Reformed Church Center Events
RCA General Synod 2022 Recap
June 22 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Save the Date!!!
REFORMED CHURCH CENTER DEBRIEFS GENERAL SYNOD 2022
You’re invited to join people from across the RCA—those who were there and those who weren’t—to discuss and debrief what happened at General Synod, and to reflect on the promise and challenges facing the denomination as we move forward, on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 12 noon to 2:00 pm EDT.
We don’t know what will be happening yet, but we’ll be gathering via Zoom, and we’ll be led by a panel of people who were there and will share various perspectives. There will also be plenty of time for everyone to discuss, because we know there will be stuff to talk about.
More details to come!
This program is free, but registration is required. Click here to register: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0kcOuvrzwqGtLZZer6-dj0QZOjeCoMdT8M
Confession Then & Now: Thinking with Belhar about North American Confessional Theology
October 6 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
The Reformed Church Center at NBTS and the Barth Center at Princeton Theological Seminary invite you to an online conference:
“Confession Then & Now: Thinking with Belhar about North American Confessional Theology”
Thursday, 6 October, with morning and afternoon sessions (10:00 am-12 noon and 1:00-3:00 pm EDT).
More details to come!!!
Have We Been Here Before? The Impact of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic on Church Life
April 20 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Reformed Church Center Examines How The Church Has Addressed A Pandemic Before
The years 2020 and 2021 have been marked by the global struggle against the COVID pandemic—which now looks like it may have a major impact on the beginning of 2022, as well. We know that worship and meetings and ministries have been disrupted, that we are coping with various spiritual and psychological traumas, and that there have been a staggering number of deaths. We often believe nothing like this has ever happened before, but it has. The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 to 1920 infected over 500 million people, thirty-three percent of the world’s population at the time. Yet very little is said or taught about that pandemic or its effects on society or the church.
On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT, the Reformed Church Center will look at that phenomenon of over a century ago to see what we might learn about today and about future pandemics. The program “Have We Been Here Before? The Impact of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic on Church Life” will be presented by Benjamin Doolittle, MD, MDiv, FAAP, FACP, the 2021-2022 Albert A Smith Fellow in RCA History at NBTS. An RCA minister who is active in a local UCC parish in New Haven Connecticut, Doolittle is Professor of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine, Program Director of the Combined Internal Medicine & Pediatrics Residency Program at Yale, and Medical Director of the Yale Medicine-Pediatrics Practice. He was also one of two infectious disease specialists who advised the 2021 RCA General Synod on safe meeting practices.
Responding to Dr. Doolittle’s presentation will be Janice McLean-Farrell, Dirck Romeyn Assistant Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry and Assistant Dean of Doctoral Studies at NBTS. McLean-Farrell holds theology degrees from the University of Edinburgh, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware. Part of her area of specialization includes Religion and Public Life, Migration, and Urban Immigrant Youth and Religion.
After the presentation and the response, all participants will be invited to join in a time of discussion and questions with the two scholars.
Women’s Stories Day 2022
March 26 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
WOMEN’S STORIES DAY 2022 LOOKS AT SINGLE WOMEN IN MISSION IN THE 1800s
American Church History tells us that one of the primary ways women answered the Spirit’s call to ministry in the nineteenth century was to enter the mission field. Women who were discouraged from preaching, teaching, medical work, and many other professional endeavors in North American congregations were welcomed in foreign fields and supported by those same churches that didn’t think this was their place back home.
The featured presentation for the Reformed Church Center’s annual Women’s Stories Day, hosted with the RCA Office for Women’s Transformation and Leadership for the sixth year, is “Bustin’ Lintels, Bursting Doors: Molly Talmage and Single Women in RCA Mission in China.” This presentation, by David Alexander, this year’s Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies, was on Saturday, 26 March 2022, 1:00 to 3:00 pm via Zoom. Following his presentation were two respondents: Laura Osborne, Reformed Church in America coordinator for Interreligious Relations and a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry in Missiology and Global Christianity at NBTS. Tracie Alston, Assistant Director of Foreign Institutes for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), and a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry in Missiology and Global Christianity at NBTS. She has served as a missionary in several countries in South America, Asia, and the Caribbean; and is also a member of the board of Bible League International as a Scripture Engagement Advocate.
Afterward, there was a time for questions and discussion among all the participants.
Deepika Srivastava was our devotional leader. Born at Christian Medical College (CMC) and Hospital in Vellore, India—the hospital and school founded by RCA missionary doctor Ida Scudder—Deepika is Director for Church Relations at the Vellore CMC Foundation in New York City and a deacon at Bethany Memorial Reformed Church. She has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Rochester along with a passion for sharing the healing ministry of Christ and building spiritual families.
David Alexander is a retired RCA missionary who served for most of his career with his wife, Char, in Taiwan. They currently live in Holland, Michigan. An NBTS graduate (Class of 1980), David was awarded the Global Ministry Alumni Award by NBTS in 2019. He is our Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in Reformed Church Women’s Studies for 2021-2022. This fellowship, created through the diligent work of Mary Kansfield, historian and wife of former president Norman Kansfield, is named for the longtime secretary of the RCA Women’s Board of Foreign Missions.
What We Still Owe Erik Routley
March 10 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Reformed Church Center Examines Routley’s Legacy In Reformed Worship
At various times in the history of the Reformed Church in America, the denomination has been profoundly influenced by people from outside our church community, often without even realizing it. One of these people was Erik Routley (1917-1982) a minister of the United Reformed Church of England and Wales who was considered one of the great hymnologists of the twentieth century. Late in his life, he immigrated to the United States to teach at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where he met Howard Hageman and became involved with the RCA hymnal project that would be Rejoice in the Lord.
Nancy Graham, the 2021-2022 Poppen-Young Fellow in Reformed Worship at the Reformed Church Center, is writing a biography on Routley and his massive work in the fields of Biblical studies, liturgics, theology, and hymnody. Her work on the fellowship is a small piece of that, looking at the Englishman’s involvement with the RCA hymnal, one of his last large projects, and his impact on congregational song in the US. She will present results of her research on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 11:00 am in the program “What We Still Owe Erik Routley.” A response to her presentation will be given by James Hart Brumm, Director of the Reformed Church Center and General Editor of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, who has written and presented extensively on Reformed hymnody and Routley’s work.
Nancy L. Graham is a hymnologist, author, musician, and teacher, with a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Foundation, Foundation House in Oxford, United Kingdom, and a Doctor of Sacred Music from The Graduate Theological Foundation, as well as a Master of Music from Westminster Choir College.
The Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellowship in Reformed Worship was established by members and friends of the RCA denominational staff in honor of these two long-time staff members, who each assisted and mentored countless RCA pastors and congregations. It provides a stipend and the possibility of a two-week residency at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, along with the wide variety of worship resources and experiences in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan area, to support research in Reformed worship, particularly as it pertains to the RCA.
Looking at the General Synod Professorate
February 22 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
“Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” Examines the General Synod Professorate
While no less a figure than John Calvin called for a fourth ministerial office, the professorate, in addition to the offices of deacon, elder, and minister, the Reformed Church in America is one of the few to maintain this office of “teacher of the church” into modern times. Indeed, it is the appointment of the first General Synod Professor, John Henry Livingston in 1784, that is seen to constitute the founding of what would become New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Yet, even in the RCA, the professorate has been subject to changing fortunes and changing understandings, and there are, currently, only five actively-serving professors.
The final session of the “Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” colloquy for 2021-2022 will look at The General Synod Professorate on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 12:00 noon on Zoom, examining the problems and the possibilities of the office with one current occupant and two others who held the office recently.
Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary and a graduate of Hope College and WTS with a Ph.D. from Yale University. She has published extensively, served as president of the General Synod of the RCA in 2009 and moderator of the General Synod Council in 2010, and was the first woman ordained by the Classis of Illinois in 1988. In 1998, she became the first woman professor of theology, and is now the senior member of the professorate.
Renée House is retiring at the end of December as Minister of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York where she has served since March of 2013 to begin work with a non-profit organization tackling issues of affordable housing in that city. Prior to accepting the call to Old Dutch, she served on the faculty of NBTS for twenty-five years as Director of the Library, Academic Dean, and Professor of Practical Theology, and as a General Synod Professor of Theology. Renée received her M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, M.Div. from NBTS, and Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. As a minister in the RCA, she has been engaged in ministry throughout the U.S. as well as Taiwan. She is a writer, poet, singer, wife, step-mom, and grandmother to six rambunctious kids.
Leanne Van Dyk holds degrees from Calvin College (BA), Western Michigan University (MA), Calvin Theological Seminary (MDiv) and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). Before assuming the presidency of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, in 2015, she taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and then at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, where she held the office of General Synod Professor. Her other professional experience includes serving as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS); as a member of the Committee on Theological Education for the PC(USA); as a member of the Wabash Center’s Consultation on Theological Education; and on various projects with the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has served on the editorial boards of Perspectives, a Journal of Reformed Thought, and the Scottish Journal of Theology and has published several books.
Asian American Experiences of Racism and Anti-Racism
February 3 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Reformed Church Center Looks At Anti-Racism For Asian Americans
When we discuss anti-racism, it is important to remember that the experience isn’t that same for all minority groups. In fact, assuming that was so would, itself, be racist. While we have had discussions of anti-racism from Black and Latinx perspectives, hearing multiple viewpoints is necessary in order for all of us to get a complete picture and begin to transcend barriers.
This is why the next anti-racism program from the Reformed Church Center will be “Asian American Experiences of Racism and Anti-Racism.” This program, to be held on Thursday, February 3, 2022, at 11:00 am via Zoom, also acknowledges that there is more than one Asin American experience. We will hear from three people of different nationalities, ages, and experiences.
Gerri Yoshida is a member of the Japanese American United Church in New York City. She serves on the Pastoral Formation Committee of the Classis of New York and on the Executive Committee of the Council of Pacific and Asian American Ministries. She served on the Commission on Race and Ethnicity and on the R-89 Task Force for Understanding White Privilege. She is active with RCA Disability Concerns.
Thomas Song is a minister in Queens Classis of Korean descent. He has served on the General Synod Council and the Commission on Christian Unity and was a staff member for the Regional Synod of New York. He is co-pastor of Steinway Reformed Church in Astoria, New York, with his wife, Ock Kee Byun.
Tiffany Fan was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the U.S. when she was sixteen. She graduated from New Brunswick Theological Seminary with distinction in May 2021. She has worked as a part of the church planting team in the Bronx since 2017. Fan is called to work with the multicultural ministry and wishes to continue working with the currently-planted ministry after ordination.
Training for Other Ministries
January 19 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Understanding Theological Education in the RCA Looks at Training for Other Ministries
There was a time, not terribly long ago, when everyone trained by a theological seminary was preparing to be a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. Even those not planning for the parish pastorate were in some form of that ministry. Then came the rise of congregations multiple professional staff members; while some, like youth pastors, often still trained in the traditional way, there were others serving as Christian educators and in similar roles, with different training.
In the modern era, the church grapples more and more with non-traditional paths of educating people serving as pastors, and an explosion of other kinds of ministries outside of the traditional mold. On January 19, 2022, at 12:00 noon, the “Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” colloquy will have an online session looking at “Training Other Ministers.” Our discussion will be led by Terry Ann Smith, Associate Dean of Institutional Assessment and Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at NBTS, and Sung Kim, Chief Operating Officer and Associate General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Smith, who holds degrees from Roosevelt University, NBTS, and Drew University, is director of the Certificate Program at New Brunswick, which offers theological and ministry training to students not enrolled in traditional graduate programs. Prior to his current role with the RCA, Kim—who also serves and founder and senior pastor of Grace Churches, a multi-site church centered in Ann Arbor, Michigan—served as the RCA’s Director for Leadership Development.
After presentations by Kim, on the needs of the twenty-first century church, and Smith, on the educational possibilities at New Brunswick, we will open up for questions and discussion from everyone present. This program offered via Zoom will be free and open to everyone, but participants must register at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEodOurqjstGd0ypez2z60wrMYxjSnSEWpX.
Samuel Zwemer’s Mission Motivations: The Relationship of Medical Care And Evangelism
December 8, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
The Reformed Church Center Looks at Early Choices in Middle-Eastern Missions
When we think of missionaries, we think of people going out to proclaim the Gospel to all the world. So, why are so many Christian missions doing medical work? How did that begin?
William Ruggles Church, the 2020-2021 Albert A Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History, will present the results of his own exploration of that question in “Samuel Zwemer’s Mission Motivations: The Relationship of Medical Care And Evangelism” on Wednesday, December 8, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm on Zoom. Church is a physician specializing in radiology who spent much of his career doing medical mission work, bringing diagnostic ultrasound machines to mission hospitals. In 2018, he received an MA degree from Western Theological Seminary, and he continues to study the work of RCA missionaries and especially medical missions as part of his Ph.D. candidacy at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His fellowship project—postponed from last academic year by the pandemic—is looking at the question of why medical missions are so often chosen as an evangelism tool, and why, in particular, Samuel Zwemer and James Cantine chose this emphasis for the Middle Eastern missions begun in 1889.
Church’s presentation will be followed by a response from James Jinhong Kim, the Horace G. Underwood Chair in Global Christianity and Associate Professor of Missiology and Global Christianity at NBTS. Kim holds degrees from William Jessup University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Columbia University, and directs the Doctor of Ministry cohort in Missiology and Global Christianity. His book, Global Christianity and the Early Letters of Horace G. Underwood, is due to be published soon by Pickwick Publications/Wipf & Stock.
The response will be followed by a time of open questions and discussion by all participants.
Understanding Theological Education in the RCA: Ministerial Formation in a Zoom World
December 1, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
“Understanding Theological Education” Colloquy Looks at Ministerial Formation in a Zoom World
The core definition of “seminary” has nothing to do with theological education; it is, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “an environment in which something originates and from which it is propagated.” Indeed, the word once referred to many kinds of secondary and finishing schools, usually where young women or men went off to live a rather cloistered existence while being “formed.” In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, theological seminaries expected students to spend most if not all their lives there for the time in which they were pursuing their education, which often did not involve a degree. Yet, in the present day, no one lives on the NBTS campus, and students are raising families, working in other jobs, even pastoring churches while students. During the recent COVID pandemic, no classes met on campus at all, and all classes are planned to be hybrid and online for the 2021-22 academic year.
