Norman J. Kansfield

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Dr. Norman J. Kansfield is a senior scholar in residence at Drew University. He was suspended from being a minister in the Reformed Church in America and president of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 2005 after officiating at his daughter's same-sex marriage.[1]


Norman Kansfield is the son of Orval Russel Kansfield (1913–1990) and Margaret Norman (1914–1980) Kansfield. He was born on March 24, 1940, and baptized in the Mount Greenwood Reformed Church, Chicago. He grew up within the First Reformed Church, South Holland, Illinois.


After graduating from Thornton Township High School, Kansfield continued his education at Hope College, Holland, MI (A.B., 1962), Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI (B.D., 1965), Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY (S.T.M., 1967), and the University of Chicago (A.M., 1970; Ph.D., 1981).


Kansfield served the Emmanuel Reformed Church, London, Ontario, as a student pastor, in 1964. From 1965 to 1968, he was the pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Astoria (Queens, NYC). While doing graduate study in Chicago, he served the First Reformed Church of Berwyn, in an interim between pastors, and the Ivanhoe Reformed Church of Riverdale as an associate pastor (1968–1970). From 1970 to 1983, Kansfield was the Librarian and a member of the faculty in Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI. From 1983 to 1993, he was the Director of the Ambrose Swasey Library, and Associate Professor of Church History in the Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary. The Ambrose Swasey Library also served the St. Bernard's Institute. In 1993, Kansfield was called to serve as President and the John Henry Livingston Professor of Theology for New Brunswick Theological Seminary. The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America twice elected him to the ecclesiastical office of Professor of Theology, in 1982 (which he resigned in 1983) and in 1993.[2] During his presidency, through the concerted work of many persons, the student body increased by more than 50% and became much more ethnically and socially diverse; the faculty grew by two positions, and the school's endowment was doubled.[citation needed]

Kansfield has studied the history and theology of the Reformed Church in America and the development of Christian hymnody.[2] He served as a member of the committee which produced the hymnal "Rejoice in the Lord", published in 1985.[3] Kansfield also wrote a hymn, "In Every Age, God Calls and Shapes the Church," in honor of his daughter Ann's 2011 ordination.[4]

He was dismissed from the Presidency due to officiating at Ann's 2004 marriage to her same-sex partner.[5] Subsequent charges were brought to the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, which put him on trial in June 2005.[6] He was found guilty of all charges and punished by being dismissed from the office of Professor of Theology and suspended from the office of Minister of Word and Sacrament.

Kansfield now teaches Reformed Theology in the Theological School at Drew University in Madison, NJ, and serves the congregation of the Zion United Church of Christ, Stroudsburg, PA as Theologian in Residence. He was active in the founding of Room for All, an organization within the membership of the Reformed Church in America that is working for the full inclusion of GLBT persons within that denomination,[7] and he served the Human Rights Campaign as a member of the Editorial Board of Out In Scripture. In 2011, Kansfield made an apology to the Reformed Church; in return, the church reinstated him as a pastor.[4]

Marriage and children[edit]

Kansfield has been married to historian Mary Klein Kansfield since 1965. They have two children: Ann, a pastor in Brooklyn, and John, an architect. Ann is married to Jennifer Aull, who pastors with Ann in the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn. Ann and Jennifer are the parents of two children.


  1. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (2005-06-18). "Minister Cited for Performing Gay Wedding". New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b Joint Archives of Holland. Hope College. 
  3. ^ Brink, Emily R. "Songs for Baptisms, Professions of Faith, Weddings, and Funerals". Reformed Worship: Songs for the Season. Faith Alive Christian Resources. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Percy, Lily (25 November 2012). "Gay Wedding Was A Trial For The Reformed Church". NPR News. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (2005-02-12). "Seminary Votes Out Leader Over Daughter's Gay Wedding". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (2005-06-17). "Minister Faces Church Trial for Performing Gay Wedding". New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Ex-RCA seminary head reinstated to ministry". Christian Century. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 

Additional sources[edit]