By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
---- — A small gathering of people congregated on Saturday to honor the Rev. Sundar Samuel and his wife, Deb, at the United Methodist Church in Cooperstown.
Sundar Samuel has served as reverend at the Methodist Church for the past 10 years and will be missed by many as he leaves for other opportunities. The Samuels will be moving to Clifton Park and Sundar Samuel will be the new reverend for the East Greenbush United Methodist Church in East Greenbush.
Tara Santello, who has been a member of the church for the past 13 years, said she will especially miss: “How they were unbelievably good with (her) son, who’s 12.”
“They make breakfast for the kids older than fifth grade during the weekends and they spend time with them and talk,” she said.
Santello said the Samuels are “full of love and happiness.”
“They’re always smiling and making people feel good,” she added.
Lorie Hillhouse, a church member for the past 10 years, said she will miss how warm and caring they are.
“They made everyone feel welcome and we will miss them a lot,” she said.
People at the gathering said they will miss Sundar’s kind words and sermons.
“He has just such a gentle spirit,” said Barbara Monie, a church member since 1975. “He is such a good listener.”
“I will certainly miss the sermons,” said Jane Hanson, the chairwoman of the staff parish committee and church member since 1980. “He’s a wonderful speaker.”
The Samuels have been the spiritual leaders of this church for the past decade, said Lona Smith, one of the organizers of the event and church member since 1976.
“They’re very committed to the community as well,” Smith said.
She said that Samuels also participate in Relay for Life and the Rotary Club of Cooperstown.
“They’re friends, they’ve been friends to everyone here,” Hanson said.
Deb Samuel said they’ve had a wonderful time in Cooperstown. She has nothing but love for the members of the church, she said.
“We love them, they’re like family,” Deb Samuel said. “It’s not like we’ve just been members of the same church for the last 10 years; we’ve been members of each others’ lives.”
“For the past 10 years we’ve shared all of the big moments with their families; weddings, baptisms, funerals, all those things that families do,” she continued.
Many church members echoed the same sentiment, that the Samuels had become a part of their family. They also commented on Deb’s children’s sermons.
“Deb does children’s sermons that are delightful,” said Hanson.
Barbara Monie said she has two grandchildren that love Deb.
“Her children’s sermons are so good and she’s so connected to the children,” Monie said.
Her eldest grandson has grown up knowing the Samuels and has even advocated for his 2-year-old brother to participate in the children’s sermons on Sundays, she said.
Deb Samuel teaches Sunday school to middle school through high school aged children and also does the children’s sermon for children “as soon as they can walk through middle school.”
Deb Samuel said above all else, she will miss telling the kids stories and teaching Sunday school.
There are more than 200 members of the United Methodist Church, but there are many more that aren’t members that attend the sermons on Sundays, said Smith.
The Rev. William Delia will replace Sundar Samuel; this past Sunday was his last time giving a sermon for the Cooperstown church.
“I feel a lot of mixed emotions, but it’s a good thing,” Sundar Samuel said. “Transitions are hard, but they’re good.”
Sundar Samuel explained that in moving to a different church it gives him and the members of the church a chance to grow spiritually. He said it would be selfish of him to stay with these very generous people and not give someone else a chance to get to know them.