Fear not, Pastor D is now online
When churches closed and restrictions were placed on public gatherings, pastor Damon Hendrickson took his message to Facebook.
The idea behind his new page, Pastor D Unleashed, is to provide a space to cultivate worship and strengthen faith despite the many challenges of Covid-19.
“The reality of Covid is that nothing is going to be the same for a long time and, as a pastor here specifically in Bermuda, I could have lamented that or I could see this as opportunity to do something,” said “Pastor D”, as he is affectionately called by his congregation.
“I've chosen to do both! Lament what was, but also see this as an opportunity to do something slightly new. So I started a Facebook page, Pastor D Unleashed, and right now it's the platform I'm using to stream a weekly worship service.”
He chose the word unleashed as it “speaks to the brand” he would like to build.
“The very definition of unleashed is all about being let loose, or having the restraints come off and for me I see this platform as an opportunity to move away from some of the traditional packaging that comes with being in a normal church setting,” Mr Hendrickson said.
Facebook has given him the opportunity to get to the core of the faith experience: praise and gratitude.
“I didn't want to replicate what we do every weekend, which normally meant that we'd be in service for anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. In those two hours we'd have certain ‘rules' that had to be followed and ‘lingo' you had to have an understanding of, to really get everything that was being said.
“So one of the primary goals with the worship service on Unleashed is take some of the elements that people look forward to in a normal worship service — praying, singing and preaching — and provide that in a format that takes no more than 60 to 70 minutes. So far we have been able to do that, and the feedback has been tremendous.”
Mr Hendrickson began his formal ministry in Bermuda in 2005 and now serves as the pastor of both Rockaway Seventh-day Adventist Church and Restoration ministries.
“Ministry, and in particular pastoral ministry, was always something that I wanted to do even from my childhood,” he said. “So, in that sense you could say I've always felt the call to formal, ordained ministry and everything else was just confirmation along the way of what God had impressed on me since I was a child.”
His parents were Adventists. As such, Mr Hendrickson joined the church, too.
“However, as I've gotten older, I've had to make this thing mine,” he said.
His hope is that the recent weeks at home have taught people meaningful lessons.
“During this season we can either be mad about what we can't do or use this time to figure out what we can do.
“For some, that may mean revisiting the goals and dreams that we've held on to for much of our life and begin to build a plan on how to act on them. Write the vision down for the dream, speak it into existence and perhaps as we move from phase to phase your goals and aspirations can become a reality.
“Perspective is key, this season can either be a terrible downer for you or it can become an awesome opportunity for you.”
Also helpful is for everyone to realise that “we're all going through the same storm, but definitely not on the same boats,” the pastor said.
“This is hitting people very differently and I think if we're going to have any sort of healing and bounce back from this pandemic then we have to recognise and sympathise with the varying degree of emotional distress that Covid-19 has brought with it. There is an uncertainty about the future for a lot of people and as a country we have to find a way to help people cope.
“This would be a great time to reacquaint yourself with the stories surrounding the life of Christ and reading for yourself how He mingled with people and took care of their needs and then asked them to follow Him.”
A prayer journal is a good way to record your journey so “that you read about your progress through your struggle in your own words,” the pastor added.
“Engage in some form of service. Figuring out a way that you can help someone out is a wonderful way to strengthen your relationship with God because serving others as Christ served reflects the love of God in us. And the more you serve the more you will see that connection thrive.
“If you are struggling right now, please remember [it] is a natural part of any relationship development, especially when the circumstances around the relationship suddenly change, so don't get discouraged. Things suddenly and dramatically shifted and I don't know who was really ready for this new reality.
“Your struggle does not diminish the love that God has for you. God loves you and that love has never changed — even through your struggle. That's the thing about God's love for us, it's not dependent on how we feel towards Him, it's always there for us.”
• Follow Pastor D Unleashed on Facebook