Sleeping Beauty’s Church Entrance

Pastor's Corner

Most recently, the number of critical voices regarding the overgrown front of our church has increased. Some took issue with the two dogwood trees covering the two outdoor signs on either side of the church entrance. Others mentioned the unsightliness of the untrimmed yew bushes. Somebody else bemoaned the desolate condition of the hand rails leading up to the three church doors. And I myself miss some special feature like a lively banner or something similar to highlight the main entrance door and to add life to the otherwise immortal architecture and the evergreens surrounding it.

I was surprised, however, to find out that these issues seem to be indigenous to other Reformed Churches as well. The dining hall of our retreat center in Warwick, NY features plates from most Reformed churches with ties to the Center. During our recent retreat, I took the attached pictures. They are from one of the four walls only. Had I had more time, I could have taken many more pictures like these. Can you see how the trees and bushes obstruct the architectural features in each case? Clearly, bushes and trees are important in our overly developed world. As Christians concerned about God’s creation, we will always want to err on the green side. But does this mean that, even on display plates like these, the branches of a tree are more important than the unique features of a particular steeple?

Church Plates at Warwick

The paradigm of Sleeping Beauty saddens me from a faith perspective. I do not find it justifiable for a church of Jesus Christ to conceal itself from the surrounding community. Rather, we are called to be a presence in the world and part of the yeast that changes society. We are called to help people to cope with life and to hold up ethical standards to those who are in leadership positions in our communities and beyond.

Somehow, a hedge of briar roses does not fit this concept.

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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