Vandals vs. Volunteers

It was perhaps providential that two events took place on the same day, Saturday, September 22. One was good, and the other was not so good. Together, they shed light on what it means to be a community, a neighborhood here in New Brunswick.

The good event was our participation in Rutgers University’s Scarlet Knight Day. We participated by being a site for students who volunteered their time in order to make improvements on the church property. We had a group of five students, who painted the “gas-meter room” in the basement, and scraped paint from the façade of the Sexton’s House. Lolly Schenk was so kind to lead the painting crew.

The work day was enriched by visits from Steve Rocha, who has repeatedly volunteered with our cemetery preservation, and Jean Stockdale from the Community Development Corporation of the Classis of New Brunswick. Jean wanted to assess our needs for funding, since these work days are always in need of materials and supplies.

But then there was the necessary visit from a police officer of the New Brunswick Police Department. I had called the Department, because our cemetery had experienced some vandalism the night before – even one of the tomb stones was broken. It was the second day in a row that I had a visit from the police, because on Thursday night, someone had lit a fire by one of the grave markers.

As on the day before, the officer was very nice and thorough. He, as well as the Rutgers students remarked how odd it is that there is a person, who seems to have no appreciation for the rest of the community that pulls together and tries its best to preserve the historic substance of our church and its old cemetery. The contrast could not be any starker! We all, including the Rutgers students, learned a lot that day.

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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