Seth has 15 years of experience administrating programs that grow out of his convictions.
Children and Youth
In 2004, Seth partnered with Who is My Neighbor? Inc. to create a secular after school program for youth called The Cave. The Cave is an after-school drop-in center in Highland Park for youth in 6th – 8th grades. It provides a space for students to work on their homework, play games, participate in activities, or just spend time with their friends after school in a safe and supervised environment.
Four years later, concerned about the large number of youth aging out of foster care with no homes to go to, Seth built housing on top of his church in Highland Park. The apartments, called Irayna Court, are now home to six young women aged 18 - 22 who have aged out of foster care. In June 2010 Seth worked to purchase 2 two-family houses in Newark, comprised of two 3-bedroom apartments each. This project, called Shiimti Apartments (“shiimti” is Sumerian for “house where the wind of life is breathed in”) now houses ten formerly homeless youth age 18-21, together with mentors who serve as role models and help provide community linkage for the tenants.
When the Indonesian community at his church reached out to him for help in 2006, Seth didn't know he'd be embarking on a fight that would last over a half dozen years. This small Christian group - many of whom fled religious and ethnic based persecution in Indonesia in the late 1990s - was now being faced with deportation. The tireless efforts of Seth, his church, and other local religious organizations helped keep most of these families together in the U.S.
- "Church Works With U.S. to Spare Detention," The New York Times, 2009.
- "Faith Communities Shine the Light for CIR ASAP on International Migrants Day," Restoring Fairness, 2009.
But the fight wasn't over. In 2012, the pastoral staff at the Reformed Church of Highland Park decided to open up the church as a space of sanctuary for several members of the Indonesian community who were facing immediate deportation orders. Many of these individuals lived on the church grounds for almost a year before receiving a reprieve of their deportation order through a change of status that allowed them to live in their community instead of detention.
- "Broken Promises: How Obama’s Immigration Failures Have Put a New Jersey Community on Edge," New Republic, 2012.
- "Minister sees no choice but to fight for refugees," Washington Post, 2012.
- "Indonesian deportation fight in the U.S." CNN, 2012. video.
- "A Sanctuary Amid Fears of Persecution at Home," The New York Times, 2012.
- "Christian Indonesians in New Jersey Leave Church's Sanctuary," ABC News, 2013.
In response to the global refugee crisis in the fall of 2015, Seth connected with a small group of concerned people from central NJ, representing congregations of many faiths, and created a refugee resettlement organization. This organization, Interfaith-RISE, has resettled over two dozen individuals and is on track to resettle fifty more in the coming year. In addition Seth also helped launch Global Grace Cafe, a restaurant of international cuisine that hires immigrants as its chefs.
- "Syrian Refugee Crisis," Another Thing, 2015. video.
- "Pastor criticizes Christie, pledges to bring refugees to N.J." NJ.com, 2015.
- "NJ religious leaders: We must accept Syrian refugees," Asbury Park Press, 2015.
- "As U.S. Politicians Shun Syrian Refugees, Religious Groups Embrace Them," NPR, 2016.
- "Helping refugees," Fox 5 News, 2016. video.
As vice president of the board of directors of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), Seth has fought hard to eliminate the use of torture in U.S. prisons. In particular he is concerned by the practice of solitary confinement and championed the bill that would end the practice in New Jersey that Chris Christie just vetoed. In addition, Seth sits on the board of NeighborCorps Re-Entry Services, a community-based program that helps people transition successfully from Middlesex County Jail back to their families and lives.
- "Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement Praises," ACLU, 2014.
- "Solitary: Cruel and Unusual?" Due Process, 2015. video.
- "Pastor: If DOJ Officials Won’t Read the Torture Report, I'll Read It to Them," Sojourners, 2015.
- "Community speaks out against solitary confinement," Delaware Online, 2016.
- "Redemption," Bread for the World, 2016.
Seth has been co-pastoring the Reformed Church of Highland Park with his wife, Stephanie, since 2001. During that time he wrote a book from several of his sermons, A Voice for Justice: Sermons that Prepared a Congregation to Respond to God in the Decade after 9/11. He has been outspoken in his desire for interfaith cooperation and compassion and recently pledged to register as Muslim should a Muslim registry be put in place in the U.S.
- "Donald Trump, the Syro-Phoencian Woman, You & I," RCHP sermon, 2015.
- "Anxious Muslims find out they're not alone," The Record, 2016.
Seth has consistently pushed for the full inclusion of all LGBTQ persons in church life, and his church is an open and affirming congregation. In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Seth opened the church for a vigil.
At the Reformed Church of Highland Park, Seth has been active in encouraging his congregants toward better stewardship of the earth and its resources. In 2006 the church "went solar" and since that time has pursued other environmental issues including hunger and clean water.