MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ - Rev. Ellen Jo "EJ" Emerson passed away on Friday, August 7th, 2020, after a long illness at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. She was 69 years old.
She resided in Teaneck and in Maryland before moving to Monroe Township eight years ago. Reverend EJ Emerson received her Master of Arts in French Language and Literature from Middlebury College. She worked for a French automaker and French film board before spending thirteen years in the Biotech industry at Eppendorf as a Technical Writer, translating difficult details into understandable instructions. She received a spiritual calling late in life, at the age of 55, which was the culmination of a life spent in devotion to helping people. Reverend EJ Emerson received her Master of Divinity in 2005 from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, the oldest independent Protestant seminary in the United States.
Reverend EJ Emerson received her call to serve as Pastor at New Utrecht Reformed Church in Brooklyn. The congregation, which was established in 1677 by the first Dutch settlers in Brooklyn, erected the current sanctuary in 1829. Due to its age, the church had to undergo major structural renovations, which spanned more than fifteen years. Reverend E.J. Emerson kept the congregation alive by holding weekly services in the church hall next door. Her mission was to create a comfortable and uplifting environment for members of the community and "God's Word" would provide the rest. In January of 2019, Pastor EJ, could not help but be impressed as she ascended the steps of the massive pulpit. She finally was able to deliver her sermon in the sanctuary that had sat vacant since 2003. In that message, she reminded her congregants to "be the source of light, in a world filled with darkness."
Pastor EJ was fluent in numerous languages including, French, German, Hebrew and classical Greek. She was a self-proclaimed "Francophile" who loved immersing herself in the French culture. She also was blessed to have a French adopted family, who always had a place for her to stay on her travels to France and would accompany her on adventures throughout Europe.
Pastor EJ had a love for composing poetry. In 2017 she authored a book entitled, Psalmistry; Reflections of Praise, published by Westbow Press, Bloomington Indiana. In this book, Pastor EJ selected 366 of her poems, one for each day of the year, which encouraged, uplifted, and enlightened her readers.
She is survived by her brother, Jeff D. Emerson of Portland Maine and her niece, Kathleen D. Emerdello of San Francisco.
At the request of the family, and due to the pandemic, funeral services were handled privately under the direction of Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick. To leave a message of condolence please visit the "Tributes" page
The family encourages mourners to make a contribution, in lieu of flowers, to the New Utrecht Reformed Church, PO Box 97 Brooklyn, NY 11214.
I met with Rev. EJ quite a few times at workshops and in her ministry at the annual all-women retreats sponsored by the Reformed Church ⛪️ Women. (Regional Sanad of the mid Atlantics) . She was always so easy to talk with and kind and gracious with her counsel. She will be greatly missed.! I am only so happy and blessed to have known her. She would always leave you with a smile too!! Enjoy Heaven, EJ!! Warmly and Sincerely, Mary Alice Cicerale , Somerset, NJ
EJ and I have been friends for decades. I was very shaken by her transition, but also recognized that as a result, she was free from a tired body, whole again and that her spirit was again free to soar. EJ was such a loving soul who cared about others, loved God and served as His faithful servant. She will be remembered as a thoughtful, kind, considerate, giving and resilient person who detested injustice, abuse and evil.
My wife and I will miss her greatly, but she is undoubtedly with Jesus, experiencing the boundless of her spirit and the unconditional love of God.
I've uploaded some wonderful pictures of EJ in California at the Crystal Cathedral
The day that EJ can over for portrait photos we also had a little friendly fun as this image suggests.
