Pastor Danielle Pilgrim has recently accepted a call to Andrews University as Associate Chaplain. That responsibility carries with it the assignment as the Pastor of the New Life Seventh-day Adventist Church, an on-campus church under the umbrella of Pioneer Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church. She is believed to be the first African-American female chaplain in the history of Andrews University.
Pastor Pilgrim comes to Andrews from the South Atlantic Conference, where she served as Assistant Pastor of the large Atlanta Berean SDA Church for four years.
Her journey to ministry began in New York City, when her family migrated from her birthplace in Trinidad and Tobago, where she spent the first thirteen years of her life. Her family was not Seventh-day Adventist but their landlord was. The landlord had children Pastor Pilgrim’s age. They invited her to church. Her mother permitted Pastor Pilgrim to attend the Adventist church with her friends but made it very clear to her under no circumstances could she join. In fact, her mother straitly warned Pastor Pilgrim that if she did join, she would be “kicked out of the house”.
Pastor Pilgrim continued to attend and finally felt compelled to take her stand-despite the stand of her mother that she would be forced to leave home if she got baptized. Though only sixteen and with no visible means of support, she got baptized-though she did not tell her mother.
When her mother inevitably found out, she was livid. Though tumultuous times ensued, eventually, Pastor Pilgrim says, her mother became her “greatest supporter.”
Pastor Pilgrim joined the Elmont Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, where she instantly became very active. She served as AYS Leader and eventually, church elder. As the Lord would have it, she joined a group called “The Youth Preaching Corp”-a city-wide group of young people in New York founded by two young men, Abraham Henry and Richard Means, Jr.
This dynamic group of young people went around the city of New York, preaching in area churches, working in evangelistic campaigns and spreading the Word of God. It also was the spawning ground for several Adventist preachers, beginning with the founders: Elder Abraham Henry, who is currently the Youth Director for the Lake Region, Elder Richard Means, Jr., a Pastor in Northeastern, along with another former Youth Preaching Corp Member, Dr. Nicardo Delahaye, Elder Daniel Kelly, a Pastor in South Atlantic-along with several others.
Though active in this group, Pastor Pilgrim did not originally intend to be a Pastor. There were few female Pastors in those days. She attended York College in New York, graduating with a degree in Community Health Education in 2012.
But it was a sermon that she heard from Elder Henry Wright on the subject of spiritual gifts that sealed the deal. In that sermon, Pastor Pilgrim was reminded that she had a gift and a calling for ministry. Shortly thereafter, she left New York for Andrews Theological Seminary, where she received her Masters of Divinity Degree in 2015.
She then accepted a call to South Atlantic, where she was assigned as the Assistant Pastor for the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Though even today, there is not always full acceptance of females in ministry, Pastor Pilgrim says that she always felt fully accepted, for which she gratefully credits the South Atlantic Conference Administration, led by President William L. Winston and his team, her Senior Pastors at Berean-first, Elder Freddie Russell and currently, Dr. Sherwin Jack, her predecessor at Berean, Pastor Rebecca Davis, her ministerial colleagues in South Atlantic and the members of Berean.
Though grateful for their support and affirmation, she felt led to pursue other areas of ministry. This culminated in her acceptance of the call to Andrews University, where she will begin her service in January, 2020.
We affirm Andrews for this groundbreaking appointment and we know that Pastor Pilgrim will be a blessing to the students and faculty of Andrews and to the community as a whole.