The Voice of FRC
The Newsletter of the Franklin Reformed Church
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Lord, God, took the earth creature and placed him in the garden of Eden, to dress it and keep it.”
During my time off I spent a few days on the grounds of the Warwick Conference Center. It is, as you all know, my happy place. This time I took the opportunity to walk some of the land that I usually don’t see. I drove up Old Waywayanda Road. It is an old road - paved but only one lane. Concrete abutments show hapless drivers who have wandered off the main thoroughfare that they have come to the end of the road. But for me it was just a beginning.
Parking my car, I wandered up along the stream’s edge, on a well-worn path onto our property. It was a cool day, cloudy but not rainy. It was amazing to move up towards the top of our topography. To listen to music of the stream, the calling of the birds. To see the mighty and old trees leaning or falling, and next to them new growth that will, in decades to come, replace those that are evolving in their life cycle.
Natural theology is what it’s called. To see and recognize the amazing creativity and power of God who created it all. I can understand why many will say that they don’t need to go to church, that they can sit in their back yards and worship (I know many who say it, not so many who will actually do it!). I cannot observe the turn of the season without being astonished.
But then God put the Atham (literally made the earth creature rest) in the garden with the mission to “dress it” and “keep it.” Now there are, not surprisingly, several ways to translate those two terms. These ancient Hebrew words have been translated as: to work it and take care of it, to cultivate and tend it, to tend and watch over it, to cultivate and defend it.
From generation to generation, God’s mission, God’s purpose for humankind is to “dress” and “keep” the creation that we inhabit at God’s pleasure. I think there are three things that the text is calling us to do. First, we are commissioned to improve our natural surroundings, to rake and weed and work the soil. Secondly, we are commissioned to use these gifts for our sustenance, to provide food for our tables and our souls. Finally, we are commissioned to protect it from loss and waste.
As we move into the 21st century we, God’s people who are called the church, are commissioned to “earth keeping.” This isn’t about whether or not we “believe in” global warming and its effects. This isn’t about who owns what and who’s responsibility it is to “dress” and “keep.” It strikes me that this is a commissioning by God, a mission for the creatures that God placed in the garden.
In April we had an opportunity to celebrate Earth Day. That celebration should be our mission every day. To improve, sustain and protect the evidence of God’s presence around us, and God’s love towards each and every creature that was made. This is a holy call, a precious mission. Let us as God’s people respond to the call to honor this amazing creation with our love and care.
This and That
Thanks to those who assisted throughout Lent and Easter: Jeff G. - Easter flowers, Jainie G. and Tricia G. - Good Friday prayer walk, Lin H. - edited Cross Walk liturgy. Those who participated in the Lenten Book Study, the Cross Walk, and the Prayer Walk.
We are grateful to God for providing us with Elder/preachers. Jainie G. and Linda R. who filled in while Pastor Jill was away in April, and Tricia G. who will be leading worship on May 30th.
In 2020 we began to raise funds for a new boiler for the Community House. The estimate for both purchase and installation is $40,000. The Consistory instituted a new fund, the Capital Improvement Fund, which is dedicated to building repair (including the new boiler). We are close to our goal! To date we have received gifts in the amount of $38,010.00. We are grateful for everyone who has contributed - large or small. Please consider an additional donation to bring us to our goal.
Warwick Days are June 5th and 6th. On Saturday, June 5th the Camp and Conference Center are hosting a “Work Day” on site. Masking and social distancing will be observed. Lunch will be provided. There are tasks for every skill level. If you are interested in participating, please contact Pastor Jill by Friday, May 28th.
Nutley Partners for Peace are hosting their first “ROCK ON” event in Yantacaw Park on Friday May 7th from 1 - 4pm. Participants are invited to paint a river rock with a message or symbol of peace. Everyone in the Nutley community is invited to participate. Materials will be provided. Enter the park on Vincent Place near the Senior Housing Building. Rain date will be Friday, May 14th. There is additional information on Nutley Partners for Peace below.
Several members of our Consistory who had agreed to serve an additional year on Consistory due to the pandemic, are now in need of a respite from service. If God is perhaps calling you to serve as an Elder or Deacon, please reach out to a current member of the Consistory or Pastor Jill. We have need of two additional persons to serve. The new class of Consistory will be elected at our Annual Meeting which will be held on Sunday, May 16, 2021. The Annual Meeting will be held on the church grounds immediately following our first outdoor service which will be held at 11:00. Bring your own chair. In the event of rain, we will meet on the portico of the Community House.