Given this change, what does it mean to be a “seminary,” and just how does “formation” take place? This is the question that will be explored in our third Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquy on Wednesday, December 1, 12 noon to 1:00 pm. We will be led in this discussion by Faye Taylor and Daniel Meeter. After their opening presentation, everyone will have an opportunity to join in with questions and discussion.
Faye Banks Taylor is a native of Virginia, with degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, NBTS, and Drew University. A minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she serves NBTS as Director of the New York program and Director of Field Education.
Daniel James Meeter is a minister of the Reformed Church in America, with degrees from Calvin College, NBTS, and Drew University—when at NBTS, he and his wife, Melody, also a minister, lived in married student housing on campus. In addition to his pastoral work in New Jersey, Ontario, Michigan, and New York, he has served as adjunct faculty at NBTS and has published extensively. He currently enjoys retirement with his wife, Melody, an RCA minister and chaplain, in New Patltz, New York.
RCA General Synod 2021 Recap
November 17, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
REFORMED CHURCH CENTER DEBRIEFS GENERAL SYNOD 2021
The 2021 General Synod of the Reformed Church in America was exciting and productive. After three years’ of discussions, and with pain and prayers, the Synod approved a way forward from some of its battles over human sexuality. There were also discussions over education, race, missions, anti-racism, and other aspects of being church together.
You’re invited to join people from across the RCA—those who were there and those who weren’t—to discuss and debrief what happened at this important General Synod, and to reflect on the promise and challenges facing the denomination as we move forward, on Wednesday, 17 November, 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm EST. We will be gathering via Zoom, and will be led by a panel of people who were there and will share various perspectives. There will also be plenty of time for everyone to discuss.
Pastor, First Reformed Church, Oak Harbor, Washington
General Synod President, 2021-22
Professor of Old Testament, Western Theological Seminary
General Synod Professor
Student delegate from New Brunswick Theological Seminary
Grace Jeeyoon Rim
Co-Pastor, The Lamb of God Reformed Ministries, Nanuet, New York
Pastor, Cambria Heights Community Church, Queens, New York
Moderator, Commission on Race and Ethnicity
Cameron Van Kooten Laughead
Executive Director, Room for All
Moderator, Commission on Christian Action
The History of WTS and Its Role in RCA Theological Education
November 3, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Understanding Theological Education Colloquies Begin a New Year by Looking Back
In order to understand fully what we are doing and where we are going, we need to understand where we have been. A significant portion of the history of theological education in the RCA is wrapped up in the history of the denomination’s two seminaries: New Brunswick and Western. And so our first two Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquies, continuing last year’s successful series, will focus on those histories.
On Wednesday, November 3, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, we look at the history of Western Theological Seminary and theological education in the midwestern RCA, presented by Dennis Voskuil, president emeritus of Western Seminary and a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Raalte Institute of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Dennis began his ministry pastoring several congregations in Michigan and Massachusetts, then served as professor of religion at Hope from 1977 to 1994, when he became president of Western. Retiring from the presidency in 2008, he returned to teaching church history full-time, then as an adjunct at WTS from 2014 to 2017, when he began two years of service as interim president of Hope College. His presentation to us will be followed by a response from John Coakley, and then a time of questions and discussion for everyone.
The History of NBTS and Its Role in RCA Theological Education
September 29, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Understanding Theological Education Colloquies Begin a New Year by Looking Back
In order to understand fully what we are doing and where we are going, we need to understand where we have been. A significant portion of the history of theological education in the RCA is wrapped up in the history of the denomination’s two seminaries: New Brunswick and Western. And so our first two Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquies, continuing last year’s successful series, will focus on those histories.
On Wednesday, September 29, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, we will learn about the history of NBTS and its role in RCA theological education from John W. Coakley, L. Russell Feakes Memorial Professor of Church History, emeritus, at NBTS and General Synod Professor emeritus of the Reformed Church in America. A widely published author of medieval and American Christianity, John, who holds degrees from Wesleyan, Rutgers, and Harvard Universities, is the author of thirty-one articles or essays and twenty-seven book reviews, and the editor or author of six books, including New Brunswick Theological Seminary: An Illustrated History, 1784-2014 (Eerdmans, 2014). After a response by Dennis Voskuil, we will open up for questions and discussion by the entire group.
The second part will come on Wednesday, November 3, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, as we look at the history of Western Theological Seminary and theological education in the midwestern RCA, presented by Dennis Voskuil, president emeritus of Western Seminary and a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Raalte Institute of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Dennis began his ministry pastoring several congregations in Michigan and Massachusetts, then served as professor of religion at Hope from 1977 to 1994, when he became president of Western. Retiring from the presidency in 2008, he returned to teaching church history full-time, then as an adjunct at WTS from 2014 to 2017, when he began two years of service as interim president of Hope College. His presentation to us will be followed by a response from John Coakley, and then a time of questions and discussion for everyone.
White Christian Nationalism, Liberation Theology, and Being Reformed
September 10, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Looking at White Christian Nationalism, Liberation Theology, and Being Reformed
After the riots at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley linked White Christian Nationalism to the theology of Abraham Kuyper, a prominent Dutch Reformed theologian whose teachings were used to justify South African Apartheid. While we remember that not everyone in the Reformed tradition necessarily follows Kuyper too closely, it still leaves us, and the world wondering whether being Reformed should somehow be linked with being racist, or can we do better?
On Friday, September 10, at 11:00 am, Dr. Juan A. Carmona will lead our first Reformed Church Center conversation of the new academic year, with a discussion of “White Christian Nationalism, Liberation Theology, and Being Reformed.” This is another installment in the series of discussions begun in 2020, seeking to help congregations be more anti-racist. Dr. Carmona will examine the connections between Calvinism and White Christian Nationalism, and suggest equally strong, and more biblical, connections to much more expansive and inclusive theologies. After his presentation and some response by James Brumm, Director of the Reformed Church Center, we will open up the gathering to everyone for questions and discussion.
Juan Carmona is a retired prison chaplain, parish pastor, and teacher at various institutions of higher education. He served as a Visting Scholar/Professor of Theology for several years at the Tainan Theological College/Seminary in Taiwan, teaching courses on Liberation Theology and Prison Ministry. An ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America since 1978, he holds degrees from the State University of New York, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Colgate-Rochester Crozer Divnity School.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Role of Sacred Musicians – The 2020-2021 Poppen-Young Lecture in Reformed Worship
April 12, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Looking at How the Current Pandemic May Be Changing Reformed Worship
As the Church moves through a time of unusual social and economic turmoil related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to evaluate and discover the ways in which the familiar roles of sacred musicians have changed. While the liturgical arts have long been at the center of vital worship, the ways in which music directors, instrumentalists, and choristers have assisted in leading worship, interacted with one another, or found community during the pandemic has led to seismic shifts in understanding the pastoral role of music ministry.
These shifts will be examined by Justan Foster in “’Now the Silence, Now the Peace’: How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Role of Sacred Musicians”, an online webinar on Monday, April 12, 2021, at 7:00 pm.
Justan J. Foster is Music Director at the Greenbush Reformed Church in East Greenbush, New York, and the Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship for 2020-2021. He has served as Dean of both the Hudson-Catskill and Eastern New York Chapters of the American Guild of Organists, and specializes in the organ works of American composers. In addition to his musical and liturgical pursuits, Justan serves as a Senior Administrative Analyst for the State of New York. His research looks into ways in which liturgical arts and music have been impacted and ways those serving to lead these parts of worship have responded during the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 Women’s Stories Day
March 13, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Anna M. Jackson, co-pastor of Second Reformed Church in Hackensack, New Jersey, was the featured speaker at the 2021 Women’s Stories Day, held on Saturday, March 13, 2021, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Jackson, who is the 2020-2021 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, presented “Like Trees Planted By the Water: RCA New York City Black Women Lay Leaders of the 1950s-1970s,” her study of matriarchs in Black RCA congregations and the larger church in the 1970s and 80s. There were a large number of Black women, even more so than in other RCA congregations, who were not ministers of the Word and Sacrament but who took leadership for their congregations, in denominational settings, and even on the world stage—with the struggle against Apartheid—during these pivotal years. Jackson plans to look at the work they did, and conducting oral interviews with several of the woman and people who knew them.
Sharon Atkins, pastor of Bethany Memorial Reformed Church in New York City and the new president of the RCA African-American Black Council, was our devotional leader. A native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, she was raised in Brooklyn and has been an active member of the RCA since her youth.
There was also information about other storytelling projects going on in the RCA and how participants from this conference can help make those reality.
Women’s Stories Day has been hosted by the Reformed Church Center at NBTS and the RCA Office of Women’s Transformation and Leadership annually since 2016.
Certifying Fitness for Ministry
March 2, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
“Understanding Theological Education” Colloquy Looks at the Certificate of Fitness
On Tuesday, March 2, at 12:00 noon, the Reformed Church Center will host its fifth and final colloquy in the “Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” series for the 2020-21 academic year.
One of the central features of RCA theological education since the appointment of John Henry Livingston as professor of theology in 1784 has been a certificate: a formal letter from the professors of theology to a candidate’s classis—prior to 1800, it went to the Provisional Synod as the examining body—testifying that, in the opinion of the professors, the candidate has completed the necessary requirements to be examined for licensure and ordination. Indeed, neither theological seminary granted academic degrees until relatively recently; the certificate was the indication that the student had done the work.
Since the 1980s, that certificate has been called the “Certificate of Fitness for Ministry.” The question then becomes one of just what that means. Is fitness for ministry uniform across the various RCA classes? If Jesus is the pattern for ministry, and if we still believe in the doctrine of total depravity, can any human truly be fit for ministry? Or is the certificate merely to indicate that the student has satisfactorily completed the requirements listed in the Book of Church Order, with everything else to be determined by the licensing classis?
We will examine all of these questions as we discuss “Certifying Fitness for Ministry”. One of the people holding the office of Professor of Theology and the presidents of New Brunswick and Western Theological Seminaries will make the opening presentations before we all enter into discussion.
James Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary, and a General Synod Professor of Theology. He is the longest-tenured faculty person currently serving at WTS, having come in 1989. He served as Dean from 1996 to 2004, but left when the demands of the job became too much to allow continued teaching. He is the author of a variety of books, including a book on “Difficult Questions” which is due out from Eerdmans in several months, as well as Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, which came out in 2013.
Felix Theonugraha is President and Professor of Educational Leadership at Western Theological Seminary. He last served as Vice President for Student Life and University Services at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. A pastor’s son who first felt a call to ministry at age nine, Felix Theonugraha was born in Indonesia to Chinese Christian parents. When Felix was 12, his father accepted a call to pastor a Mandarin-speaking congregation in the San Francisco Bay area, and the family immigrated to the United States. He majored in Psychology and English at the University of California, Berkeley, and has an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Educational Stuides Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Micah L. McCreary is President and John Henry Livingston Professor of Theology at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He comes to NBTS from Richmond, Virginia, where he was President and CEO of McCreary and Madison Associates, Inc., a psychological and human resources consulting firm, and Associate Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dr. McCreary holds a BS degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.Div. from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in counseling psychology from VCU. He has also received a number of fellowships, including the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship, State Council of Higher Education in Virginia Fellowship, and the American Council on Education Presidential Fellowship.
We will begin our session with presentations by all three of our guests, followed by questions and discussion, planning to wrap up about 1:00 pm.
There is no charge for attending this colloquy, but participants need to register by clicking here.
Forward with Grace
February 13, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
The Reformed Church Center Discusses Going Forward with Grace
The Reformed Church Center has been hosting a three-part series on Planning and Preparing for the 2020 Vision, looking at this report to the RCA and its recommendation for moving forward. In each of these gatherings, our goal has been not to take sides in favor or against the report, but simply to report what is different, to give participants a chance to make up their own minds. You can see recordings of the first two discussions: Together, Yet Changed and Preserving Our Shared History.
The final session, looking at the third part of the report, Forward with Grace, will be held on Saturday, February 13, at 10:00 am EST via Zoom. Again, the goal will not be to identify things as good or bad, but to discuss how this plan would be different from what the church has done before and the implications of such changes. We will be led in that discussion by three people with unique and valuable perspectives.
Linda Burlew Gold is pastor of the Fonda Reformed Church (Fonda, NY), after having served as pastor of the First Reformed Church of College Point in Queens, New York, for many years. She served as the Stated Clerk of Queens Classis for five years and is currently a member of the Commission on Church Order.
Brian Keepers is the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, IA. He has served as an ordained pastor in the RCA for twenty years and is married with two daughters and a new granddaughter. He loves reading, being outdoors, and is passionate about the intersection of faith and art. He was a member of the 2020 Vision Team that prepared this report.
Micheal Edwards is an ordained minister of the word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. Reared in the Baptist, Methodist, AME, and Reformed traditions, his culture and faith roots are firmly planted in the African American Christian community, Harlem, USA. Currently, he is the Senior Minister at the DeWitt Reformed Church and Executive Minister for the Regional Synod of New York.
Ministerial Formation Certification Agency
January 19, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Ministerial Formation Certification Agency is the Topic for the Fourth Theological Education Colloquy
The Reformed Church Center’s ongoing Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquies reflect on what theological education has been in the RCA and what it could be. The fourth session, on Tuesday, January 19, at 12:00 noon will consider the work of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency (MFCA), the agency with the slightly different acronym and the same name that came before it, and the Theological Education Agency which came before that and started thirty-five years ago. Leading us through this consideration will be the man who arguably knows the MFCA better than anyone else in the church.
