How Different?

Posted by Scott Foster on


     We just finished another round of Beloved Community conversations last week. Lately we’ve been having two identical gatherings a couple days apart to give people a chance to get to one or the other. And usually there are about 35-40 people at each one.

     The first meeting was last Tuesday in the pouring rain at the Y Kirby Children’s Center over on East Street. Pouring rain! Pouring, and we still had about 40 people.

     By Thursday the rain had run its course and we hosted the meeting here at PCM in our Fellowship Hall. There were about 35 here for that meeting. Good stuff!

    We revisited the output of most of our previous meetings as we begin to widen the circle. The conversation is growing during each round. What started as a group led by faith community leaders is now becoming a community conversation.

     The mayor was there. Members of the Borough Council. Community leaders from the Madison Area Call To Action. Jews and Hindus. And the circle widens!

     One of the products of this last round of meetings was an invitation to an open house at the home of some Muslims in Morristown. This family is interested in joining the conversation to teach their neighbors about Islam and being part of the Beloved Community. Awesome!

     We’ve been missing a huge piece of the conversation because it started out with Christian leaders, and even our Interfaith Ministerial Alliance in Madison is really just “inter-Christian.” So the circle widens and more people come to the table from traditions other than our own. Bigger, better, and more in depth conversations.

     But what’s so striking to me and helpful and inspiring is not how different we are. What inspires me is how similar we are. How we love our families and our traditions and our town!

     Man, do we love Madison and Morris County!
     And what’s not to love?
     This place is a post card, right?

     So the over-arching question for our last Beloved Community meeting was, “Do You Know Your Neighbors?” Think about it. Do you?

     Do you know your neighbors?

     I hated to admit that we’ve been here almost a year (like we moved in on May 23, 2016) and I don’t know all my neighbors. I know the adjacent ones that share our fence lines on either side and behind. But not across the street.

     And I see the neighbors across the street all the time! I see their kids get on the school bus at 7 in the morning. Even as I write this from my living room, the bus just dropped the kids off at the end of the school day. I see ‘em coming and going all the time. But never once did I or they stop to talk until this week.

     Now our house is on Greenwood, which is a major conduit road between Madison and Florham Park. And, we live right on the edge of Madison. The people across the street live in Florham Park. How about that?

     So, was it the traffic? Was it that they live in a different borough? Are we that busy? Or are we just lazy?

     I know it’s the latter because I saw them out putting down mulch last Friday morning on my day off and I said, “That’s it! I’m going over.” So I walked over and introduced myself. We had a very nice chat getting acquainted. And we laughed about how lazy we are. He even said it first.

     It’s funny how similar we are.

     And now we have new friends and the circle just got a little bit wider.

     So, do you know your neighbors?
     I’m just asking because if you don’t, reach out.

     Go across the street.
     Next door.
     Down the block.
     Go to the next borough if you have to!
     Shake a new hand.
     I think you’ll be as surprised and amused as I am.

     It’s funny how similar we are.

     Grace and Peace,



to leave comment