M oney and success in business don’t always guarantee happiness. Just ask Hoboken resident turned reverend, Anthony Forbes, who grew up in the city’s projects and worked his way up the corporate ladder to become the executive director of a health insurance company in Manhattan. He earned a six-figure salary, drove a Jaguar, and was completely miserable.
Forbes, who was a star running back for the Hoboken High Redwings, recalled having grown up in an environment that promoted materialistic ideals, leading to a mentality where wealth, social status, and personal possessions were the ultimate goals.
“My whole life growing up in Hoboken, I hung out with kids whose idea of success was what you owned and where you lived,” he said. “I spent my entire life chasing these things. And I had it all. God gave me everything I wanted, but nothing truly made me happy. I became one of the most unhappy people in the world.”
In November 2004, Forbes began “searching for something more,” and decided to attend a spiritual event at Madison Square Garden hosted by Rev. Creflo Dollar Jr.
It was there Forbes first felt inspired to pursue a faith-based lifestyle, turning directly to the Bible, which he said spoke to him every time he opened the book.
“I was overwhelmed. Things began jumping off the pages at me,” recalled Forbes when he initially began reading the scripture. “At first, it wasn’t making a whole lot of sense. It was like reading a foreign language to me, but after prayer and meditation, the messages became clear. From the minute I began to accept and receive Jesus in my life, I knew I had a calling to preach the gospel.”
In January 2006, Forbes enrolled in the Christian Nyack Alliance Theological Seminary, attending the institution’s Manhattan campus.
After 18 months of religious instruction, Forbes graduated from the seminary in May of this year with a master’s in Divinity.
For months, Forbes searched for a place to hold services, until meeting up with 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo at a Hoboken Housing Authority Commissioners meeting. Russo gave him the OK to use the Russo Civic Association on Adams Street for services every Sunday morning. Both Russo and Forbes had been friends since the mid-1980s.
Forbes’ newly formed Hoboken congregation is called “God in Christ Spiritual Fellowship.” Since October, it has met at Russo’s civic association every Sunday.
To date, the congregation consists of 12 members, most of whom are either co-workers whom Forbes has counseled over the years or friends/family he grew up with in town. But he is looking for more.
The message and his congregation
According to Forbes, the primary message he plans to promote through his congregation is one of a spiritual awakening via the lessons and teachings of Jesus Christ.
“The problem most people have today is that they’ve turned their back to God, they don’t have a place for faith, and they don’t bother to make the time [for it] in their life,” said Forbes. “I want to show them what they’re missing by exposing them to a spirituality that will transform their entire outlook on life and give them a positive perspective so they can appreciate what matters most.”
One of those who was attracted to Forbes’ message is Victor Colon of the Bronx, a co-worker of the reverend who drives out to Hoboken every Sunday with his wife and two daughters to participate.
“[Forbes] had a message – when the two of us would speak about God and the Bible, what he would say to me always rang true,” said Colon. “I feel like God put me with this gentleman to make me stronger. He has a spirituality that draws you in.”
Another member of Forbes’ congregation is his sister, Yolanda Forbes.
“I never saw him as someone who would do this,” admitted Yolanda. “I’m really excited for him, though. He’s a very good person and I know he’s going to be the best reverend he can be.”
Similarly, Forbes’ wife Veronica, who also grew up in Hoboken, shared in Yolanda’s optimism.
“I’ve always had faith, but he’s made me more spiritual,” said Veronica. “Anthony’s a good, honest man who genuinely cares about what’s going on in people’s lives. He’s going to make a tremendous impact in the lives of many [people] in the community.”
The services generally last for about an hour, from 11 a.m. to noon, and are open to the entire community, no matter one’s faith, said Forbes.
For more information about the God in Christ Spiritual Fellowship congregation, log onto www.gicspiritualfellowship.org.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.