Re-dedicating Our New, Old Sanctuary

After years of planning and construction, our new, old sanctuary radiates with new splendor. When built in 1812 it was the fourth in a sequence of outgrown sanctuaries that had previously housed our congregation. The building offered space to 1,100 worshippers and was the largest building in the state. Our new sanctuary offers space for almost 200, and it has come out very nice!

Our congregation has always felt obligated to both its history and the needs of the surrounding community. Too much empty space on Sunday mornings was not in line with our sense of purpose. That’s how Dina’s Dwellings came into being: 10 apartments for victims of domestic violence and a more appropriately sized sanctuary, both side by side in the old church building.

Dina’s Dwellings” was opened on February 11; the sanctuary was re-dedicated on June 11. It was a day for the community that included contributions from a variety of groups and institutions. It was also an interfaith affair: Muslims from the Turkish-American Peace Islands Institute were involved just as much as Cantor Anna Ott from Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, the great synagogue on Livingston Avenue.

My sermon tried to bring out the significance of church architecture: “The sheer sight of our illuminated steeple at night reminds people that they are not living by coincidence.” It also emphasized that the new sanctuary will be open to the community: “It would not be God’s house, if it were not also a house for everyone else.”

Among our guests was also New Brunswick architect Jeff Venezia, the prime architect of the project. We greeted him in worship with much applause. In addition to Ms. Ott, the re-dedication drew other well know church-musicians from our area: Martin Tel, the Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary visited a day earlier, John Sheridan, Director of Music at Christ Church here in New Brunswick, and Mark Trautman, formerly Director of Music at Christ Church, now serving St. Paul’s in Englewood. They remarked on the great acoustics of the new, old sanctuary.

May the new space allow us for many years to gather around God’s Table and to do from here our part in the transformation of the world!

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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