Letter to Congregation from the Vice-President of Consistory, Norma Vande Bunte

When Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast led our worship service on September 16th, he ended his sermon by recounting the Genesis story of God’s promise to aged Abraham and Sarah to bless them with a son, Isaac. Rev. Mast encouraged us to expect that God likewise promises the blessing of new life to us, the FRC congregation. For several years now, Pastor Susan has been playing a major role in this birthing process. This coming January, she will expand her role as the Executive Director of the Town Clock Community Development Corporation and, thus, no longer serve as half-time pastor at FRC.

Over the past several years, Susan has led FRC in discerning the will of God while encouraging us to believe that God will bless us with a new and vital ministry. What has been emerging is a plan to provide affordable housing to women and women with children, as well as to reconfigure the sanctuary to meet the needs of our urban congregation for generations to come. Her commitment to this vision has meant that she has already invested hours in meeting and planning initially with a Building Vision Group and subsequently a Board of Directors, obtaining a feasibility study, meeting with affordable housing developers and agencies, forming a nonprofit corporation with a vision statement and by-laws, working with an architect to design the affordable housing and sanctuary space, and more recently applying for grants and organizing fundraising.

Although we are grateful for the excitement and enthusiasm generated by the birth of this ministry in our midst, it will be difficult to transition to a life without Susan leading worship twice a month in her role as Minister of Word and Sacrament. Her love of liturgy and music enhanced our corporate gatherings. We will definitely miss the creative plays she wrote and directed. Susan was truly a shepherd to her flock. She has walked with us through times of joy and sorrow. Susan maintained the weekly prayer list, provided counseling, and visited those of us in the hospital, as well as shut-ins.

Susan gave time and energy to numerous committees and groups within our church, including Free Spirits, Women’s Guild, Board of Deacons, Invitation and Outreach, and the 200th Anniversary Team. She wrote articles for and edited the FRC newsletter, while also providing Facebook updates.

When she is no longer our pastor, we will realize how many “behind-the-scenes” needs there were for which Susan took responsibility. Many groups use our facilities during the week and Susan provided oversight for them. She was a board member for the Hall Education Fund. She and Hartmut have gotten to know so many leaders of our New Brunswick community and hosted them at FRC, on occasion. We have benefitted tremendously over the years from her networking efforts and, likewise, opportunities to serve our surrounding community have come our way because Susan was in close touch with community agencies.

Rumor has it that, at times, Susan woke at 4:00 in the morning to write her sermons. Reflecting on all that she gets done in a day makes that easy to imagine (and I’m certain I’ve unintentionally omitted countless additional accomplishments). We are the the fortunate and grateful recipients of all that Susan has done so capably for FRC in her role as pastor. In the weeks to come, watch for announcements of opportunities to recognize Susan and celebrate her contributions as our pastor for the past twelve years.

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