Previous News and Events

Moral Revival - National Day of Action - Monday, September 12

Here are some photos from Sept. 12 as clergy and lay leaders from across the state of New York came together for a moral revival on September 12 in our state capital.
We gathered at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 275 State Street in Albany, NY and proceeded to the Capitol.

We read through the Moral Declaration and called upon the Governor and our legislators for action on policies which will alleviate suffering and offer hope. You can read more about the Higher Ground Moral Declaration and add your name here.


A few photographs from our First Annual Awards Luncheon and Fundraiser on May 12, 2016.

The New York State Council of Churches thanks all who attended and supported our first annual luncheon and fundraiser on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at First Lutheran Church in Albany.

We highlighted and celebrated the ministries of the Council where we:

·         Advocate for the disenfranchised and the environment in the halls of power

·         Certify and support chaplains in prisons and other state institutions

·         Encourage people of all ages to grow in faith through education and worship

·         Break down the walls that divide us by working together ecumenically

Our luncheon speaker was The Reverend Canon Petero A. N. Sabune, Director of New York Theological Seminary Masters Program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He also serves as a chaplain with the New York State Department of Corrections reentry program. Ordained as an Episcopal priest, Reverend Sabune has served as a chaplain in the Department of Corrections for many years including most recently as chaplain at Sing Sing. He is well known for the care and compassion he offers to colleagues and prisoners alike and for his thoughtful speaking and writing about justice and reconciliation. 

The Executive Committee presented four awards to individuals who we believe have distinguished themselves in offering leadership in the Council’s areas of ministry:  


Karen Magee, President, New York State United Teachers


The Reverend J. Edward Lewis

The Reverend Edwin Muller

 Christian Education

The Reverend Brooke Newell, Pastor, Potsdam United Methodist Church


Bishop William Franklin, Episcopal Diocese of Western New York

Bishop Richard J. Malone, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo

Thank you for your support of the New York State Council of Churches. We look forward to being with you for our Second Annual Awards Luncheon and Fundraiser next year on May 18, 2017.

Peter Cook
Executive Director

Albany NY Prayer Service on Wednesday, June 15
Candles were lit for each of the 49 victims who lost their lives during the Pulse tragedy in Orlando.

A letter in response to the shooting in Orlando.

The world woke up Sunday morning to learn that a gunman killed 49 people and severely injured 53 more in a nightclub in Orlando which was frequented by the LGBTQ community. So many of the victims were also Latina/o at an event billed as “Latin night”. The gunman, a United States citizen, purportedly claimed to be acting on behalf of ISIS although a recent report from the FBI tells us the gunman had no known connection to any terrorist group.

There is still much we do not yet know about the complexities of the situation. New details are continuing to emerge which shape the narrative. We do, however, know one thing which provides us clear direction: God is love. In this time of fragility, we offer our prayers and compassion to the victims and their family and friends as they cope with so much fear and broken hearts.

We also call on member congregations and people of all faiths to stand up boldly against hate and discrimination. The New York State Council of Churches, representing over 7,000 congregations, condemns prejudice in all its forms against the LGBTQ and the Latino/a community.

We are also very concerned that this event is being used as a pretext to discriminate against Muslims and immigrant and refugee populations. During this tragic time, we must do everything in our power to speak against those who would use events such as this to divide us and to justify further discrimination and violence. We strongly emphasize that Muslim leaders across the country were among the first to publicly condemn the violence in Orlando and make clear this violent act was diametrically opposed to Islam.

Many events have occurred or are scheduled all over New York State. We particularly bring your attention to an interfaith prayer service on Wednesday, June 15, at 6:00 pm. The service is hosted by the Council along with the Albany County Executive’s Office, Capital Area Council of Churches, the Albany Presbytery and other faith groups. It will be held at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary, 959 Madison Avenue on the Campus of the College of Saint Rose.

I urge you to attend this service or seek out a vigil, pride event, prayer service, or an Iftar (breaking of a daily fast) in your community. It is important for us to be present in our community, offer compassion, and listen well. We will post events on our Facebook and web pages as we hear about them.

It should also be noted that the gunman used an AR-15, the same assault weapon used in Newtown, San Bernadino, and Aurora. The New York State Council of Churches has advocated for some time that assault weapons should be outlawed at both the State and Federal level. We cannot get rid of hate. We can, however, pass laws which make it much more difficult for people to access weapons which can cause massive harm.

