The City of Newburgh welcomed 10 new chaplains Monday night.
Pastor Obed Almeyda, Pastor Randy Gauger, Pastor Angie Almeyda, Elder George Barden, Father William Damroth, Minister Luis Laureano, Deacon David McDonald, Dr. Mary McLymore, Rabbi Jacob Rosner, and Pastor Jose Vaszquez were pinned and sworn-in as new city police chaplains in the City of Newburgh. The ceremony took place at the City of Newburgh Recreation .
Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Mayor Torrance Harvey asked for a moment of silence for Jason Rivera, a 22 year-old New York City Police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
The City of Newburgh Police Chaplaincy was created in accordance with New York State Executive Order 203 that was signed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. The order requires that each local governing body in the state adopt a policing reform plan. The plan will help improve community and police relations and continue to maintain public safety. The order was signed on June 12, 2020.
Police Commissioner Jose Gomerez led the ceremony and thanked all those involved and attended. According to Gomerez, in the City of New York, there are only three chaplains in the entire department and in Newburgh, there are 10 new chaplains and he is proud to have them join the department.
Obed Almeyda - Senior Chaplain
Pastor Obed currently serves as an associate pastor for the Fountain of Life Church here in the City of Newburgh. Obed had previously served as the senior pastor and founder of the Healing World Ministries. He is also the founder/president of the Mid-Atlantic Dream Center and executive director of the Montgomery County Anti-Human Trafficking Coaltion. Both organizations were created in Pennsylvania. Pastor Obed was a local Pennsylvania police department chaplain and was a Disaster Spiritual Care Chaplain while working with the American Red Cross. It was in March of 2020 that he and his family moved to the City of Newburgh. Despite the pandemic, he worked with the city police department to make this Chaplaincy Unit possible.
“I think our message for the community is that we’re here. We’re here for you. We’re here to serve you. We’re here to help you. We’re here to meet your needs. We’re here to be a bridge, we want to be a bridge between the community and the police,” Obed said.
Deputy Senior Chaplain
Pastor Gauger was born in Minnesota in 1954 and currently lives in the Town of Montgomery with his wife Linda. He had previously served as a pastor for the Bruderhof Community church. The Bruderhof Community is an Anabaptist Christian movement. Gauger has taken his family and ministry to far places such as Inverell, New South Wales where the Danthonia community was founded and run by Gauger for 17 years. Gauger has previously served as a chaplain for the New South Wales State Police in Australia, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department and Uniontown Police Department both in Pennsylvania.
Chaplain Angie Almeyda
The wife of Pastor Obed and mother of two daughters, Pastor Angie also serves as an associate pastor at Foundation of Life Church in Newburgh. She became a pastor in 2011 and was trained as a police chaplain while living in Pennsylvania. She currently works in urgent care as a practical nurse and is pursuing her nursing degree at State University of New York Orange.
Chaplain George Barden
Elder Barden previously served in the United States Marine Corps for six years and is a retired police detective in the State of New York as well. He currently serves as an Associate Elder at Mount Carmel Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ Inc. in the Town of Newburgh. He has been preaching for the past two decades and first began his preaching ministry at New Beginners Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ congregation in March of 2001. He is a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“I see this unit really reaching out and making a change in this city for the better,” Barden said.
Chaplain William Damroth
Chaplain Damroth has been the pastor of the Sacred Heart and Saint Francis of Assisi parishes in Newburgh since 2015. Damroth was ordained in 1993 as a priest by the late Cardinal John O’Connor and has received a bachelors in divinity and masters degrees in theology, history and education.
“I see it [being a police chaplain] as a challenging acceptance because of the difficult times that we’re living in and I see my mission as being one of trying to bring positivity to the City of Newburgh hopefully through my presence,” Damroth said.
Chaplain Luis Laureano
Chaplain Laureano, a former gang member, was ordained in 2004 as a chaplain and counseled gang members, addicts and inmates on the West Coast. He came in 2015 to Fountain of Life Church in Newburgh, NY and was promoted in 2020 as the Minister of Affirmation. “This for me is like giving back to the community,” Laureano said.
Chaplain David McDonald
Reverend Deacon McDonald currently serves as a deacon for St. John’s Episcopal Church in the Town of Cornwall. He also serves as an assistant to the Civilian Episcopalian Chaplain for United States Army Cadets at West Point. Deacon McDonald served 26 years with the New York City Police Department and retired as a sergeant. He has also served as a part-time officer in the Town of Newburgh and an investigator in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Aid Bureau. He and his wife Laura have lived in Orange County and have been married for the past 34 years .
Chaplain Mary McLymore
Dr. McLymore was born and raised in the City of Newburgh. She attended and graduated from the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. She received her doctorate degree in Biblical Studies of Theology from the Mid-West College of Theology. She is a certified and licensed Chaplaincy Training Institute Chaplain. She currently serves as an Associate Minister of the Cathedral at The House of Refuge International Ministries here in Newburgh.
Chaplain Jacob Rosner
A graduate of Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Rosner of Congregation Agudas Israel in Newburgh received his masters degree from the institution, was ordained and received his Doctorate of Divinity. He has previously served as the rabbi and hazan for the Berwyn, PA congregation for the past nine years. He is married to his wife Sari and has two adult children.
Chaplain Jose Vasquez
Pastor Vasquez currently serves as the Leader Pastor at Church at the Bridge. With a non-profit management and counseling background, Vasquez has worked with at-risk youth, vulnerable populations, and poverty-stricken communities. He lives in the Newburgh area with his wife Annette who cofounded Church at the Bridge.
“I know that wherever you go there’s challenges but there’s always something good and I think that there’s a lot of good in this city [of Newburgh] and this unit is reflective of the city,” Vasquez said.