The Reformed Church in America mourns the loss of the Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast, former president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and General Synod professor emeritus. He passed away on Monday afternoon, April 27, due to complications of COVID-19 at the age of 68.
“Gregg’s passing is a huge loss for the Reformed Church in America,” says general secretary Eddy Alemán. “He served the RCA with faithfulness for many years in many different capacities. He was a pastor, a scholar, a denominational staff member, a seminary president, and a friend.
“His love for Jesus and for the church was evident in all he did. He was influential in equipping hundreds of ministers who are serving with faithfulness today. His influence and legacy will continue to be with us into the future.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gregg’s family, the New Brunswick Theological Seminary community, and all who knew and loved Gregg.”
Mast earned a bachelor’s degree from Hope College in 1974, followed by his master of divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1976. He later achieved his master of philosophy degree from Drew University in 1981 and his Ph.D. in 1985, also from Drew University.
He was licensed and ordained as an RCA minister of Word and sacrament in 1976. He proceeded to serve as assistant pastor at the Andrew Murray Church in Johannesburg, South Africa; as pastor of North Reformed Church in Newark, New Jersey; as pastor of Second Reformed Church in Irvington, New Jersey; and as pastor of First Reformed Church in Albany, New York.
Mast also served on the General Synod Council staff as minister of social justice and worship from 1985-1988, and later returned to staff as director of Ministry Services. He additionally served as General Synod president from 1999-2000.
Through his many leadership roles in the RCA, Mast touched the lives of many.
“His wisdom, pastoral care, insight into church politics, love of liturgy, commitment to social justice, advocacy of theological education, and profound example of Christian discipleship made Gregg a towering figure in the RCA and beyond. His friendship was constant as we navigated ministry and mission for our denomination,” says Wes Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary emeritus. Mast was on the search committee that selected Granberg-Michaelson as general secretary in 1994.
Mast served as the 14th president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary from 2006 until his retirement in 2017. During his 11 years of leadership at the seminary, Mast oversaw a land swap with Rutgers University and the reconfiguration and updating of campus buildings. He established a secure financial future for the seminary and ensured the presence of diversity among the seminary’s student body, faculty, staff, and board.
“His leadership of New Brunswick Seminary, like all else he did, was transformative,” says Granberg-Michaelson. “Gregg was never paralyzed by problems; rather, he always searched for a way forward, with insight and strategic ingenuity. In the best sense of the word, he was a church diplomat. This is such a tragic loss to so many, another unimaginable death from this virus and its effects.”
Mast was a contributing editor for the Church Herald, a publication of the denomination. He also authored And Grace Shines Through and In Remembrance and Hope: The Ministry and Vision of Howard G. Hageman, and edited Raising the Dead: Sermons of Howard G. Hageman. The latter two titles are part of the RCA’s Historical Series.
The 2017 General Synod adopted the following resolution of gratitude for Mast’s service, originally presented by New Brunswick Theological Seminary. It is reposted here to honor and give thanks for his life.
WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Gregg A. Mast has served New Brunswick Theological Seminary as its president since 2006, and has served on the faculty as the John Henry Livingston Professor of Theology during that same time, leading the seminary into a new era in its long and distinguished history; and
WHEREAS Dr. Mast has guided the seminary through the reconfiguration of its campus, including a new seminary building and upgrading its historic library, while at the same time putting the institution on a solid financial basis to support an innovative future; and
WHEREAS under Dr. Mast’s leadership, the seminary has become truly diverse in both race and gender, not only in its student body but in its faculty, staff, and board; and
WHEREAS Dr. Mast has encouraged and led the seminary in its goal of becoming an anti-racist institution, a project that includes not only students and faculty but staff and board; and
WHEREAS Dr. Mast has served the Reformed Church in America as a General Synod professor, offering to the church his wise counsel and genuine love; and
WHEREAS Dr. Mast has been not only a faithful and supportive colleague to faculty and staff, but also a friend whose care and concern have touched all who have served and studied with him;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, in its 211th regular session, meeting June 8 through 13, 2017, in Holland, Michigan, expresses its deepest gratitude to Dr. Mast for his service to the seminary and to the church, and offers its prayers for a fulfilling retirement along with his wife, Vicki.
AND BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that Dr. Gregg A. Mast be declared a General Synod professor emeritus as of June 14, 2017.