David Hann was 5 when his brother Donnie died.
Doctors had discovered a malignant brain tumour the year before; the surgeries and treatments weren’t enough to save the 10-year-old.
“After my brother Donnie’s death, my dad went looking for answers to why God would take his son,” said Rev Hann, who recently took over as minister of Wesley Methodist Church.
“People said all sorts of things to comfort him like ‘God needed him more than you’ and ‘It was his time’. All these things didn’t bring healing to my dad, they just brought more anxiety and more sorrow.
“But one positive thing that came out of that was I watched our community in Nova Scotia, Canada grieve with my parents and surround them and I knew there was something about the way my parents were grieving that was different than what I had experienced with others. That’s when I felt the nudge of the Spirit to go into ministry.”
An empathetic approach to hardships and grieving has always been at the centre of Rev Hann’s ministry.
His father made him promise that when burying anyone, especially a child, he’d choose his words carefully. Rev Hann provides a listening ear to people’s hurts.
“Unfortunately, there is no way to answer the ‘why’ when it comes to situations like this, but I can weep with you, walk and journey with you,” he said. The 54-year-old arrived in Bermuda with his wife Marion, in January.
They came here on a whim two years ago, for their 30th anniversary celebrations. Their initial plan was to spend time in Boston but hotels in the city that August were priced astronomically high.
Rev Hann’s sister suggested they take a cruise here instead. Wesley’s doors were locked when they passed by, but they learnt the church was looking for a minister.
Eighteen months later, a friend suggested he apply.
“After a whole lot of prayer and discerning we said ‘Yes’,” said Rev Hann, a father of four.
In his time here, he’s found the congregation aspires to follow God’s “greatest” commandment: love the Lord, our God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.
“In this world, it’s easy for us to love, but we often put conditions on what that love is,” he said. “Wesley is working hard and struggling to define what love consists of.
“My goal in coming here is with a heart to love unconditionally. I’m not anyone great and I can still make my own mistakes or judge, but I feel we are heading in a positive direction. All around us today there is so much hatred, fear and misunderstanding and most importantly fear of the person that looks or thinks differently.”
He said he hopes to make it known that all are welcome at 43 Church Street.
“As a church, we have to start tearing down the walls,” he said. “There are too many of them and we continue to build them.
“That’s one of the greatest lessons I have learnt — at the core of the human soul and who we are, is a common desire to be known and be loved. And that’s the greatest message of the gospel.
“God knows us all by name and the number of hairs on our head. So many people in the world feel nameless. That has been a big lesson [for me in] listening to people’s stories and the journey at the end of it; people want to be known, not in a movie star way, but just the recognition they have been born and matter in this world.”
Join the church for its Easter Sunday service tomorrow at 11am.
• The Rodney Tucker Memorial Hymn Fest takes place April 23 at 4pm. For more information telephone 292-0418