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First United Methodist Church of San Diego

2111 Camino del Rio South, Mission Valley




Membership: 3000 individuals

Pastor: Jim Standiford

Age: 62

Born: West Virginia

Formation: University of Redlands, Redlands, CA; Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA

Years Ordained: 40

San Diego Reader: How long do you usually spend writing your sermons?

Pastor Jim Standiford: Fifteen to 20 hours. I write out a manuscript. I ­don’t always use it, but I always have it. I usually preach a series of sermons. ­We’re doing one on Old Testament heroes right now. So, obviously I research the scriptures and current stories that tie in and clearly make the application to ­people’s lives and what it means for us ­today.

SDR: ­What’s the lesson ­you’d like people to go away with?

PS: Not to get sucked into the interchange with the bully but to have enough self-confidence and strength of faith to say, ‘I’m okay. ­I’m a child of God. Sorry you ­don’t have a good opinion of me, but I feel pretty good about ­myself.’

SDR: What is the most prevalent sin you hear about or observe in your congregation?

PS: I think people rely too much on themselves and their own skill set, and we seem hesitant to turn to each other for help and to God for help. So ­it’s the old ego thing — ‘I ought to be able to handle this.’ But there are some things we need a little extra help ­with.

SDR: What is your biggest failure as a minister?

PS: My biggest failing is what I said about my people — there are times when I try to do it all and ­don’t allow ­God’s spirit room to ­work.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: We claim to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ; to follow his teachings and his ­life.

SDR: How does your sense of vocation fit in with that mission?

PS: In everything I do, I try to help people along the way as well as continue to grow ­myself.

SDR: What is the congregation’s greatest strength in carrying out this mission?

PS: We have a tremendous emphasis here on education and a very good educational program for people from the cradle to the grave. And we have a strong focus on mission in the community. We have an extensive multi-layered food ministry where we feed people and provide groceries for folks. We have 150 people involved in a reading program in local schools up in the mid-city area. We have our own tutoring program we operate here on Saturdays. We provide shoes for children. A lot of the things we do are oriented toward ­children.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: Into the loving arms of God, so I believe in a heaven. I have no idea what that looks like, but ­I’m counting on it being there. I think heaven is having a relationship with God and so the opposite of that is if you ­don’t have a relationship with God, ­it’s a pretty bad experience. And God determines that, I ­don’t. ­I’m pretty confident Christians are going to get that relationship, and whether other people have it or not, ­that’s ­God’s business. ­I’m just going to do the best job I ­can.

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