Cornelis (Cor) Kors is a General Synod Professor and the Executive Director Emeritus of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency (MFCA). Cor has served as the Director of the MFCA and Assistant Professor on the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary for twenty-nine years. Prior to that, he served for seven years as the Dean of Students at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, and five years as the Director of Counseling at Central College in Pella, Iowa. He has MDiv and MA degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) and a DMin from Fuller Theological Seminary.
We will begin our session with a presentation by Dr. Kors, followed by questions and discussion, all wrapping up by abut 1:00 pm.
There is no charge for attending this colloquy, but participants need to register by clicking here.
There will be one more program in this series during 2020-21:
- March 2, on Certifying Fitness for Ministry, with Carol Bechtel, Micah McCreary, and Felix Theonugraha.
Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation Anti-Racist
January 16, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
In July of 2020, the Reformed Church Center began a discussion on the subject of race and systemic racism in the United States, which has been pushed to the forefront of our consciousness, reminding Christians are being that people of faith, and especially people of Reformed faith, have a gift and an obligation to stand against racism and work for justice. We are called to be at the center of this conversation. As we discussed the need and possibilities for facilitating such a conversation, prophetically and pastorally, in our congregations, there was fruitful discussion, but it only began to scratch the surface. Most of the participants said the conversation needed to continue.
Recognizing that need, the Center has scheduled a second webinar, on “Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation Anti-Racist” for Saturday, January 16, 2021, at 10:00 am Eastern Time. The program, which will last sixty to ninety minutes, will feature a presentation by Earl James, retired Coordinator for the African America/Black Council of the Reformed Church in America as well as retired Coordinator for Advocacy in the RCA. In this work, he has assisted RCA African American congregations and people, and others as well, find and walk pathways to living more fully into the Biblical vision of shalom and the human hope of the beloved community. His previous denominational roles involved increasing cultural agility, multiracial initiatives, and justice. An elder in the RCA, Earl is married to Norma Coleman-James, and has two adult daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Preserving Our Shared History
December 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Looking Objectively at the 2020 Vision, We Continue with Missions
The Reformed Church Center will continue our series Planning and Preparing for the 2020 Vision on Saturday, December 12, at 10:00 am. As with our first program, our plan is to continue helping the church reflect on what the 2020 Vision Report proposes as objectively as possible, defining what is different about the report’s proposals from what the RCA is currently doing. These will not be sessions for deciding what is right or wrong—everyone will do that in other venues—or for strategizing about how to respond, but simply to help all participants better understand what the report says and why
The second program will deal with Part Two of the report, Preserving Our Shared History, which discusses the denominational missions program. On Saturday, December 12, at 10:00 am, we will begin with brief presentations, then continue with questions and discussion.
JP Sundararajan is director of RCA Global Mission. A native of Bangalore, India, a city of twelve million people, he attended Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, a city of about 6,000. After starting as a biology major with the hopes of returning to India as a medical missionary, he felt his calling change. He graduated with a degree in psychology in 2000, then moved to Holland, Michigan, where he received his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary and met his wife, Katy. For twelve years, Sundararajan has served as an RCA missionary with Audio Scripture Ministries and recorded the Bible in almost 100 languages. He will be reflecting on how the 2020 Vision proposal will change what RCA Global Mission is doing.
Prior to seminary, Bethany Devos served for three years as the mission-supported staff person at the Mescalero (Apache) Reformed Church in New Mexico. Currently, she and her husband, Corstian, co-pastor the North & Southampton Reformed Church in Pennsylvania. Bethany’s perspective will be as a former missionary who has been in the field, and the effects this might have on those active in these ministries.
Thomas C. Goodhart is the Minister at Trinity Reformed Church of Brooklyn in Ridgewood, NY where he has served since 2008. Prior to that he pastored a congregation in New York’s Hudson Valley. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, Tom has functioned in various roles at all levels of the RCA including classis president, moderator of the Commission on Christian Action, and vice moderator of General Synod Council. He is also a past board member and former co-president of Room for All. He is a member of the Vision 2020 Team. Tom is a passionate advocate for Christ’s work of reconciliation and a lover of ecology. He lives in Queens with his bullmastiff, Hildegard.
Recordings of all of these programs will be available on the Reformed Church Center page.
Black, Not Dutch: The Reformed Church in America’s Response to the Black Manifesto
December 7, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Reformed Church Center Looks at Black, Not Dutch
In October of 2019, the Reformed Church Center hosted “UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Fifty Years Since the Black Manifesto”, a time to re-learn some of the history of the Black Manifesto issued by James Forman and members of the Black Economic Development Conference in 1969 and its effects on the RCA and whole of the mainline Protestant church in the US. One of the results in the RCA was the formation of the Black Council, now called the African American Black Council (AABC), and a slow but steady shift in the place of people of color in the denomination. At the center of a lot of this in the early years was M. William Howard, who served as executive director of the AABC from 1972 to 1992.
Howard is the author of Black, Not Dutch: The Reformed Church in America’s Response to the Black Manifesto (Africa World Press, 2020), and will join us as we discuss this book in a webinar on Monday, December 7, at 7:00 pm. Following a brief presentation by Dr. Howard, there will be a response by Nathan Jérémie-Brink, L. Russell Feakes Assistant Professor of Global Christianity at NBTS, whose own scholarship has focused, in part, on the Atlantic trade in enslaved African peoples in the United States. He will then interview Howard, followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion.
M. William Howard is an American cleric, former college president, community and business leader. He is known for his involvement in ecumenical organizations domestically and internationally and in international affairs, especially within the Middle East and Southern Africa. A graduate of Morehouse College and Princeton Theological Seminary, he followed his service in the RCA by serving as president of New York Theological Seminary and pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee of the National Urban League and the Children’s Defense Fund. He has chaires the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission of 2007, which led to the abolition of the death penalty in the state. He is currently a member of the board of directors of New Jersey Resources.
Women in Theological Education
November 17, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Third Reformed Church Center Colloquy Looks at Women in Theological Education
Our ongoing Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquies reflect on what theological education has been in the RCA and what it could be. For our third session, on Tuesday, November 17, we will discuss women in RCA theological education. Until the 1970s, women were not ordained to offices in the Reformed Church in America. It has only been the last forty-one years that the idea of women ministers of the Word and Sacrament have been acknowledged in the church order. But that doesn’t mean women weren’t involved in theological education before that, nor does it address how such an idea has been accepted since then. Our discussion will reflect on the past and present of women in RCA theological education, and maybe speculate on what the future could be and how it could happen.
Lynn Japinga is a professor of religion at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and was the 2019-2020 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies at NBTS. An RCA minister of the Word and Sacrament, she holds degrees from Hope, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary in New York. In addition to her teaching at Hope, Lynn has been a prolific author of books, articles and resources for the church, and a busy preacher, teacher, and workshop leader. Most recently, she is the author of Loyalty and Loss: The Reformed Church in America, 1945-1994 and Preaching the Women of the Old Testament: Who They Were and Why They Matter.
Elizabeth (Liz) Testa is a pastor, visionary leader, community builder, and sister in Christ. A minister of Word & Sacrament in the RCA, she currently leads RCA Women’s Transformation and Leadership, a ministry that encourages, equips and empowers women to embrace their gifts, honor their stories and live into their God-given callings. Prior to joining the RCA staff in 2014, she spent 12 years on staff at Marble Collegiate Church in NYC. Raised bi-culturally in New York and Spain, with degrees from Syracuse University and Drew Theological School, Liz is passionate about building bridges between diverse cultures and contexts and is certified in Unconscious Bias Training through the Cultural Intelligence Center (CIC). She lives with her husband, Nick, a NYC high school teacher, and their two teenage daughters in South Orange, NJ.
Liz and Lynn will each present, briefly, looking at the history of women in RCA theological education and where we are now, after which we will have time for questions and discussion.
There will be two more programs in this series during 2020-21:
- January 19, on the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency, with Cor Kors.
- February 23, on Certifying Fitness for Ministry, with Carol Bechtel, Micah McCreary, and Felix Theonugraha.
2019-2020 Poppen-Young Lecture in Reformed Worship
November 7, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 1:30 pm
Liturgy & Justice: the 2019-2020 Alvin J. Poppen & John R. Young Lecture in Reformed Worship
John Bell Visited the Reformed Church Center!
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary is thrilled to be able to share that John L. Bell, internationally renowned author, teacher, worship leader, and congregational song enlivener from the Iona Community in Scotland, was the 2019-2020 Poppen-Young Lecture in Reformed Worship on Saturday, November 7.
John Bell is a Resource Worker with The Iona Community, who lectures, preaches and conducts seminars across the denominations. He is a hymn writer, author and occasional broadcaster, but retains a primary passion for congregational song. John is based in Glasgow and works with his colleagues in the areas of music, worship and spirituality.
John writes is about his plans for the afternoon and evening:
My initial thoughts regarding the session are:
1) A Biblical background to Justice being at the heart of God’s purposes, noting the gradually evolving realisation that justice was not just the prerogative of the chosen race but for all.
2) An exploration of how, within the developing world (particularly nations like El Salvador and South Africa) the call for justice has been incorporated into their worship life, and the relevance of texts such as the psalms of lament has become very real.
3) A reflection on how justice ultimately is a threat to those who misuse power, in the church as much as anywhere else.
4) A questioning of why some western Christians balk at the mention of justice and see it as synonymous with left-wing politics.
5) The implications of all this for life and liturgy.
I would envisage interactive participation and group conversations.
For more information please contact James Brumm, Director of the Reformed Church Center at email@example.com.
Changing Challenges at New Brunswick Theological Seminary
October 20, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Second Theological Education Colloquy Looks at Changing NBTS
In our second Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquy, reflecting on what theological education has been in the RCA and what it could be, we look inward, at this, the oldest Protestant theological seminary in North America. Forty-five years ago, NBTS had a mostly white, almost exclusively male student body, with a white, male faculty. Thirty-five years ago, it was still a majority white school, and the main educational program occurring during bankers’ hours. Twenty-five years ago, it was still a school that taught RCA ministers and welcomed people from other traditions. Today, the vast majority of students are people of color, most classes meet at night or on weekends, and the RCA is a minority denominational group among students studying in several different programs.
New Brunswick Theological Seminary has been on the growing edge of theological education ever since its founding in 1784. Life on the growing edge comes with challenges, even though those challenges may change from time to time. The theme for our colloquy on October 20 at 12:00 noon will be Changing Challenges at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. We will begin with presentations by two former presidents of NBTS and one former dean, and spend the rest of the hour in questions and discussion.
Robert A. White served as NBTS President, 1985-92. Prior to that he served Reformed churches in Clover Hill, New Jersey, and North Syracuse, New York. In 1980, he was appointed RCA Minister for Social Witness, directing denominational programs in peacemaking, US-Soviet church relations and global justice. He was called to be Senior Minister of the First Reformed Church of Schenectady, NY in 1992 and designated Minister Emeritus in 2006. He then served as Interfaith Chaplain at Bethesda House of Schenectady, an inner-city ministry to the homeless and working poor, and as Interim Executive Director of the NY State Council of Churches. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary who pursued graduate studies at Union Seminary in New York, Columbia University, and Rutgers University, Dr. White and his wife JoAnne now enjoy retirement in a log cabin on Peck Lake in the southern Adirondack Mountains of New York.
A native of South Holland, Illinois, Norman Kansfield, president of NBTS from 1993 to 2005, holds degrees from Hope College, Western Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary in New York, and the University of Chicago. Norm began his ministry within the RCA in Astoria, Queens, New York, and continued in the Chicago suburbs of Berwyn and Riverdale, Illinois. He was the seminary librarian and a faculty member at Western Theological Seminary and at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary and St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester, New York, before coming to NBTS. Since 2005, he has served first as Senior Scholar in Residence at the Theological School of Drew University and currently as Theologian for the Zion United Church of Christ in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Mary Klein Kansfield, live in East Stroudsburg,
Renée House is the Minister of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York where she has served since March of 2013. Prior to accepting the call to Old Dutch, she served on the faculty of NBTS for twenty-five years as Director of the Library, Academic Dean, and Professor of Practical Theology, and as a General Synod Professor of Theology. Renée received her M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, M.Div. from NBTS, and Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. As a minister in the RCA, she has been engaged in ministry throughout the U.S. as well as Taiwan. She is a writer, poet, singer, wife, step-mom, and grandmother to six rambunctious kids.
There is no charge for attending this colloquy, but participants need to register by clicking here.
There will be three more programs in this series during 2020-21:
- November 17, on Women in Theological Education, with Lynn Japinga and Liz Testa.
- January 19, on the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency, with Cor Kors.
- February 23, on Certifying Fitness for Ministry, with Carol Bechtel, Micah McCreary, and Felix Theonugraha.
Together, Yet Changed
October 3, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Looking Objectively at the 2020 Vision, Starting with Structures
The Reformed Church in America’s 2020 Vision Team put in two years of dedicated and difficult work looking for a way forward for the denomination, ready to report to the General Synod in June. The unforeseen pandemic, however, left us with no Synod to whom to report, and a year to reflect upon the report as we get ready to discern God’s will and pray for the 2021 Synod.
The Reformed Church Center, as part of its mission to help the church reflect on what it means to be Reformed in the twenty-first century, is planning a series of three webinars to help the church reflect on what the 2020 Vision Report proposes. The goal is to be as completely objective as possible: each program will seek to define what is different about the report’s proposals from the current polity of the church. These will not be sessions for deciding what is right or wrong—everyone will do that in other venues—or for strategizing about how to respond, but simply to help all participants better understand what the report says and why.
The first program in our Planning and Preparing for the 2020 Vision series will deal with Part One of the report, Together, Yet Changed, which discusses the denominational structure. On Saturday, October 3, 2020, at 10:00 am, we will begin with brief presentations, and then continue with questions and discussion. Stephen Mathonnet-VanderWell, co-pastor of Second Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, with his wife, Sophie, holds a Ph.D. from Boston College and teaches for both Central College and Western Theological Seminary. John Messer, executive for the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes, is a former strategic intelligence officer for the US Army and a member of the 2020 Vision Team.
There is no charge for participating in this webinar, but all participants need to register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hsrFo–FRXOkei-yPImHHw.
