Roots hold us close – Wings set us free!

This is a composite pen and ink sketch (by Leslie Waxtel) of South & Johnson and the Rock Tavern A Frame used as the cover of the Rededication program on October 22, 1995

Celebrating 150 Years of Our Roots and Wings in the Hudson Valley

    The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern marked 150 years of its Roots and Wings in the Hudson Valley at a special virtual celebration Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 that included an on-site crew at its Rock Tavern sanctuary.

   The celebration was highlighted by a documentary of the congregation’s history narrated by congregants and illustrated with photos and videos in a production orchestrated by Elizabeth Mehling who was a part of the 150th Celebration Ministry. The ministry was chaired by Linda Mangelsdorf .

Using tongs, Fred Mangelsdorf inserted cupcakes into their holders while getting the celebratory goody bags ready for delivery.

    A unique twist (and treat) was provided to congregants who received a special delivery at their homes Oct. 17 from UUCRT couriers. The package included a hardcover book detailing the congregation’s 50 years since its move to Rock Tavern, along with a USB storage device that documented the overall history in congregants’ words, photos and songs. The video ended with a commemorative ballad written by long-time friend Lydia Adams Davis who is a descendant of John Adams.

   The documentary and the book were created from the collected, saved and preserved records, articles, newsletters, photos and memories pulled together by Verne M. Bell, Elizabeth Mehling and Linda Mangelsdorf.  The package also included a celebratory cupcake and candles (150 total) that were lighted during Rev. Antal’s portion of the special service.

   Six volunteers (Rev. Antal, Diane Diachishin, Etty Decker, Nan Dempster, Jaye Moyer, and Rose O’Neill) volunteered to deliver “goody bags” around a two county area. Each reported that it was a fun and worthwhile adventure! The cupcakes were baked by Dawna Clarke—Clarke’s Ice Cream on Rt. 94 just west of Washingtonville.  

   After the Roots portion of the service, Rev. Antal looked toward the future– Wings– and honored two special members – Verne M. Bell and Agnes Cavalari.

The back page of the Oct. 18 Order of Service featured photos of Al and Agnes Cavalari and Verne Bell, who were honored during the celebration.

    Chair Linda Mangelsdorf sends “Kudos to Rose O’Neill, Elizabeth Mehling and Rev. Chris for smoothly pulling off the hybrid-zoom.  It was a first for us and may become standard when the building re-opens on a limited basis.”

   “Elizabeth Mehling, as a new friend to the congregation who just happens to be a videographer, went way above and beyond”, Linda said.  “From searching a gazillion possible sites for background material, to driving from Warwick to Middlehope to photograph local sights—graves, churches, etc.”

   “But for COVID, this would have been a congregational group effort,” Linda explained. “The adaptive idea of delivering book, video, printed order of service and cupcakes in the “goody bags” came from administrative assistant Kris McGrath.  As husband Fred and I considered the risks of working with anyone else very real and too great, he became the ‘go-to-guy’.  He provided impeccable support—often interspersed with necessary hugs—and it is safe to say that we both had a lot of fun!”

A Note from Agnes Cavalari

Dear Linda,

I trust the UU celebration went well. Much work went into it including the book and USB drive.  It seems a life time ago that Unitarianism was a large part of my life. As you know, it is no longer. Life brings changes to us all. I wish only the best for the Rock Tavern group. Thanks for including Al and myself. Al kept his involvement as long as he was able.

Best, Agnes Cavalari

Celebrate with us!

October 18, 2020 will be the day to celebrate our Roots and Wings, as we honor those whose dedication to Unitarian Universalism paved the way for the path we travel today, and for the future, as well.

Luckily we have Mementos from our Roots:  an historical documentary, a zoom accessible book, and a section of a curved wooden beam. We also are fortunate to have Verne Bell, who came to the Church Of Our Father in 1965, and has been a constant in our Congregational Life ever since!

At our 10:30 service, we will view and discuss the half hour documentary exploring the 40 years before we even organized as a religious organization, from the time of John and Abigail Adams to Warren Delano, ( the grandfather of FDR), and the 1870 dedication of the Church of Our Father, Unitarian.   That building still stands on the corner of South and Johnson Streets in the City of Newburgh, and our  brief documentary goes on to review the 100 years that it housed Unitarians.   

In addition, the  50 years since the move to Rock Tavern will go down memory lane via a hard cover book, shared through the miracle of Zoom.  The documentary and the book have been created from the collected, saved and preserved records, articles, newsletters, photos and memories pulled together by Verne M. Bell, Elizabeth Mehling and Linda Mangelsdorf. We’ll spend a few minutes with music, reflection and  discussion, and then… 

After a brief break, a unique Cupcake Communion will be celebrated with Cupcakes and Candles that have been distributed to members and friends.  (Guests, we would love to have you join us, and if you wish, bring your own cupcake!)  

And, amazingly,  we have a section of one of the original curved wooden beams, thankfully saved by Fred Mangelsdorf from the ruins of the fire that destroyed the A-frame in 2006.  The beam has been polished, returned to our sanctuary, and today will be dedicated to Agnes Cavalari, our first woman president, and her late husband, Al—a past treasurer, legal consultant and staunch member.  

What can we say regarding Verne Bell?  Your thoughts will be welcomed (send them to and we will afford her the opportunity to receive our gratitude and appreciation for all she has done to and for our Congregation…for the past 55 years!

Our afternoon will conclude with a look to the future—our Wings, shared by Rev. Chris Antal.