The governor appropriated a whopping $7 million to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie. New York would have to foot the whole bill. President Thomas Jefferson refused to provide federal assistance for the undertaking he considered to be “little short of madness.” Ground was broken for “Clinton’s Ditch” on July 4, 1817.
When the Erie Canal was completed eight years later, Clinton stood at New York Harbor and dumped a keg of water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic. This symbolic gesture of the “wedding of the waters” took place on November 4, 1825.
Called a river of gold — the canal is 40 feet wide and 363 miles long. Six weeks was the time needed to traverse the state before the Erie Canal was created. Six days was all that it took after it was completed. A ton of wheat had cost $100 for delivery from Ohio to New York City; via the Erie Canal, the cost was reduced to $10. The Erie Canal was the channel for New York to become the Empire State.
Water was the genesis for a new development for New Yorkers. The same is true for Christians. Water launches our journey. By the waters of Baptism, we are grafted into the Body of Christ. We are connected. Through the waters of Baptism, new life is begun.
During stewardship season, we sometimes forget the hopefulness that springs from Baptism. Christians often express the skepticism of Jefferson instead of the boldness of Clinton. Parishioners scarcely believe that the actions we take today will transform our lives and those of the generations who follow.
As we establish our budgets for 2018, what are we funding that would take eight years to complete? What are we envisioning that might take 100 years to implement?
What do our church budgets say about our vision? What does our giving demonstrate about our faith?
Laurie A. McNeill is a member of Hudson River Presbytery and she serves as the Pastor of yoked congregations in Highland and Marlboro, New York.