Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church in Richmond Hill virtually installed the new pastor of its congregation, Dr. Devin Strong, on August 23 via Zoom with a drive-by parade afterwards as parishioners came through the church grounds, which had been decorated by young members. Participants waved hello from a safe distance to welcome Pastor Devin and celebrate his accomplishments thus far.
Pastor Devin started at the church in early April but was unable to have an official installation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with this virtual Zoom celebration, Strong has already introduced many innovative initiatives in his short time as pastor. The church started “The Breakfast Club” in July as a way for parishioners to stay connected during the ongoing pandemic. “The Breakfast Club,” which is held every two weeks, brings together eight parishioners, giving them a chance to gather at the church and enjoy a socially-distanced breakfast while they catch up and learn about each other and the congregation.
The new pastor is already working hard to forge relationships and connections to charities, nonprofit entities and humanitarian groups within the community. Strong recently met with the executive director of Family Promise to put a partnership into motion. The parish is already organizing its first workday to benefit Family Promise, during with participants will be putting together a play set for the families served by the organization.
Every Sunday morning, Pastor Devin hosts interactive services via Zoom at 10 a.m. with fellowship time and Holy Communion to ensure congregants stay connected to each other and to God during these challenging times.
“I did not expect to start at a congregation and not be able to meet my members face-to-face for months,” said Strong. “I wanted to have virtual, interactive events so that the members of our church had the opportunity to connect with me and other parishioners during this time of social isolation. We don’t know when we will be able to meet in person again, but I aim to continue taking on a very involved role to continue our mission and support our members and community.”
Strong has served several congregations and a campus ministry in Ohio, Michigan and Georgia, including a recent interim position at a church in Montgomery, Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carthage College in Wisconsin, a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in Minnesota, and a Doctor of Ministry in Transformation and New Church Development from Columbia Seminary in Georgia.