A Chest of Paper Goods

Most of us walk by it on Sundays when leaving the sanctuary after church. Yet it is easy to overlook then, because we are all so busy greeting each other. I talk about the old immigrant’s chest that sits by the wall just as you enter the breezeway when coming from the church. I call it an immigrant’s chest, because this is how many of them looked in centuries past.

The tradition, however, is much older than immigration to America. It goes back to Martin Luther who wanted to establish a social support system for the poor. So back in the 1500’s, the famous reformer advised congregations to put a chest for the poor in the sanctuary and to leave monetary donations there. Church officials would then organize the purchase and distribution of the goods.

Our chest for the poor does not contain money. Instead, we collect paper goods and non-perishable food items for our town’s soup kitchen, Elijah’s Promise, here. And I just learned that Elijah’s Promise is again in sincere need of paper goods. So, if you have a chance on a Sunday morning and you happen to remember good old Martin Luther, why don’t you drop something in the chest? It will be received in gratitude.

However, if you would like to know a little more about Elijah’s Promise, come and join various volunteers of our church for less than two hours on every second Friday at the soup kitchen on 18 Neilson Street. We start at 5:00 p.m. with preparing the dining room, and we serve from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The clean-up usually is left to another crew.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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