A decade ago, Brad Forlow was using his doctorate in chemical engineering while working for pharmaceutical companies doing drug and clinical research. Then the Lord called him to full-time ministry. A calling that has led Brad between Orlando, Vancouver British Columbia, and now here to New England.
In April of this year, Brad began as the new senior pastor at Christ Community Alliance Church in Orange, Vermont. Brad started his service on Good Friday 2019, kicking off the Easter celebration with his new leadership for this growing congregation.
For the last five years, Brad and his family – wife Rhonda and children Lauren, Rachel and Ian – have lived in the Pacific Northwest, serving as the Church Planter and Lead Pastor of River Community Church in Richmond, BC, near Vancouver and the Canadian/US border. “The culture and spiritual climate of New England is very similar to the area where we lived in Canada,” Brad explains. Coming to Christ Community Alliance, “was a great ministry match to my passions, experiences and gifts.”
Between Canada and Vermont, the family spent a little less than a year in Orlando preparing and waiting for the transition. “It was a little longer than expected, but it was a blessing for my family in many ways.” It also probably brought home some old memories for Brad, who had his first job at DisneyWorld and spent a number of years working at Sea World as well.
While New England feels much like the northwest, there are some differences. He is surprised by “how everyone seems to know everyone else in the area”.
During his candidacy, Brad recognized the match God facilitated with Christ Community. “My passion for discipleship, small group ministry, and community engagement fit with a congregation that has a heart to serve the community, live on mission, and multiply disciples.”
Brad has a few priorities for this church, including establishing missional community groups that teach, equip and train believers towards spiritual maturity. These groups will then have as their priority developing intentional and reproducible disciples.
“We desire to be a sending church,” Brad goes on. “Raising up new workers in full-time ministry, missions and church planting, as well as promoting the importance of short-term mission work to better support our missionary partners.”
While still relatively new to the area and learning the people and their needs, Brad already recognizes the extent of financial and physical needs for young people and families. “We would like to see our church have a greater impact on the students and youth.” The leadership team is currently working on strategies to engage and build relationships with non-churched youth in the community.
Brad is pleased to let the region know that Christ Community is a close-knit group of believers committed to knowing and studying God’s word. “We already have a very good relationship with the local schools and community.”
Looking to the future, Brad is excited to see God change lives and advance His Kingdom in the “hard soil” of New England.