Research and Scholarship
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary helps people to explore what it means to be Reformed in the 21st Century. As part of that mission, every year, the Center offers three fellowships.
Do you want to learn more and share more about a subject or idea that interests you? Is there a question you’ve been pondering?
Would you like to spend two weeks in study and sharing, and have somebody pay you (a little) instead of you paying them?
Do you have something to say about being Reformed in the 21st century?
Then maybe you should send in a brief proposal for one of three fellowships at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 2023-24! The Reformed Church Center is looking for those proposals, to be submitted by April 21, 2023.
Here is what past fellowship recipients say:
Have you ever had a question on your heart that burns to be answered, but life is busy and you know this important topic will be pushed aside? This happened to me, in my last ordination class. I saw a gap in women’s history—about a fateful gathering of young women in 1978 who emerged, in renewed ties of sisterhood, committed to ask their many classes across the country for ordination. The Hazel B. Gnade Fellowship enabled me to speak with many of them, capture some of their experiences and then share this critical moment with the rest of our denomination.
Pastor, Readington Reformed Church
Hazel B. Gnade Fellow, 2018-2019
Being a recipient of the Smith Fellowship enabled me to complete a project about Rev. E. T. Corwin and the history of the Millstone church that I had been working at in tiny bites. The fellowship committee could not have been more helpful and the time for research was instrumental to my progress. The application process is not difficult and worth the effort. As a result of my research, numerous other avenues of discovery have opened up in my project and my work continues. My research benefitted my church, the denomination and enabled me to accomplish something I have long wanted to do. I would be happy to dsicuss my experience with anyone considering application.
Pastor, Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
Albert A Smith Fellow, 2019-2020
I had a vague idea about a project, but I fleshed it out a bit and sent off the application. The vague idea turned out to be a project that has captivated my attention for almost a year now. I’m grateful for the opportunity the Gnade Fellowship provided.
Professor of Religion, Hope College
Hazel B. Gnade Fellow, 2019-2020
Sharing the stories of some of the African American women leaders of the RCA from the 1960s and 70s was a highlight of my year. I celebrate the Reformed Church Center’s Hazel B. Gnade Fellowship for encouraging and supporting this project and giving me the opportunity to accomplish it.
Co-pastor, Second Reformed Church, Hackensack
Hazel B. Gnade Fellow, 2020-2021
What do you need to get one of these fellowships? You need some practice doing scholarly research, whether that’s by reading old manuscripts or books or conducting oral interviews, etc. You also need to demonstrate that you have done some preliminary research into your question and can define a project within your question that you can significantly complete within a couple of weeks of intense work.
What DON’T you need to get one of these fellowships? You don’t need to be a pastor or a professor. You don’t need specialized theological training . . . just some familiarity with the subject matter.
You can write a proposal for . . .
The Alvin J. Poppen And John R. Young Fellowship
An opportunity for research and/or presentation in Reformed Worship and Liturgy
The Alvin J. Poppen and John R. Young Fellowship provides a $500.00 stipend and the possibility a two-week residency at New Brunswick Theological Seminary to support research in Reformed Worship, particularly as it pertains to the RCA. The resources of the Seminary and the RCA Archives, as well as the wide variety of worship resources and experiences in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, are at the Fellow’s disposal. The Fellow will provide an experience of the results of the work, through a lecture, a convocation on the theme chosen, or some other public expression shared with the Seminary community. This is an opportunity for personal study that can improve the vitality of the worshipping church. Download an application by clicking here.
Applications and proposals are due by April 21, 2022. Contact James Hart Brumm, Director of the Reformed Church Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to discuss your idea or get suggestions for your proposal.
Note: Due to issues with the availability of the RCA Archives during the 2022-2023 academic year, we are not seeking proposals for new Smith or Gnade fellowships for 2023-2024. We will search for these for the 2024-2025 year.
2022-2023 Fellowship Recipients
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where people explore what it means to be Reformed in the twenty-first century, annually offers fellowships in RCA History, RCA Women’s Studies, and Reformed Worship. Each fellowship offers the opportunity for two weeks of research at NBTS with access to the RCA Archives, Sage Library, and the faculty, as well as the opportunity to share findings from their research with the Seminary community. We are pleased to announce that three fellows have been selected for the 2022-2023 academic year.
