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  • AME Zion

Thank You.

Rev. Mary Shelley-Bruce presents William Forte, President of Kingston Area Veterans Assoc with Award for Volunteerism on behalf of veterans

Good (Communion Sunday) Family,

In 2021, both the AME Zion Church of Kingston and its Mount Zion cemetery, were declared to be historically significant and inducted into the National Register of Historic Places.

Gratitude was the underlying theme of yesterday's Historic Marker Dedication Ceremony for both the church and its Mt. Zion Cemetery: We were grateful for both the beautiful (and unseasonably warm) weather, and the community support. Since 1856, the cemetery has been a final refuge for members of Kingston’s African American community—many of whom were veterans—and a place for their descendants to visit and pay their respect. There are 39 known soldiers laid to rest at Mt Zion—from Eleventh, Twentieth, Twenty–Seventh and Thirty–Ninth Regiments of the United States Colored Infantry and others who served in the Civil War, World War I & World War II, as well as Buffalo soldiers.

VFW Color Guard--Rifle Salute

We were honored and grateful for the stewardship of the Mt. Zion Cemetery by William "Bill" Forte, President of the Kingston Area Veterans Association, and for continuing the work of his father, Joseph Forte, and the association. We welcome the opportunity to support the Kingston Veterans Association in their bi-annual clean up days at Mt. Zion and in remembering Veterans throughout the community. We are eternally grateful for the sacrifice of 39 known servicemen.

We remembered the contributions of our founding mothers and fathers—Rev. James Varick, Mother Sojourner Truth, Mother Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. As well as Kingston’s Sarah Ann Hasbrouck, who in 1848 provided the land that the church was built on, and influential past pastors of Kingston’s church, Rev. Benjamin Judd and Rev. Jeremiah R.B. Smith. Reverend Judd increased church membership, raised funds to pay off the church's mortgage in 1907 and built several churches in Hudson and Poughkeepsie. Reverend Smith, a brilliant theologian, scholar, and anti-slavery activist was elected the first Black chaplain of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). During research for the nomination, we learned that he former

on Cornell Street was named for him…

History is a funny thing; winding and twisting like a never-ending Road, taking us places we never expect. As we enter a(nother) busy week—Veteran’s Day and the ever-present election—we should be reminded that, despite our schedules, God is with us every day. Historically, that has been the glue that has held us together: Faith. We may be weary, and sometimes uncertain, but we continue on (as we walk by faith, not by sight). It is God is who guides us…Just as God guided Mother Sojourner Truth, and Mother Harriet.

A special thanks to family, friends, supporters, and visitors who were able to attend (or sent support/well-wishes): AME Zion clergy members, Mr. William Forte & Family, President of the Kingston Area Veterans Assoc.; The VFW Color Guard; Kathy Howe, Dir. NYS SHPO; Acting Ulster County Executive, Johanna Contreras; Ulster County Sheriff Juan Sheriff; Heidi Kirshner CEO & President of the YMCA of Kingston & Ulster County; Office of Congressman, Patrick K. Ryan (Robert Dougherty ); Office of State Senator Michelle Hinchey (Anna Markowitz); Mayor Steven T. Noble; Candidates for U.C. County Executive, Jen Metzger & TOU Supervisor, James Quigley; Kingston Area Library (Margie Menard, Director); Rev. Doris Schuyler (Riverview Missionary Baptist Church); Rev. Gayle Johnson (New Central Baptist Church); Maggie Inge (TransArt); Kitt Potter (City of Kingston Cultural Arts), & generous support from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

We were exceedingly grateful for the service of Mother Harriet Tubman, who was both a member of the AME Zion Church in Auburn, NY and used AME Zion churches to assist enslaved people escaping North—and a soldier. The Harriet Tubman Home is owned by the AME Zion Church. Learn more about the Harriet Tubman Home at:

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