The Stained Glass Aquarium

Pastor Susan

Dear Friends,

This morning was a different morning than usual. Children’s voices echoed throughout the education building of FRC. Pine Grove Nursery School hosted a performance of Peacemaker, a short play produced by actors from the George Street Playhouse. It was humorous. Moreover, the children’s enthusiasm was noticeable. And, we staff persons stood in the back with smiles on our faces.

Glass Aquarium

What a joy to have so many children here, their parents and caretakers! So many people using our large buildings on a Monday morning; one can’t call this church a “stained glass aquarium” as the cartoon denotes. We’ve broken the bowl!

And that causes us to pause and say maybe “Ooops!” or “Yeah” In any case, it is a bit scary!

I think all of those feelings come along with that acknowledgment. We have become a different church: one which supports a diverse set of groups coming and going in our buildings. Also, our ministries are changing and refocusing as well, because our outreach and openness to the community keeps shaping our vision of what we want to offer, and how we wish to express that offering.

To give you just another example: at the May consistory meeting, the request for usage by a local group known as Collaborative Arts (a non-for-profit organization) was accepted. They will use our sanctuary for several weeks in August to perform Romeo and Juliet. It reminded me so much of the times when our congregation put on Godspell, which was many years ago. This production, though, will be somewhat intriguing because the arts group plans to spice up the production in a multicultural way: Romeo’s family will be Afro-Caribbean, and Juliet’s will be Latino. Certainly it will be a new way to look at this classic play!

This re-use of the sanctuary and the close bond that the Building Usage Ad-hoc Committee has developed with some of our groups, which use our buildings, is rather remarkable. We don’t see folks as just “renters” but rather as “partners”. Their usage helps us gain new contacts within the fabric of the community, and our facilities provide an affordable venue for many. We all win through the usage and the developing relationships. Who knows where this “relationship” may creatively grow? What opportunities may develop out of working together? Interfacing is a new way to provide new ministries to our community, and it seems that the more we break open the “stained glass aquarium” the greater the possibilities will become.

Did you ever think that our buildings would be a way to evangelize and do outreach? Quite a turn around indeed!

Fondly,
Pastor Susan

About Susan Kramer-Mills

Susan Kramer-Mills' journey as a pastor has led her to a variety of places. Before attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago she was a Volunteer-in-Mission for two years West Berlin, Germany. After returning to the United States and graduating from seminary, she returned with her husband Hartmut to Germany. From 1990 to 1992 she was campus chaplain and registrar at Naumburg Seminary in former East Germany. With the closing of the seminary she assumed the pastorate for the yoked congregations of Stoessen, Goerschen and Rathewitz in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. At the same time she taught Religious Instruction at two public elementary schools until 1998. During this time she was assigned six additional congregations to the original three. In 1998, she received a call as Associate Pastor to Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She served in that position until 2000, when she and her husband accepted a call as co-pastors to First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Since April 1, 2004, Rev. Kramer-Mills has also been working part-time as Classis Minister to the Classis of New Brunswick.
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