Danielle L. Bridgeforth is an ordained preacher, writer and encourager who serves as the senior pastor of the Church at Clarendon located in Arlington, Virginia. Licensed to preach in 2007 and ordained in 2012, she later graduated magna cum laude from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University with a Master of Divinity.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
I have always been captivated by the story of Daniel because of my name. Over my life, people have often confused my name with Daniel and our names have the same meaning, “God is my Judge.” In particular, I relate to Daniel’s courage and his friendship with his three friends.
My journey has placed me in some situations where, like Daniel, I had to stand out or was different from those around me. I appreciate that when Daniel made the choice to trust God and not eat what all the others were eating, he wasn’t alone. I have felt that truth in my own life. Even when I have had to stand out or stand up, God placed someone else with me to give me strength and encouragement.
Moreover, I try to share wisdom and insight from God in the way that Daniel was called upon and trusted to do. I am humbled by the fact that Jehovah trusts me to speak on behalf of heaven. I try to always point people back to the source of any wisdom that I share in the same way that Daniel did.
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
My late pastor, Rev. Dr. Lee A. Earl – He recognized my call and ministry gifts, and he nurtured my voice. Pastor Earl saw things in me that I did not see in myself, and I will always be grateful for the ways that he taught me and for how he modeled what it means to be a Christian and a pastor. I am still inspired by his lessons even though he is no longer here physically.
A great mentor and friend, the late Rev. M. Sylvia Ball – Sylvia was the first woman that I saw up close who was walking out her calling to preach, teach and eventually, pastor. She truly went before me on the same path. I appreciate how she brought her entire self to her ministry call, and I am reminded to do the same almost daily. There are so many subtle and obvious ways that women, especially Black women, are asked to be inauthentic simply because our authenticity makes others uncomfortable. Sylvia lived a truly authentic life and she represented and re-presented Christ to others through her example. I seek to do the same.
Another great mentor and friend, retired circuit court judge Robert W. Wooldridge – I clerked for Judge Wooldridge directly after law school. He modeled for me humility, commitment to family, and having a genuine interest and concern for others. He and I have shared so many laughs over the years, and he always makes me feel important when I am in his presence. Furthermore, I have met few others whom I feel are as comfortable in their own skin as he is. He showed me that I didn’t have to conform to the expectations of others in the field of law. I didn’t have to fit some premade mold. I have carried those lesson over into the way I approach my ministry walk as well.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
If I was stranded on a desert island, I would definitely want a radio instead of a television, and I’d have Stevie Wonder and CeCe Winans playing on repeat. I would choose my Bible and a photo album filled with the memories of times shared with my family and loved ones as my books.
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
One of the biggest battles or struggles that we are facing today is the challenge to our identity. Social media and the comparison (me versus you) culture makes it difficult for us to truly know who we are and be okay with ourselves.
Identity is critical to everything that we do. But, in today’s climate, we are often asked to know/share our “why” when we should be focused upon our “who” – who are we and, maybe more importantly, who are we not.
The God-head models this for us. God and Jesus were often proclaiming, “I Am.” I believe that is because being precedes and outweighs doing. We need to get a handle on identity (especially who we are in Christ), or we will continue to see the evil and disappointment that run rampant in our world.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
Reading and cooking are primary. Also, I enjoy poetry (writing and reciting), board games, and attending sporting events, concerts and the theater.
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
This is very hard! I’ll say, I’d freeze a time from my teens when I would first arrive at my grandmother’s house to spend the summer. She and I would both be so excited and happy to be together again, and the beginning of the summer was always full of possibility and joy.
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
I am happiest when I am with the people that I love most. It doesn’t really matter what we are doing. It’s the being together that makes me joyful. You can find out everything there is to know about me by simply watching me with my loved ones and friends. They know it all!
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.