2012-08-22 / Front Page

Chimes at Issue in Nelsonville, Again

Pastor says right to worship being attacked
Special to the PCN&R

At last Monday evening’s Nelsonville Board meeting, the board once again heard from Cold Spring resident, Anita Desai, who resides on Parsonage Street, as she assailed the board with four letters against the Church on the Hill.

She accused the Pastor of increasing the volume of the chimes at the Historic landmark church located in Nelsonville. Also among her many complaints are that the hymns played at 12, 3 and 6 are what she called “distressing.” Desai is also upset that the chimes sounded “every hour on the hour” and stated “no other church does this.”

Desai has had a long running dialogue with the pastor Reverend Tim Greco over the church sign as well as the chimes and has, in the past, successfully petitioned the Board to have the sign removed.  

Greco stated that since he has become that pastor, he has put up with a “barrage of telephone calls from Mrs. Desai,” as well as many letters to him over the past few years over various complaints regarding the church. But recently, Desai’s letters have become “increasingly insulting.” Desai wrote in one letter about the messages on the sign, in front of the church, that they were “an insult to human intelligence.”

Greco said: “We believe in living in peace as much as possible, but this is beyond the pale. This whole matter is becoming more and more about staunching our religious freedoms and our right to exist as a church.”

Desai is requesting the board test the decibel level of the chimes and said, in part, “visitors come to Cold Spring for its vaunted peace and quiet…” 

Greco said, “We have turned down the volume of the chimes. After her last letter, we even moved up the time when they are played from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. as she requested, I truly believe the chimes are not the issue at all with her, it is the fact that we even exist, which is the heart of the matter, and I consider it religious bigotry and I take the matter very seriously.”

Greco feels it is his duty to defend the church, “We will not be bullied and we will do whatever is within our legal right, to defend our constitutional right to practice our religion as we please.”

Greco stated the church will “continue to pray for Mrs. Desai her and be kind to her, but I personally feel she is crossing the line.”

Trustee Ande Merente asked that the letters be entered into the record and afterward said, he had “No comment.”

Mayor Tom Corless said, “We will look into the matter further.” But he did not know whose jurisdiction it was under because Desai lives in Cold Spring and the church is in Nelsonville, but he will consult with the building inspectors of both Villages.

The Church on the Hill is the oldest church in Philipstown, which includes both villages, and has been in use continually since its 1832 construction.  

  

 

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