A Note from a Former Church Member, Martha Rahte McDowell


Our church received this (lightly edited) note from a former member, Martha (Rahte) McDowell, who recently stopped by to visit the church. She wrote in response to Tim Chin, who had sent her a historical article from the Disciple which mentioned her.  She is now a minister  herself, and lives in Canada.

On January 21, 2015, my mother died on Cape Cod. I just learned from one of your church history articles that I was elected a deacon at the church on January 21, 1972. Exactly 43 years to the day later, my mother died.  As I read that article I thought back to my time at FPCY, and I started to cry.

God is so awesome. I had totally forgotten that the 21st of January meant anything else in my life.  Now, I realize that January 21st gave me new life in 1972 and January 21, 2015 gave my mother new life. In this discovery, there is a strong sense of solace.

Would you please let the congregation know that my mother has died. I am not sure how many will remember her since she was 92 years old. When we lived in Yorktown, you can imagine that my mother, Anne D. Rahte was quite active at the church. She loved George Barford and then of course, Ron James.

Tim, we are all simple people following Christ, and in the best way we can in this busy and sometime confusing world. It is when people like you take the time to reach out and touch someone is when we become the hands and feet of Jesus right here among us.

I am both sad and thrilled at the happenings around the Yorktown church. In my mind, everything had stayed exactly the same. The fellowship hall, in my mind, was just the way it was when Pat Tadaro would serve coffee and tea every Sunday after the service. It was in fellowship hall that I learned the gentle lesson that one does not put milk, sugar and lemon all in the same tea cup. I remember Mrs. Tadaro letting me experiment and then later telling me that lemon and milk do not mix. That sounds like a silly lesson, BUT as a minister do you know how many times I have been offered all three to put in my tea, when I visit folks. Each time I remember that little lesson back in the OLD Fellowship Hall.

I remember that no matter the weather, we would bundle up and walk from the sanctuary to the Hall.  When I was there in early Jan, fellowship hall has changed! The church is all attached!!! There is a door on the side of the church!!!!

Immediately I was angry that my church had changed.

Then I walked over to the flyers with the church pictured on the front with the rainbow flag flying between the two front columns.

I was crying – again.

Yes, my church had changed. There are new DOORS to the church. More doors mean more people are able to walk in or wheel in or skip in and worship God together.

I am ‘wicked’ proud that my church has changed – and in my opinion – for the Glory of God.

And yes, my roots from the Yorktown Church have carried me to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where I worked with political refugees from central Africa. My oldest son, Austin is active in the church in Winnipeg where he is the only white male with European roots in the young adult group. He helps the young adults from Africa learn how to a young adults in a new culture.

My youngest son, Johnstuart, volunteered at the Presbyterian Office at the U.N. There he learned about hunger and poverty. He then went with the young adults from the Presbytery of the Northern Plains to learn how Mexicans are trying to bring their children into the US for health care and education. He actually walked with the 4 other young adults from the Presbytery on the three day journey that Mexican children walk through the dessert and he learned things that are very hard for him to know. He has taken this information and is now in his third year at McGill University in Montreal majoring in both economics and philosophy. He was just chosen this past week to be one of five students to go to Kenya this summer to learn more about eradicating hunger with two McGill professors.

As you can imagine, FPCY is where my roots are and will always be. I believe that God gives us children and we are called to show them how to make a difference in the world. My sons are doing what they feel called to do. I believe that through my FPCY roots, my two sons are also ‘missionaries’ from Yorktown Presbyterian Church.

The ministry of the congregation there has been witnessing far and wide for the glory of God.

Please pray for my sons.

Please pray for Debra Givens, Jeff Palmer, Wendy Hyatt Speriling, Peter Engle, Kathy Kiely, Jen Gilbert, JD Arthur, Peter Logan, Brew Walker, David Palmer, Nick VanGombos, Lynn Shepherd, Susan Wilkens Cortesi, Beth Walker Shorr, Bob Lawrence, and all the other people from Agape that continue to witness to God’s love throughout the world. I know there are more people who participated in the Agape Youth Group. Please forgive me if I have forgotten others’ names.

Praise be to God.

Blessings and peace to you!

Martha McDowell