Words from our Minister

Ken Forbes
The Revd Kenneth M Forbes, Minister at Lion Walk Church, Chappel URC and URC Christ Church, Colchester

The Revd Kenneth M Forbes was called to serve at Lion Walk Church, with Chappel URC, in November 2003.  Ken’s ministry with the Congregational Union of Scotland had been in Hamilton and Blantyre; Annan; and Port Glasgow, as well as serving as Synod Clerk for Scotland through the time the Congregational Union of Scotland joined the United Reformed Church in 2000.  Between 1989 and 1994 Ken’s ministry had been in Zimbabwe.  In 2008, Ken was also called to ministry at Christ Church, Colchester.

A few examples of Ken’s sermons can be found on the Sermons page of this website.

Each month Ken writes in the Church magazines.  As Lion Talk is available to members only on this website, and as appropriate, the article written for the magazine is presented here for you to read:

At the end of February I attended an ‘Inter-Faith gathering’ held in the Town hall and hosted by the Mayor. Its simple purpose was to get representatives of the different faith communities talking to one another, sharing their experiences of faith, and perhaps finding some common ground.

It was attended by representatives of several Christian denominations, as well as members of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faiths,the Humanist Society, and one or two of ‘floating’ faith who weren’t attached to any one religious group. We each had the opportunity for brief one-to-one conversation with members of other faiths to share what faith meant to us personally.

It was during these conversations that the common ground was revealed: a passion for justice and peace. Everyone I spoke to – my conversations were with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and humanist – shared those same values, but embraced different forms of spirituality to express them.

Two things struck me about the event. Firstly I realised that we are all just human people, struggling in our own ways to transform a broken and dangerous world through our faith. There are many different emphases. Some concentrate on prayer and meditation in an effort to cleanse the human spirit; some adhere to a set of formal laws or practices; some concentrate on prayer and some on service to the community. Most combine some or all of these.

Secondly it became clear that all faiths are worried about what we call ‘fundamentalism’, by which we mean a strict, exclusive and sometimes violent understanding of faith. Most faiths, it seems, are troubled by a small minority of their members whose exclusivity and hatred of other faiths arouses fear and suspicion and causes damage to their own faith. This is a problem for Islam, Judaism and Christianity in particular; a problem which is being addressed locally by events such as this.

This worthwhile evening ended with an excellent buffet supper provided by the Muslim community ….

Ken (from April 2016 Lion Talk)

The Christian Response to the Refugee Crisis?

I did a Google search the other day for ‘Christian Response to the Refugee Crisis’, and discovered that Christians seem to be just as confused and divided as European governments are – at a complete loss to know how to respond to this humanitarian disaster.

That division has been confirmed in my own conversations with Christians. Some have shared the point of view that Europe and general, and the UK in particular, simply do not have the infrastructure to cope with a significant influx of migrants, and that the only way to help is to find a way of establishing safety and stability in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Others have said that it’s simply our Christian calling to offer help to those in need, with no questions asked.  Some have been worried that, among the thousands of refugees there will almost certainly be a small number who intend harm to the West, and some whose motives are purely economic, and that to welcome all might be detrimental or even dangerous to our own society.

One family I know is offering to share their home with a refugee family.

So what is the Christian response? I am in no doubt what Jesus would say about it:

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’.

‘For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?’

‘And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.’

‘And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.’

The whole issue is a huge challenge for us all; let’s hope we can respond to it prayerfully, practically, sacrificially, putting aside self-interest and seeking the guidance of the Spirit.

Ken (from October 2015 Lion Talk)