In Touch January 21, 2011
Posted on January 21, 2011 by under Touché,

Re: The Church at the Center of the Island in the Center of the World or; what is that envelope labeled “Denominational Financial Responsibility” about?

I watched a PBS series on the Dutch in New York.  It was enlightening to see how the first European settlers of Manhattan Island lived.  It was a dynamic, open and diverse community that reflected freedom of religion, racial diversity and democratic principles.  There were slaves on the Island, but a taste of the freedom that would be America was present on the “island in the center of the world”.  Manhattan was purchased by the Dutch for the infamous $24 of trinkets, but the commentator pointed out that this was the first time land was not simply taken from native people through conquest and bloodshed, but was considered a business deal with both parties gaining from the transaction.

At the center of that Island was a Reformed church.  Through that church we trace our roots today.  The Reformed Church in America is the oldest denomination in the United States with a continuing history.  It is a small denomination that covers the U.S. and Canada, but it is a close-knit denomination.  Last Sunday we had a visitor from Mahopac.  He heard some things about our church and wanted to take some notes for his church.  He comes from an RCA background and, in two seconds of conversation, we bounced around the world of the RCA noting friends and family that connect us.

Your yearly giving envelope packet includes an envelope to cover your $80.00 denominational member assessment that is sent to the RCA.  In fact, over 5% of our income is sent out as our denominational responsibility.  We are the largest church in our classis and we pay $46,708 a year.  This is quite a bit of wampum.  Many would say it is not worth it in an age when so many churches are independent and non-denominational.  Why not us?  There is a history and heritage here and there is a witness that spreads beyond Hopewell Junction.  For a small denomination, we have had a massive mission impact.

We will have the current head of RCA world mission preaching here on March 5. The Reverend Jhonny Alicea-Baez was a part of the church I led in New Jersey.  I baptized one of his boys – the family connection.  The RCA has established three colleges and two seminaries.  The Hope College Choir will be performing at Hopewell on Monday, March 21 at 7:30 PM.  I am sure that most of our pastors were trained at RCA seminaries.

I am glad we are still connected to that “church in the Fort” in New Amsterdam.  We move into our mission through tradition.  It is good to recognize that we have a history and a ministry bigger than this one church.

Yours for the Body of Christ,       Taylor