It is not easy when friends move away, and it is especially hard when this happens after 48 years. Bruce and Ellen joined First Reformed Church in 1966, a young couple who, together with others, set out immediately to bring change to the church. Bruce and Ellen were especially interested in reaching out to a neighborhood that was beginning to be challenging at the time. Here at First Reformed Church, we will remember Ellen and Bruce among other things for the following:
- Sunday Afternoon Center for Neighborhood Children,
- Plant growing program for neighborhood people,
- Girl Scout Cadette Troup #79,
- Sunday School, Women’s Guild, Sewing Circle, Consistory,
- Serious support for the pipe organ,
- Dutch Dancers,
- Property Committee and historic preservation (including the breezeway construction in 1995),
- Choir, bell choir, and Ellen’s beautiful flute,
- And Bruce saving the baptismal font in the fire of 1971.
But truth be told, we are not only grateful for what Bruce and Ellen did in our midst, but also for who they were and continue to be as human beings. Their generosity, their sincere interest in social justice, their personal life style and authenticity were a blessing to us all, and so was their sense of cultural identity – even if Bruce never tired stating that the lack of Dutch roots on his side of the family made him a descendant from the town of Bogus.
Ellen and Bruce bought a house next to their daughter Mary’s family in North Carolina – a safe haven for this stage in life. Here at the church, we said farewell with a festive worship service, a lavish lunch and much Dutch dancing. Ellen and Bruce, we love you and wish you that God may continue to bless you on your journey!