A First Grant from the State

Oh, how grateful Susan and I were when architect Margaret Westfield called our office on Dec 5th to inform us that our church had been selected to receive $50,000 from the State of New Jersey towards the development of our Preservation Plan! A few days later, the official notification through the New Jersey Historic Trust arrived.

What does this all mean? Apart from the financial support, it mainly means one thing: our church is not only historically worthy of support, but also it has public relevance through its ties to the community and our wider culture. That’s why we had to submit documentation of all our outreach activities: the Men’s Shelter, the Lunchtime Recital Series, the interfaith work with our Jewish and Muslim partners, the Special Needs Confirmation Class, and many other ministries. It is also reassuring that the jury saw enough administrative and financial potential in our church to entrust us with the investment of a grant.

How will the process develop from here? In late January. 2008, the NJ Historic Trust will forward its recommendation to the New Jersey legislature which has to approve the award. Then the bill goes to the governor for his signature. Sometime between spring and fall, we will receive the grant agreement for review and acceptance.

This may seem like a long process. But look at the bright side and the many fruits we have harvested along the way: pledges from 95% of our congregation, an overwhelming number of responses from the churches of our denomination, commitments from two Volunteer Offices of our denomination, and a renewed surge of energy among ourselves and the Property Committee in particular. It is not far fetched when I say that the new pew cushions, the painting and air-conditioning of Fellowship Hall and the imminent installation of the new sound system in the sanctuary are all “children” of the Preservation Project.

And in the meantime, we will not sit idle but apply with the NJ Historic Trust for the much larger Preservation Grant. This will allow us to leave the planning stages and to begin real brick-and-mortar work.

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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