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Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Dedication of the New Sanctuary Free Reformed Church of Pomptan Plains

Written by Paul Laman
With much thanksgiving to the Lord, the Free Reformed Church of Pompton Plains, New Jersey was able to complete their new sanctuary and dedicate it to the worship of the Lord on the U.S. Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003. The planning for the relocation effort began 11 years earlier when it was recognized that the need for relocation and a larger over-all facility was appropriate. During the interim years there was much planning; fundraisers began as well as a search for a suitable site.

The final four years consisted primarily of the construction process. This required much hard work and generous contributions of time and energy. There were also many bureaucratic township challenges to overcome. But thanks be to God who has brought us thus far, giving us the spiritual, physical, planning and monetary resources to accomplish the endeavour. May the King of glory receive all the honour and be pleased to dwell with us. ÒLift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of gloryÓ (Ps.24:9-10).

The local church was organized in Passaic, NJ under the name Free Reformed in 1921 with 29 members. The congregation also adopted the name Rehoboth, meaning, ÒThe Lord hath made room.Ó Originally, all of the services where conducted in the Dutch language until 1931 when one service was started in the English language. Around 1930, the ministry of the church was extended to the neighbouring city of Paterson where a Sunday evening service was preached at the Paterson City Mission. Then in 1951, as the congregation outgrew their facility, they moved to a newly constructed church building in Clifton, NJ. Over the following years, there was a transition to all services being conducted in English. In 1965 the Clifton Free Reformed church joined with the (then) Old and Free Christian Reformed Churches of Canada and the United States.

In 1992, at a congregational meeting, questions were raised regarding the possibility of relocating the church. Several years later a piece of property was purchased in Pompton Plains, and in 1999 the land clearing began. In the fall of 2001, at the completion of Phase 1, worship began in the new fellowship hall along with Sunday school in the new classrooms. In the fall of 2003, Phase 2 Ð the new sanctuary - was completed. Indeed, God has established the work of our hands.

Dedication Service -
Thursday, November 27, 2003

The morning service began majestically and symbolically when elder Michael Laman walked in carrying the holy Word of God while the congregation stood singing, ÒArise, O Lord, our God, arise -- And enter now into Thy rest; -- O let this house be Thy abode, -- Forever with Thy presence blestÓ (Psalter 368, verse 1). Elder Laman ascended the pulpit where he placed the Bible and proclaimed several verses of Scripture beginning with ÒIn the beginning GodÉ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodÓ (Gen.1:1 & John 1:1).

Then elder Henry Driesse, Chairman of the Relocation Committee, gave some words of welcome. He also spoke briefly regarding the words on the cornerstone of the new sanctuary: ÒJesus Christ Ð the chief corner stone,Ó based on the words of the apostle Paul (Eph.2:20). The church is exhorted here, ÒNow therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the SpiritÓ (vv.19-22).

The sermon for the dedication service was based on 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 where, upon the completion of SolomonÕs prayer at the dedication of the temple, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. Upon seeing the great manifestation of JehovahÕs power, holiness and glory the children of Israel bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped saying, ÒFor he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.Ó Rev. Laurens Roth delivered the sermon entitled, ÒThe Lord of Glory Makes His Abode in SolomonÕs Temple,Ó expounding on the significance, manner, and fruit of the LordÕs presence.

GodÕs goodness was also made evident through the collection as He moved the hearts of the congregation to give generously for the building fund. ÒO LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine ownÓ (1 Chron.29:16).

Dedication Program -
Friday, November 28, 2003

The following evening there was a more informal dedication program. Pastor Roth opened with prayer, words of welcome and a brief meditation on the familiar verses of 2 Chronicles 7:14, 15, ÒIf my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place.Ó

Then two of the elders spoke offering expressions of appreciation for all committeesÕ work and those who laboured so diligently in the construction project. Letters of congratulations received from various churches were also acknowledged. The Young Peoples and congregation sang several Psalters including ÒO Lord of Hosts, how lovely -- Thy tabernacles areÓ and ÒChrist shall have dominion -- Over land and sea, -- Earth's remotest regions -- Shall His empire be.Ó

Brother Peter Slootmaker recounted the history of the move from Clifton to Pompton Plains that included many struggles and at times left the Relocation Committee to ponder if it was the LordÕs will that we move forward with this project. He concluded his address with Scripture, reflecting on the mortality of the earthly and the immortality of the heavenly saying, ÒFor we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavenÓ (2 Cor.5:1).

After the informal service there was a time of refreshments and fellowship. Friends from several other local Reformed churches joined us in this night of rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord. During the time of fellowship, a photo presentation was shown depicting the various stages of the building process as well as the fundraisers that included numerous garage sales and dinners.

In the dedication of our new house of prayer we bear in mind that it is not bricks and mortar that make a church, but the members made alive by the Holy Spirit who are living stones. ÒYe also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus ChristÓ (1 Peter 2:5), and ÒYe are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my peopleÓ (2 Cor.6:16).

In summary, we must say that the LORD has blessed us in many ways. Despite our failings He has granted us many undeserved blessings. The Lord calls us to run with patience the race set before us while earnestly contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. It is our hope and prayer that the Lord will not withhold His Spirit from us and our new sanctuary will be one where the Word is faithfully and fully proclaimed, where GodÕs flock-- which He has purchased with his blood--is nurtured, fed, and equipped for ministry, and where sinners are turned from darkness to the Light. Blessed be the name of Jesus--our Lord and Saviour!

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