|Mary Risseeuw is a genealogist, historian, writer, and lecturer. She has researched nineteenth & twentieth century Dutch immigration to Wisconsin and the Midwest for over thirty years and has published and lectured throughout the U.S. and the Netherlands. She serves on the Board of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies. She has a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. & M.F.A. from Northern Illinois University. She will be the Albert A Smith Fellow in RCA History for 2022-2023, researching stories of underrepresented women in RCA history and helping to identify source material in the RCA Archives that will be helpful in further research.|
|Melchior “Mel” Van Hattem, winner of the Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellowship in Reformed Worship for 2022-2023, is a retired RCA pastor who has been testing ways to help make the act of Confession in worship more personally renewing. This grant will enable him to explore the history and theology of how Reformed people have given meaning to this scriptural concept in their development of worship. Mel has served in rural, urban, and suburban congregations and has been a transitional pastor with four congregations.|
|Lisa Hansen is the Head Pastor at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, CA. Recently retired from the Air Force, she served as an RCA chaplain for almost 30 years reaching the rank of Colonel. She recently completed her EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership and continues her work to care for the hurt and hurting, and a voice of strength for those who have no voice. She is our Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in Reformed Church Women’s Studies for 2022-2023. In her recently completed doctorate, she has been studying systemic influences that affect clergywomen’s experiences and their decision to remain as leaders in the church. The study explored clergywomen’s experiences related to gender discrimination, leadership acceptance, job satisfaction, and retention. With this fellowship, she hopes to identify steps taken to address the harassment and abuse of clergywomen, to look at the lasting effects of the conscience clause and provide additional resources to add to the “We Are Speaking” movement, and to review the history of support for women’s ordination and interview additional subjects, particularly minority women.|
2021-2022 Fellowship Recipients
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where people explore what it means to be Reformed in the twenty-first century, annually offers fellowships in RCA History, RCA Women’s Studies, and Reformed Worship. Each fellowship offers the opportunity for two weeks of research at NBTS with access to the RCA Archives, Sage Library, and the faculty, as well as the opportunity to share findings from their research with the Seminary community. We are pleased to announce that three fellows have been selected for the 2021-2022 academic year.
|Benjamin Doolittle, MD, M Div, FAAP, FACP, is an associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine and an associate professor of religion and health at Yale Divinity School. He directs the Combined Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program as well as the Yale Program for Medicine, Spirituality, and Religion. He will be the Albert A Smith Fellow in RCA History for 2021-2022, looking at how RCA congregations have, historically, dealt with pandemics and other serious health crises. An ordained minister of the Word and Sacrament in the RCA, he grew up at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, the church which donated the fellowship in memory of Al Smith, who served as their pastor from 1986 to 1990, and who was passionate about church history.|
|Nancy L. Graham, winner of the Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellowship in Reformed Worship for 2021-2022, is a hymnologist, 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. Dr. Graham is working on a biography of the renowned twentieth-century British hymnologist Erik Routley, and will be using her fellowship—which was endowed in honor of two long-time denominational staff members—to research Routley’s work with the 1980s hymnal Rejoice in the Lord.|
|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. David—who has now won all three of the annual fellowships offered by the Reformed Church Center—will be researching the lives of women missionaries who were also children of missionaries.|
We will also welcome to campus William Ruggles Church, the 2020-2021 Albert A Smith fellow, whose research on Samuel Zwemer’s role in starting medical missions in Arabia has been delayed by the COVID pandemic.
These three fellowships are awarded annually by the Reformed Church Center, and a call for proposals for the 2022-2023 fellowships will be issued in November. More information is available by contacting James Hart Brumm, RCC director, at email@example.com.
2020-2021 Fellowship Recipients
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where people explore what it means to be Reformed in the twenty-first century, annually offers fellowships in RCA History, RCA Women’s Studies, and Reformed Worship. Each fellowship offers the opportunity for two weeks of research at NBTS with access to the RCA Archives, Sage Library, and the faculty, as well as the opportunity to share findings from their research with the Seminary community. We are pleased to announce that three fellows have been selected for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Justan J. Foster – Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship
Justan J. Foster, Music Director at the Greenbush Reformed Church in East Greenbush, New York, will be the Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship, named for two long-time members of the RCA staff. Foster, who has served as Dean of both the Hudson-Catskill and Eastern New York Chapters of the American Guild of Organists, 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. He is researching ways in which liturgical arts and music have been impacted and the ways in which those serving to lead these parts of worship have responded during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
|Anna Melissa Jackson – Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies
Anna Melissa Jackson is the Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies for 2020-21. Gnade was secretary for the RCA Women’s Board of Foreign Missions in the mid-twentieth century. Jackson, who co-pastors Second Reformed Church of Hackensack, New Jersey, and is a graduate of NBTS as well as a former moderator of its Board of Trustees, will be studying the phenomenon of women who served as “matriarchs” in Black RCA congregations.
|William Ruggles Church – Albert A Smith Fellowship in RCA History
William Ruggles Church is a physician who did medical mission work, bringing diagnostic ultrasound machines to mission hospitals. He has been awarded be the 2020-2021 Albert A Smith Fellowship in RCA History, donated by the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, and named for a former pastor of that congregation who was passionate about church history. At NBTS he will be studying elements of the work of Samuel Zwemer, who included medicine as a key element of the mission to the Arabian Gulf that he started with James Cantine in 1889.
