By Pastor Hartmut and Erie Beemsterboer
We 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.