As Christians, we claim the Prince of Peace who calls on us to love well, extend hospitality to the stranger and do justice. Jesus reminds the world that nothing in all creation can ever separate us from the love of God.

In faith,

Peter Cook                                                                                                                          
Executive Director

Dear Partners in Ministry,

I bring you greetings as I celebrate with you the presence of a loving Christ in our midst and also his promise of a more just and peaceful world to come. I ask your financial support of the New York State Council of Churches.  I am so excited about the mission of the Council where we work with churches of all denominations to:

Cultivate in our faith communities a passion for justice and mission. Towards this end, the Council helps the local church influence legislation which can improve the lives of so many New Yorkers. For instance, in 2015 we have worked with secular and religious partners to encourage the Governor and legislature to enact a living wage of $15. Such a wage will go a long way to help lift millions of working New Yorkers out of poverty. 


Certify and support chaplains in our state prison and mental health systems. On our behalf, Chaplains work with their colleagues to rehabilitate people so that they can successfully re-enter society. Chaplains are unique in that they offer a persistent picture of resurrection hope for so many who have lost hope.


Re-invigorate the ecumenical movement. The Council looks for every opportunity to help the local church to reach across denominational lines to do its work and testify to our unity in Christ. One example includes our invitation to high school students to participate in our Annual Leadership Forum at the United Nations. 

Our ability to help the church do its collective work is dependent on having a strong staff who can organize and lead the efforts of the Council. 

We ask you for your generous support of our work as we hope to significantly increase the number and size of gifts in 2016 to put us on a strong financial footing. This year, we have made it possible for you to pay on-line, please click on the donate button above. Many also arrange with their bank to make monthly payments to the Council. This is my preferred way to make my own financial commitment. 

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of our request. We are grateful for all you do to offer love and hope to others in a hurting world. Together we can do what we cannot do alone.

In faith,

The Reverend Peter Cook                                                                                                                                                                  Executive Director

New Executive Director Announcement

The New York State Council of Churches is pleased to announce the appointment of the Reverend Peter Manning Cook as Executive Director, effective January 1, 2016.  Peter is ordained in the United Church of Christ and since 2012 has served as Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Burlington, Vermont.  Prior to his current position he served churches in Framingham, Massachusetts and Waukegan, Illinois.  He holds both the Master of Divinity and the Master of Arts in Liturgical Theology from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and the Bachelor of Arts in History from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Peter has been involved in several ecumenical and interfaith organizations over the course of his ministry.  He has provided leadership in community organizations which have had an impact on homelessness, affordable housing, and housing for seniors and people with disabilities.  He is well-regarded as a speaker, preacher and teacher, and brings a deep commitment to the Church's work of social justice.  He has written that he is "passionate about furthering the Council's mission to do justice in the public square, support chaplains in state institutions, and foster ecumenical cooperation among rural, suburban, and urban congregations across the state from a wide variety of denominations."

The Venerable William C. Parnell, Archdeacon for Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and President of the Executive Committee of the NYS Council of Churches said, "We are delighted to welcome Peter Cook as our next Executive Director for the New York State Council of Churches.  He brings a wealth of experience and a depth of commitment to the life of the Church and to its work of justice and reconciliation in the world.  We look forward to working with him as we continue to address our advocacy priorities in the areas of bringing about economic and criminal justice, creating a culture of peace, and being good stewards of the environment.  Peter will lead us as well in our work of credentialing and supporting Protestant institutional chaplains in New York State, and in building partnerships with local ecumenical and interfaith councils throughout the state."

The Executive Committee of the New York State Council of Churches, meeting by conference call on September 30, voted unanimously to invite Peter to join us as the next Executive Director succeeding the Reverend Paula Gravelle, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who served for the past two years and is moving to Tennessee.  The New York State Council of Churches is a collaborative effort of a variety of Christian traditions and welcomes the involvement of congregations and individuals throughout the state. Our covenant is to care for one another, safeguard the presence of a vital Christian faith community in each place, provide hospitality to all, proclaim the Gospel boldly in each place, and declare God's just will among the powers and principalities.  Our mission goals focus on social justice, institutional pastoral care, and ecumenical cooperation in education, worship, and action.  For more information about the NYS Council of Churches, visit our website at