These three fellowships are awarded annually by the Reformed Church Center, and a call for proposals for the 2021-2022 fellowships will be issued in November. More information is available by contacting James Hart Brumm, RCC director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019-2020 Fellowship Recipients
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary helps people to explore what it means to be Reformed in the 21st Century. We are pleased to announce the two fellows who will help us do that during the 2019-2020 school year.
Fred Mueller—2019-20 Albert A Smith Fellow in RCA History
Fred Mueller is a 1975 graduate of NBTS, who earned his DMin at Chicago Theological Seminary in 2008. He has pastored RCA congregations in Jersey City, New Jersey, and in Herkimer, Hudson, and Locust Valley, New York For the past sixteen years, he has pastored the Hillsborough Reformed Church in Millstone, New Jersey.
At Hillsborough, Dr. Mueller is living in the same house that Edwin Tanjore Corwin did when pastoring the congregation from 1863-1888. One of the little-known stories of Corwin’s career and that congregation’s life is how Corwin sponsored the first Japanese students at Princeton Seminary, Rutgers, and NBTS, including Hikoichi Orita, who returned to Japan to establish the modern secondary education system. The way in which Hillsborough provided a connection between Princeton, New Brunswick, and Japan is the focus of his fellowship work.
Lynn Japinga—2019-20 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies
Lynn Japinga holds degrees from Hope College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary in New York, and is Professor of Religion at Hope College. 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. She is 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.
This topic is significant first because people are still divorcing; do they find RCA congregations to be supportive places for them? Also, the way that the RCA has dealt with divorce could be a useful case study as we wrestle with questions of same-sex marriage and the ordination of lbgtq+ people. In the 1950s and 1960s, divorce would have been considered sinful and immoral. Divorced people may have been unwelcome. But fifty years later, divorce is seen as something that happens to many families, and most congregations are welcoming, or at least not obviously judgmental. How did this change happen?
2018-2019 Fellowship Recipients
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary helps people to explore what it means to be Reformed in the 21st Century. We are pleased to announce the three fellows who will help us do that during the 2018-2019 school year.
Emily Brink—2018-19 Poppen-Young Fellow in Reformed Worship
Dr. Brink is Resource Development Specialist for Congregational Song at the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, where she has been on staff since 2002. Prior to that, she spent nineteen years as Music and Liturgy Editor for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, editing the 1987 Psalter Hymnal, Songs for LiFE, and Sing! A New Creation. She was also founding editor of the journal Reformed Worship. In 2004, she co-edited The Worship Sourcebook with John Witvliet. In addition to teaching at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary (both in Grand Rapids, MI), she has taught in colleges and seminaries and led conferences around the world. Her project will be a comparison of twentieth-century liturgical developments in the CRC and the RCA.
The Alvin J. Poppen and John R. Young Fellowship supports research in Reformed Worship, particularly as it pertains to the RCA. It has been established by gifts from friends of Alvin J. Poppen and the late John R. Young, long-time members of the RCA denominational staff. Dr. Brink will be resident in New Brunswick during the first two weeks of April, 2019, with a presentation scheduled for 11 April 2019.
David Zwart—2018-2019 Albert A. Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History
Dr. Zwart is Assistant Professor of History, Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His doctoral dissertation is “Faithful Remembering: Dutch-American Protestant Commemorations, 1924-1976.” He has also authored numerous articles and essays. His project will look at how RCA congregations in New York and New Jersey constructed a Dutch-American identity in the twentieth century.
The Albert A. Smith Fellowship supports research into the history of the Reformed tradition, particularly as it pertains to the Reformed Church in America (RCA). It was established by First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, in memory of the Reverend Albert A Smith, late pastor of that congregation and author of a history of the Preakness Reformed Church in Wayne, New Jersey. Dr. Zwart will be resident in New Brunswick during two weeks in the fall, 2018, term.
Elizabeth Estes—2018-2019 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies\
Ms. Estes, a business writer and strategy consultant, was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 2017, with her chief area of study being and exploration of why Christianity seems to be at war with itself. She is a former chaplaincy resident at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, an elder at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, a new member of the Reformed Church in America Commission on Theology, and a licensed candidate for ministry under the care of the RCA Classis of New Brunswick. Her project is titled: “God’s Inclusive Future: Persons, Offices, and the Local Church”.
