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A note and some prayer led to a lifetime of love and ministry

Met through church: Bishop Lloyd and Shanda Duncan (Photograph supplied)

Bishop Lloyd and Shanda Duncan have spent their entire relationship in ministry – the couple were literally introduced to each other at church.

“Bishop Goodwin Smith was preaching at Heritage Worship Centre and he was encouraging the young ladies in the church to wait on God,” Mr Duncan said.

“Well, one of our mutual friends sent a note to my wife during that service saying that they had a ‘good guy’ for her. He came and told me about it. I investigated and the rest is history.”

After prayerful consideration Mrs Duncan decided to take the future bishop seriously.

“I was heading back to university right after we met so we never had a chance to go on a date,” she said. “Then, one Sunday afternoon after church, the phone at my dormitory rang. This was back in the day before WhatsApp and all of that; the phone was actually in the hallway of the dorm. When I got to the phone and realised it was him my jaw dropped.

“I was prayerful with it because I wanted the right person. I wanted a lifetime partner and I wanted to be sure that it was in God’s will for me to marry him.”

Two years later, on June 7, 1986, the couple were married and embarked on what would become a lifetime of love and church ministry together.

Mr Duncan had been interested in ministry since he was a young boy watching his father. The late Rev John Duncan was pastor of Smith Hill New Testament Church of God, on Curving Avenue.

“My dad was a pastor all of my life and I was really intrigued by his pulpit ability. His strong suit was preaching, and I was drawn to it.

“I started off as a musician in ministry. I was about 13 years old when I started playing the organ and from there I was always following my Dad wherever he went. He saw that I had an interest and then eventually my name was put forward to pursue ministry in the church.”

In December 1999 Mr Duncan was installed as the pastor of the Smith Hill congregation after his father retired.

“We succeeded my parents at Smith Hill, which was a very meaningful and humbling experience,” he said.

“On my installation one of my dear friends told me to ‘blow this little church up out of the corner’ and that’s exactly what we decided to do.”

Mr Duncan embarked on an innovative ministry campaign which included television commercials – something that had not been widely done in the local church community before.

“We decided to put the product of the church out in the community in a bold way. That’s where the television commercials came in; businesses do it, restaurants do it, so we decided to do it too.”

The campaign proved successful and under the leadership of Mr Duncan the attendance and membership of the Smith Hill Church – now known as the Greater Smith Hill Church – grew exponentially.

Mrs Duncan had an integral role in its success as well, as the “help meet” for her husband.

“We work together. Whatever vision God has given him, I help him to birth it,” she explained.

“He shows me the vision and I put the bells and whistles on it.”

In 2008 Mr Duncan was elected as the administrative Bishop, or denominational leader, of the New Testament Church of God in Bermuda, a position he held for 12 years.

“I succeeded Bishop Goodwin Smith as administrative Bishop but unfortunately, I inherited the position at a challenging time. There was a split in the denomination and we had to navigate that.

“It turned out to be really rewarding for my wife and I to see the church come back to itself and gain renewed vigour and strength. That was the highlight for us. Seeing people come back to the church to experience the presence of God.”

However, being a couple in ministry has not been without challenges, Mr Duncan said.

“When you are in the people business there are challenges placed on you – especially in relation to your time. We had to learn how to be present in ministry and present in our marriage at the same time.”

Mrs Duncan agreed that prioritising each other was paramount.

“Your husband and wife must come before the church. Your family must come before the church. We had to make time for one another because you can be easily swept up by the love you have for your ministry and your congregation. But you must put what is first, first.”

The couple are now pastoring in Hamilton Parish out of Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church, where the Greater Smith Hill congregation now meets.

“It’s something unique going on in the faith community right now, where churches are partnering with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. During Covid we relocated our services to Midland Heights to be able to have more space and accommodate social distancing. We have stayed because we found that it really works for us.”

After 23 years in active ministry, the Duncans believe that they are just getting started.

“Working at the administrative level takes you away from ministry sometimes. Now, that we are back to pastoring, we are laser-focused on loving the people,” Mr Duncan said.

“My wife and I have modelled our ministry after my parents’ ministry, which was really about loving people. That’s our brand, loving people the way Jesus did.

“If you are looking for an authentic contemporary Sunday service, come down to what we like to the call the ‘Greater Heights’ and join us.”

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Published February 18, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated February 20, 2023 at 8:04 am)

A note and some prayer led to a lifetime of love and ministry

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