Reformed Church Center Events
How Can We Talk About Racism in Church?”
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 Senior Minister of the Collegiate Reformed Church in New York, serving as Executive Director of Intersections International, 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 email@example.com if you have any other questions.
“Come, Let Us Worship”: Thoughts for ALL (Not Just Reformed) Congregations
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.|
Social Distancing and the Supper—Thoughts to Consider
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, hosted Social Distancing and the Supper—Thoughts to Consider, a free, on-line webinar on Tuesday, March 31, at 7:00 pm EDT.
|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.|
Women’s Stories Day on-line 2020
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.
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, presented 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 followed from Douglas Banks, Allan Janssen, Daniel Meeter, and Kathy Smith.
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://www.nbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/RCC-Fellowship_application-nomination.pdf.
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 @ 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.|
Sent On Ahead: Looking at Groundbreaking Missions to India, Japan, and the Middle East
November 18 @ 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.|
Unfinished Business: Fifty Years After the Black Manifesto
October 3 @ 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 V. 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.|
400 Years After Dort: Owning It and Letting It Go
Thursday, May 9, 9:30 am
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.
Preaching in a Period of Polarization
Thursday, April 25, 10:00 am to 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, April 25, 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 22ndth. 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
Thursday, April 11, 10:00 am – 2:30 p.m.
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 will share 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.|
The third annual Women’s Stories Day
Saturday, February 2, 2019
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.|
HOW CAN WE RESPOND TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS?
Wednesday, January 30, 5:00 pm at St. John’s University, St. John Hall – Room 304B
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 Thursday, November 15, 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.
Looking at the Great Lakes Catechism
Tuesday, January 15 2019, from 9:30 am to 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 integration 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.
Remembering Who We Are: How Congregations Commemorate and Celebrate Their Heritages
Thursday, December 6, from 10:00 am to 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 Apace 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.|
The Reformed Church Center Presents:
Schism – and Reformed theology?
A Lecture and Panel Discussion on the issue of Schism.
Monday, November 5, 2018, 4:00-6:30 pm
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.
“Send Them, Apostles”: NBTS As the Birthplace of RCA Missions
Friday, October 5, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Remembering New Brunswick’s Role in Making Missionaries!
Send them, apostles! Heralds of your cross,
forth may they go to tell all realms your grace;
inspired of you, may they count all but loss,
and stand at last with joy before your face.
—Denis Wortman, 1884
These words are part of New Brunswick Theological Seminary’s “school song,” the hymn written on the occasion of its centennial in 1884. The creation of the main student governing group at the Seminary, now called SSIM, was as the Society of Inquiry into Missions in 1812. The Bussing Museum, housed in Sage Library, was begun as a collection of artifacts sent from missionaries in the field to seminarians to encourage them to join in spreading Christ’s Good News to every land.
On Friday, October 5, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, as part of the Seminary’s Founders Weekend, the Reformed Church Center will host “Send Them, Apostles: NBTS as the Birthplace of RCA Missions”. Three scholars will look at origins and effects of the school’s missionary fervor, and we will consider the future of missions in the RCA and beyond and how this cradle of missions can cooperate with the larger church in this work.
|John W. Coakley is L. Russell Feakes Professor of Church History emeritus at NBTS and one of the pre-eminent living scholars of John Henry Livingston, founder of this school ad “Father of the Reformed Church in America.” He will look at “What Does It Mean to Say the Gospel Will Triumph?: John Henry Livingston on Missions.”|
|John Hubers (NBTS 1982) is an RCA pastor of congregations in the US and a global missionary who pastored three congregations in Bahrain and Oman and supervised RCA missiond in the Middle East and South Asia. He recently accepted an invitation from Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addas Ababa, Ethiopia, to restructure and teach in their Muslim/Christian relations program. He will present “An Unexpected Harvest: Zwemer, Cantine, and What They Have Wrought.”|
|Derrick Jones is the supervisor of RCA mission in Africa and Oman. He has served in this role for over ten years and is passionate about holistic mission principles, partnerships and opportunities that advance the missio Dei, and he will be sharing a Vision for Twenty-First Century RCA Missions.|
|Eri Kitada is a third-year doctoral student who studies Women’s and Gender History and US History at Rutgers University. Her presentation, “Rutgers Foreign Missions and the Scarlet and Black Project”, discusses the ties of Rutgers students and alumni (many, if not most, NBTS graduates) to foreign missions and the Scarlet and Black Project, an effort to explore the African-American and Native American experience at Rutgers.|
Being a Reformed Church When the Church is Under Stress: A Conversation
Thursday, June 21, 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.
*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
Saturday, May 12, 2018, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at the New Brunswick campus (35 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, New Jersey)
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://www.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.
