On Wednesday, August 17, 2016, the Rev. Canon Cecil Alvin Scantlebury passed away. Rev. Scantlebury was a giant in the town of Greenburgh for many years. He is best remembered for his 34 years of ministry as priest for St. Francis & St. Martha's Church in White Plains. Rev. Scantlebury was very active in our community. He spoke out on issues of importance and really cared about the less fortunate. He not only preached religion but practiced what he preached by helping the homeless, the poor, the less fortunate in society. He left the world a much better place and touched the lives of hundreds of Greenburgh and Westchester residents – for the better. And, he inspired many others to also do good for the less fortunate. A very nice, kind and intelligent man – he will be missed. But – he will continue to inspire. At our next Town Board meeting we will begin the meeting with a moment of silence in honor and in memory of Rev. Scantlebury.
Requiem Eucharist Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10:00 a.m. St. Francis & St. Martha's Church
Born and raised in Barbados, Cecil received his education for the priesthood at Codrington College, becoming, at the age of 23, the youngest graduate of this oldest seminary in the Western Hemisphere. Upon his ordination as priest in 1955, he went to Guyana, South America, to serve as Curate of St. Philip's Church in Georgetown, the capital. He spent six years in Guyana, ministering in various churches and showing an early gift for community involvement, including conducting a monthly radio broadcast for the Christian Social Council of Guyana.
As his ministry in Guyana was concluding, he married his wife Betty, whom he had first met at a church service in Barbados when he was a seminarian. Together, they came, in 1961, to the United States and our diocese. Cecil first served as Curate of St. Andrew's in the Bronx. During his ministry there, he became a member of the diocese's Christian Education Committee and also directed a summer day camp for the City of New York.
In 1969, Cecil began his life's work as priest for St. Francis and St. Martha's, first as Vicar, and then in 1977, when the church achieved parish status, as Rector. During his long tenure, Cecil flourished as a church and a community leader and became known for his commitment to addressing social issues, both as an advocate and by developing effective social services for the poor, the homeless, and victims of injustice. For over 30 years, he served as President of the Board of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, a model organization that offers after school programs, foster grandparents, drug rehabilitation, support for veterans, and more. He was also instrumental in bringing Habitat for Humanity to Westchester County. Often, his advocacy bent towards education. In 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Cecil to the New York State Human Rights Advisory Council, and he served as Chair of its education committee.As a leader for the diocese's Black Caucus, and as a member of the Union of Black Episcopalians, Cecil authored the resolution calling for mandatory anti-racism training for diocesan clergy and lay leaders. As he had been in Guyana, Cecil also was an effective media commentator, including television appearances, and he was a popular community speaker. He was the key speaker, in 1998, for the first interfaith Holocaust memorial service in White Plains. In 2003, he was selected to join the late Ossie Davis in speaking at a protest rally there against the Iraq War.
to education, he pursued his own, including a bachelor's degree in sociology from the City University of New York and certification as a counselor through the Foundation for Religion and Mental Health. He enjoyed caning chairs. He was a gifted musician, playing piano and organ and composing. At his funeral, we will sing one of his hymns, Walking in the Light.
Throughout his ministry, Cecil received numerous awards and honors from church and community groups, organizations supporting African Americans, including the NAACP, for which he served on the executive board for many years, and local governments. Upon his retirement, he received the Medal of Westchester County. For his contributions to the common life and mission of the diocese, including as a member of Diocesan Council, Bishop Mark Sisk, in 2003, made Cecil an honorary canon.