Bode Abodunde, co-pastor of Transform Church Philly, is originally from Nigeria. Abodunde first came to the United States in 1995, and at the age of 17, he said he already received his calling from God.
Transform Church Philly is a unique church that meets people where they are, but believes that its mission is to serve the community of Philadelphia. Transform currently solely utilizes online services and open venues across the city to host its Sunday services.
Transform Church Philly was founded in 2016 and is pastored by Bode Abodunde and his wife, Kisha. Before opening the church, Bode Abodunde said he served the church in every capacity and wherever he was needed. His calling led him to serve in India, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore.
“We are about ministering to people and finding out where they are and helping them move closer towards God. If they’re home, then we have to connect with them. If they’re on the computer, we have to find a way to get to them,” he said. Abodunde added that he had a lot of success meeting people in their comfort zone.
Carli Glen, 24, of West Philadelphia, is a member of Transform Church and said she believes Abodunde has changed her life.
“It’s very welcoming and come as you are, and that’s what I needed at that time,” said Glen, who has been a member for two years. “That’s what led me there but that’s also keeping me there. Even though we’re not in person right now there’s still the same amount of support and care for each other.”
Last year, Transform Church gathered weekly in-person at West Philadelphia High School for Sunday services.
With the rise of the pandemic, Abodunde developed relationships with local colleges and universities to offer only services to his congregation. When Abodunde thought about opening his church, Philadelphia wasn’t in his plans. “Something brought me to Philly, and I was driving up Walnut Street up to 69th Street, and just at that moment, something caught my eyes to see the people. On 69th Street, you’ll see everyone from students, African-Americans, to people who are well to do and those who are not, Asians, Hispanics, and at that moment I saw our church in this part of town.”
“I consider Pastor Bode a brother,” Clinton Asual said. “He’s fun and loving and I can talk to him about anything. He’s not holier than thou. He’s down to earth.”
Asual, a Transform Church congregant, helped develop the church’s app. Asual said the congregation is the entire city of Philadelphia.
“It’s not just about the people that are inside the church, it’s about the people that are on the outside of the church as well,” he said.
On a recent Sunday, Bode Abodunde preached about managing emotions to change people’s stories.
“When your emotions are managing your life and directing your life and leading your life, you wind up derailing God’s plan for your life,” Abodunde said during the recent service.
When Abodunde wants to reach his community, he said he tends to stay away from abstract theology.
“We have to be relevant, we’re not preaching abstract theology. We believe that the Bible can be impactful for everyday life. People right now are questioning their faith in God and are feeling pressure from the human soul,” he said.
Glen had hard times when she needed to turn to Abodunde, and in those times, he challenged her to be better.
“He’s not afraid to challenge me on things. He’s encouraged me to reach the next steps in my life and push myself harder and grow in my faith,” she said.
The pandemic has not stopped Transform Church from growing online. Instead, the pandemic has helped the church reach more people.
“The church is more than just a building, we proved that. This is not the first pandemic to hit the world. We embraced the season that we’re in. It’s a stay-at-home season,” Bode Abodunde said.