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Cedar Hill Christian Reformed Church was formed on June 17.1990 with the merger of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Paterson and the Calvin Christian Reformed church of Wyckoff. The Bethel CRC was founded in 1921 as the first "all English" church in the Paterson area. The Calvin CRC was founded in 1946 as a daughter church of the Midland Park CRC. The merger was the result of a desire by both congregations to provide an environment that would promote church growth by:
•Placing the congregation in a suburban residential atmosphere
•Devoting less resources to facilities and more to ministry staff
•Creating an evangelism program that was centered about "Christian Friendship"
•Achieving an even distribution of age in the congregation
In the first five years Cedar Hill has enjoyed several major accomplishments in support of this goal.
1) We have successfully merged with little loss of membership. A process of merger inevitably involves the dying of an old identity and the development of a new one. We were blessed in that the merger caused little loss in net membership. This can be partly attributed to the merger process which focused on the development of a strategic ministry plan with a broad involvement of both congregations. A significant factor in the success was Pastor Mouw's efforts to build an even handed consensus. At this point we are now truly functioning as one congregation and there is little remnant of past identity or traditions.
2) The church is located on the property of the former Calvin church. With proceeds from the sale of the Bethel property and a fund drive we initiated a building program to upgrade the facilities. The resulting addition added ministry staff offices, additional classrooms, a library, two nurseries and renovated the fellowship hall. A subsequent gift has also modernized the kitchen. We have gone through a building program that could have been divisive, but resulted in a fiscally responsible approach and little rancor. We are well equipped for ministry and the congregation has a feeling that we all own the building.
3) We reorganized the operation of the church government. The emphasis was on streamlining the committee structure, providing church officers with more time for visiting and focusing council meetings more on strategic issues and less on administrative issues. This has resulted in fewer meetings and family visiting covering the whole congregation in less than two years. We have also had the opportunity to work with delinquent members.
4) We have developed a very vital youth ministry. We have pioneered the development of a Junior High youth group and this has raised the spiritual commitment level of individuals in this age group. We have experienced an increasing rate of young people requesting to make profession of faith. Both the Senior and Junior groups have sponsored retreats and mission projects that have engaged people outside of a normal church relationship.
5) We have initiated a plan of Stewardship giving, which seeks to move the focus of the church finance away from a " dues like" approach to one where the members are encouraged to give in proportion to their blessing. The initial results of pledge based giving and budgeting have been very encouraging.