Queen’s Day at the Van Wickle House

By Pastor Hartmut and Erie Beemsterboer

Queen's Day 2010We are certainly not an ethnic church. Neither are we characterized by a particular ethnic majority, nor do we deem this theologically desirable. Mainstream America is a very diverse place. However, this does not mean that we shall neglect our ethnic roots.

On May 1st, when much of the international world celebrated Labor Day, we swam against the stream by celebrating a belated Queen’s Day at the Van Wickle House on the shore of the Delaware-Raritan Canal in Somerset.

In the Netherlands, Queen’s Day is held on Apr 30th, but in many places the celebrations start on the evening before with flea markets, as a celebration of the birthday of the Queen Mother, Princess Juliana. For us, May 1st was an opportunity for everybody to be Dutch for a day. We could browse the stalls that had various items for sale; we could listen to traditional Street organ music and Jazz music. Lunch was available, where rolls with cheese where a main part of the menu of course. What would a Dutch lunch be without some nice cheese!

It was a little less royal at the Van Wickle House, but here, too, we had special guests. Symen Van Wickle and his wife Geradina, who built the house in 1722, were reenacted by Rev. John DeVelder and his wife, Linda, and gave a lively presentation. Rev. Dr. John Coakley gave a presentation about the Rev. John Livingston, and Dr. Firth Fabend gave us lasting insights into the lives of Dutch women in New Jersey at the time
of the American Revolution by reading from her novel, Land So Fair. In addition, the Van Wickle Dancers, mainly consisting of members from our church, gave two nice performances and invited people from the general public to take part in it. Look at the pictures and see how Dutch we can be! What the pictures don’t show is that we all participated in a new dance this time, and we got so many nice comments about that. And Mother Nature seems to be willing to give us nice weather for Queen’s Day, so it was a hot day again. That is the main reason why you might see some hats not being worn, but if you ever want to see the costumes up close, just ask Erie or Ellen.

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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