As I was reading about the history of the Stillwater (NJ) Presbyterian Church I learned that this congregation has a great history in fusion. In fact, it was fusion that actually began this congregation. On September 12, 1769, a group of Lutheran and Reformed brethren came together to build a House of God. By sometime in 1771 the original Stillwater Church was completed. While early reports are at best sketchy, it appears that the first congregation consisted of a union of German and Calvinist (Reformed) settlers of Hardwick (Stillwater was at that time a part of that community).
The original records are written in German, later to be written in both German and English before finally moving to just English. The early years saw the congregation flow back and forth in its theological interests based upon the current pastor. Finally, on June 13, 1823 the church became officially the Stillwater Presbyterian church. Under the care of the Presbytery, the congregation was able to hire a full-time pastor and growth followed.
The congregation has had its ups and downs since that time. Now at the tender age of 239 (or 185 if you only count the years as a Presbyterian congregation) fusion must again be the norm if we are to be all that God has called us to be. We need to reach out to the unchurched, the under-churched, and those who have simply fallen into the habit of not worshipping.
The challenges before us are no more daunting than those facing this congregation in the past. We simply need to respond by remembering who God is and what He calls us to do in our community. We have the greatest gift in the world to give and it is time that we quit being so stingy in sharing it!
God is faithful. Sometimes we are not. We live in tough economic times and if we allow our financial situation alone to determine how we do ministry, we will fail. God will supply our need (and not necessarily our wants) so let’s get busy doing the work and trusting Him for the results (after all, according to Scripture, it is God that provides the increase).