A Program for the Youth

Middlesex County had a great summer program this year for underprivileged youth in need of employment. Many employers in our area participated in this, and so did several churches. Our congregation received three young workers, Ray, Rakeem and Eric. They worked with us for eight weeks, guided by a host of supervisors from our church: Julius Fekete, Robert Stahl, and Bruce and Ellen Hamilton. We thank them all for their commitment to the program and the church. We owe it to our volunteer supervisors that the young people had meaningful employment for a summer.

Sometimes our projects required more people power. Therefore, Lily organized a number of friends to help. Nikki, Kristal, Akrum, Ash and Taylor heard her call. Together they prepared our pews for painting. Thanks to Robert Stah’s patient instructions, they learned how to use wood filler and an electric sander, how to spot-prime, and how to paint.

Later, we learned that the paint did not hold. Then we had to strip all the pews, which was much more work. Midway into this, we discovered that the dust we created had eaten into the shellac of the mahogany rims of most pews. So we ended up having to strip and repaint them as well.

Instead of despairing, we asked for more help, and it came most generously. Several members brought lunch for the work crew: Ethel, Jack and Bernice, and Joan. Others joined in with the priming and painting: Heather, Norma, Margaret, Susan, Ben, David W., Rose Laurano, Jim, Lily, Erie, Stef, Daphne and Theo. I had my painting outfit with me for much of the summer, and I wish to thank Sandy for letting me off the hook with leading the Vacation Bible School games class this year, so that I could continue painting in the sanctuary. However, the greatest thanks go to Julius, who spent weeks without end in the sanctuary, and this so short after the surgery he experienced earlier this summer! His energy and tireless efforts remain unmatched, and we are a special church that he would make such sacrifice.

If you disregard their difficult doors, the pews within the curtained space look relatively new now, even though they were made in 1812. We did not deal with the pews by the windows, as this surpassed our possibilities. Please bear in mind that all work was accompanied with considerable clean up on Wednesdays and Fridays when the sanctuary needed to be ready for worship of the Apostolic Center.

However, pew restoration was not all the Youth Employment Program helped us accomplish this summer. Under Julius, Ellen and Bruce’s able leadership, the lawns were cut regularly, so that our usual team of men enjoyed a real summer break.

Bruce and Ellen then led the youth in rejuvenating the landscaping in the front and back of the church. The gravestones received beddings of wood chips that prevent weeds from growing too close to the stones. They also filled in sinkholes wherever they found them in the cemetery. Finally, they built a beautiful field rock border around the back patio, thereby turning formerly abandoned space into beautiful eyesight. Thank you all for helping with the Summer Youth Employment Program!

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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