Tribune Print Share Text

Let’s talk about faith (part two)

Q&A with Jean Hays, Seabrook Protestant council representative

Created date

February 17th, 2016

In the second of a series on faith and faith communities, we focus on the Protestant community at Seabrook, in Tinton Falls, N.J. Who are the people within this close-knit community, and what do faith and community mean to them?

Jean Hays moved to Seabrook 11 years ago from Middletown, N.J., and serves on its Protestant and interfaith councils. The daughter and mother of Presbyterian ministers, Jean says faith, especially prayer, has held an important role in her life. Here, she shares her thoughts on faith and appreciation for her community.

Q: What is your role in the Protestant community? 

A: I’m the secretary of the Protestant council, and I’m also on the interfaith council. I attend meetings and help out when they have activities, like a food drive. I help sort the food because there are often items people give that are inappropriate, such as out of date or already opened.

Q: Why is your faith important to you?

A: It’s something that has always mattered to me, especially when I’m going through bad times. Prayer is particularly important to me because that’s where I get calmness and sustenance. Throughout my life, I have found that I could regain my balance when things went very wrong by praying myself and by other people praying for me. That’s really, really important to me. 

Q: Why is being part of a faith community important to you?

A: I’ve always been part of a Protestant church. My father was a Presbyterian minister. My son is a minister, and the [church] here is convenient because I don’t drive anymore. 

Q: What is the value of having a strong interfaith community at Seabrook for the community as a whole?

A: I am a very liberal thinker. I accept that other people have different ways of worshiping God than I do. And if that suits them, then that’s fine. 

I really am pleased that the Jewish community and the different kinds of Protestants and the Catholics can all cooperate together in making this a good community. That’s important to me. When other communities don’t accept people of other races or other faiths, to me that’s wrong, and Seabrook is not like that. 

Q: What services and celebrations will you take part in this holiday season?

A: I celebrate Christmas and Lent. Although I don’t celebrate the Jewish holidays, I do help with their memorial of the Holocaust; there are people here who have been through the Holocaust or who have family who were killed in it. 

Q: Is there anything you would like to add on the topic?

A: I do appreciate the fact that Seabrook has an interfaith community and the memorial services that they have include everyone. They’re having a service next week for people who are grieving or who have a loss of some kind—because that affects all of us.