Formerly The First Baptist Church of the 1000 Islands, The River Community Church (RCC) has been serving this region for Christ since 1840. Clayton, NY is located on the St. Lawrence River, (affectionately known to locals as “The River”) only minutes from the Canadian border and the famous village of Alexandria Bay. This region is rich in American history, with many shops, museums, parks, eateries and countless accommodations that will make your visit perfect. There is plenty to do and all in a picturesque and peaceful setting. If you do visit, be sure to stop in at RCC where you will be warmly welcomed and you can fully experience this region’s family of God. They were wonderful!
At the welcome center we met Chris Grumm. Smiling at us as though she had known us for years, we were given a generous welcome package which included a church cookbook and a Bible. Having outgrown their former facility, The River Community Church moved to this newly constructed campus in 2009. The stone fireplace and the stone work behind the altar added to the warm, homey atmosphere. As we took our seats, Ministry Pastor Alson Taylor came over to greet us and he invited us to stay for food and fellowship after the service.
The call to worship was an upbeat song entitled, “You are Good” (Bethel Church) that really got everyone ready to worship. We saw lots of holy hands raised and clapping. The vibrancy of this church resonated with our hearts. The gifted worship team was comprised of 2 keyboards, a piano, bass, drums, electric guitar and several singers. The songs were all Christ centered and excellently orchestrated. We were 3 hours from home, surrounded by people we had never met, but still sensed a UNITY in our Spirits. Then we were served communion while the music team played an oldie but goodie, “When I Look Into Your Holiness”. It was such a nice addition to the modern / contemporary selections.
Lately, my husband and I have been focusing on obtaining God’s complete peace in our lives, so when we heard the message title, “Building Together in Peace”, we knew God had led us here. Lead teaching Pastor Chuck Costantino began by stating that our differences often divide rather than unite. Love is the building blocks and peace is the mortar. He referenced several scriptures including Ephesians 4:1-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. Happy and blessed are the peacemakers! Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). The world needs to see us as peacemakers.
Peace is NOT the absence of conflict. It is NOT the avoidance of strife. It is NOT the appeasement of people and peace is definitely NOT the accommodation of issues. Peacemaking is ACTIVELY seeking to reconcile people to God and to one another. Peace must be made; it never happens by chance. It is a divine work. We are peacemakers by the Spirit of God. It is a supernatural peace (Philippians 4:7). We are to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). We can take these steps to become peacemakers: Talk with God about it, make the first move (Matthew 5:23-24) and stop talking about the people who hurt you! Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.
As we sat there listening, I was reminded that it is GOD who determines our steps (Psalm 37:23). God brought us here because He knew we needed to hear this teaching. I still have a lot to do in my quest for peace. You see … it has nothing to do with what people did to us. It has nothing to do with our circumstances. It has EVERYTHING to do with our willingness to pick up our cross and follow Christ (Matt. 16:24), surrendering all, and abiding in Him alone.
One of the things that really stood out was their staff information which read: “Ministers – God’s People” / “Senior Pastor – Jesus Christ”. RCC is filled with gifted teachers, worshipers and elders, but all the glory is given to Jesus! We were also impressed with their wide range of ministries including Awana (www.awana.org), Operation Christmas Child and a strong emphasis on local and international missions. They also have men’s groups, women’s groups, and a variety of life groups to help the congregation build close and personal relations with Jesus and each other.
If you are looking for a peaceful get-a-away, we strongly urge you to visit the 1,000 Island Region and The River Community Church. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. SHALOM!
Church Website – http://riverchurchnny.com
By Donna Hansen Munafo
Edited by Michael Frati