A calling to help those in need
Dianne Tacklyn did not do much to celebrate turning 73. On February 25, her daughter bought her Chinese food and a cake. She took a nap. A couple of friends came from down the road.
It was bliss for the pastor of New Testament Church of God Healing Centre in Sandys — she does not often get the chance to relax.
“I'm on call 24 hours a day,” the Beacon Hill resident said. “I'm supposed to have Mondays to myself, but if someone needs me I go.”
Back in the 1990s the ministry found her, not the other way around. She felt compelled to study the Bible and take religious courses both here and abroad, but did not feel the need do anything more.
“The pastor [at NTCOG] died and they brought in an American guy, Pastor Russell Tomlinson. He taught me. Then he left. He said he was going back home. I wasn't happy when he left because I was receiving so much. When he left, he put my name forward to become the pastor.”
Content with the desk job she had, she hesitated. Her mother, Olive Armstrong, persuaded her to take the job.
“You have to give up everything for the ministry,” Ms Tacklyn said. “If your family plan a dinner for you and someone calls needing help, you have to go. She said, if you do this, we will support you. My father died a short time later, and it sort of pushed me to do it more. I just love it, but I wouldn't advise doing this job unless you really feel called to it.
“It takes a lot of pain and crying. People have a lot of issues to deal with. Because you get involved with it, you take on those feelings.”
The pastor is often called to help people who have nowhere to stay, or who do not have the money to pay their electricity or rent.
“Hunger and homelessness in Bermuda are real problems,” she said. “People are losing their jobs and they don't have money. I am learning how to reach out to more people, especially knowing that many people are without jobs in Bermuda.”
At the moment, her congregation meets in temporary housing at St Michael's Chapel after their church was damaged during Hurricane Humberto last year.
“The building belongs to St James Church,” Ms Tacklyn said. “They use it for weddings, or let churches in difficulty use it. Thank goodness for Rev Hollis at St James.
“God always makes a way, but it was disappointing that this happened.”
Her father, George Armstrong, sold newspapers for The Royal Gazette and worked on the press. Her mother took care of Ms Tacklyn and her six siblings plus “every kid in the neighbourhood”.
The Armstrongs were spiritual and sent their children to several different Sunday schools. Her brother, Henry Armstrong, ministers at New Testament Church of God Rhema Ministries in St George's.
“Salvation Army, AME, everywhere you could think of, they sent us,” Ms Tacklyn said. “I was very quiet and I loved going to church.”
She lived on Angle Street until she was six. The family then moved to North Shore, Pembroke, where she met Llewellyn, her husband of 48 years.
The couple have three children, two foster daughters and four grandchildren. Her advice to young couples is do not give up on each other.
“Try to work things out,” Ms Tacklyn said. “If you don't go to a counsellor or pastor, try to find someone that both of you don't know. Let them give you some advice.”
• Lifestyle profiles the island's senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them