Pastor Randa D’Aoust
Church: La Mesa First United Methodist
Address: 4690 Palm Avenue, La Mesa
Membership: 220 individual
Pastor’s age: 61
Born: Decatur, Ill.
Formation: University of Illinois-Urbana, Urbana, Ill.: bachelor’s and master’s in library science;
United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio: master's in divinity<
Years ordained: 27
San Diego Reader: What inspired you to become a minister in the first place?
Pastor Randa D’Aoust: I often say God got ahold of a two-by-four, but I was active in the local church while I was a librarian. At this time, I had learned that women could be pastors…. As I look back, I see several glimmers of God calling which I guess I just missed.
SDR: Do you remember the circumstances on the day that you made the decision?
RD: It was a recognition — with some tears as I finally came to terms with it — but mostly just one of those “Hmm…I wonder…” and I started to ask and started getting affirmations from other people — that kind of tipped it for me.
SDR: Were they tears of frustration or tears of joy or…
RD: They were tears of “I don’t know what I’m getting into.”
SDR: How long do you spend writing your sermons?
RD: I usually start looking at the Scriptures early in the week. As I work on the bulletins and so forth, I’m reading [the Scriptures] and thinking about what I want to do with them. Then I look for assistance from the online community and through my own materials to see what else is there. Then I don’t write until Thursday or Friday — and then I sit down and start. Usually at that point I write for three to six hours, depending on how well it’s coming.
SDR: What’s been your biggest flop in a homily?
RD: I don’t know if there’s one that I would call a flop. There are lots of them that I don’t get any comment at all on — which to me is like a flop. But that happens perhaps more often than not [laughing]. When I don’t get any feedback, I don’t really know. I’ve done some that were on esoteric things and people have stared at me funny afterwards. I’m working on [the idea of the] Trinity this week, trying to find a way to make it not a flop. You have to remember, I’ve been doing this for 27 years.
SDR: What sense of sacrifice did you have going into your ministry?
RD: One of them was the loss of the ability to be really good friends with people because I have to hold a pastoral presence. And there’s a loss of privacy attached to that, too.
SDR: What is your biggest failure to date as a minister?
RD: My biggest failure…is probably to motivate people to do more ministry in the community.
SDR: What’s the source of that failure?
RD: I haven’t been able to find something that appeals to them completely and/or I haven’t been able to convince them.
SDR: What would you count as your biggest success?
RD: One of my biggest successes, in some cases, in the same way, has been getting people involved in doing things beyond their expected comfort level, so to speak, and being able to work with an interfaith community.
SDR: Can you flesh that out with an example?
RD: I’m very much a person who believes there are many paths to God, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work in communities that have had very strong interfaith communities. So, I was able to participate in an interfaith shelter for the homeless, the creation of a day center in the San Luis Obispo area. And to do worship together and things like that. In the San Diego area I’ve been a part of Faith Leaders for Peace, which was protesting several years ago the war in Afghanistan.