The parish is a warm and welcoming community.
The regular Sunday service of Holy Eucharist at St. Andrew’s is at 10 a.m. For more information about St. Andrew’s, call the church office at 845-279-4325.
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 22 Coulter Avenue, was founded in Pawling early in the twentieth century, but its roots go back to the founding of its mother church, Christ Church in Patterson, in 1770. It incorporated as a separate parish in 1956. Services are at 10 a.m. on Sundays. It is home to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and classes in English as a Second Language. For more information about the parish, call the church office at 845-855-5276