Wednesday, May 11th marked a special day for New Brunswick Seminary, the Reformed community of New Brunswick, and also for First Reformed Church. We celebrated the retirement of Dr. Coakley after 32 years of teaching church history at the seminary. The picture shows Rev. James Hart Brumm presenting to John a Festschrift filled with academic contributions on a variety of subjects and published by an international publishing house. Russ Gasero, the general archivist of our denomination, and Dr. Greg Mast, the president of our seminary, supported James in his presentation. (I heard someone whisper: “So what’s a Festschrift?” It’s a compilation of essays written in honor of a distinguished scholar and presented on the occasion of a festive act – a retirement, birthday or the like.)
We have many reasons here at First Reformed to be grateful to John and his wife Margaret. Both have been deeply involved in the life of the church. Margaret made the Consistory the focal point of her attention. She has also served on several committees, most recently the Worship & Music Committee.
John’s clarinet has been indispensible to our music department, and our choir would be a lot poorer without John’s and Margaret’s voice. John has preached regularly here and
used many occasions to invite interest in the history of the church and our denomination. Sometimes, he did this through lectures and presentations, and at other times through his expert opinion to certain issues. But the most fun of these occasions were the ones when he reenacted someone like Dr. John Henry Livingston during one of our graveyard tours. And several of John’s books have a firm place in our church library.
We wish Margaret and John God’s rich blessings on their way into a new period of life.
They are a cherished part of this church family.