NBTS E-Story

Dr. Hak Joon Lee, Professor speaking about the legacy of Horace G. Underwood in Korea.

225th Anniversary Celebration Marks NBTS' Historic Legacy

Over 300 dignitaries, trustees, faculty, staff, students, and friends gathered on October 30th at The Imperia restaurant in Somerset, N.J. to pay tribute to the extraordinary history of the Seminary. Celebrating 225 years of continuous service in training Christian leaders, the Seminary is the oldest Protestant Seminary in North America. It was first in sending many missionaries out to establish ministries around the world. In its modern role, it is a prophetic voice for justice, as it celebrates cultural and ethnic diversity.

A number of Reformed organizations sent congratulatory letters including The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, Western Theological Seminary, Northwestern College, The Synod of the Mid-Atlantics, The Classis of Greater Palisades, The Association of Korean American Churches of the Reformed Church in America, The Montclair Heights Reformed Church, The First Church in Albany, Colts Neck Reformed Church, Old Bergen Church of Jersey City, St. Paul's Evangelical Reformed Church of Perth Amboy, Trinity Reformed Church of Old Tappan, The Reformed Church of Sioux Center in Iowa, The Women of the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, First Reformed Church of College Point, Korean-American Churches of the Reformed Church in America, Shin Kwang Church of New York and Central Presbyterian Church of Newark.

Many churches and individuals sent best wishes which included First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Shiloh Baptist Church, The Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer and The American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, Fountain Baptist urch, St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church, The Council of Churches of the City of New York, seminary staff, the Women's Auxiliary, trustees and students.

Community organizations and institutions sent congratulations which included the Central Jersey Community Development Corporation, Children's Specialized Hospital, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, The Positive Community Magazine, Saint Peter's Healthcare System, The Rose of Sharon Trust, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Isles, and The Newark School of Theology. A special proclamation and letter was sent from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine which included best wishes and gratitude for the Seminary's service to the community.

Highlights of the evening included the presentation of The Esther Award to Elizabeth E. Hance, Chief Executive Officer of Magyar Bank and The Rev. Dr. DeForest Blake Soaries, Jr., Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, for their work in foreclosure intervention and prevention through The Housing Assistance and Recovery Program (HARP). The program is designed to prevent homeowners from losing their homes. Dr. Soaries was unable to attend the event. His sister, Terri Soaries, Esq., Assistant General Counsel for Johnson & Johnson, accepted the award for him.

The Esther Award was established as part of the Seminary's commitment to public theology. It is named after the Old Testament queen Esther, who was placed in a position to help her people at a strategic time ("for such a time as this"). The award recognizes annually those whose behavior in the public sphere gives witness to a strong foundation in Christian faith and ethic. The Esther Award acknowledges those whose belief and commitment to the gospel enable them to rise fully to a Christian response in the face of public turmoil.

The Esther Award includes two prizes: a commemorative gift to the recipient, and the naming of a seminarian as The Esther Scholar for one year. Aleshia Bynes of New Brunswick, New Jersey, a full-time M.Div. student, will receive a full one-year scholarship.

"We are proud to count among our friends and supporters people like Buster Soaries and Liz Hance whose lives and commitments inspire all of us to seek those things that make for justice and peace, and we are delighted to count among our students people like Aleshia Bynes whose call to ministry will deeply benefit many people for generations to come," said President Mast. The seminary commissioned a print depicting Esther drawn by Dr. Jeff Pettis, Affiliate Faculty and Assistant Professor of New Testament. It was presented to the recipients of the award.

Other highlights included a welcome given by The Rev. Dr. Gregg A. Mast, president of the seminary, opening prayer led by Angela M. Battle, President of the Student Society of Inquiry, and words of congratulations from Dr. Richard McCormick, President of Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey.

Following dinner Dr. Hak Joon Lee, Professor of Foundational and Constructive Theology, introduced a viewing of the DVD Waters From The Same Rock: The Unity of Tradition and Vision produced by the Development Department last Spring in honor of the birthday of Dr. Horace G. Underwood, class of 1884, whose mission work in Korea has left a lasting legacy.

Along with the program book, guests received a booklet with historical photos and text by Dr. John Coakley, L. Russell Feakes Memorial Professor of Church History, titled New Brunswick Theological Seminary: A Brief History also produced by the Development Department.

The closing prayer was given by The Rev. Dr. Nathan Busker, Moderator of the Board of Trustees.

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