2018-03-21 / Front Page

Reception For Pastor of Sunnyside Reformed Church

By Thomas Cogan

Pastor Neil Margetson of Sunnyside Reformed Church (right), with Brian P. Dowd, pastor of Queen of Angels R.C. Church. 

 Photo Manny GomezPastor Neil Margetson of Sunnyside Reformed Church (right), with Brian P. Dowd, pastor of Queen of Angels R.C. Church. Photo Manny GomezPastor Neil Margetson of Sunnyside Reformed Church, on the corner of Skillman Avenue and 48th Street, received “love, thoughts and prayers” from 43 friends, neighbors and parishioners last week at Sidetracks restaurant on Queens Boulevard.

Margetson, who is 67, is undergoing treatment for lymphoma, but says that despite going down a few sizes, he feels “pretty good.”  So far, he is conducting his regular church duties at Sunnyside Reformed, where he has been for the past nine years.  It is actually his first ministry, which he began after obtaining a degree from New York Theological Seminary. 

He grew up in Manhattan in a non-religious family and came to his strong Christian faith later in life, after a low period.  He had been a musician and composer and for 19 years and worked as a research analyst at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  He has an advanced degree in anthropology from Columbia University.  His wife Gretchen and daughter Arlen attended.

Also attending was City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who spoke glowingly of his friend’s many contributions to the community, such as hosting a 20-foot Christmas tree ceremony in the courtyard of his church; his frank communication and activism for what he believes; and an open-door policy.  He is known for counseling young people who might run afoul of the law.  Locals in the community appreciate his monthly music events and public dinner, open to all.  “We are a close-knit community and are here for Neil,” Councilman Van Bramer said.

Baritone Giuseppe Spotelini of O Sole Trio, who performs all over the world, sang two songs to the appreciative Sidetracks guests.  Organizer Pat Dorfman, founder of Sunnyside Artists, said, “I am not a member of his church, but everyone loves Neil and appreciates all he does for everybody.”  In addition to art exhibitions, the organization holds good will events, such as the annual “Happy Birthday pop-up” for Ethel Plimack, the fifth of which was held in November, when Plimack turned 107.

Co-hosting for the event for Pastor Margetson was Very Reverend Brian P. Dowd of Queen of Angels R.C. Church, which is down a few blocks and across Skillman from Sunnyside Reformed.  He, Pastor Neil and other local clergy have joined forces for interfaith events in Sunnyside, including the 9/11 commemoration in 2011, with Muslim prayers from Ibraham Sayar of Peace Islands Institute.  Father Dowd said a prayer for Neil’s recovery and noted that he too was installed in his Sunnyside church nine years ago.

Neil said the good wishes “really helped him.”  To those wishing to send a card, mail to Pastor Neil Margetson, Sunnyside Reformed Church, 48-03 Skillman Ave., Sunnyside, NY 11104.

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