There are many things I could write about this amazing lady; this servant of God, who called herself His servant and loved, not just God, but all of God’s creations; this writer, poet, minister, linguist (to name a few); this compassionate yet strong soul who, while working three jobs, still had time for me — for us. Yes, she is now with the God that she loved so much. Yes, she had a full life and has now moved on to something larger than this small world. But I’m selfish and this is personal —she’s not here anymore. We didn’t talk to each other much, but, whether she was in New Jersey, Staten Island or France, I knew that someday another one of her poignant poems would be in my email, or maybe a recipe; that she would read and judiciously review the poem I sent her; that we would talk about a movie or a work of art; that I would be uplifted by one of her moving sermons; that she would be able to answer my seemingly unanswerable question about heaven and hell. She was always a friend, a source and a backup, and she’s is no longer here to guide, to inspire, and to share — and no one can fill her space.
On behalf of New Brooklyn Reformed Church, we offer our condolences of prayers and comfort in the loss of your beloved Pastor EJ. Let her light continue to shine as you go forth in Jesus Christ! Amen
I met EJ through her love of theater. She was directing a production of California Suite for the West Milford Players around 1996 (?) and I auditioned. I was cast and had the privilege of working under EJ's direction. We have been friends ever since. Even though theater was the catalyst that sparked our relationship, our friendship evolved and grew as EJ worked towards her Masters at the Theological Seminary. We would meet for dinner on occasion and even though the conversation might have started around theater, it always turn towards her studies and theological theory. Next thing we knew, lights were going out and the wait staff would be standing by the door with their coats on. EJ performed the memorial service for my late wife in 2010. She delivered a profound and touching homily which I make a point of re-reading every year. It still inspires and moves me. I am so grateful for time I shared with my dear friend. Whether working on a theatrical production, venturing into the City to capture a moment of magic on Broadway, or just hearing her wisdom's over a cup of tea, they are moments that are a very important part of my life. I am so happy to know my friend has found eternal peace and happiness, but I will miss her everyday and I will take comfort knowing the warmth of our friendship still lights my heart. Thank you, EJ.
Joan and I were good friends with EJ starting with the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. We saw her occasionally when we were still serving the Marbletown Reformed Church in Stone Ridge, NY. I remember with fondness and awe the amazing conversations we had! EJ was indeed a brilliantly well-educated and informed woman. We had many an in depth conversion on subjects from A to Z. A lovely and loving person. Can't believe she's gone, but glad that she's now with our Lord! Amen. -- Revs Robert and Joan Mitchell
E.J. was one of my dearest friends and I was lucky to have her as one. She will always be in my heart, and no matter where she is I will always love her.
The family, Vicky and I deeply appreciate the many Tributes in honor of, and remembrances of, EJ. It is heartwarming to know that she touched so many lives. To those of you who have asked about a memorial service, we are investigating a virtual service in lieu of an in-person one during the pandemic. Many of you have asked about donations in EJ's memory and we suggest that you make such donations to EJ's church: the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Brooklyn, NY. Thank you and may the Lord's blessings be upon you, especially in these trying times.
As a member of the Pequannock Reformed Church in Wayne, I had numerous opportunities to benefit from the services EJ led for us as a guest minister. She was always inspirational, she related well to everyone in our congregation, and served as a sincere leader. We are all shocked and saddened by her loss and extend our sympathy to her family and friends. We are among the many who have been blessed to know EJ.
Pastor EJ. Though we may not have always agreed. I respected her I learned a lot from her. Until we meet again, at the feet of the master.
Pastor/Poet/Friend --I am both sad and glad for E.J. because I know that now she has gone Home. Her wonderful poems will live on, especially the Psalms/Poems in her book Psalmistry--Psalms for 366 days of the year. What a wonderful legacy.
Prayerful condolences to brother and niece-- E.J.: Love, till we meet again.
Elizabeth (AKA Betty) Marchitti and John, too.
