By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — It’s the end of an era in Coeymans as the Rev. Dr. Roxanne Jones Booth and the Rev. Antonio Booth are retiring from Riverview Missionary Baptist Church.
The town council at its Oct. 26 meeting honored the Booths with proclamations from the town, Assemblyman Chris Tague and Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.
The couple served as the first-ever co-pastors of the church for 13 years, and the Rev. Dr. Roxanne Jones Booth was the church’s first female pastor. She was born in and grew up in Coeymans before her family moved to Catskill, but the family continued to worship at Riverview her entire youth.
During his time in Coeymans, the Rev. Antonio Booth also served on the RCS Community Library’s Board of Trustees, elected in 2012 and serving as its president for four years.
“During his term, he was part of a team of library trustees that helped the library relocate to its present site on Main Street,” Town Supervisor George McHugh said. “He was also part of a team of library trustees that helped select the current library director. In 2016, the board of trustees of the Upper Hudson Library System selected him as Library Trustee of the Year. He was noted for his ability as the RCS Community Library board president for stabilizing and revitalizing the RCS library board, along with improving the working relationship with municipal government, all within a span of only four years.”
The Rev. Antonio Booth worked with the library’s board for 10 years, stepping down in 2023. At that time, the Upper Hudson Library System unanimously voted to name him trustee emeritus, a rarely granted acknowledgement of his contributions to the community.
The Booths have been key drivers of numerous programs in the town.
“During their 13 years as co-pastors of the Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, the Booths spearheaded numerous community outreach efforts,” McHugh said. “This included a church-sponsored block party for the children and adults who could not afford to go to fairs or amusement parks to enjoy a fun time at no cost.”
The couple also spearheaded the distribution of free backpacks to children in the community through a partnership with local company TCI.
The Rev. Dr. Roxanne Jones Booth was instrumental in creating a values-based summer day camp for elementary school children, sharing with them the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. She also partnered with Kindness for Kids to provide nutritious lunches for the summer camp kids.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Booths worked with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to designate the church as a COVID vaccination site, and also served on the Coeymans Police Reform Committee.
The Rev. Antonio Booth revived the Ravena Crop Walk, which each year raises around $5,000 to support hunger efforts at local food pantries and around the world.
The couple serves on numerous boards of directors, and the Rev. Dr. Roxanne Jones Booth has worked on foreign missions in Africa for many years. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Africana Studies at University at Albany and is a credentialed substance abuse counselor.
With all their accomplishments and community contributions, she remains humble and thanked the congregation and the community.
“It has been an honor to be at home and doing this work,” she said of the community she loves. “I say ‘at home’ because this is where I grew up. I enjoyed growing up in a hometown that nurtures children and loves people. It’s been a blessing.”
“We couldn’t have done it on our own — the congregation participated in everything that we did and it couldn’t have been a success without them,” she added. “I thank God that I was placed here at this time and to serve in this present age.”
The Rev. Antonio Booth said it has been gratifying to be in the community and to see the improvements that have been made over the years.
“We have had a wonderful time here,” he said. “I have enjoyed every moment. It has been a wonderful experience working in the town of Coeymans.”
Riverview Missionary Baptist Church will have a new pastor beginning Jan. 1. Pastor Reginald Graham will take over the leadership of the church, with his wife Betty Graham working alongside him.
Pastor Graham said he was planning on continuing the work begun by the Booths.