Children Claiming Their Place

Nothing happens if you don’t move! A few years ago, it looked like we had reached a fork in the road where this parental word proved true. Our Lunchtime Recital series had lost much of its audience, our kitchen team was exhausted, and our partner, Christ Episcopal Church, pulled out. But then we moved! Under new leadership, we redirected our focus and became deliberate in whom we wanted to serve.

On Jun 11th we brought in a rich harvest! Approximately 90 children and youth from the Livingston School here in New Brunswick provided us with an unforgettable Lunchtime Recital, and The Star-Ledger even covered the event.

It was a meaningful endeavor, right along our lines of inclusive ministry, although this time without religious undertones. Why inclusive? Because, at least from the students’ standpoint, the concert had a lot to do with integration. The overwhelming majority is of Latino background, first or second generation. Anybody who has ever moved to another country knows how much gets lost in the translation. Immigrant children, therefore, have to reclaim a lot.

Yet it does not stop there, because we do not live in a monoculture. Consequently, the children of immigrants to our culture do not just have to reclaim their own heritage. Rather, they are also challenged with negotiating a place for their heritage in the midst of this potpourri of traditions, languages and cultures we call Central Jersey. This makes integration a twofold process.

Usually, our lunchtime concerts feature pieces of western origin. But there have been increasingly composers and musicians from an African or Caribbean background. On Jun 11 , the Livingston students th took their place. May the experience guide them into a future worthy of their families’

We wish to thank especially school principal Mr. Jeremiah Clifford and music teachers Mrs. Agnes Crespo-Helmstedt (Livingston School Band) and Ms. Clayde (Livingston School String Orchestra) for their leadership, encouragement and support.

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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