Our Honorees Rocked!

As always, First Reformed Church was fully within the current trend when it named three honorees and brought a total of 11 people to this year’s Regional Synod Lay Recognition Dinner. Other congregations did the same, and so the event turned out to be the largest ever. The Synod may have to find a new venue in two years! It was sure wonderful to see so many Reformed people at once. And as always, it proved to be a great occasion to great old friends whom one does not get to see very often simply because they belong to another Classis. We had a great program, a great meal and great conversation all around. Please enjoy the bios of our honorees as they appeared in the Dinner Brochure:

Mary-Low “Lolly” Schenck
Lolly came to First Reformed Church in 2010 as one of the teachers of Pine Grove Cooperative Nursery School. Soon, she immersed herself in theological and exegetical literature. Increasingly, she felt God’s call to become a Christian. She began to explore and discern what this might mean for her. Eventually, she reached the conclusion to request baptism. This we celebrated in 2012 during a festive worship service. Since then, Lolly has continued exploring her faith through prayer, discussion and literature. She has joined our adult education class “First Wednesdays” and become a very committed sermon follower. Lolly is also applying her faith in a myriad of services to the church and the community. She has become an Elder on Consistory and serves on the Property Committee as well as the Invitation & Outreach Committee. She joined our Dutch Dancers. Together with other leaders from our church, she also plays a vital part in our annual hosting of the Interfaith Rotating Homeless Men’s Shelter. Lolly has blessed First Reformed Church in many beautiful ways.

Benjamin Berman
Ben is the Music Director of First Reformed Church. As such, he is a staff member, and it is somewhat unusual for him to be an honoree at this year’s Lay Recognition dinner. However, Ben is so much more than a staff member of our church. Last year, when his job situation could have easily led him away from our church, he announced his desire to become an active member. This included his request for baptism. Weeks of learning and conversation followed, and Ben found himself on a deep spiritual journey. We celebrated his baptism on Easter Sunday 2013 during worship with much of Ben’s family present from out-of-state. Ben continues to contribute in a multitude of ways to the life at First Reformed Church. In addition to his obligations as Music Director, he organizes every year a series of fundraising and benefit concerts, leads the Interfaith Rainbow Children’s Choir, and has become a constant participant in our adult education class “First Wednesdays”. He is also a member of our Dutch Dancers and co-organizer of our Lunchtime Recital Series.

Ethel Salamone
Ethel is the good spirit behind much of the organized hospitality of First Reformed Church. Without much ado, she is always there, whether it’s the Advent breakfast, the annual Seder Dinner, Rod’s Grill Night or any other congregational meal. Ethel’s leadership in our culinary department is absolutely indispensible. And yet, if we only focused on this, we would overlook much of Ethel’s lasting influence on First Reformed Church over several decades. She has served as Elder and Deacon, has been our longest serving representative at Elijah’s Soup Kitchen, and spent years volunteering at Sage Library at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Using her husband’s bequest in 2004, Ethel bestowed our church with a well-furnished library and a very useful collection of books. She has also been involved in our congregation’s interfaith activities and joined 12 of us on a trip to Turkey a few years ago. We are also grateful to Ethel for her never ceasing support of our music program and other church ministries. Her wise insight and counsel is an inspiration to many of us.

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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