Reformed Theological Education in the Twenty-first Century
September 22, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The 2020-2021 academic marks the anniversary of important events for theological education in the RCA: the fiftieth year since the start of the Bi-Level Multi-Site program—an innovative but short-lived attempt to yoke the denomination’s two seminaries—and the thirty-fifth anniversary of the start of the Theological Education Agency (TEA), the precursor to the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency (MFCA). This year is also seeing potential major changes in theological education, as the General Synod Council has taken steps to eliminate the MFCA, and the role of the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry is being re-examined.
In a time such as this, it is appropriate to reflect upon what theological education has been in the RCA as well as what it could be. So the Reformed Church Center at NBTS is hosting a series of noontime colloquies around the theme Understanding Theological Education in the RCA. The five programs planned for this year will all be webinars on Zoom, beginning at 12:00 pm with a presentation followed by open discussion, intended to be done in an hour.
The premiere program will examine Reformed Theological Education in the Twenty-first Century on Tuesday, September 22, at 12 noon. It will be led by Richard Mouw, past president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Raised in an RCA pastor’s family, Mouw earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Chicago before teaching for seventeen years at Calvin College and thirty-five years—twenty as president—at Fuller. He served a term as president of the Association of Theological Schools, and in 2007 was awarded the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, by Princeton Theological Seminary.
There will be four more programs in this series during 2020-21:
- October 20, on Changing Challenges Facing NBTS, with Robert White, Norman Kansfield, and Renée House.
- November 17, on Women in Theological Education, with Lynn Japinga and Liz Testa.
- January 19, on the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency, with Cor Kors.
- February 23, on Certifying Fitness for Ministry, with Carol Bechtel, Micah McCreary, and Felix Theonugraha.
How Can We Talk About Racism in Church?
July 18, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Reformed Church Center to Explore How We Talk About Racism
(R)acism is part of a global system of dominance that is intertwined and embedded with an unjust economic system, ecological violence, and patriarchy. In the Accra Confession we declared, “Therefore we reject any theology that claims that God is only with the rich, and that poverty is the fault of the poor. We reject any form of injustice which destroys right relations—gender, race, class, disability, or caste. We reject any theology which affirms that human interests dominate nature.”
–from the World Communion of Reformed Churches, June 4, 2020
This is a time for action and not just talk, especially from those who need not fear for their lives or their livelihoods because of their race, colour, or ethnicity . . . International leaders that have spoken out in solidarity with protestors, and with black people in the United States should also take this opportunity to address structural forms of racial and ethnic injustice in their own nations, and within the international system itself.
—from the United Nations Human Rights Commission, June 5, 2020
The subject of race and systemic racism in the United States as been pushed to the forefront of our consciousness in recent weeks, and Christians are being reminded that people of faith, and especially people of Reformed faith, have a gift and an obligation to stand against racism and work for justice. We are called to be at the center of this conversation.
For many of us, this raises the question of how we facilitate such a conversation, prophetically and pastorally, in our congregations?
On Saturday, July 18, at 10:00 am, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary hosted an online program, “How Can We Talk About Racism in Church?” Pastoral theologians will talk about this from their own roles and perspectives, using the World Communion of Reformed Churches statement Condemning Injustice and Racism and the United Nations Human Rights Commission Statement on Protests Against Systemic Racism in the United States as a starting point. Then they answered questions and engaged in discussion with participants.
|Karen Georgia A. Thompson is the Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations in the United Church of Christ and Co-Executive for Global Ministries with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She provides strategic visioning and leadership for the programmatic ministries of Global Ministries, Humanitarian Aid and Development, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Events and Scholarships Management and Archives, and for the joint United Church of Canada and United Church of Christ committee working on the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), as well as working in other ecumenical settings like the World Council of Churches (WCC).|
|Lisa Vander Wal is pastor of Lisha’s Kill Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, and past moderator of the Commission on Christian Unity as well as past president of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). She has served on the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches since 2014, and as a Vice President since 2017, working with the Caribbean and North American Area Council.|
|Thomas Song is a minister in Queens Classis, RCA. He has served on the General Synod Council and the Commission on Christian Unity and was a staff member for the Regional Synod of New York. He is co-pastor of Steinway Reformed Church in Astoria, New York, with his wife, Ock Kee Byun.|
|Julie Johnson Staples is a Collegiate Senior Minister serving as Executive Director of Intersections International, Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York, an organization devoted to uniting disparate groups in global justice and global peacemaking. Throughout her career as a journalist, Wall Street executive, and Christian minister, social justice has been her passion and a unifying thread in her work and philanthropy.|
This program is free and open to anyone who would like to take part, especially leaders in Reformed congregations—not just RCA, but any Reformed tradition. All participants must register by clicking here. Those who register will then receive a link for the Zoom meeting. Feel free to contact the Reformed Church Center at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions.
Come, Let Us Worship- Thoughts for ALL Congregations
May 16, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
A Free Webinar for Everyone thinking About Going Back to Church
We’ve all been socially distanced for a long time. Our congregations have found ways to minister around the barriers, making the most of technology and growing in their skills weeks by week. Even so, we’re all feeling anxious to “go back to normal,” and, slowly but surely, the restrictions are being lifted around the world. This leads to a whole new set of anxieties, as we worry about how to be safe and feel safe in a very different normal than before we heard of COVID-19.
On Saturday, May 16th, from 10:00 to 11:00 am, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary will host “Come, Let Us Worship”: Thoughts for ALL (Not Just Reformed) Congregations. A set of short presentations will each be followed by brief discussions.
|Donna Field is a graduate of NBTS and a DMin candidate at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. An RCA minister and a registered nurse certified in Bio-Ethics, Humanities, and Law, she works as a Clinical Medical Ethics Consultant for Northwell Health and is an associate professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker/Northwell School of Medicine. She will present on the public health considerations of returning to gathered worship.|
|The twelfth president of NBTS, Micah McCreary was President and CEO of McCreary and Madison Associates, Incorporated, a psychological and human resources consulting firm, and Associate Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) for 21 years. He and his wife, Jacqueline E. Madison-McCreary, pastored the Spring Creek Baptist Church in Moseley, Virginia for 16 years. He will be looking at the psychological considerations for a congregation returning to gathered worship.|
|Amanda Bruehl will help us review organizational considerations about returning to gathered worship. She is the Chief of Staff at NBTS, where she also leads the COVID-19 Re-Open Task Force. She has her Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Grand Valley State University and has held positions in Human Resources, Development, and Administration in a variety of church and nonprofit settings.|
|What about singing together and music as we gather for worship again? CJ Kingdom-Grier will lead this module. He is Chief Musician at Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland, Michigan; President of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony in Holland; a member of the Board of Trustees at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and the Associate Director of Admissions at Western Theological Seminary.|
|Daniel Meeter is pastor of the Old First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, New York, with degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Drew University. He has published extensively, and his book Meeting Each Other in Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government (Eerdmans, 1993) is considered one of the most important modern works on the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America. He will guide us in reflecting theologically about worship in our new situation.|
To Register for the event:
This program, scheduled to take place via Zoom, is FREE and open to congregational leaders from all denominations. To take part online or by phone, register in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpf-iqrDMvHtaK3MShbBEQMAVGBI1w5fE6 (only 100 computers or phones will be able to be in the Zoom meeting).
Social Distancing and the Supper—Thoughts to Consider for Reformed Congregations
March 31, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 7:45 pm
Click here to read a PDF of the Chat from the event – with helpful links, resources, and insights discussed.
As the world shelters in place in the face of the COVID-19 virus, congregations everywhere scramble to find new ways to be the church in the current reality. But what happens to the Lord’s Supper? How do Reformed Christians (not just RCA folks, but Presbyterians, UCC members, Christian Reformed worshipers, too) celebrate the feast? Or do we? And what could that mean?
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, working with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Western Theological Seminary, is hosting Social Distancing and the Supper—Thoughts to Consider, a free, on-line webinar available via Zoom on Tuesday, March 31, at 7:00 pm EDT. The program, which is open to all, will run between 30 and 45 minutes.
|Mashona Walston, senior pastor of First Church (Reformed) in Albany, NY, is a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She is a proponent of neuroscience and prayer as means of providing resilience, and works with individuals, faith groups, and community partners for stronger and more positive relationships on local, national, and global scenes. She will speak on the challenge facing pastors as they try to navigate the current situation.|
|Matthew van Maastricht, pastor of the Altamont, NY, Reformed Church, doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam, and adjunct faculty member teaching Reformed polity and standards at both Western and New Brunswick Seminaries, will address what Reformed theology and church order says about celebrating the Sacrament remotely. Matthew also serves as General Editor for the Congregational History Series of The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America and a founding leader of the Society for Protestant Church Polity.|
|John Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of worship, theology, & congregational and ministry studies at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. The author of several books on worship and congregational song, his areas of interest include the history of Christian worship, worship practices in various denominations, biblical and systematic theology of worship, the role of music and the arts in worship, choral and congregational song and consulting with churches on worship renewal. John will speak on how congregations might “fast” frohe m the Lord’s Supper.|
|Ron Rienstra is Professor of Preachng and Worship Arts at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Since his ordination in the RCA in 1993, he has lived and ministered at educational institutions in Iowa, Michigan, and California, pursuing his primary interest: helping preachers, congregations, worship teams, and individuals learn to deepen and enliven their gatherings with God. He will look at how we might celebrate Maundy Thursday without the Supper.|
There is no cost for this Zoom gathering, and everybody is welcome, but all participants must register in advance at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIvdeupqj8ttnZ2ls4JLQEGpFnu6L8c9w to receive an invitation and a link to join the meeting. If the Zoom Meeting is full, we will stream the event on YouTube and on this page.
Women’s Stories Day 2020: The Courage to Be Honest
March 21, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, this event was held as a Zoom Meeting.
The Courage to Be Honest
Life in the modern world is stressful; nobody doubts that. Paying the bills, caring for family, getting along with neighbors, climate crises, political crises, keeping a job, being a person of faith and so much more weighs on each of us, every day. Since, in this modern world, there are still disparities of pay, or expectations, and of needs, life is often more stressful for women, even when the women are in ministry, even when women cannot talk about it.
That’s why “The Courage to Be Honest” is the theme of the 2020 Women’s Stories Day, on Saturday, 21 March, 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
The keynote speaker will be Lynn Japinga, professor of religion at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and the 2019-2020 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies at NBTS. She is the author of Loyalty and Loss: The Reformed Church in America, 1945-1994 and Preaching the Women of the Old Testament: Who They Were and Why They Matter. Her topic is The Courage to Be Honest About Divorce, examining how divorce has been dealt with in the RCA. What has General Synod said about divorce? How did churches handle it? In particular, she would like to explore what seems to be a larger than average divorce rate among RCA clergy women, particularly those ordained in the first ten decade after 1979. Many of them have entered into quite happy second marriages.
Irma V. Williams is an Elder and VP of the Consistory at DeWitt Reformed Church in New York, ad she serves as Director of Social Services at Barrier Free Living Apartments, located in the Bronx. Barrier Free Living is dedicated to helping New Yorkers with disabilities live independently in the community, and provides a range of services and linkages to other community resources, enabling individuals to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their living dignified secure lives. She will be discussing “The Courage to Be Honest About Domestic Violence.”
A licensed mental health counselor in New York and a mother of three, Lynn Min is also a seminary graduate discerning her ordination process with the RCA while working to provide a tangible sense of the Divine, walking with people on their journeys and creating spaces where people can connect with the God within. Her topic is “The Courage to Be Honest About Where We Fit”—bringing insight and perspective to the idea that each of us must define ourselves and what is good for herself or himself, and that doesn’t always fit the expectations of those around us, but it does honor God.
“The Courage to Be Honest About Mental Health” will be led by Pamela Pater Ennis, Executive Director of Hudson River Care & Counseling, LLC, in Hudson and Bergen Counties I New Jersey, and adjunct faculty member in Pastoral Care and Counseling at NBTS. She will talk about the need for self-care in the area of mental health, especially for those in vocational ministry, and to point toward avenues for all of us to find help.
Damaris D. Whittaker, pastor of Fort Washington Collegiate Church, will be leading us in worship at the beginning and end of our program. Rev. Dr. Damaris D. Whittaker is a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister. She is the first woman to serve Fort Washington Collegiate Church and the first Latina to serve The Collegiate Churches of New York in their 400 year history. Her personal faith journey has been diverse. She has a spirit-led style of preaching and leads worship services that are reflective of the cultural diversity of her congregations. She preaches in English and Spanish. Dr. Whittaker is a public theologian deeply passionate about social justice advocating for racial justice, LGBTQ equality, immigration reform, women’s leadership, universal healthcare, and affordable housing. Dr. Whittaker believes she has been called to break down silos and sees intersectionality of faith as a place she can affect change. When not in church, she loves reading, dancing, gardening, kayaking and walking/jogging. Dr. Whittaker is originally from Humacao, Puerto Rico and is married to Sabas Whittaker.
Women’s Stories Day is hosted by the Reformed Church Center at NBTS in cooperation with the RCA Office of Women’s Transformation and Leadership.
2019-2020 Poppen-Young Lecture in Reformed Worship
February 12, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Postponed to November 12, 2020.
Colloquy: “Demanding a King? An Inquiry Into the Permanence of the General Synod”
January 21, 2020 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
The Reformed Church Center Asks: Should the General Synod Be a Perpetual Body?
The word “synod” comes from Latin, and means “walking together.” For church bodies, it traditionally referred to representatives of various assemblies of the church who would meet together to discuss items of common concern, reach a consensus, and then go their separate ways. When everyone left, the synod no longer existed.
In 1884, the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, after some deliberation, declared itself to be an ongoing, perpetual assembly. For mostly administrative reasons—such as creating a corporate entity that could hold real property—the General Synod would be an ongoing entity, where the delegates would change at each stated session, but the staff and administration would go on. It would be “in charge” of the corporate entity called the Reformed Church in America, which might or might not be distinct from the church of the same name. Over time, some have argued, this has changed how local congregations and classes have related to the church. One twenty-first century US court ruling even said the RCA is a hierarchical, not a relational, church.