New on the FRC website! 1) You can now sign up on a virtual sign-up sheet to buy a share of vegetables from the Purple Dragon farm share group to be sent to Marion House in Newark. Just go to frcnutley.org and push the DONATE button. You will be taken to the DONATE page. On the right side of the page, you will see a box that says “Purple Dragon Co-op.” In that box it says: “To sign up to donate a half ($30.00) or whole share ($60.00) click here.” Just click there and you will be brought to the sign-up sheet. To pay for your donation you may select “Marion House-Purple Dragon” in the dropdown menu of the Tithe.ly App or send a check to the FRC church office at 45 Hillside Crescent, Nutley, NJ 07110. 2) There is now a page called “Prayer Resources.” On this page you will find a virtual prayer walk that went with our real-life Good Friday prayer walk. Other prayer resources will also be available and will continue to be added and changed. If you have questions or ideas, please contact Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Consistory continues to discern whether or not we are able to reopen our buildings safely at this time. A small team lead by Jainie G. met to consider what we need to actually do in order to open up the building safely. They will report back to Consistory in June. Because the CDC guidelines changed the day they met we have decided to try adding an outdoor worship service. On May 16th we will have a Hybrid service. Pastor Jill and anyone who is able to join her will gather in the side yard next to the community house for an outdoor worship service at our usual 11:00am worship time. The congregational meeting will be held in person, right after the service (it should last about 15-30 minutes). There will also be the opportunity to join the service and meeting on zoom if you are unable to attend in person. Pastor Jill will send the usual invitation to the zoom service with the liturgy/bulletin attached.
If you plan on attending on zoom proceed as usual.
If you are planning on attending in person please note the following instructions:
bring a chair,
Bring a copy of the bulletin that you have printed out at home or be ready to access it on your phone or listen to the service and participate as you are able. (bulletins will not be provided.)
It is very sunny where we will be so bring a hat or a one person umbrella as shade.
Masks will not be required but will certainly be welcome if you prefer to wear one.
6' distances will be maintained.
We are still considering how to proceed with our Christian Education programs but as of now we are going to continue these on zoom. The Piecemakers are also meeting virtually. If you would like to join us for any of these weekly opportunities of virtual gathering, please email the church at email@example.com. Once we receive your email address you will be sent the ZOOM information directly. We do not publish that information in public. Check back here or on our website under Schedule and Events for details of our schedule.
Over the past year we, as a congregation, have been able to assist both organizations and individuals through our Deacon’s Fund. Our funds for this purpose are running low. A donation to the Deacons Fund will help keep us active in the support of our members and friends.
It’s that time of year again! We are collecting donations to make Welcome Kits for Camp Sunrise. We currently need toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo to complete the kits. These items may be dropped off at the church at any time. The door to the Cone Building is unlocked, and there are baskets into which your donations may be placed. In addition, donations of cash are always welcome.
A reminder: Keep up with the CDC recommendations for the COVID-19 pandemic. They are changing rapidly. Please do your part to keep yourself and others safe.
Pastor Jill remains available while the building is officially closed. She is usually at the church on Mondays and Thursdays, and you can always contact her by telephone. Church office (973) 661-7022 (this is not an emergency number).
For your information the assessment, monies that we send to the Reformed Church in America to assist in funding regional and national denominational activities, is $87.00 for 2021. Our Classis collects these funds for disbursement to other church bodies. There are envelopes in the offering boxes for the Assessment - which you can contribute as a one-time donation or in four increments. Some people include this amount in their regular giving, others choose to designate their contribution. The Consistory also covers the cost of those who are unable to make this contribution from our General Fund. In January we cleared a debt to the Classis for outstanding assessments from prior years. We entered 2021 with the prayerful hope that we will be able to remain current this year.
While current circumstances have certainly brought down some of our costs, we continue to have financial obligations that need to be met - insurance, utilities, ongoing leases of office equipment and the Pastor’s salary and health insurance. We are grateful for the continued financial support of our members and friends. You may donate to the church by sending your offering to the church; someone is checking and taking in the mail Monday through Saturday. The church has also joined tithe.ly which allows you to donate electronically. There is information on the website, under the tab DONATE. There is an option to donate by credit card or as an ACT (transfer) directly from your bank account. This is a safe way to donate that some people are already using.
In Discovering God, our adult Christian education program, we are “Seeking the Holy Spirit Together” as we look primarily at New Testament texts that can lead us to a better understanding of this third person of the Trinity. We continue our schedule of meeting on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays of the month at 10am. For the time being we are meeting on ZOOM. There will be one ZOOM session on Sunday mornings, going forward, beginning with Discovering God at 10am and welcoming others to Worship at 11am. Join us! In May we will be studying Revelation 1.1-11.
