Forest Fold Baptist Chapel
The people of Forest Fold Baptist Chapel, Crowborough, in East Sussex, will not quickly forget the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, as retiring Dr Peter Rowell handed on the pastoral baton to John Cowley.
On 1 December the church building was filled to capacity to mark the end of 24 years of loving and faithful service from Pastor Peter and his wife Kathleen.
Leslie Jarvis spoke from Acts 20:32, ‘And now… I commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up’. He reminded us that the gospel has been faithfully preached and all blessings have been through God’s grace.
Ron Bishop recounted that many had been converted through Pastor Rowells’ ministry. Men had been sent into the ministry and other full-time Christian work; and outreach work had expanded into local schools and prisons.
A written testimonial and Bible were presented; further gifts were given at a more informal meeting afterwards.
This theme was continued on 19 January, when a similar gathering witnessed the induction of the new pastor, John Cowley, with his wife Esther. Alongside John, Simon Hook has been appointed as assistant pastor; and Ken Appleton (previously pastor at Brixton) completes the eldership team.
It was in 1980 that the Forest Fold church embarked on its first major outreach work. John’s parents were the only ones to start attending, with their shy, unenthusiastic 11-year-old son tagging along – an unlikely candidate for future pastor. But God worked in his life and changed his heart. The Book of Romans opened John’s eyes to his need before God and pointed him to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour.
Pastor Paul Watts of Coventry spoke from 2 Timothy 4:1-8: ‘I charge thee, therefore, preach the Word’. This momentous charge calls for wholehearted support from the church for preaching.
During the service, Peter Rowell laid hands on John and prayed. He encouraged him from 2 Timothy 2:1-3: ‘Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus’. As Simon and Ken joined in united prayer, Peter had the joy of knowing that all three were his sons in the ministry.