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—in the areas of history, worship, and women’s studies—to people who are working on projects and could benefit from an intense time of research in the New York metropolitan area. Fellowship recipients get access to the resources of the Seminary as well as the Archives of the Reformed Church in America, as well as the use of an apartment in New Brunswick for up to two weeks if needed.
For more information about the fellowships, contact James Brumm, director of the Center, at email@example.com.
The Reformed Church Center provides opportunities for research through three fellowship programs, The Albert A. Smith Fellowship, The Alvin J. Poppen And John R. Young Fellowship, and The Hazel B. Gnade Fellowship.
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.