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Assemblyman Thiele visits Shelter Island church: Presbyterian congregation focuses on environment

Shelter Island’s Presbyterian Church is working toward a certification from the Presbyterian Church USA in Earth Care, which the congregation has already made a priority.

On Sunday, June 25, Assemblymen Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor) paid a visit to the church’s coffee service to speak about efforts locally and statewide to protect the environment.

He provided an update to the audience on the success of programs he’s spearheaded, such as the Community Preservation Fund and Peconic Estuary Program.

He wrote the legislation to create the Fund in 1998 and revenues reached East End communities beginning in 1999. Since then, CPF revenues have totaled over $1.971 billion.

“I always love visiting Shelter Island,” Mr. Thiele said, especially when asked to speak about the environment, an issue that he has made a priority. He spoke about the state budget recently passed that included the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Fund, for which he had introduced legislation, seeking to create a dedicated fund to improve water quality by reducing nitrogen.

Marilynn Pysher, a member of the church’s Earth Care Team, said the congregation has already taken steps to have an impact on the environment locally, including installing solar panels and a bicycle rack.

The Earth Care Team also posts information and reminders on a church bulletin board to engage congregation members in protecting natural resources in their daily lives.

The Assemblyman’s visit was part of a series on the environment that will bring a speaker to the church each quarter. The next talk will be given by members of the Shinnecock Reservation, speaking about Indigenous people’s respect for the Earth, Ms. Pysher said.

Alison Binder, Karin Bennett, Amy Taylor and Colleen Smith serve on the Earth Care Team with Ms. Pysher.