Things are certainly changing. The nature and future of the church come into question in the current situation as well as the post-pandemic world. Who will we be? How will we connect? What changes do we need to make to move into this coming reality? The Mission Church Team continues to wrestle with the questions and discernment of God’s future for us. Please continue to pray for the Mission Church Team, as well as God’s leading this congregation in this time of change.
In the fall of 2019, the Consistory agreed to provide an umbrella for a new organization in Nutley, called Nutley Partners for Peace. This group’s origin was with the Pathways to Peace program which brought young adults from Honduras to work with NHS students to produce a “street tapestry” on Franklin Avenue, and a year later at the UN in New York City. In September 2018, this group worked with the township to become the 223rd City of Peace. Currently the group has received permission to erect a community sculpture in Yantacaw Park, part of the Essex County park system. Take a look at, and like, the Facebook page “Nutley Partners for Peace” to see a rendition of the art piece.
To help fund the art installation the organizing team (Pastor Jill is a part of this team) is raising funds for the erection of the art installation, which will cost $15,000. We are reaching out to both individuals and groups for direct donations. In addition, “Nutley Rocks Unity” t-shirts, which were designed by a 2020 NHS graduate and produced by a local business, Unitee’s, are still for sale. The shirts, onesies for infants, youth, and adult sizes, are now on sale for $20.
If you are interested in donating or purchasing a t-shirt, contact Pastor Jill.
From the Historian
by Jeff G.
Congratulations to Nancy W. who became a member of the Franklin Reformed Church 50 years ago this month!
In April of 1978, the Women's Guild held a Poster Contest at their Spring Fish & Chips dinner. The winners were: Best Artwork: Ruth F. (mother of Ruth Mae), Most Springtime Appeal: Don B., Most Original Format: Gordon and Mildred H., and Cutest: Tricia Gambaro. Tricia was in the 8th grade at the time.
Almeda H. was writing in the newsletter for the Spiritual Life Committee. She shared from Kathy V. H., then Secretary of Spiritual Life:
1. Faith is to a human being what an anchor is to a ship in time of storm.
2. Faith in God does not exempt us from trials; it sees us through them.
3. Faith is like picking fruit; if you do not reach for it, it will not come to you.
4. Faith is the eye of the soul, and the Holy Spirit's influence is the light by which it sees.
5. Faith is the root of all blessings.
On May 5, 1975 at the First Reformed Church, New Brunswick, NJ, Women's Guild members attended a Centennial Celebration. The theme of the 7:30 pm service was "Woman to Woman." The scripture verse was Philippians 4:4-8. The speaker was author and lecturer Maria Anne Hirschmann. She was a former High School teacher. Her message was entitled "Hansi," and Kitty C., NJ Synodical Consultant introduced her.Joy and Praise Music from Jane White included Let the Spirit of '76 Be the Holy Spirit. The ushers for the evening were the Classical Union Presidents which included Almeda H., representing the Newark Classis.
35 years ago, Ruth Keenan designed and sewed a banner for Pentecost Sunday, May 18th. Preparations for the June 8th dedication of the Ida Cone Building were ongoing. Ten days before the opening, Pastor Gene Roberts was still seeking volunteers to finish up painting doors and trim.
From the Hart
(With apologies to MLK Jr.) Vaccinated at last, vaccinated at last, thank God Almighty, I am vaccinated at last! It feels like I have been waiting forever to say those words. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting – waiting to get onto the website to get my first appointment, waiting for that appointment which was a whole month later, waiting the four weeks for the second appointment, and then waiting the final two weeks for the immunity to be fully effective. Not to mention those 15 minutes of sitting in a chair after each shot to make sure I didn’t get some weird reaction (I didn’t). I have nothing but praise for the folks at the West Orange site who were so very friendly and organized and played upbeat music that made the whole event feel like a party. Well done, Essex County! I also enjoy my Sunday phone calls from Essex County Executive Joe DeVincenzo with my weekly Covid update.
So how am I celebrating my new status? First of all, I visited my dentist and eye doctor, appointments I had put off for months. And I hugged the baby (now toddler) next door, though he’s much more interested in playing than cuddling. I have three lunch dates this month! And I am hoping to be able to get to VA in June to visit my family (more hugging!!!). Then maybe a trip down the shore…
I hope you are all starting to enjoy newfound freedom. The past year has taught us what a precious commodity it is. Let us treat it kindly and never forget what it was like to lose it.
Till next month,