On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 5:30 pm, Matthew J. van Maastricht, the newest Fellow of the Reformed Church Center at NBTS, will present the paper “Demanding a King? An Inquiry Into the Permanence of General Synod” as part of a special colloquy celebrating his appointment to the fellowship. Responses will follow from Douglas Banks, Allan Janssen, Daniel Meeter, and Kathy Smith, and then everyone present will be invited to engage in discussion over dinner. We plan to conclude by about 8:00 pm.
Fellows of the Reformed Church Center are scholars who have made recognized contributions to the study of the RCA and its traditions, but who don’t have institutional academic affiliation. They are recommended for appointment by the Reformed Church Center committee and are then expected to be in regular contact with the Center and to make annual reports to the director about the nature and status of their research, and encouraged to visit the seminary during their terms of appointment. There is no stipend with this fellowship, but it can be helpful to scholars for access to research collections and for self-identification in scholarly communication. Anyone interested in applying or nominating someone else to be a Fellow may do so at https://nbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/RCC-Fellowship_application-nomination.pdf.
Everyone is welcome to attend this special colloquy, The suggested donation for dinner will be $15.00, but everyone is welcome to attend regardless of ability to pay. There is no donation required from students enrolled at theological seminaries or from NBTS faculty and staff. RSVP by Thursday, 16 January. at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/colloquy-demanding-a-king-an-inquiry-into-the-permanence-of-general-synod-tickets-79062418823.
Douglas Banks is the retired senior pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Brooklyn, New York, and a former stated clerk of the Classis of Brooklyn, RCA. He is dedicated to teaching the whole Word of God and committed to shepherding individuals to the love of God in Christ Jesus. His wife of forty-five years is Sheila; they have two daughters, one grand-daughter and one great grand-daughter. He is co-author of the soon-to-be-released book, Hear Me Now!
Allan Janssen is emeritus professor of Theological Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a General Synod professor emeritus of the Reformed Church in America. He has taught and spoken internationally on Reformed polity and doctrine, and is the author, editor, and translator of several books, most recently A Ministry of Reconcilliation: Essays in Honor of Gregg Mast (Eerdmans, 2017) and Constitutional Theology, second edition (Reformed Church Press, 2019).
Daniel Meeter is pastor of the Old First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, New York, with degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Drew University. He has published extensively, and his book Meeting Each Other in Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government (Eerdmans, 1993) is considered one of the most important modern works on the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America.
Kathy Smith teaches church polity at Calvin Theological Seminary, directs programs at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and teaches Christian leadership courses at Calvin University, all in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kathy is a graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church. She is the author of Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership in Difficult Times (Alban, 2006).
Matthew J. van Maastricht is the pastor at Altamont, New York, and teaches Reformed standards and church polity for Western and New Brunswick Theological Seminaries. He is the newest Fellow of the Reformed Church Center at NBTS, and is a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam. He also serves as General Editor of The Congregational History Series of the Reformed Church in America.
Ecumenical Discussion of Chaplaincy
December 9, 2019 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Chaplains: How Do They Fit?
An Ecumenical Discussion Hosted by the Reformed Church Center
NBTS has been sending ministers into professional chaplaincy since 1812. Two centuries later, there are, arguably, more chaplains serving in more fields—including hospitals, hospice care, schools, prisons, military postings, and among first responders—than ever before. Falling into what many denominations call “specialized ministry,” the question of how chaplains fit into the life of their denominations and their professional settings is an important one.
On Monday, December 9, from 4:30-7:00 pm, the Reformed Church Center will host “Chaplains: How Do They Fit?” Chaplains from Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Church of God in Christ faith traditions, with experience in hospital, hospice, prison, and military settings, will each address those questions of how they fit in day-to-day ministry and in relating to their sponsoring faith groups, and then we will all join in discussion over dinner.
|Alan T. “Blues” Baker is an RCA minister who served as a military chaplain—from Dean of the Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis to Rear Admiral. Dr. Baker is the only graduate of the Naval Academy selected to serve as a Chaplain Corps Flag Officer. In retirement from the Navy, he Strategic Foundations, where he consults with public, private, academic and not-for-profit organizations as educator, catalyst, and strategist, and serves the RCA as Supervisor of Chaplain Ministries, where he provides ecclesiastical endorsements for RCA chaplains in health care, industrial, educational, military and correctional organizations throughout and beyond the United States. He is an Adjunct Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary, and Senior Fellow at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center of Ethical Leadership.|
|John W. Redic, II, is Founder and Director of Pastoral Services at Isabella, a 705-bed long-term-care facility with a plethora of community services, in Washington Heights (northern Manhattan). A native of Florida, he is a COGIC minister and a member of the NBTS adjunct faculty.|
|Rita Milburn-Dobson is the Executive Director of Precious Gems Supportive Services; a non profit that provides grief counseling and support for children and teens. She is a Palliative Care Chaplain and Thanatologist. Rita received her degree in nursing from LaSalle University, Master’s of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary and her Doctorate in Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 2018.|
|Myung Han is a a certified Pastoral Counselor and Pastoral counselor through College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP). He serves as a hospice chaplain in Nassau County, New York, and has been appointed to be the convener of chaplains of Oceanside, Long Island.|
|Raynard Smith is the Associate Professor of Pastoral Care/Pastoral Theology at NBTS, where he chairs the Ministry Studies Department and oversees the Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling program. He has several years of experience as a certified chaplain and pastoral counselor working in the hospital, hospice, and medical clinic contexts. He is also an associate minister in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC); co-founder and coordinator of the COGIC Scholars Fellowship—a network of seminarians and academics within the COGIC and other Pentecostal denominations—and member of the COGIC Board of Education.|
Everyone is welcome to attend this event. There is a suggested donation of $15.00, payable at the event, which includes dinner, but everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay. Students at theological seminaries may come for free, as well as NBTS faculty and staff. RSVP by Thursday, 5 December, to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chaplains-how-do-they-fit-an-ecumenical-discussion-tickets-80393219283.
Sent On Ahead: Looking at Groundbreaking Missions to India, Japan, and the Middle East
November 18, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Co-sponsored by RCA Global Missions and the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University
The Reformed Church Center Looks at Groundbreaking RCA Missions
The years 2019-2020 provide significant anniversaries for important Reformed Church in America (RCA) mission programs. It will have been 130 years since James Cantine left to start the RCA mission program in the Middle East in 1889 and was joined by Samuel Zwemer in 1890. The mission to Japan was started 160 years ago, in 1859, while Ferris Seminary began in Yokohama in 1870. And 2020 celebrates the 200th anniversary of John and Harriet Scudder setting sail from New York; they would settle in India and start medical missions that continue to this day, including the Christian Medical College & Hospital in Vellore, started by their granddaughter, Ida. This also marked the beginning of an unbroken line of Scudder family missionaries that continued to the twenty-first century and encompassed over 1,000 years’ worth of missionary activity.
In recognition of these noteworthy mission milestones, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary is partnering with RCA Global Missions and the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University to host “Sent On Ahead: Looking at Groundbreaking Missions to India, Japan, and the Middle East” on Monday, November 18, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.
|Anderson H.M. Jeremiah, lecturer in World Christianity and Religious Studies in the department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, United Kingdom, is a theologian and priest from the Church of South India, who does research into the lived facets of global Christianity and its theological and missional engagement with other faith communities. He will speak on the impact of Christian missions in India.|
|Eugene Heideman served as a Presbyter in the Madras Diocese of the Church of South India while a missionary of the Reformed Church in America, 1960-1970, then taught religion and Bible at Central College, Pella, Iowa, and then was on the faculty of Western Theological Seminary. From 1982 to his retirement in 1994, he was on the World Mission staff of the RCA, and has authored three books in The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, including From Mission to Church: The Reformed Church in America Mission to India. He will give background on the Indian mission.|
|Fred Mueller is pastor of Hillsborough Reformed Church in Millstone, New Jersey, and the 2019-2020 Albert A Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History at NBTS. He will be looking at the role of his congregation and its then-pastor, Edward T. Corwin, in bringing Japanese students to Rutgers, NBTS, and Princeton Theological Seminary in the late nineteenth century.|
|Haruko Wakabyashi is Assistant Teaching Professor in the Asian Languages and Cultures Department at Rutgers. Her interest lies in the social, cultural, and intellectual development of medieval Japan (12th~16th c.), and the use of visual sources in the study of history. Next spring, she will be offering an Honors Seminar, “Rutgers Meets Japan: Revisiting Early U.S.-Japan Encounters.” She will be speaking on the effects of Christian missions on Japanese culture.|
|Gordon D. Laman served as a missionary in Japan for forty-three years, working in partnership with the Japanese church. Subsequently, he served for twenty-one years as a member of the faculty of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary as director of field education, and teaching courses in Asian mission and communication, while traveling throughout Japan as an itinerant evangelist on weekends. He will be speaking on the history and background of the RCA’s Japan mission.|
|Rev. Justin Meyers, Associate Director, Al Amana Centre|
|En Young Kim, coordinator for the RCA Council of Pacific and Asian-American Ministries and RCA mission programs in the Pacific, will reflect on current mission programs in Japan and how western Christianity and eastern society interact.|
|Douglas Leonard is the former director of the Al Amana Centre and of RCA Global Missions and current coordinator of the Ecumenical United Nations Office (EUNO), a joint working space of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance in New York City. He will address the impact of RCA missions in the Middle East and globally.|
Everyone is welcome to attend this event. There is a suggested donation of $15.00, payable at the event, which includes lunch, but everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay. Students at theological seminaries may come for free, as well as NBTS faculty and staff. RSVP by Wednesday, 13 November, by clicking here.
Unfinished Business: Fifty Years After the Black Manifesto
October 3, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 2:30 pm
In May of 1969, Black activist James Forman, meeting with members of the Black Economic Development Conference in Detroit, Michigan, issued a “Black Manifesto,” calling on mainline White denominations to pay reparations and work actively in a restructuring to dismantle institutional racism and white privilege in the United States. The very next month, Forman and others staged a sit-in protest in several denominational offices housed at the Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive in New York, including the offices of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), which happened to be holding its General Synod meeting in New Brunswick at the time. The RCA formed a small committee of Synod delegates and a few others and, by the time the Synod was concluded, issued a “Response to the Black Manifesto.”
It has been half a century since the Manifesto and the responses from the RCA and other church bodies. On Thursday, October 3, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, the Reformed Church Center will host “UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Fifty Years Since the Black Manifesto”, a time to re-learn some of that history and the effects on the whole of the mainline Protestant church in the US, as well as the specific response of the RCA and how this denomination has done living up to the promise and addressing the possibility, as well as examining the possibilities and challenges that still lie ahead.
The program will include:
|Moderator for today’s program: Nathan Jérémie-Brink, L. Russell Feakes Assistant Professor of Global Christianity, NBTS|
|Leonard L. Bethel, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies at Rutgers University and a PC(USA) pastor, who will speak on “Predestination and Slavery,” a background analysis and description of the Black Manifesto.|
|James Hart Brumm, Director of the Reformed Church Center, who will look at the RCA’s “Response” document from 1969 in the context of the church at the time and what the Manifesto itself demanded.|
|Earl James, Coordinator for the RCA’s African American/Black Council (AABC) and Coordinator for Advocacy in the RCA, who will look at the Council and other denominational responses and how they have both succeeded and failed.|
|Dwayne Jackson, co-pastor of Second Reformed Church in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Kelvin Spooner, pastor of Cambria Heights Reformed Church in Queens, New York, both members of the AABC, who will discuss the potential futures for Blacks in the RCA and for a multicultural future for the denomination.|
|Denise Kingdom Grier, pastor of Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland, Michigan, RCA mission partner to Setshabelo Child and Family Services in Botshabelo, South Africa, and member of the NBTS Board of Trustees. Dr. Grier’s presentation will be “Disrupting Church: It’s Still Time.” In 2015, Tom Devries, then the General Secretary of the RCA, called the church to listen to learn from the voices of ethnic minorities in the RCA. Those stories, like the fifty-year effort to decentralize the experience of the white majority, have disappeared into the fabric of the church. Dr. Grier will invite us to listen again, in order to learn and leverage the power of the Spirit to disrupt the church as we know it.|
Everyone is welcome to attend this event. There is a suggested donation of $15.00, payable at the event, which includes lunch, but everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay. Students at theological seminaries may come for free, as well as NBTS faculty and staff. RSVP by Monday, 30 September, at this link.
400 Years After Dort: Owning It & Letting It Go
May 9, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
The Great Synod of Dort was convened in the city of Dordrecht, the Netherlands, in response to a national crisis precipitated in the young republic over the question of human free will. Meeting in 180 sessions between November, 1618, and May, 1619, the Synod not only addressed that question, but touched on issues of liturgy and government as well, and not only involved the Dutch, but also brought in theologians from across Europe. And the effects of wat happened at Dort and how the world understood Reformed thought have echoed through the Reformed world to this very day—and not always in positive ways.
