I have been attending my grandparents’ church, the Brick Church in West New Hempstead, during the school year since my second year at Nyack College. My grandparents live somewhat near Nyack, and I enjoy going to church with them while I am away from home. This past Sunday I was invited by their pastor, Reverend Thomas E. Johnston, to preach in his church one Sunday. He wants to give me the opportunity to experience what it is like to deliver a sermon. I have never preached before, so this would be my first time at the pulpit. I was honored by his offer, and I ultimately said yes, but at first I had one major reservation about accepting this opportunity: I am not affiliated with the denomination of the Brick Church.
The Brick Church claims the Reformed Church in America, or the RCA, as its denominational affiliation. I grew up Pentecostal. As far as Protestant Christianity goes, these two denominations are almost polar opposites. Reformed churches and Pentecostal churches disagree on many subjects, such as the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and worship styles. It is very unusual for someone of a charismatic denomination like mine to be a guest preacher at a Reformed church, and vice versa. I don’t think I have ever seen it ever happen at my home church or in any church that I have visited. It made me a little uneasy that I might be breaking the unwritten rule that these two denominations cannot cross.
Very quickly I realized that I felt this way because of what I had seen and heard, not because this denominational segregation was right. I am a big proponent of dialogue and cooperation across denominational lines. Sometimes it seems as though we forget that whether Pentecostal or Reformed, Baptist or Lutheran, Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, we all serve Jesus Christ. It is alright to disagree on certain issues, but it becomes problematic when these disagreements cause enmity between different Christian groups. I have an incredible opportunity to practice what I preach (no pun intended) by serving a congregation of a different denomination.
I will be preaching for the first time in my life on Sunday, November 17th, at the Brick Church in West New Hempstead. I still don’t know what subject I will be preaching on or what I will say, but I will definitely let the Lord lead and guide me in what I should preach. Even though I don’t plan on making a career out of preaching, I look forward to having the experience. I was reserved about preaching in a church of a different denomination, but after thinking about it more I am actually glad that this is the case. This is a small step toward dialogue and cooperation between different denominations.