Remarks at the Consecration of Grace Memorial Reformed Church
I shall ask your attention to three lines of the Dedication Canticle: "Serve the Lord with gladness: enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."
Better lines could surely not be brought into any dedication service of a church; and it is a happy thing that we should have repeated them this morning. This church is consecrated to the service of the Lord; and we can serve Him by the way we serve our fellow-men. This church is consecrated to service and duty. It was written of old that "by their fruits ye shall know them"; and we can show the faith that is in us, we can show the sincerity of our devotion, by the fruits we bring forth. The man who is not a tender and considerate husband, a loving and wise father, is not serving the Lord when he goes to church; so with the woman; so with all who come here. Our being in this church, our communion here with one another, our sitting under the pastor and hearing from him the word of God, must, if we are sincere, show their effects in our lives outside.
We of the Dutch and German Reformed Churches, like our brethren of the Lutheran Church, have a peculiar duty to perform in this great country of ours, a country still in the making, for we have the duty peculiarly incumbent upon us to take care of our brethren who come each year from over seas to our shores. The man going to a new country is torn by the roots from all his old associations, and there is great danger to him in the time before he gets his roots down into the new country, before he brings himself into touch with his fellows in the new land. For that reason I always take a peculiar interest in the attitude of our churches toward the immigrants who come to these shores. I feel that we should be peculiarly watchful over them, be cause of our own history, because we or our fathers came here under like conditions. Now that we have established ourselves let us see to it that we stretch out the hand of help, the hand of brotherhood, toward the new-comers, and help them as speedily as possible to get into such relations that it will be easy for them to walk well in the new life. We are not to be excused if we selfishly sit down and enjoy gifts that have been given to us and do not try to share them with our poorer fellows coming from every part of the world, who many of them stand in such need of the helping hand; who often not only meet too many people anxious to associate with them for their detriment, but often too few anxious to associate with them for their good.
I trust that with the consecration of each new church of the Re formed creed in this our country there will be established a fresh centre of effort to get at and to help for their good the people that yearly come from over seas to us. No more important work can be done by our people; important to the cause of Christianity, important to the cause of true national life and greatness here in our own land,
Another thing: let us so far as strength is given us make it evident to those who look on and who are not of us that our faith is not one of words merely; that it finds expression in deeds. One sad, one lamentable phase of human history is that the very loftiest words, implying the loftiest ideas, have often been used as cloaks for the commission of dreadful deeds of iniquity. No more hideous crimes have ever been committed by men than those that have been committed in the name of liberty, or order, of brotherhood, of religion. People have butchered one another under circumstances of dreadful atrocity, claiming all the time to be serving the object of the brother hood of man or of the fatherhood of God. We must in our lives, in our efforts, endeavor to further the cause of brotherhood in the human family; and we must do it in such a way that the men anxious to find subject for complaint or derision in the churches of the United States, in our Church, may not be able to find it by pointing out any contrast between our professions and our lives.
This church is consecrated to-day to duty and to service, to the worship of the Creator, and to an earnest effort on our part so to shape our lives among ourselves and in relation to the outside world that we may feel that we have done our part in bringing a little nearer the day when there shall be on this earth a genuine brotherhood of man.
Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks at the Consecration of Grace Memorial Reformed Church Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/343696