On Thursday, May 9, from 9:30 to 3:00, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary will celebrate the anniversary of the end of the Great Synod of Dort by hosting a discussion: 400 Years After Dort: Owning It and Letting It Go. We will be led in our discussion by some leading Reformed thinkers as we look at the effects od the Synod and discuss which aspects of Dort should be kept, refreshed, and built upon, and which we might well let go of as we enter a new century.
|Daniel Meeter is pastor of the Old First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, New York, with degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Drew University. He has published extensively, and his book Meeting Each Other in Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government (Eerdmans, 1993) is considered one of the most important modern works on the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America. One area of his concern is the texts and contexts of Reformed baptismal liturgies. And he will be looking at what Dort said about baptism.|
|David D. Daniels III is the Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity at McCormick Theological Seminary, having joined the faculty in 1987. He is the author of over 50 essays, academic articles, and book chapters on topics related to African Christians in early modern Europe, Black Church history, Pentecostal Studies, and World Christianity. He has served as a member of research projects funded by various foundations, including the Eli Lilly Endowment, the Luce Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, and the Institute of Classical Christianity. His presentation will be “Prelude to a “Post-Racial” Future: Interrogating the Baptism Debate at the Synod of Dort.”|
|Allan Janssen is emeritus professor of Theological Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a General Synod professor emeritus of the Reformed Church in America. He has taught and spoken internationally on Reformed polity and doctrine, and is the author, editor, and translator of several books, most recently Confessing the Faith Today: A Fresh Look at the Belgic Confession (Wipf and Stock, 2017) and A Ministry of Reconciliation: Essays ion Honor of Gregg Mast (Eerdmans, 2017) as well as the upcoming revised edition of his classic work on RCA church order, Constitutional Theology. He will speak on Dort’s effects on public theology in the Reformed world.|
|Suzanne McDonald is professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. She is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church, and has written books and essays on a range of subjects, including the doctrine of election, John Knox, and the theology of John Owen. In her presentation, “The Canons of Dort for the Church Today: Polemics, Pastoring, and Pulling up TULIPs,” she will argue that, once we have recognized the limits of what the Canons set out to do, and why they take their particular form, the theology of the Canons still matters deeply, and that they have a strong pastoral polemic.|
|Matthew van Maastricht is the pastor at Altamont, New York and teaches Reformed standards and church polity for Western and New Brunswick Theological Seminaries. He is a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam and General Editor of The Congregational History Series of the Reformed Church in America. He will be speaking about the impact of Dort on Reformed polity.|
In addition to our presenters, we will have respondents who come from various non-Dutch backgrounds, yet who represent peoples who, by becoming part of the RCA, have been adopted into the legacy of Dort, including RCA pastors, Alfred Correa, Kent McHeard, Young Aie Na, and Imos Wu, and Janice McLean-Farrell, the Dirck Romeyn Assistant Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry at NBTS.
The suggested donation for the day is $10.00, but seminarians are welcome for free and everyone else is welcome regardless of the ability to pay. RSVP to email@example.com by Monday, May 6.
Preaching in a Period of Polarization
April 25, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Come join us for a Preaching Workshop at NBTS!
Preaching the Word, and doing so pastorally and prophetically, week in and week out, is one of the central callings for ministers. This becomes even more challenging in this politically polarized era, when so many listeners are looking for a subtext in support of one secular position or another, and will only listen to those that support them. On top of those weekly tasks, we have the duty of presenting the gift and the dare that comes with Christ laying down his life for our sake and how we present that to congregations in the charged climate.
To help ministers proclaim the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost and move into a new electoral cycle under these circumstances, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, along with the school’s department of worship and preaching, will offer the workshop “Preaching in a Period of Polarization” on Thursday, the 25th of April, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Gifted preachers and instructors representing the Episcopal, Baptist, ad Reformed traditions will discuss the challenges before us, then participants will each be able to take part in two small-group sessions on topics including “Justice and Lament: Unlikely Partners”, “Preaching the Liturgical Year”, and more!
|The Rev. Dr. Kara Slade serves as Associate Chaplain at the Episcopal Church at Princeton University and Associate Rector at Trinity Church, Princeton. A native of Pensacola, Florida and lifelong Southerner, Kara holds degrees in Christian Theology and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science from Duke University. Before entering ministry, she was a research engineer for NASA. She serves on the Committee for the Priesthood of the Diocese of New Jersey and the General Board of Examining Chaplains, and is also the chair of the Society of Scholar-Priests. She will speak on “What Is Preaching Today?”|
|Anna Jackson is a native New Yorker who grew up at New Lots Community (Reformed) Church in Brooklyn and has served several RCA commissions, task forces, councils, and congregations, and is a past moderator for the Board of Trustees of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, her alma mater. She and her husband, Dwayne, are the co-pastors of Second Reformed Church in Hackensack, NJ. She is an avid reader, loves jigsaw puzzles, social media, animals, traveling and playing her cello. She will speak on “What Does Polarization Look Like Today?”|
|The Reverend Jes Kast is the Senior Pastor to Faith United Church of Christ in State College, PA. Before moving to Pennsylvania, she was a minister at West End Collegiate Church in NYC for 8 years, and she is a graduate of Western Theological Seminary. Her understanding of prophetic justice is rooted in Reformed theology guided by black liberation and feminist theologies. She and her wife enjoy finding the perfect cup of coffee at unique coffee shops across the country. She is active on social media believing the congregation is more than who is just in the pews. Her topic for the morning session will be “Exegeting the Congregation.”|
|Andrew Wymer is Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Director of Chapel, and Assistant Dean of Doctoral Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He has taught in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program and at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and serves as a board member for The Liturgical Conference. He is author of numerous papers and journal articles, and lives in New Brunswick with his wife and children. He will be speaking on “Exegeting the Scriptures.”|
This day-long workshop is open to everyone. The suggested donation for lunch will be $10.00; but everyone is welcome regardless of ability to pay. Lunch is free for all seminarians. NBTS is also able to offer .5 CEU to anyone who completes this program, at a cost of $25.00. Register via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, April 22nd. Please include your name, postal address, and telephone number; those applying for the .5 CEU must indicate the same in the e-mail.
Reformed Worship and the Liturgical Revival
April 11, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
In the 1950s and ‘60s, both the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Christian Reformed Church in North America undertook liturgical revisions that represented substantial shifts in how they lived out their liturgical and sacramental lives. While some of this was, no doubt, influenced by the work of Vatican II, nevertheless, two denominations that had historically leaned toward liturgical minimalism and Zwinglian memorialism in their sacramental understandings shifted towards much more Calvinian liturgies. They also engaged the growing ecumenical consensus on eucharistic celebrations and even suggested—at least in the RCA—that the Supper should be celebrated as often as the word is preached. What is even more remarkable is that both denominations found themselves with capable scholars to spark this revival when their life before then would not exactly have nurtured this sort of sensibility.
How did this come to pass? What are the continuing fruits of this liturgical revival, especially as both the CRC and the RCA become increasingly multicultural? These are questions which we explore in “Reformed Worship and the Liturgical Revival,” a program recorded on Thursday, April 11, 10:00-2:30 at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
|Emily R. Brink, internationally-known liturgical and hymnological scholar and Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will share findings from her work at the 2018-19 Alvin J. Poppen & John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship at NBTS as part of her keynote address. She’ll be looking, in particular, at CRC and RCA parallel influences in liturgical renewal in the 1960s.|
|Gregg A. Mast is president emeritus of NBTS, and in his forty-year ministry served as a congregational pastor in Johannesburg, South Africa, Irvington, New Jersey, and Albany, New York; as Minister of Social Witness and the Director of Ministry Services in the RCA; and as President of the RCA General Synod. A well-known liturgical scholar, he will address the development of what became the 1968 Liturgy for the Lord’s Supper in the RCA and its surprising sources.|
Three pastors shared stories of adapting the RCA liturgy in their own varied contexts.
|Benjamín Alicea-Lugo is the Pastor of the St. Paul’s Evangelical Reformed Church in Perth Amboy, NJ, since 1986, and a Spanish teacher at Old Bridge High School since 2002. He and his wife, Irma, are Co-Editors of Praise y Adoración BilingualHymnal / Himnario bilingue.|
|Ursula Cargill, a minister and educational administrator, serves Agape House, a new RCA ministry in North Plainfield, NJ, as pastor, planter, and ministries leader.|
|Dan Joo is the lead pastor of Willow Grove, PA, Korean Reformed Church and current president of the Classis of Delaware-Raritan. His pastoral focus is on building a stronger community of disciples radically following Christ, bridging between the generations of Korean immigrants and raising the next generation leaders.|
Women’s Stories Day 2019
February 2, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
The third annual Women’s Stories Day at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, co-hosted by the Reformed Church Center and the RCA Office for Women’s Transformation and Leadership, will be held on Saturday, 2 February 2019 (snow date 9 February 2019). This year’s theme will be: “Taking a Stand,” featuring stories of RCA women advocating to change their world.
The day will feature the 2018-2019 Hazel B. Gnade presentation in RCA Women’s Studies.
|Elizabeth Colmant Estes, the 2018-2019 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow, is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she won the Hitchcock Prize in Church History, the Muilenberg Prize in Biblical Studies, and the Union Traveling Fellowship. A chaplaincy resident at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ, and an elder at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, she serves on the RCA Commission on Theology. Her presentation—part of her larger work on persons, office, and the local church—will focus on those who took part in a retreat at Stony Point, New York, in the early 1970s, committing to work together to open the office of Minister of the Word and Sacrament to women.|
|Patricia Sealy is a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and pastor of Mott Haven Reformed Church in the Bronx. She is director of Children’s Haven: A Place of Healing and Hope, and will be speaking about ministry to and advocacy for children whose parents are incarcerated.|
|Karen Jackson is a specialized RCA minister who serves as the Director of Recovery and Community Initiatives at Project Hospitality, an interfaith social service agency committed to feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. She also administers the Staten Island Long Term Recovery Organization, founded in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and leads the Staten Island Inter-Religious Leadership coalition, organizing local clergy to respond to the social justice issues of our times. She will share her work with Project Hospitality in her address “Here I Am, Lord: The Call to Local Advocacy.”|
|Liz Testa serves as the RCA’s denominational leader for Women’s Transformation and Leadership. She is a pastor, creative innovator, visionary leader and community builder who is passionate about biblical hospitality, the importance of story sharing, encouraging, and equipping others to live into their God-given gifts and callings, and she will be leading all of the participants in a process of sharing their own stories.|
|Anna Jackson, a native New Yorker who grew up at New Lots Community (Reformed) Church in Brooklyn and has served several RCA commissions, task forces, councils, and congregations, will be the worship leader for the day. Anna and her husband, Dwayne, are the co-pastors of Second Reformed Church in Hackensack, NJ. She is an avid reader, loves jigsaw puzzles, social media, animals, travelling and playing her cello.|
Everyone is welcome at the Women’s Stories Day event. There is a suggested donation of $10.00 for lunch, but everyone is welcome to join in regardless of ability to pay—all seminarians will be served for free. Reservations are extremely helpful, however: please respond to email@example.com by Tuesday, 29 January if you plan to attend.
How Can We Respond to the Refugee Crisis?
January 30, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Wednesday, January 30, 5:00 pm at St. John’s University, Marillac Hall, Room 226A
As the number of displaced people worldwide grows every day, and as more and more governments shrink from responsibility, Christian—followers of a refugee—are left wondering how to take up the challenge. The Reformed Church Center invites you to join JJ TenClay, Refugee Ministries Coordinator for RCA Global Mission, for Dinner & Discussion on Wednesday, January 30, 5:00 pm at St. John’s University, as she shares stories of trauma, resilience and hope related to her work with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Italy, and why Christians should do more to care for those seeking refuge.
JJ TenClay spent four years in Italy as a missionary for the Reformed Church in America, providing for the social, emotional and spiritual needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She returned to the United States in July 2018 and is now the Refugee Ministries Coordinator for RCA Global Missions.
Everyone is welcome to come and be part of this event. The suggested donation for dinner is $15.00 (it is free for seminary students and RCA staff and faculty), but everyone may share in the meal regardless of ability to pay. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, January 24, 2019.
Looking at the Great Lakes Catechism
January 15, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Reformed Church Center Looks at the Great Lakes Catechism
The RCA General Synod of 2018 voted “To commend the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality for reflection, study, and response by the Commission on Theology and RCA churches and classes as a means of deepening our understanding of the biblical teaching on human sexuality and finding a pathway forward toward unity in mission and ministry” (OV 18-21, MGS 2018, p. 148). This action raises issues for the church and its assemblies, not only in the area of human sexuality, but over the theological and biblical integrity of this catechism as well as how and when we amend the Standards of the Reformed Church in America, which have only been changed once in the last 400 years.
On Tuesday, 15 January 2019, from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, the Reformed Church Center will host “Looking at the Great Lakes Catechism”, a time to help office-bearers and congregations review this document and consider their responses to the General Synod in its ongoing discussions. We will have five presentations on the Catechism from experts within the RCA, looking at it from their own disciplines:
|Tricia Sheffield holds degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Drew University, and currently serves as pastor and teacher of Middletown (New Jersey) Reformed Church. She has taught religion and gender theory at the college level, and most recently was the Lilly Visiting Scholar in Religious and Gender Studies at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.|
|Matthew van Maastricht is the pastor at Altamont, New York and teaches the Reformed standards and church polity for Western and New Brunswick Theological Seminaries. He is a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam and General Editor of The Congregational History Series of the Reformed Church in America.|
|Dwayne Jackson, Co-pastor, Second Reformed Church, Hackensack, NJ|
|Christopher Dorn is a biblical and liturgical scholar who resides in Holland, Michigan. He currently serves as chair of Christians Uniting in Song and Prayer, an interdenominational organization in Holland dedicated to promoting and practicing worship that embodies the best of the catholic tradition. He preaches regularly at First Presbyterian Church in Ionia and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Holland.|
|Micah McCreary is President of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Virginia Union University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. A pastor and pastoral counselor, his areas of specialization include the intergration of spirituality and psychology and the influence of culture upon health.|
The rest of our time will be spent in conversation around the Catechism and issues raised by our presenters. Participants may prepare by reviewing the Catechism, which is found at http://images.rca.org/docs/synod/GLCatechism.pdf.
Everyone is welcome to attend this day-long program. The suggested donation for lunch (which is free for all seminarians) is $10.00, but all will be fed regardless of their ability to pay. RSVP to email@example.com by Wednesday, 9 January.
