From Pastor’s Desk

Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk

Tom De Vries, the General Secretary of our denomination met with several regional leaders in early December at New Brunswick Seminary to discuss questions the current state of the church and to listen to the voices in our region. Susan and I were there. We were happy that Tom came afterwards for a tour through the construction site of Dina’s Dwellings.

During his visit, Tom introduced a good amount of new vocabulary. He said the church needs to move on

  • from program to process,
  • from loyalty to validation
  • from an institution to a people in mission, characterized by
    • sacrificial service,
    • authentic relationships
    • and spiritual transformation.

All of it, he said, is part of our denominational program “Transformed & Transforming”.

His words fell on good ground. The more I listened, the more I felt affirmed that we should support our denomination in its efforts to reorient itself. After all, the Reformed Church in America is not some alien body over against a local church like ours but a function of all our local congregations together. Supporting the denomination means to support ourselves.

I have pondered about Tom’s visit since. It was not so clear to me at first, but eventually I realized that I was perhaps missing something. And it was this: While most of our discussion required strategic thinking, problem solving and visioning skills, it never made a direct appeal to my heart.

And that’s just it! We hardly ever talk about our love for the wider church, the Reformed Church in America. We may presuppose our love or assume that we have it, but we don’t talk about it. And why not? Would it be theologically incorrect, or is talking about a feeling like this not part of how we express ourselves? I do not know. But the consequences seem clear: Without expressing love for the Church, we cannot expect others to find it in their hearts and to develop it.

I love the Church, because Christ loved me first. The Church is his body in our time. The Reformed Church in America is, of course, only a small part of the worldwide Church. But it is the part through which I belong. It is also something that requires our commitment and care and future generations who continue to love it. May God’s Spirit provide us in this New Year with language and opportunity to express these things in our time so that others may feel drawn in as well!

Wishing you all a blessed New Year,
Pastor Hartmut

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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