Pastor Dan Damon

Pastor Dan DamonWhile working on this episode of Stories from The Point, I kept thinking of the proverb, “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.” Our guest, Pastor Dan Damon of Point Richmond’s First United Methodist Church, seems to lead his life by this wonderful saying. And in his audio postcard, he shares with us a personal experience that offers a similar encouragement to cut through the perfectionism that I’m sure holds many of us back from truly expressing ourselves.

Pastor Damon grew up in a fairly restrictive household, with very little exposure to any breadth of musical styles. But before entering seminary school and ultimately bringing together his two life passions – religion and music – Pastor Damon graduated college as a vocal music major. Even though he would have liked to major in piano, he admits, “I wasn’t a piano major because I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have the Bach and Mozart background. But I had enough voice and I got in as a voice major and sang my way through.” Yet, that didn’t stop him from branching out after college and learning to play musical genres he really hadn’t much exposure to until adulthood (rock, jazz, etc), on piano no less!

To me Pastor Damon is both a music advocate (an anti-snob if you will) and a true spiritualist (call it what you will). What I mean is this: Musically he is someone who truly appreciates the art of music, but works just as hard learning it as he does getting others to see that you don’t have to be a piano or vocal superhero to create music. And in regards to religion, this non-practicing Jew (me) truly appreciates how well he humanizes the practice of religion. In this day and age, I see religion most often equated to intolerance, fear, and condemnation. That’s not Pastor Damon. He has built the First United Methodist Church into a welcoming place where you can come to seek solace and support as well as to simply check out great music. To end, “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.” Don’t be afraid to be yourself. That’s what I hear in this episode of Stories from The Point. What do you hear?

The piano in the background of this episode is all from Pastor Damon. You can buy his CDs online at www.damonstuneshop.com/record.htm. You will find jazz, hymns, and solo piano. All of which are very enjoyable. To be sure, something for everyone.

Please remember, I love to read your comments. So, after listening be sure to leave yours. Enjoy this Story from The Point!

 

Visit Pastor Dan Damon online at:

www.damonstuneshop.com

Visit the First United Methodist Church of Point Richmond: www.pointrichmondmethodist.org

Do not to miss the two music series hosted inside the beautiful First Methodist Church of Point Richmond:

Point Richmond Acoustic: www.pointacoustic.org

Point Richmond Jazz: prjazz.org

2 thoughts on “Pastor Dan Damon

  1. Noah, thank you for this wonderful Story From the Point. What a good idea to do one with Dan Damon! He has been an important member of the larger community for so many years, bringing us in for the Christmas Eve Jazz Service, for the music series, and for memorial services as our dear ones depart. Your write-up before the audio story is great; it really captures Dan’s gifts as a musician and as a spiritual leader, and it makes such an important point about our need to express ourselves despite our fears of inadequacy. You didn’t mention Dan’s hymn writing, but he has a real commitment to it as one of his main callings, and it’s one of his gifts to us. One of the first hymns he shared with us, “If I take the Wings of the Morning” is so beautiful, so deeply moving, that it never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

    Those of us who were part of the church community when Dan arrived used to love telling people, “Our new Pastor plays jazz in a bar on Saturday night and preaches Sunday morning!” He seemed like a real person. He was also very shy at first. It has been amazing how this humble, shy man who was clearly uncomfortable chatting with people in the social hall after Sunday service, who would slip out as quickly as possible or retreat to the piano in the corner to play, has grown the church’s membership by leaps and bounds with his leadership and strengthened the community with a faith that welcomes and makes room for all. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I have always appreciated that under Dan’s leadership the members of this church have taken a strong stand as a Reconciling Congregation, attesting and supporting our right to be full members of the church community and to be married by its ministers. This has been true for many years now; this congreagation didn’t just hop on the current bandwagon for gay marriage. It was a brave thing to do, to stand up to the currently conservative church leadership this way. (I say currently, because when I was a teenager in the 60’s, the global Methodist Church was a leader in what would be considered liberal social justice concerns.)

    I don’t know if you realize this, but the Methodist Church — its bishops — usually move pastors around every few years. Don’t ask me why…it doesn’t make sense to me. So it is highly unusual — kind of a miracle — that Dan has been allowed to lead this church for 18 years and counting. It has certainly been a wise decision by those who make these decisions. I pray he will be able to stay with us, well, forever.

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