Remembering Who We Are: How Congregations Commemorate and Celebrate Their Heritages
December 6, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
The Reformed Church Center Looks at How and Why Congregations Celebrate Their History
After the first Sunday, every congregation has a past. What we do with those pasts, how we remember and celebrate, is significant to understanding how we live out our faith, according to David Zwart, Associate Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and 2018-19 Albert A Smith fellow in Reformed Church History at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Zwart will be the keynote presenter for “Remembering Who We Are: How Congregations Commemorate and Celebrate Their Heritages”, a program hosted by the Reformed Church Center at NBTS on Thursday, 6 December, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. His address—“An Obligation to the Past? RCA Congregations and History after World War II”—examines the ways Reformed Church in America congregations conceptualized and used the past in the second half of the twentieth century. By surveying congregational anniversary books, certain patterns and exceptions emerge in how congregations conceptualized and used the past. Congregations showed they felt some obligation to their history by commemorating anniversaries. They generally emphasized faithful forbearers and pastors. However, some seemed to use the past to constrain any innovations while others did the opposite. Historical variables may account for these differences. Studying the ways congregations in the RCA conceptualized and used the past sheds light on the historical process of memory formation. It also helps us understand how congregations navigate contentious issues by appealing to the past.
Other presenters will look at ways in which RCA congregations which are not ethnically Dutch remember and celebrate their identities.
|Patricia Singletary holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from NBTS, and serves as pastor of Elmendorf Reformed Church in New York. She will share the story of how that congregation is leading its community in rediscovering an African Burial Ground in East Harlem and using it to strengthen the neighborhood’s knowledge of its roots.|
|Gerri Igarashi Yoshida is a member of the Japanese American United Church, also in New York City, and serves on the Pastoral Formation & Transitions Committee of the Classis of New York and the Executive Committee of the RCA Council for Pacific and Asian American Ministries. She will lead a discussion of how her congregation celebrates its identity.|
|Regina Robles Brannock, a mother, grandmother, and member of the Comanche Nation, has been part of the Apache Reformed Church in Oklahoma since 1971, and has served as Sunday School teacher, Deacon, and Elder, as well as serving on the RCA Council for Christian Education, General Synod Council, and Native American Council. A current candidate for ministry as a commissioned pastor, Ms. Brannock will examine the ways the Apache congregation remembers its history.|
|Russell L. Gasero, a graduate of Hope College and Rutgers University who established the RCA Archives in 1978 and continues as Archivist of the Reformed Church in America, will help us consider the importance of congregational histories for the ministries of local churches and denominations.|
Everyone is welcome to be part of this event. There will be a suggested donation of $10.00 for lunch, but all will be fed regardless of ability to pay. Lunch is free for all seminary students and members of the NBTS faculty and staff. RSVP to James Brumm at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, 3 December.
Schism – and Reformed theology?
November 5, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The Reformed Church Center Presents:
Schism – and Reformed theology?
A Lecture and Panel Discussion on the issue of Schism.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Dirk Smit, Rimmer and Ruth deVries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life at Princeton Theological Seminary and principal author of the Belhar Confession
Struggles over maintaining a Christian witness in a society where our understandings of inclusion and personhood keep changing have driven many denominations, including the Reformed Church in America, to consider the idea of splitting apart. For Reformed Christians, however, there are fundamental ideas about the unity of the Church that are at the core of our ecclesiology and out theology.
On Monday, November 5, 2018, 4:00-6:30 pm, the Reformed Church Center will host a discussion on the New Brunswick Campus. Dirk Smit, Rimmer and Ruth DeVries Professor of Reformed Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and former Professor of Systematic Theology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, will be the principal presenter. He is a pastor from the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, and was primary author of the Belhar Confession, adopted by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in 1982 and the Reformed Church in America in 2009.
Dr. Smit’s presentation will be responded to by Jaeseung Cha, Associate Professor of Foundational and Constructive Theology at NBTS and a General Synod Professor of the Reformed Church in America;
Janice McLean-Farrell, Dirk Romeyn Assistant Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry at NBTS and author of West-Indian Pentecostals: Living Their Faith in New York and London (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016); and
Jonathan Vanderbeck, pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, a licensed psychotherapist at Samaritan Counseling Center in Scotia, New York, and a dedicated advocate for those on the margins, particularly at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.
After the formal presentation and responses, everyone will be invited into a discussion with the leaders over dinner.
Everyone is welcome to attend this program. The suggested donation for dinner will be $15.00, but everyone is welcome regardless of ability to pay. There will be no charge for students of any theological seminary. RSVP to email@example.com by Wednesday, October 31.
Being a Reformed Church When the Church is Under Stress: A Conversation
June 21, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
A few weeks ago, in the midst of a Facebook discussion over the state of the RCA and concerns over the coming General Synod, a side conversation opened up. It was about how some of us, while we are unsure of what is going to happen to the current denominational structure, are quite confident in local churches and classes and even a few regional synods, who, no matter where they are in the discussions of human sexuality—and many of them are mixed—are continuing to do good Reformed ministry. While the future of the RCA is in doubt, there are lots of Reformed churches in local communities who maintain a vibrant Reformed witness, and they need help and support doing that—help and support the denomination is having difficulty providing right now.
That led to the plan for this special conversation, which the Reformed Church Center will host at New Brunswick Theological Seminary on June 21st. This event will not be live-streamed, because placing us in an informal setting where we can all share freely makes that much more difficult. Still, I hope many of us can be here, and the Center will do what it can to find low-cost (or free) accommodations for those who need to stay the night.
As our denominational structures in the RCA face conflict, stress, and uncertainty, local congregations still have the challenge of being Reformed and bringing a witness to their communities. This time of conversation will focus on how every congregation can keep doing that, no matter what happens at General Synod. Following a state-of-the-church presentation by Al Janssen (a General Synod Professor at NBTS), we will launch into informal conversations around four topics:
- We can be church together even when we don’t entirely agree—led by Abby Norton-Levering (Albany Synod Ministries Coordinator) and Thomas Song (pastor of Steinway Reformed Church, Queens, NY).
- We can be church no matter what happens denominationally—led by Rett Zabriskie (specialized transition minister) and Matthew van Maastricht (pastor, Altamont Reformed Church).
- We can be a non-anxious presence for our own congregations and the RCA—led by Linda Burlew Gold (pastor, First Reformed Church, College Point, NY) and Dwayne Jackson (pastor, second Reformed Church, Hackensack, NJ).
- We can be ecumenical on our own . . . and often are—led by Patricia Singletary (Pastor, Elmendorf Reformed Church, New York, NY) and Amy Nyland (New York Synod Executive Minister).
Everyone who cares about the lives of their congregations and about our call to bring a Reformed understanding of God’s Reign to our communities is welcome, no matter what your theological understanding of human sexuality might be. There is a suggested donation of $15.00 to cover lunch and snacks, but all are welcome;* please just give what you can. Students from any seminary are welcome to attend for free. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, June 18.
*This is an over-and-above program for the Center at the end of the budget year. Anyone who has the means to give a little extra toward food, etc., is welcome to do so.
Second Annual Women’s Stories Day Celebrates Those Who Came First
May 12, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
The year 2018 celebrates the confluence of important anniversaries for women in ministry in the Reformed Church in America. A century ago, the first overtures were sent to General Synod calling for all the offices of the church to be open to women. That same year, Ida Scudder opened Velore Women’s Medical College. The first woman was ordained to ministry of the Word and Sacrament 45 years ago, and, five years later, women were examined by classes for ordination for the first time. Three decades ago, the first African-American woman to be a minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA was ordained, and this is the twentieth anniversary if the installation of the first woman professor of theology.
In celebration of this special year when the General Synod will be thanking God for the gifts and ministries of women in the church, the Reformed Church Center’s Women’s Stories Day, co-hosted by the RCA Office of Women’s Transformation & Leadership, will be sharing the stories of “First Women.” On Saturday, May 12, 2018, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm, the Center will have its second annual Hazel Gnade presentation, with four of the first women sharing their stories.
|Bernita Babb, the retired pastor of Mott Haven Reformed Church in the Bronx and the first African-American woman ordained in the RCA, is a graduate of Hunter College and NBTS, with a DMin from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She taught for 27 years in New York City Public Schools and, in retirement taught in the public schools of Prince George’s County, Maryland, while preaching and teaching in congregations in the DC metropolitan area.|
|Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary and a graduate of Hope College and WTS with a Ph.D. from Yale University. She has published extensively, served as president of the General Synod of the RCA in 2009 and moderator of the General Synod Council in 2010, and was the first woman ordained by the Classis of Illinois in 1988. In 1998, she became the first woman professor of theology.|
|The first woman full-time faculty member at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, E. Elizabeth Johnson holds degrees from Ohio University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Yale University. She returned to Princeton to earn her Ph.D, was ordained by the Presbytery of Greenbrier (PCUS) in 1977, and taught at Queens College (now Queens University) in Charlotte, NC, from 1979-83. From 1986 to 1998 she was on the faculty at NBTS, and, since 1998, she has served as J. Davison Philips Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.|
|Joyce Borgman DeVelder has spent her life in the RCA. A native of Fremont, MI, she attended Hope College and Western and New Brunswick Seminaries, then served at the Delmar, NY, Reformed Church 1977-80, being examined by the Classis of Albany in 1978 and then, after spending a year at the center of a General Synod controversy, was ordained in 1979. For the last 37 years, she has been pastor of Old Saratoga Reformed Church in Schuylerville, NY. She and her husband, Davd, have two sons, Nathaniel and Mikael.|
|Young Na is the first woman of Korean heritage ordained as a minister of the Word & Sacrament in RCA history, and the first to earn a Master of Divinity degree at NBTS (1989). She earned her DMin at NBTS in 2002, and is the senior pastor of Forest Park Church in Queens, NY, and an adjunct professor of basic biblical language courses.|
In addition to hearing those stories, we hope to hear from women who were the first to serve as deacons and elders in their local congregations. Go to http://nbts.edu/student-life/reformed-church-center/rca-first-stories-project/ to find out how your congregation can take part in the RCA First Stories Project.
The only cost for the day is a suggested donation of $10.00 to help cover the cost for lunch. Lunch is free for seminary students and NBTS staff and faculty. Others for whom the cost is a problem should feel free to give what they are able. We do need everybody to please RSVP to email@example.com by Tuesday, 8 May, if you plan to attend.
ISHMAEL AND ISAAC: Examining Interfaith Relationships
April 19, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
April 19, 2018 at 10:00 am at the New Brunswick campus (35 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, New Jersey)
This day-long program looked at the past, present, and future of interfaith relationships for Reformed Christians. Four Reformed Church leaders will share their thoughts and experiences in this crucial area of our common life.
|Rev. Harold “Hank” Lay, the 2017-18 Albert A. Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History, presented “Lessons Learned: RCA Mission Work Among Arab Muslims.”|
|Norma Coleman James, an RCA elder, shared the progress of a working group preparing “An Interfaith Mandate for the RCA.”|
|John Hubers (NBTS 1982) is a professor of religion and director of the Global Education department of Northwestern College, an RCA college in Orange City, Iowa. He received his PhD in the area of World Christianity and Global Mission from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2013. Prior to that he served with the RCA mission in Bahrain and Oman and as supervisor of the RCA global mission program in the Middle East and South Asia. His book on the first Protestant missionary to the Middle East was published by Wiph and Stock Publishers in 2016.|
|Rev. Vicky Eastland, pastor at The Brookville Reformed Church on Long Island, shared their unique ministry as a multi-faith campus.|
There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing
March 15, 2018 @ 10:00 am
There is a growing body of empirical evidence confirming something that people of faith have known for a long time: our spiritual health has a profound effect upon our physical health. Worship, ritual, prayer, and singing can be physically as well as socially healing.
On Thursday, March 15, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the New Brunswick campus (35 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, New Jersey), the Reformed Church Center will host a conference examining this connection and how local congregations can use it as a force for greater good, featuring four leaders who are both scholars and practitioners.
Paul Janssen is the Alvin J. Poppen and John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship for the 2017-2018 academic year and pastor of United Reformed Church in Somerville, New Jersey, and holds degrees from Central College in Palla, Iowa (1981) and New Brunswick Theological Seminary (1985). During his seminary years he met and married Annette Giles, a daughter of First Reformed Church in Astoria, Queens. They have two grown children, Samuel and Emma. An occasional writer of hymns and composer of tunes, he has always had a keen interest in the liturgical life and renewal of the church, and finds deep value in both the historic reformed tradition and more contemporary influences like Taizé and Iona. Paul’s keynote address, “Reformed Worship: Not Enough ‘From the Neck Up,’” will examine information on recent studies of how worship effects the human brain—an interest that was sparked for him by an elder in one of the congregations he served—and what that might mean for our worship leadership and planning.
Part 1 – There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing
Part 2 – There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing
Called to Communion, Committed to Justice
February 15, 2018 @ 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Reflections on the 2017 WCRC General Conference
The World Communion of Reformed Churches, representing Christians of the Reformed tradition from across the globe, held its most recent General Conference last July, meeting in Leipzig, Germany, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. While they were there, the WCRC signed onto the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification with Lutherans and Roman Catholics from around the world. What does this mean for the RCA? What does involvement in such worldwide ecumenical gatherings mean for local congregations and even denominational bodies in the United States?
On Thursday, February 15, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary hosted “Called to Communion, Committed to Justice.” Lisa VanderWal, pastor of the Lisha’s Kill Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, and a vice president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and Monica Schaap Pierce, RCA Associate for Ecumenical Relations, spoke about the major issues and reasons why they matter. Monsignor John A. Radano, Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology in the School of Theology at Seton Hall University and a world-renowned Roman Catholic ecumenist, responded to their presentations.
Rev. Dr. Lisa Vander Wal, Pastor of Lisha’s Kill Reformed Church and Moderator of the RCA’s Commission on Christian Unity, has served on the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches since 2014 and was elected one of its Vice Presidents at the WCRC General Council in July, 2017.
Monica Schaap Pierce is Associate for Ecumenical Relations for the Reformed Church in America and a doctoral candidate at Fordham University. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Steve, and her children.
Monsignor John A. Radano, Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology in the School of Theology at Seton Hall University
A Conversation Around Baptism
December 7, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 6:15 pm
All Christians get baptized; it is one of the central realities of our faith, an act upon which we can all agree. Except that some of us baptize infants and some of us only baptize adult believers. In a world where people of different denominations and even faith traditions interact, and especially in a seminary where people of many different denominations interact, the subject of when people should be baptized can lead to spirited discussions.
