Men’s Shelter and World-Openness

Most of us are aware that the Rotating Homeless Men’s Shelter is an interfaith project. As an overflow shelter to the Ozanam Shelter on Abeel Street during the winter months, it is hosted by congregation from a variety of faith traditions. Each has the shelter for two weeks per season.

But did you also know that the Shelter brings out our diversity already here at home? One evening, I found myself with Ming Man, Tomas, Nicola and Lolly staffing the front desk – see the picture that Lolly took that night. Ming Man is an undergraduate Rutgers student from Hong Kong; Tomas is a Rutgers PhD student from the Czech Republic, Nicola is a graduate Rutgers student born in South Africa, Lolly spent years in Japan, and I come from Germany.

We had a wonderful time together. But more than that: It is a feature of our church that we regularly enjoy the togetherness of many cultures. Several of us are from different parts of the world, and, like many others in our congregation, we find it meaningful when different traditions, perceptions and opinions come together. Using a term from a particular school of philosophical thought, I call this our world-openness. It is something to cherish, because we are all the richer for it. It’s a microcosm of our world as God may have intended it.

I am aware, however, that my enthusiasm is somewhat luxurious and removed from the daily hardship of our shelter guests. But even so, I am grateful that, even here at the shelter, God allows fellowship and other good things to happen.


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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