The Hazel B. Gnade Fellowship has been established in memory of Hazel B. Gnade, a long-time member of the RCA Women’s Board of Foreign Missions, to encourage research into the history and theology of women’s ministry in the RCA.
The Reformed Church Center will begin receiving applications for the 2019-2020 fellowships in November. These fellowships each offer a $500.00 stipend, two-weeks’ residency in New Brunswick, access to all the resources of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and the RCA Archives, and an opportunity to share learnings in a Reformed Church Center program. For more information, contact James Hart Brumm, director of the Center, at email@example.com or 732-247-5241.
2017-2018 Fellowship Recipients
The Albert A. Smith Fellowship
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that the Rev. Harold “Hank” Lay of Brick, New Jersey, has been chosen as the Albert A. Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History for the 2017-2018 academic year. Lay, a retired RCA Minister of Word and Sacrament and a native of Fair Lawn, NJ, holds degrees from Hope College (1968) and Western Theological Seminary (1971), both in Holland, Michigan. He also attended the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and Claremont, California, Graduate University. A minister of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) ordained in 1978, he served churches in northern New Jersey and on Long Island, New York. He has been engaged in ecumenical and interfaith relations throughout his ministry, and has visited mission sites in Honduras, the Sudan, and Ethiopia.
The RCA has a long history of work in the Arabian Gulf that has expanded to other locales inhabited by Muslims. For over one hundred years, these interactions took place in foreign lands. But over the past 50 years, via immigration and conversion, Muslims have grown to 0.9% of the US population, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study. The current political climate, heightened by the violence of ISIS, leads Americans to see Muslims as a threat. Yet we have so much in common—religiously and as human beings. Can our missionaries help the American church see that and find the presence of God in our common present? Lay’s Smith Fellowship project hopes to learn from the past in a way that will illumine and guide the present, especially within the Reformed Church. How did RCA missionaries among Muslims speak about Jesus? In what ways did they try to bridge the chasm? And what can we, who now have Muslims living among our Christian communities, learn from these apologists for the Christian faith? All of this builds on his continuing quest to discern God’s relationship with and between Christians and Muslims and to serve the church with my findings.
The Albert A. Smith Fellowship provides a modest stipend of and the possibility of a two-week residency at New Brunswick Theological Seminary to support research into the history of the Reformed tradition, particularly as it pertains to the RCA. It was established by the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, in memory of the Rev. Albert A Smith, late pastor of that congregation and author of a history of the Preakness Reformed Church in Wayne, New Jersey. Previous fellows have included pastors and lay persons with historical interests as well as professional scholars. Projects have focused on a variety of topics, such as the evolution of particular congregations or classes, the ideas of leading Reformed figures, and the trajectories of church growth and decline. Each Smith Fellow presents a lecture to the seminary community.
The Alvin J. Poppen And John R. Young Fellowship
The Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that the Rev. Paul G. Janssen of Somerville, New Jersey, has been chosen as the Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Janssen is pastor of United Reformed Church in Somerville 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. Paul served two other congregations in New Jersey: Third Reformed Church in Hackensack, and Pascack Reformed Church in Park Ridge. 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. An occasional composer of hymns and music, Paul continues the tradition of singing a new song to the Lord.
Janssen plans to use the Poppen-Young Fellowship to study ways to share with worship leaders and practitioners 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. He hopes to raise a few basic questions that are appropriate to a scientifically ‘lay’ audience:
- How do neurologists see inside the brain?
- How do the (normal) brains of worshippers experience worship practices?
- What practical implications might brain science have for worship?
While it may be playfully said that congregants who worship in the northern European tradition tend to worship “from the neck up,” there is a good deal of truth in the old saw. However, while worshippers in some traditions may be more physically “present” during worship, all have “a lot going on upstairs” as they gather in the presence of God. Janssen’s research hopes to contribute to the church’s calling to perform the gospel with the best tools it has available.
The Alvin J. Poppen-John R. Young Fellowship provides a modest stipend of and the possibility of a two-week residency at New Brunswick Theological Seminary to support in Reformed Worship, particularly as it pertains to the Reformed Church in America (RCA). It was established by gifts from friends of Alvin J. Poppen and the late John R. Young, long-time members of the RCA denominational staff. The resources of the Seminary, as well as the wide variety of worship resources and experiences in the New York metropolitan area, are at the Fellow’s disposal. Each Smith Fellow provides an experience of the results of the work, through a lecture, a convocation on the theme chosen, or some other public expression shared with the Seminary community.