From Pastor’s Desk – September 2012

Pastor’s Desk

When General Synod decided to make support for people with a different sexual orientation a “disciplinable offense”, it contributed to the loneliness that is so often a hallmark of urban ministry. Do we not oftentimes focus in inner-city ministry on this or that minority, and do we not equally often bemoan the small numbers of participants in these ministries? Rarely has this type of ministry been one for the masses, at least not for long durations of time.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with David Blevins about this. As the Director of our City Department of Social Services, he knew where I was coming from. And he had a word of comfort. “When numbers don’t win,” he said, “look at the effects individuals can have. Are we liberal Christians not supposed to be like yeast to society? Like leaven in bread, our impact does contribute to its transformation even if we cannot boast large numbers.”

Shortly after the conversation with David, I read Howard Bess’ book “Pastor, I Am Gay”, (Palmer, Alaska 1995). Bess warns that it is inappropriate to expect a sudden spur in membership growth just because of the declaration that a congregation is open and affirming. “More likely,” Bess writes, “the open and affirming congregation will be the salt that will flavor the whole community of churches. They will more likely be the leaven that will cause the Christian community to rise to new significance in the general population. They will more likely be the candle that can bring light into a very dark room.”

We can generalize these insights and say that this is our main role as a congregation of the Reformed Church in America here in this community and at this specific time. As we embark on a renewed journey together this fall, I wish us all the confidence and positive spirit that come from being rooted in God’s unconditional love.

With fond wishes,
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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