Pastor Thompson is all about community
Community Contact Ministry has always had the objective of engaging with the public; however, the coronavirus pandemic pushed its members to a new level.
Pastor Gladstone Thompson and his team were able to continue with their weekly services despite the mandated closure of church buildings.
“My initial response was one of disbelief,” he said. “Who had ever heard of the church being closed for any reason? However, once I was more informed that the Government had the citizens' best interest at heart, I was able to accept [it].
“During the mandated closure, our church used the Zoom technology to conduct our services. We experienced an increase in our attendance and have had visitors from as far as Germany attending our virtual services.”
When Bermuda entered Phase 1 of its reopening after the pandemic, Mr Thompson hosted open-air services at various locations around the island each Sunday.
“We decided, since the Government has allowed, to have our services in the community, weather permitting. We have held our Sunday morning services at several community locations including Shelly Bay, the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum since June.
“We know that God works in mysterious ways, and what we have found at Community Contact Ministry is that the coronavirus has acted as a catalyst to push us closer to our purpose. Many Christians believe that we should move beyond the ‘four walls' of the church and be more willing to engage the community. This is our present reality.”
Mr Thompson stumbled into the leadership of Community Contact Ministry in 2018.
Its former pastor, the Reverend James Alton Thompson, had died the year before and the congregation was being ministered by the Right Reverend Lloyd Duncan, of Heritage Worship Centre on Dundonald Street.
“I decided to visit the Community Contact Ministry and my first visit continues to this present day,” Mr Thompson said. “The congregation asked Bishop Duncan if I could become their pastor in February of 2018.
“It was never my intention to be their pastor, and so I was pleasantly surprised to be given the opportunity to minister to such a wonderful congregation. My wife, Zina, and I enjoy leading the Community Contact Ministry family.
“We consider our church to be an LIT church — loving, innovative and transformed. Our mission states: we will demonstrate God's love, we will use innovation as a means to reach the lost and we will continue to allow the Spirit of God to transform our minds. My role is to lead the church to fulfil our mission.”
Community Contact Ministry will host its service at Spanish Point Park Beach (Pontoons) at 9am this Sunday. The focus will be on the youth, with Robert Thomas Jr as the guest speaker.
“We invite the public to attend. Come and receive a blessing from the Lord. Wear your mask, bring your own chairs and pop-up tent, and practise social-distancing. Our set-up committee will supply hand sanitiser and the Lord is sure to bless.”
As churches across the island navigate their reopening, Mr Thompson has taken the time to reflect on the lessons learnt through the pandemic and how they can be applied to ongoing ministry.
“The lesson learnt is that when you lean on the Lord, he always directs your path. The Bible says, ‘Lean not unto your own understanding.' It is the Lord who has directed us into the community for such a time as this.
“Going forward, we will be more intentional to reach out to the community throughout the year. The members are really enjoying the community outreach and we have experienced a growth in our attendance. We look forward to the continuation of our community contact crusade.”