ISHMAEL AND ISAAC: Examining Interfaith Relationships
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
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
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 hosted 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.|
|Jes Kast is the Associate Pastor at West End Collegiate Church in New York City and Lead Pastor of A Taste of Heaven Soup Kitchen Church. Under her leadership she revitalized a soup kitchen and created a worshiping congregation with some of New York City’s economically poor. She is a sought after preacher and writer. Her public theological work includes serving with Governor Cuomo’s Interfaith Advisory Committee and the National Clergy Advocacy Board for Planned Parenthood. She writes for The 12. Reformed. Done Daily. She will share the story of “A Taste of Heaven: How worship heals wounds in the sanctuary of the City.”|
|Holly Phares, a professional singer, conductor, educator, composer and private voice teacher & coach, has guided singers from all walks of life and levels of experience for over 30 years, while helping them discover or recover their authentic voices. Holly is presently the Director of Music at Old First Reformed UCC Church in Philadelphia, Founder & Artistic Director of The Healing Presence Singers, a local Philadelphia-based community healing choir, Music Director of ParkinSingers, a choir comprised of people living with Parkinson’s Disease, their care partners and friends, and recently has started a homeless choir at Old First, serving the community of people experiencing homelessness on the streets of Philadelphia. She will talk about the healing power of choral singing.|
|Micah McCreary is President of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He will be presenting on the topic of worship as pastoral care.|
Called to Communion, Committed to Justice: Reflections on the 2017 WCRC General Conference
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 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.|
Conversation Around Baptism
Thursday, December 7 – 4:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. in Hageman Hall
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.
|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.|
|Monsignor 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
Monday, October 23 @ 4:45 pm – 6:00 pm. in Hageman Hall 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.
A Discussion of Slavery at the Roots of NBTS History
Tuesday, October 17, 4:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. 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 email@example.com by Thursday, October 12.
RCA History Day
Saturday, September 23, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 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” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Everybody at the Table,” a Multi-Cultural Worship Workshop
For more info about this event, please click here. Thursday, March 16, 10:00 am in New Brunswick The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Pastor of Middle Collegiate Church in NYC and 2016-17 Poppen-Young Scholar at NBTS will present the annual Poppen-Young lecture: “For the Healing of the Nations: Love, multicultural worship, and Creating a New American Story.” Our world is a wonderful mix of cultures, languages, abilities, and orientations. Travel up and down any city street and you will see all sorts of people and shops, hear voices in different languages, and smell an array of fragrant foods from a world’s worth of restaurants. Our differing backgrounds and abilities and perspectives, melded together, make us stronger. For generations, churches have been the one place that has been homogenous. It has been said that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. But even that is changing in more and more congregations. People of different races, languages, and abilities are getting together for worship as they do for all of life. On Thursday, March 16, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Theological Seminary will celebrate this blending in “Everybody at the Table,” a workshop looking at how we are joining together, and how we can cross even more cultural barriers.
|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.|
The workshop will begin at 10:00 am on Thursday, March 16—registration, coffee, and tea will be available beginning at 9:30 am—and everyone should be on their way home by about 2:00 pm. Registration is free for everyone, and lunch is free for NBTS students, faculty, and staff. RSVP to email@example.com by Monday, 13 March.
“Confessing the Faith Today”
What does it mean to be Confessing the Faith Today? “To all appearances the old Standards have largely fallen into disuse in the church.” This assertion is made by Allan Janssen, affiliate associate professor of theology at NBTS. In his new book, Confessing the Faith Today, he observes that “one hears little reference to the Belgic Confession . . . in ecclesiastical discussions.” Still, Janssen sees this oldest Reformed confession as something valuable for a church engaging the Word and the contemporary U.S. situation. We discussed this new book and the place of the Belgic Confession in the 21st century at the gathering “Confessing the Faith Today” on Monday, February 13, 2017. Dr. Janssen made a brief presentation about the book and its approach, followed by responses to his work by four pastoral theologians. Watch the video below, and scroll down for more info about the participants.
|Cora Tait, a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary and New Brunswick Theological Seminary, is pastor of Highbridge Community Church (RCA) in the Bronx.|
|Joshua Bode is pastor of Woodstock (New York) Reformed Church and a graduate of Western Theological Seminary. He is a past moderator of the RCA Commission on Church Order.|
|Lynn Japinga is Professor of Religion at Hope College, and a graduate of Princeton and Union (NY) Theological Seminaries. She is the author of Loyalty and Loss: The Reformed Church in America, 1945-1994. Her book Preaching the Women of the Old Testament: Who They Were and Why They Matter, is scheduled for publication in 2017.|
|Jaeseung Cha is Associate Professor of Foundational and Constructive Theology at NBTS.|
“Our Only Comfort: Belonging in the RCA.”
In the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, Reformed Christians say that our only comfort in life and in death is that we belong to Jesus Christ. In question and answer number 32, we say that we are called Christians because, by faith, we are members of Christ. Membership and how we understand it is important to our Reformed understanding of the church and the world. On Thursday, 6 October, 2016, the Reformed Church Center at New Brunswick Seminary hosted “Our Only Comfort: Belonging in the RCA.” Dirk Mouw, historian, translator and a fellow of the Reformed Church Center, presented the 2016-17 Albert A. Smith lecture in RCA History; his topic was how the colonial Dutch Reformed Church understood church membership.
Following that were presentations on the experience of becoming members of the RCA for Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans by:
- Irving Rivera–pastor of Meadow Hill Reformed Church in Newburgh, NY, and past president of the General Synod of the RCA
- En Young Kim–RCA Supervisor of Mission in Asia and the Pacific and Coordinator for Pacific and Asian -American Ministries
- Anna Jackson–pastor of the Reformed Church of Queens, NY, and moderator of the board of trustees at NBTS.
The day concluded with group discussion over lunch of what membership means in the modern RCA and how we grow into new understandings based on our experiences.