"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 

  More to the method of my madness. 

In casual conversation with many of you, I have heard questions about why we worship the way we do. Much ink has been spilt towards these questions, far beyond what can be covered in a newsletter article—or even a series of articles. So, feedback from you all will be helpful in focusing on the immediate questions burning in your heads. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of worship in the Reformed tradition from the church’s Directory for Worship and Book of Common Worship. 

Worship consciously connects us with the Holy Spirit who speaks to us in word and sacrament. The form of worship is marked by a tension between form and freedom. Consistent forms of patterns and practices help shape our lives of faith and faithfulness. Variety provides space for unexpected insight and inspiration. Worship always is ordered by God’s word and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer offered through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit is the heart of worship. Dialogue and relationship is a gift of God. And there are many kinds of prayer—adoration, thanksgiving, confession, supplication, intercession, dedication. There are many ways to pray—listening and waiting, remembering God’s gracious acts, crying out in pain, anger, or fear. Prayer may be spoken, silent, sung, or enacted in some physical way—dance, kneeling, bowing, standing, lifting hands, drumming, clapping, embracing, joining hands, anointing, laying on of hands. 

Always, every action in worship is to glorify God and seek the gifts of the Spirit for the good of the people and for building up of the Church.


Pastor Tom