On Thursday, December 7, at 4:00 pm, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary will host a “Conversation Around Baptism,” particularly around when we believe people should be baptized and why. Theologians representing both infant and believer baptism traditions will present their understandings, and then we will all participate in discussion over dinner, wrapping up around 6:00. The suggested donation for dinner is $15.00, but it is free for NBTS students, faculty, and staff. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, December 4.
Danielle L. Brown is the Pastor of Church Life at Cathedral International in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and serves as the Moderator of the Raritan Association of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey. In addition to her work in the local church and denomination, she is an increasingly sought after preacher and workshop facilitator. Dr. Brown is also a member of the Board of Trustees at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and the Mayor’s Strategic Planning Committee in the City of Perth Amboy. Rev. Dr. Brown holds an MEd from Virginia State University; MDiv and MA degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary; and a DMin from Palmer Theological Seminary, where she studied Leadership and Church Renewal.
Daniel Meeter is pastor of the Old First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, NY, with an MDiv degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a PhD from Drew University. He has published extensively, and his book Meeting Each Other in Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government (Eerdmans, 1993) is considered one of the most important modern works on the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America. One area of his concern is the texts and contexts of Reformed baptismal liturgies.
John A. Radano served in the Department of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University from 1965-1984, and was its chairman from 1977-1984, specializing in ecumenical studies. He continues there as Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology in the School of Theology. He has participated in the North American Academy of Ecumenists, in two international assemblies of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (Princeton, New Jersey, 1979, and Nairobi, Kenya, 1984), and as member of the Pax Romana (a Catholic NGO) delegation at the United Nations (1975-79), and head of the delegation (1977-79). From 1984-2008, he served in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity(PCPCU), Vatican City, and in 1985, Pope John Paul II appointed him as head of that Pontifical Council’s Western Section. He is the author of several books and numerous articles.
Dinner & Discussion about human trafficking and sexual exploitation
October 23, 2017 @ 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm
On Monday, October 23, 4:45-6:00 pm, the Reformed Church Center will host a Dinner & Discussion with Jennifer Lucking, who serves the RCA by raising awareness and mobilizing advocacy about human trafficking and sexual exploitation, primarily in the Synod of Canada. Because this is a topic that reaches far beyond the RCA, all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others are welcome and encouraged to take part.
Jennifer is the RCA representative to the Canadian Council of Churches’ Commission on Justice and Peace where she serves as the Vice Chair as well as the Chair for the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada. Over the coming year, Jennifer will be transitioning from her role with the Regional Synod of Canada—raising awareness and mobilizing advocacy—into her new role as inaugural Executive Director of Restorations Second Stage Homes, a charity working to open a long-term home in southern Ontario for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, working directly with women and girls affected by sexual exploitation and providing them with long term housing and programming to help them overcome trauma and flourish in their new lives apart from exploitation and abuse.
Prior to her role with the Regional Synod of Canada, Jennifer worked for Walk With Me Canada, a victim services agency which provided support and services to victims and survivors of both labour and sex trafficking. There, she responded to crisis calls from law enforcement, victim services and other social agencies regarding victims of human trafficking, and she coordinated first-response care, support and services to accommodate immediate needs.
Dinner is free for all NBTS students, faculty, and staff. For everyone else, there is a suggested donation of $15.00, but any donations are welcome. RSVP to email@example.com by Thursday, October 19.
A Discussion of Slavery at the Roots of NBTS History
October 17, 2017 @ 4:30 pm - 6:15 pm
Especially in the events of recent days, we are reminded of Edmund Burke’s words: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” As Christians, we are called again and again to remember all we have gotten wrong—both as individuals and as a society—so that we may be forgiven and move forward working toward justice and wholeness.
Black slavery is part of the history of New Brunswick Seminary and Rutgers University. Slaves and slaveholders were involved in the start of both the schools. The “Scarlet and Black” project at Rutgers has been studying this history, and Dr. John Coakley, professor emeritus of Church History at NBTS, has been representing the Seminary.
On Tuesday, October 17, beginning at 4:30 pm, Dr. Kendra Boyd, the Postdoctoral Associate for the Scarlet and Black Project, will present “Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History,” sharing the work the project has done to date and the direction of its future work, followed by questions and discussion over dinner.
Kendra Boyd holds a Ph.D. in African American History and United States History from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and previously received a B.S. in Business Administration from Wayne State University. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, “The Great Migration and Black Entrepreneurship in Detroit.” As the Postdoctoral Associate for Rutgers’s Scarlet and Black Project, Boyd administers and supervises research on the history of African Americans in Rutgers History.
The entire Seminary community, along with people from Rutgers and area congregations, is invited to this program hosted by the Anti-Racism Transformation Team and the Reformed Church Center. There is a suggested donation of $15.00 for dinner, but it is free for NBTS students, faculty, and staff. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, October 12.
RCA History Day
September 23, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Open to the Whole Community
The Reformed Church Center and the Archives of the Reformed Church in America will be hosting the first-ever “RCA History Day” on Saturday, September 23, 10:00-2:00 at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
The day will celebrate history in both formal and informal ways. RCA History day is for the whole community–not just the RCA and not just church. It’s an opportunity to learn about digitization of materials (records, video, photos, etc.), meet with a representative of a digitization vendor who can help with the preservation of family items, hear about stained glass windows and how to care for them, meet with a stained glass professional to ask about your own glass work (bring pictures), visit the seminary and Sage Library (acknowledged as the most beautiful library in the state), hear two prominent scholars talk about the Reformation from both a Protestant and a Roman Catholic perspective, and enjoy a variety of other historical fun.
Through the morning—10:00 am to 12:00 noon—participants may rotate through a variety of presentations;
- Preserve Your Memories: Digital Memory Media will be present to provide their services with scanning videos, photos, papers, and any other material for attendees. People may bring the materials with them to drop off with DMM or talk with the representatives to get estimates and suggestions for the best procedure to move precious memories from paper or video tape to digital formats.. To be better informed, attendees may view their website at https://dmmem.com/.
- Stained Glass Care & Handling: Representatives from J & R Lamb Studios, Inc., will review the history of stained glass from the early centuries to today, and discuss why stained glass has been used in religious edifices then and now. Then there will be a discussion of the responsibilities of stewards of these beautiful sacred arts. A checklist for examining windows will be distributed, highlighting how to look for signs of needed repairs and what should be done to make corrections.
- Rutgers Oral History Archives: the director of the oral history archive at Rutgers University will be here to talk about their work and how they document New Jersey history through their extensive program. The director will explain how more than 800 life stories and over 32,000 pages of transcripts offer excellent resources for history. This Archive has also started collecting oral histories of NBTS faculty. See more about them at: http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/
- What to Do With Records: Russell Gasero, RCA Archivist, will be available to answer questions and offer guidance about how to care for local church records as well as personal papers.
- Look Around Historic Sage Library: Gardner A. Sage Library, identified by Tech Insider as the most architecturally beautiful in New Jersey as part of a national survey, will be open for tours through the morning.
At noon, a buffet lunch will be served. This is free for all visitors, although donations to defray the cost will be accepted.
After lunch Dennis Tamburello and Allan Janssen will present “True Confessions: Reformed and Roman Catholic Reflections on the Reformation on its 500th Anniversary.”
Fr. Dennis Tamburello is Professor of Religious Studies at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, where he teaches courses in theology and the history of Christianity. A part-time prison chaplain for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, he holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from the University of Chicago, and is the author of Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard (Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), Ordinary Mysticism (Paulist Press, 1996), and Bernard of Clairvaux: Essential Writings (Crossroad Publishing Co., 2000). He is currently working on a new book for Paulist Press, 101 Questions and Answers on the Reformation.
The Rev. Allan Janssen is Affiliate Professor of Theological Studies at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where he teaches RCA polity and doctrinal standards as well as “Theology in Traditions and Contexts.” He is the author, editor, and translator of several books, most recently Confessing the Faith Today: A Fresh Look at the Belgic Confession (Wipf and Stock, 2017) and A Ministry of Reconciliation: Essays ion Honor of Gregg Mast (Eerdmans, 2017).
Both Tamburello and Janssen are members of the current (eighth) round of the national Reformed-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Dialogue, which is focused on ministry and episcopacy.
Reservations for the day are not required, and the entire day is open to everyone, but we would appreciate responses from those who think they may be attending the lunch, in order to allow for a proper headcount. Just respond by e-mail to email@example.com.
RCA Women’s Stories Day at NBTS
May 11, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
RCA Women’s Stories Day at NBTS – Part 1 – Livestream video
RCA Women’s Stories Day at NBTS – Part 2 – Livestream video
9:30am registration and welcome, coffee/tea and light refreshments
10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Women have been part of the life of the Church as long as there has been a church, and the stories of what women have been doing in the church is an integral part of our history. On Thursday, May 11, at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary will host its first Women’s Stories Day, in partnership with RCA Women’s Transformation and Leadership.
Jennifer Reece will give the Hazel Gnade lecture: “Women’s Work for Creation: Reformed Church Women’s Missions and the Beginnings of the Environmental Movement.” Monica Schaap Pierce, RCA Ecumenical Associate, reflects on what the Accra Confession means for women, justice and creation care. Clara Woodson will share her story of breaking barriers in the church. Liz Testa, RCA leader for Women’s Transformation and Leadership will lead an interactive session that encourages us all to honor our stories. Lynn Min, ministry associate at Middle Collegiate Church will be our preacher of the day.
The day begins at 10:00 and ends about 2:30–there will be coffee, tea and fellowship for folks as they arrive, beginning at 9:30.
Staff members from the RCA Archives will be available all through the day (beginning at 9:00 am) to record stories of women’s lives in the church, to be included in the Archives’ growing oral history resource. Anyone who is interested in recording such an interview should mention that in the RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is free, but there is a suggested donation of $15.00 for lunch (free for seminarians).
RSVP to email@example.com by Monday, May 8.
|Jennifer Reece, the first-ever Hazel Gnade fellow, is a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, with degrees from Union College, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the Ph.D. in American Church History in 2002. She has pastored RCA and Episcopal congregations in New Jersey, New York, and Maine, and taught at Bangor Theological Seminary and the University of Maine at Machias. She currently serves asPriest-in-Charge of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rangeley Maine, where she lives with her dog, Beatrix.|
|Monica Schaap Pierce is the Ecumenical Associate of the Reformed Church in America and a Ph.D. Candidate in Systematic Theology at Fordham University. She is an adjunct professor, teaching in the areas of Women and Religion and the Reformation. When she is not teaching, writing, or serving the church, Monica loves to garden, hike, and explore the wild beauty of the East Coast with her husband and her two young daughters.|
|Lynn Min is the minister of care and community life at Middle Collegiate Church in New York and a mental health counselor in private practice. Most of her free time is spent enjoying her most significant creations: Isabella, Isaiah, and Ilyana, all of whom are age five and under.|
|Clara Woodson is a retired RCA minister in Brooklyn, New York, and a former Synod Area Minister on the staff of New York Synod. Prior to her ordination as a Minister of the Word & Sacrament, Clara served the church as elder, deacon, and Sunday School teacher, and, during her career, she has been active in assemblies at every level of the RCA.|
|Liz Testa is the RCA leader for Women’s Transformation and Leadership. Prior to her work for the RCA, Liz served as minister for hospitality at Marble Collegiate Church in New York, and, prior to that was a professional actress.|
March 16, 2017 @ 9:30 am - 2:00 pm
|The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 900-member multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City, and the first African American and first woman to serve as a senior minister in the Collegiate Church, will present the 2017-18 Poppen-Young Fellowship lecture: “For the Healing of the Nations: Love, multicultural worship, and Creating a New American Story.” There is no question that something is broken in America: our hearts, our dreams, our sense of civility. Worship “stories” God’s plan for a healthy and whole world. Worship puts love, period, on the line as a balm in Gilead. This practical talk will show and tell how multicultural worship can change the story from broken to whole.|
|The Rev. Jill Fenske, child of God, pastor of the Franklin Reformed Church in Nutley, New Jersey, poet, wife and mother, life-long learner, volunteer chaplain at Camp Sunrise, promoter of dialogue and committed follower of Jesus, will share her experiences of including differently-abled people in worship.|
|The Rev. Vicente Martinez, pastor of the Reformed Church of North Brunswick—the Sanctuary in North Brunswick, New Jersey, chaplain for the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey and the New Brunswick Police Department, and lecturer on urban ministry and non-profit initiatives in the US and the Caribbean, will share the story of helping a primarily mono-cultural suburban, Caucasian congregation become bi-lingual and multi-cultural.|
|The Rev. James Hart Brumm, director of the Reformed Church Center, moderator of the Commission on History of the Reformed Church in America, and a teacher on worship and congregational song known across North America, will lead us in worship and a discussion of the theology behind using songs from all cultures.|
Finding a Hermeneutic Voice in a Pluralistic World
December 1, 2016 @ 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm
An ecumenical discussion led by a panel of theologians from the Church of God in Christ, and the American Baptist, African American Episcopal, and Reformed traditions will look at this issue, then discuss the implications with all participants over dinner.
About the panelists:
|Allan Janssen, Ph.D., Affiliate Associate Professor of Theological Studies at NBTS|
|Reverend Dr. Leonard Lovett is a native of Florida as well as a distinguished graduate of Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary with the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Emory University in Ethics and Society. He has spent over three decades in the Academy and Faith Community. Currently senior theologian, ethicist and ecumenist for the Church of God in Christ, residing in the Washington metro area.|
|Lorena M. Parrish, Ph.D., Dirk Romeyn Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry at NBTS|
|Rev. Melvin E. Wilson is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He has a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology, has done post-graduate work at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University in Oxford, England, and is presently a student in the Doctor of Ministry degree program at New York Theological Seminary. He currently serves as Presiding Elder of the Brooklyn – Westchester District of the New York Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.|