Rev. Dr. Patrick Daymond knows what it means to follow in the footsteps of a great man. In September 2020, he was installed as the Senior Pastor of Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, Illinois. Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith, Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Covenant United Church of Christ, hand-picked Daymond to succeed him as Senior Pastor.
The Road to Covenant UCC
Pastor Daymond shared that his friendship and relationship with Dr. Smith dates back to their days at Chicago’s McCormick Theological Seminary. Before arriving at Covenant UCC, he served a two-year pastoral residency at Fourth Presbyterian Church in a program funded by the Lilly Foundation. In addition, he served as pastor of the Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church in Chicago and the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Long Island, New York. During his pastorate at Memorial Presbyterian Church, he was invited by Dr. Smith to preach at Covenant UCC on several occasions, including a churchwide retreat.
Succeeding Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith, Jr.
Along with his wife, Dr. Antonia Daymond, and their two sons, Pastor Daymond arrived at Covenant UCC in 2018 to begin the 2½ year succession plan to shadow Rev. Smith until his retirement. He shared that Covenant UCC was richly blessed by timing. “In the 2½ years of shadowing Dr. Smith, we were able to get to know one another. I understood the level of trust needed to continue the story and legacy of Covenant UCC’s 25 years of ministry,” he said. Pastor Daymond recalled that Dr. Smith “is one of the most fascinating individuals you can meet, period. He has lived an excellent life and sought to model his life in Christ’s likeness. In doing so, he has served as a tremendous model for ministry.” While shadowing Dr. Smith, Pastor Daymond observed Dr. Smith and took away from him his career as an educator, which benefitted him in so many ways with flourishing his own pastoral gifts. He shared, “Dr. Smith has a way of connecting to one person in a room of hundreds, making them feel they are the only person in the room.” Pastor Daymond added that a sage message Dr. Smith shared with him was to “Love the people. It’s one thing to hear it and another to see the model in such a powerful, helpful, and edifying way.”
Serving the Covenant UCC Congregation
Pastor Daymond’s installation as Senior Pastor of Covenant UCC took place amid the pandemic. During this time, worship services were curated for an online environment. He shared, “Covenant’s ministry has grown, and we want it to continue to grow. How do we maintain what we built and at the same time minister to our in-person congregation?” Pastor Daymond acknowledges that this is a continuing growing edge and that it is important to “find that medium and continue to be relevant for those who have connected to Covenant across the world.” In addition, he shared, “The people were here before I arrived; thus, a story was already in place. How does a new leader begin to enter into the story and cultivate or narrate the story forward?” He provided that it is necessary to solidify the Covenant story. “Covenant has been a place where they make connections like no one else; everyone knows your name, and you feel as though you’ve always been there,” he added. Pastor Daymond continued, “We must connect the disconnected to Christ and equip the connected to be more like Christ.”
Reflections on Restoration
Pastor Daymond shared that the world is at a point of reflection while living in a pandemic. “The church needs to lead people to deeper levels of spirituality; otherwise, we may lose a whole generation. There is a good opportunity for a greater harvest – one greater than we have seen in the past 20 years. It is up to us to know what it is we are called to do,” he added. “We still see the vestiges of the pandemic; we have been operating in a mentality of brokenness,” he said. “There needs to be a reset so that healing can occur. In the last year, we have been allowed an opportunity to reset – healing, in part, is up to us.
Pastor Daymond added that social justice issues of economic empowerment, health disparities, and violence in our communities are important to the church’s ministry and the congregation’s health and well-being. “We are quick to throw people away; as a Christian, my belief is grounded in the idea of redemption. We must engage in restorative justice in ways that change the temperature of our society. Unemployment, poverty, lack of investment must be tended to in order to end the cycle of violence.”
Pastor Daymond was recently honored as a 2021 Chicago Defender Man of Excellence.
Donna Hammond is a contributing writer and seminarian. Follow her on Twitter @deelois623 and on Facebook, DeeLoisSpeaks.