May God Almighty have you in His glory and give your soul the eternal peace we need in this world, and although we are very sad you left us, we know that you are in a very good place with our Lord Jesus. Probably our good Lord Jesus received you with an open arms and say: "You have done good my dear servant, enjoy the eternal life" . You deserve it E.J. Thank you for sharing your conversion to Christianity:
MATTHEW 19:27-29, Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
My name is Bob Feinstein, and I met E.J. at Middlebury College in 1972. I am a blind fellow. E.J. and I became good friends, and when we both went to France to continue our studies, she was of invaluable help to me. She always helped me in such a beautiful way that she made it feel like I was helping her. I truly loved her and believe she was one of the kindest people. Her family was also very kind to me and I spent time at their home in New Jersey. She felt a true calming from God, and I am so proud of all she has accomplished. I know she is with Him now. I will miss her more than I can say.
EJ’s was the very first smile I encountered as I was taken under care by the Reformed Church in America, Classis of New Brunswick in January 2015. EJ was an encouragement and a comfort to me on that day, and she did not even know me. That is who EJ was.
A notre Ellen adorée ❤️ Nous t’aimons tellement fort. Tu seras toujours dans nos coeur s Ellen. Repose en paix . Alain -Isabelle -Marion - Hugo - Chloé - Louis 🌻
We worked together for many years, EJ in New Jersey and me in the UK. Like so many others who had the honour of EJ's friendship, we have stayed in touch ever since. So talented, humble, stoic and loyal, she was an absolute one-off - so special. I will continue to treasure her Psalmistry collection and think of her at peace.
I was shocked and saddened by the news of Rev. E J Emerson's passing. I will miss the experience of E J ‘s pleasant presence and willingness to fellowship in conversation showing a genuine interest in others. She will be missed. But the good news is she has “entered the nearer presence of God” and has heard her Lord Jesus say to her, “well done good and faithful servant” for her humble and effectual ministry. May God’s healing grace be with E.J.’s loved ones and friends who are in mourning over their great loss. Shalom. Rev. Tim Dunn
In Memory of Rev. EJ Emerson—
Several years ago I was reading poetry at a local Barnes & Nobel. Afterward, EJ introduced herself and commented on a Messianic poem I’d read. She said she was a Jewish believer in Yeshua/Jesus and that she’d like to read more of my poetry. I gladly sent her some poems. EJ sent me the most gracious reply, expressing how each poem ministered to her, personally. She also sent me some of her own beautifully crafted poetry. That was the beginning of our friendship.
We got together occasionally over the years. After she was ordained, I attended a few of her church services with my husband. She came to a few social events at my home and we met at various poetry venues. We’d share greetings at Christian and Jewish holidays and poetry via email. We’d critique each other’s work from time to time, always offering one another encouragement.
EJ spent an afternoon, on my backyard deck, editing one of my manuscripts. She was my go-to person whenever I grappled with grammar. We cheered each other on and celebrated as we each succeeded in publishing books of our poetry.
One of my most precious memories of EJ is reading poetry with her and two of our friends, each December, at a special Holiday event, held at a bookstore & café in Clifton.
I’ll treasure EJ’s memory in my heart for as long as I live, always envisioning my friend in Glory with her beloved Messiah Yeshua.
Maude Carolan Pych
I'm very sorry to hear this news. My condolences to the family. Rimma vaynshtok.
Shocked to hear of Ellen Jo's passing. So glad I got to reconnect with her several years ago at the reunion of the youth group from the Reformed Church of Teaneck. My condolences to her family. May she rest in peace. Ellen Goddard Smith, THS '68
Though shock and sadness hit me upon hearing the news of EJ's passing, today and going forward, I will praise the Lord for giving me such a dear, kind, encouraging, admirable friend for so many years.
Tribute to EJ
My friend, colleague, travel partner, and sister in God’s “kin-dom” was a collector. She collected people into her world and provided us all with the most precious gift of all—her love and presence.
She was an extraordinary woman with multiple interests and talents. To know her was to broaden your horizons and deepen your faith. Her journey to Christianity was a remarkable adventure only aided by her extraordinary education and interest in languages. She was at home performing in a theatre, or behind the wheel of a car, or writing the technical details for scientific equipment, or traveling through the streets of Paris.
