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Early Church Customs

The dedication sermon was preached in Dutch and understood by many of the congregation. Mr. Versteeg, in, his translation of the Church Records states that Dutch ceased to be the language of the pulpit and of the church records May 26th, 1793, when Mr. John Cornelison was ordained and installed as pastor, although in some instances English and Dutch were used alternately in the records as late as 1805. Old residents tell me that they have heard occasional sermons in Dutch at a very much later date. In "The Annals of the Classis and Township of Bergen," Domine Taylor states that "singing in Dutch was discontinued about 1809, but preaching in Dutch continued for some time later." Two of the hymns sung at the dedication of the new church were composed by Mrs. Anna R. Taylor, wife of the pastor, the Rev. Benjamin C. Taylor. In the early days the Bergen Reformed Church required of the applicants for membership a very rigid examination before the minister and consistory in Bible history, evidences of the truths of Christianity, and the Doctrines of the Church as set forth in the Heidelburgh Catechism. The young people went at least once, a week to "Catechism" to the pastor, the Voorleezer or an elder, until perfectly familiar with the Catechism.

In the early Dutch Churches on Long Island there was an officer called Krank-besoecker - Sick Visitor, also sometimes called Zieck-trooster - the Sick Consoler, or Comforter; undoubtedly the same office existed in the early Bergen Church, but if so whether it was filled by the Voorleezer or some other member of the congregation I cannot say. The name of "Sick Consoler" is very suggestive of kindly brotherhood, expressing much more than the modern name of the same office.

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