On the day of President Obama’s second inauguration, Lolly, Gary and I hosted a table for our church at the Bush Campus Visitors’ Center of Rutgers University. We were one of 14 stations inviting Rutgers students to volunteer in the community. Activities like these are very successful. In 2012 alone, we had four volunteer work days with Rutgers students. They helped paint the Sexton’s House, the upper hallways in the Church House, and the interior of the breezeway. They cleaned up the cemetery, washed doors and polished furniture. They were wonderful. And in doing their selfless work, they learned about First Reformed Church and its involvement in the founding of Queen’s College, now Rutgers University. The students are always amazed at the rich history intertwining the church and the university. Some of the facts we explained repeatedly at the fair:
- Rutgers commencement ceremonies took place at First Reformed Church until 1873.
- Four Rutgers presidents are buried in the church’s cemetery;
- Three of these presidents served simultaneously as pastors of the church
- Two of the presidents are well known by students today: Rev. Dr. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh as the first president of the college, and Rev. Dr. John Henry Livingston whose work had secured the ecclesiastical and academic independence of our American denomination from the mother church in The Netherlands.