What a wonderful celebrations we had on Nov 15th and 22th, our New Member Admission Sundays this fall! Our church family grew by six adult members last month, and our Sunday School received three wonderful children. Let me take the opportunity to introduce our new members to you. Paul and Caryn Aran came to our church by recommendation of a mutual friend.
Paul has two great-daughters, Cassandra and Brittany, both young adults. I had the privilege of officiating at Paul and Caryn’s wedding a month ago in South River. The family lives in East Brunswick, while Paul and Caryn both work in New York City.
Rev. Ron and Norma Vande Bunte are old friends to many of us. Norma has been a great addition to the choir, the Women’s Guild and other groups, while Ron continues to provide pulpit supply to the Suydam Street Reformed Church a few blocks away. For many years, Ron was the pastor of the Reformed Church in Freehold.
Neither are Mary and Frank Eckert newcomers to the Reformed tradition. They decided to transfer membership to us after Mary visited our church this summer with her troop of Boy Scouts. They decorated the graves of veterans for Independence Day and enjoyed a tour through the graveyard. Mary and Frank bring three lively children to our church: Nicholas, Erin and Tyler.
Our church family grew quite a bit this year: Bernice and Jack Ramezzana, Rev. Dennis Awuku, and my daughter, Allison Kramer-Mills all joined the communicant membership. It will be important for us during the coming months that we built true community with one another and that we become one in Christ. We are white, Latino, African-American, tenants and homeowners, retired and very young. Yet, we all make the fabric of First Reformed Church. We appreciate its history, its old-world roots, its urban involvement, and, most of all, its strife for warm inclusiveness.
How do we sometimes sing in worship? “Arise, shine; for your light has come the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”. The prophet Isaiah said these words, when he announced the end of the Babylonian Exile and the ingathering of the dispersed. In consequence, he described a mighty migration of many peoples to Zion (cf. Isaiah 60:1-3). We are, of course, far away from such world changing events. Yet, a little of Isaiah’s prophecy may be reflected in our experience. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! And let us go to work on building our community, inside and outside the church.