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Rev. Canon Cecil Alvin Scantlebury, 84, Longtime Priest In Greenburgh

Services are Saturday at 10 a.m. in White Plains for the Rev. Canon Cecil Alvin Scantlebury, 84, who died on Aug. 17 in Greenburgh.
Services are Saturday at 10 a.m. in White Plains for the Rev. Canon Cecil Alvin Scantlebury, 84, who died on Aug. 17 in Greenburgh. Photo Credit: Provided
A video depiction of the life of the Rev. Canon Cecil A. Scantlebury, 1931 - 2016. The musical selections in this video, "Joyous Melody," "Sing My Soul" and "Walking in the Light" are Rev. Scantlebury's original compositions.
A video depiction of the life of the Rev. Canon Cecil A. Scantlebury, 1931 - 2016. The musical selections in this video, "Joyous Melody," "Sing My Soul" and "Walking in the Light" are Rev. Scantlebury's original compositions. Video Credit: Joy Scantlebury

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 for the Rev. Canon Cecil Alvin Scantlebury at St. Francis and St. Martha's Episcopal Church in White Plains, where he served as priest for 34 years.

Rev. Scantlebury, who died on Aug. 17 in Greenburgh at the age of 84, "was a giant in the town of Greenburgh for many years," according to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. "Reverend 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," Feiner said. "He left the world a much better place and touched the lives of hundreds of Greenburgh and Westchester residents – for the better."

Saturday's Requiem Eucharist Mass at 575 Tarrytown Road in White Plains will be led by the Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche, presiding, and the Ven. Canon Bernard O. D. Young, preaching.

Born and raised in Barbados, Rev. Scantlebury received his education for the priesthood at Codrington College, becoming at the age of 23, the youngest graduate of the oldest seminary in the Western Hemisphere.

Upon his ordination as priest, he went to Guyana, South America, to serve as Curate of St. Philip's Church in Georgetown. As his ministry there was concluding, he married his wife, Betty, whom he met at a church service in Barbados. Together, they came to the United States in 1961.

The Rev. Scantlebury served as Curate of St. Andrew's in the Bronx. He became a member of the diocese's Christian Education Committee and also directed a summer day camp for New York City.

In 1969, he began his work as priest for St. Francis and St. Martha's in White Plains, first as Vicar, and then as Rector in 1977 -- when the church achieved parish status.

For more than 30 years, he served as president of the Board of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, an organization that offers after-school programs, foster grandparents, drug rehabilitation and support for veterans. He also was instrumental in bringing Habitat for Humanity to Westchester County.

Often, his advocacy bent towards education. In 1984, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed Rev. Scantlebury to the New York State Human Rights Advisory Council. He served as chairman of its education committee.

As a leader of the diocese's Black Caucus, and as a member of the Union of Black Episcopalians, Rev. Scantlebury authored the resolution calling for mandatory anti-racism training for diocesan clergy and lay leaders.

As he had been in Guyana, Rev. Scantlebury also was an effective media commentator and a popular community speaker. In 1998, he was the key speaker 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 against the Iraq War.

Rev. Scantlebury also was a gifted musician, playing piano and organ and composing. At Saturday's mass, parishioners will be asked to sing one of his hymns, "Walking in the Light."

Upon his retirement, Rev. Scantlebury 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 made him an honorary canon in 2003.

"He inspired many others to also do good for the less fortunate," Feiner said, calling him "a very nice, kind and intelligent man. He will be missed. But, he will continue to inspire."

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