From the time she first gathered me into her care while on an International Theological School trip to Holland, I was content to be under her watchful eye. Like a lemming, I followed her to class, museums, train rides and walks where she would stop and admire the horses, which would canter over to greet her. She seemed to speak their language too.
On a second trip together to France, she introduced me to her French family; who have become so much a part of mine. Partying with the cousins, visiting Cathedrals and being schooled by Rene in bocce; playing scrabble with Monique—them in French and me in English with EJ as our judge—is a favorite memory. The Menard’s hospitality to the newcomer, second to none. And because of EJ’s kindnesses, we hosted Antonin who became a son to us when he made his visit to America. “Why not” is a phrase still echoed in our household.
EJ welcomed people into her world. With keen insight and a sharp mind, she was seldom at a loss for deep conversations and theological insights, shared with colleagues and church congregations alike. Though living miles apart, EJ kept the relationship with her mother that could be cited as a role model for all...they were that kind of women...dedicated to love and care for one another. When her mom died, she lost her best friend. EJ exuded pride in brother Jeff, and nothing delighted her more than watching her niece, Kathleen grow into an upstanding young woman. Her face lit up each time she talked about them.
We had traveled together to two French family weddings and were planning a third in June 2021. I am heartbroken to know she will miss this next love feast...but hold onto the faith we shared to one day greet her again—now safe and trouble-free in the arms of our God.
I love you, EJ Emerson.
In the last few months of her life, as the coronavirus disrupted church services across the globe, she and I worked together in putting the church bulletin online, turning it into a church-at-home service. When I attended the occasional church service on holidays, she would often invite me to attend service if you can. Those services, which included the monthly do-it-yourself communion where you bring your own bread and juice, were the first ones I participated in a long time and brought me closer to the church and God. I would like to thank God for her sending me those bulletins to publish and I hope whoever succeeds her as pastor will continue those church-at-home services as an outreach.
On Friday evening I sent a email reminding her to send the worship guide and her weekly sermon. She didn’t reply. In the early morning hours of Saturday I checked Facebook, which I didn’t do all day Friday. Then came the stunning news from Rev. Marisol Ferrer Malloy that she had died. I was stunned as anyone by the news. Let us thank God for the life of E.J. for her years of service to New Utrecht.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 (KJV)
Vincent LaMarca, Webservant, New Utrecht Reformed Church
Memory at NBS
Smart. Accomplished. Creative. Colorful. Optimistic. Encouraging. Cheerful. Proud of her family. Supportive of her friends. Firm in her beliefs. An ace grammarian. A poet, an actress, a Reverend and friend. EJ was all that and more. To use one of her favorite words, EJ was “delightful” and she will be missed.
— Suzy Kedzierski , NBS colleague and friend
I met EJ through Maude Pych every 3rd Saturday in December, when we shared the reading of some of our poetry at the Ant Bookstore in Clifton, NJ. Last year, we rejoiced with EJ that she completed her book with 366 poems to inspire her friends and congregation and others with a poetic reflection for each day of the year. She knew Jesus intimately, and I believe that He has taken her to her eternal home with Him. Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC
I was sad to read this news. EJ was a also a stated clerk for her classis in the RCA. It was a pleasure to help her with arrangements for travel and housing each spring. She was a warm, kind soul and she will be missed. She was totally gifted in her calling and she made the world better for those who knew her.
My sincerest condolences to her brother and niece of whom she always spoke with such warmth. Hold on to the memories. EJ was my colleague and became a friend. She had a zest for life. I enjoyed and looked forward to our animated conversations. It is not to be.
Victoire Batiste, Somerset, NJ
I was so sorry to hear of E.J.'s passing. I met her on a Women's Sankofa journey a few years ago and we immediately bonded over our past experiences in France. I was hoping to see her again last summer when a group from our church volunteered at Project Hospitality, but she had left her ministry there by the time we arrived. My sincere condolences to her family, parishioners, and colleagues.
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