In celebration of pastoring Cornerstone for 10 years this month, I am writing several blogs about the last 10 years of ministry in Forest City, PA. My blog is usually focused on theological issues, but this time my purpose is more practical. I am going to list things that I enjoy about our community. If you talk to me or hear me speak you may often hear me use the phrase “Forest City Community.” While there are slight distinctions between Forest City, Browndale, Vandling, Richmondale and other surrounding communities we are one community. For the last 10 years I’ve raised my family here, and I want to let others know why I think it’s great. Of course no community is perfect and there are things I might change, but I want to list the positives. These are in no particular order.
- Affordable Housing: If you look at a lot of the surrounding communities you will see how affordable it is to buy a starter home in Forest City. Back in 2008 my wife and I bought a foreclosure and fixed it up. They’re plenty of starter homes where people can start a family on a low income and be able to afford to own their home.
- Community Feel: Some may think these small communities are snobbish because they are so small and introverted. I probably felt like that at times. I remember one time I stepped into a restaurant and a group of people looked at me like “That guy has never been here before.” Small communities have advantages as well. Many times I could be at the gas station, grocery store, or out for a walk and I see several people I know. For this reason, I believe if a stranger ever approached my children and I happened not to be looking, several neighbors would step up and step in and let that person know that they were not going to mess with my kids.
- The Great Outdoors: We have a great mix of outdoor activities within several miles, and even within walking distance. From ski resorts, to golf courses, hiking trails which turn into snowmobile trails, to trout rivers, parks and lakes. If you’re into the great outdoors, there’s always something to do around here.
- The Four Seasons: I realize that many people live with four seasons in our country, but after living in Florida for a couple years I realize how much I took that for granted. There so many times where the season seems to drag out but something new and fresh is around the corner. Some people hate winter; it may feel like it would drag on forever, but in reality spring is always coming. I hate sweating and feeling hot, but I know eventually we will be able to breathe that crisp Autumn Northeastern Pennsylvania air.
- Local Restaurants: In a world of chain restaurants our community has managed to support several local mom-and-pop businesses. Often food quality is better and the service is always more personal. From steak at Frank’s, to the party on the patio at Stonebridge, to wings at DG’s or the Beacon, a fresh hoagie at Zazzeras, or some authentic Mexican food at Max Deli, you can always get a fresh, local, reasonably priced meal.
- A Safe Community: I realize that there are problems everywhere, which includes our community as well. However, I feel our community is a safe place to raise children. As long as I am with my children I never worry about their safety. From the park, to riding bikes or taking a walk, our community is a great place to be. Because we are a small community, neighbors often watch out for each other. A couple years ago we lost a key and for some reason our spare key was locked inside the house. As I was breaking into my kitchen window, one of my neighbors came out on the porch, didn’t realize it was me, and started yelling for me to get out of there. We had a good laugh about it later, and I’m glad he didn’t shoot me, ha, but one of the advantages of small community is a safe community.
- A Community: Another advantage of a small community is how we watch out for each other. I can think of several times over the last 10 years when someone was ill, had a fire, or someone was just down on their luck. I watched our community band together many times to get an individual or family through a very tough time. The recent fire on main street where four businesses caught on fire was a great example of seeing people just show up and volunteer where they could.
- Local Businesses: I know it’s very tough to run a mom-and-pop business anymore in the world of online shopping, but I’ve had several experiences over the last 10 years when I’ve received service from local businesses that you would never be available from any kind of chain store. Decisions the owners could make that managers of the big box store would not be allowed to make. I remember one time I needed something and I ran into the store as they were locking up. The registers were shut down for the day and I needed one small part. The owner gave me the parts because they knew me, wrote down what I took, and allowed me to come back another time and pay for those things.
- Ethnic Foods: We still have a taste of Eastern European ethnicity in our area. When I moved to college from Lake Ariel, one of the biggest shockers in Wisconsin was realizing how diverse our food was in Northeastern Pennsylvania. While most of the country is heating up food, not cooking it, we still have several pockets of people who keep some of these food traditions going. I’ve been to several parties over the last 10 years where I enjoyed homemade pierogies, kielbasa, sopressata, haluski, and other various food and drinks. And it’s not just that we have a variety of these cuisines, but there are still people who are making them from scratch in their kitchens, which makes all the difference in how enjoyable they are.
- Tourism: We are a day’s drive from a majority of American cities and historical places. You can make a day trip to New York City, Philadelphia, the ocean, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, New Jersey, and several other cities and states. You can also drive in a day and do an overnight trip to many other major cities such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Boston. If you set your destination for five hours or less you could probably go somewhere new every weekend for a year.
What else do you find great about our area? What do you find unique about this place we live? I hope you enjoy living here as much as I do.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.