Spotlight on February 21st

It was the First Sunday of Lent. It was also the first sunny Sunday after a period of cold temperatures and snow. In addition, it was the first Sunday of a new homeless men’s shelter week here at church. Finally, it was a Sunday when our Women’s Guild met in the early afternoon.

Yet, there was more going on that Sunday! Therefore, I would like to cast a spotlight on it in order to make visible what exactly it is that we do here at church. If you, Dear Reader, feel that it may be helpful, please use this article to invite friends or colleagues to our church.

First, Feb 21 was a Sunday of baptism and new member admission. We celebrated the coming home of the young family of Elian Titre, Keoduangchay “K.T.” Thiangtham, and their children Natya and Elian. I say, “coming home” because K.T. spent a significant part of her childhood in this church, and because nowadays it is special when an entire family receives the gift of belonging. Please see the accompanying picture taken by Liz Hance.

The joyful event provided an additional chance for a picture of the junior sermon that day. Such moments are too precious to be taken for granted! To be gathered with the future of the church around some serious conversation on a religious matter — I treasure these moments very much. Worship without our children would be less complete, indeed.

Finally, we had a great coffee hour; the pictures here were taken by Gary Bernhofer. Our guest speaker was Mr. James Oleg Kruhly, the architect behind our feasibility study on converting parts of our sanctuary into permanent supportive housing. However, Mr. Kruhly did not just speak about our project.

Rather, he gave a slide presentation on What Is Happening with Places of Worship? He had numerous examples from North America, but also from France, Japan, and Germany.

Mr. Kruhly was well equipped for providing this overview. His company has completed projects in ten states, and in Europe, including the Public Library of Stockholm, Sweden. The quintessence of his lecture was this: colonial churches in America started out as meeting houses for their surrounding community. Yet their introverted architecture signaled: You had to be a member in order to have access.

Today, we come full circle, when churches share space with the community again. Permanent supportive housing is a great illustration. It shows at the same time that churches who consider it are no longer introverted, as they actively pursue a goal in the surrounding world.

Mr. Kruhly closed his remarks by emphasizing the importance of sanctuaries changing in this way as opposed to the sad fact of sanctuaries disappearing altogether. He encouraged us to continue on our path into the surrounding community and world. This was, in my opinion, what Sunday, Feb 21st, was all about.

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.
This entry was posted in Events, General, Items of Interest. Bookmark the permalink.