"Hello" from the Pastor

Pastor Tom Forbes

We are all called to be God’s people and we will spend our entire lives trying to figure out just what this means. We do this together, as a community, seeking to discern the path we are each being urged to follow. Often, we can’t see the path until we stop and look back at what God has done in and through us. In my first weekend at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary we walked a labyrinth together and this idea took shape in my mind. As we journey through the labyrinth, we know where we’ve been because we’ve been there. We know where we are because we look down and see we are on the path—between the lines. But, when we try to look ahead, before we get very far, the parallel lines converge, and the path is obscured. We proceed forward, step-by-step, trusting that the path will lead us through to the goal. Where I’ve been: I’m a life-long Presbyterian and the son of a Presbyterian minister. I studied theatre at James Madison University; served in the Army; worked in the information technology industry for 32 years; and retired from Hewlett Packard in 2011 so I could begin my seminary studies. Along the way I married Alison Fain, an elementary school teacher from Louisville, KY, and together we recently celebrated our 41st  wedding anniversary. We have lived in Martinsburg, WV for 34 years where we raised our two children, Jessica and Dave. We joined the Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church in 1998 where I served on the Session and taught Sunday School and bible studies. Along the way several members of Shenandoah Presbytery came alongside me to help discern God’s claim on my life. I am an ordained Deacon and Ruling Elder, and for the past 15 years, have served as a Commissioned Ruling Elder and now a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. Where I am: I have served congregations in Kearneysville, Piedmont, and Keyser West Virginia. Along the way I have walked with many wonderful people in joyful times and in sorrow, in births, marriages, and deaths, and in sickness and recovery. I am continuing to learn and practice the variety of ways ministry is done, worship and preaching, teaching, pastoral care, transformational ministry, missions, ecumenical relationships and collaboration, and spiritual disciplines.  Where I’m going: With God’s help I will continue in ministry as long as I have the wherewithal to do so. Alison has retired from teaching, the children have grown up, and we are living the next great adventure of our lives together. Beyond this, the lines of our path converge, and I do not know where the journey will take us. I will trust God each step on the way and walk this path as I am led.

The Pastor's Corner 

First, I want to thank you all. I appreciate being appreciated for pastor appreciation month. I especially like getting good things to eat and good things to read. It’s about a healthy mind and body. But we must feed the soul sometimes as well.

     Speaking of feeding the soul, I want to tell you all about the upcoming Missional Confirmation 

class that will start in mid-January and run for four weeks on Sundays after the morning worship service. The classes will last about two hours and start with lunch—those good things to eat.

     The class series is called Changing the World: Confirmation for the Missional Church. Think of 

this: Jesus called the disciples to walk with him, learn from him, emulate him, and meet and 

minister to strangers, aliens, impoverished or ritually unclean people. As the church, the body of Christ in this time and place, our ministry empowers disciples and sends them into the world— whether it is to far-away places, or next door. The Missional Confirmation class is intended to inspire our missional identity and vocation. And it will be fun, with lively discussions, and engaging videos—and lunch.

     Confirmation classes have historically been offered to young people to prepare them to make a profession of faith. Professing one’s faith is still quite important. However, each person comes to that point individually as they are ready, not en masse  at the end of a compulsory class. It takes our talking to and listening to young people to help them come to that point. It takes making a space for them in our lives and the church’s life. 

     These classes will inspire young people to follow Jesus and change the world, in big and small ways, in service to Jesus Christ. This is the missional project Jesus initiated and entrusted to the church. Confirmation means to encourage and strengthen: 

     If we read the bible for what’s really in there, we find that this missional project is the sole 

reason for the church’s existence. In Genesis we hear that God called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 

and blessed them, not because they deserved it or were better qualified than all the others, but so they could be a blessing to all the others. And Jesus’ commission to the church is to be that 

blessing—get up, and go out to all the others, make disciples, and teach them to love as God 

loves them—no matter who they are. 

     This is the direction our church should take. But young people cannot shift the church by 

themselves. So, we need adult mentors to walk with them in the class and beyond with follow-up activities. Our church leaders should also be inspired by these classes. In fact, anyone in the congregation and beyond is invited to be a part of Jesus’ missional project.

Did I mention lunch?


Pastor Tom