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Years of work toward uniting the Reformed Church in America with the Presbyterian Church in the United States, commonly known as the Southern Presbyterian Church, had come to an embarrassing and dispiriting end in the view of many in the eastern Reformed churches. It was embarrassing because the Presbyterian Church had voted for merger, and the Reformed Church, because of its provincial view, had voted it down. As a minister in an upstate New York church, I was enthusiastically for uniting. How often I had to explain to visitors to my church what the Reformed Church was! They wondered about a church they had never heard of that called itself “Reformed.” Sometimes we had to clarify that we were not the Reformed/Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints—Reformed Mormons. Or they would ask, “Reformed from what?” There was the longer standard answer, but I found that it was easier and clearer to say, “Reformed from the Roman Catholic Church.” Growing up in the Northeast, I always assumed, when meeting new people that they were Roman Catholic. It was always a pleasant surprise to learn that someone was Protestant. Then it was necessary to explain that we used to be called “Dutch” Reformed. When pressed, with humility we would say we were “like Presbyterian.” We used United Presbyterian church school curriculum and found their Westminster Press valuable for many resources.
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