1675 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
Pastor: Alan Deuel
Born: San Diego
Formation: Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey; San Francisco Theological Seminary, Pasadena
Years Ordained: 35 years
San Diego Reader: Can you think of a time when you gave a homily that completely flopped?
Pastor Alan Deuel: There are definitely those Sundays when I didn’t get quite on base, and sometimes it’s those Sundays when you feel like you have a message everyone is going to be inspired by. Then you deliver the message and there’s no response at all. Instead, people might be saying to one another, “So, how are those Padres doing?” Fortunately, those are the exceptions, and I get a good response most of the time from the congregation. I think they feel I’ve spoken to a need or a question in their lives. A big part of the sermon you pray for is that the Holy Spirit will take your human words, your very ordinary words, and by the power of the Spirit, they’ll become the Word of God speaking to people. As pastor, you have to do the hard work but you also have to trust the Holy Spirit will use your words for His kingdom.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PA: The main concern for me and probably most clergy is seeing a decline in church attendance and trying to preach the gospel and make the church a place where people feel they can come to feel the love and fellowship of God. We see the decline in the Western world of the influence of Christianity on society. We see the Church growing in Third World countries, in Africa and Asia, but in Europe and North American there’s been a steady decline in attending church and maintaining a commitment to Christianity.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PA: The name of the church is PBPC — Pacific Beach Presbyterian Church — which is also our vision statement — People Bringing People to Christ. That is our primary mission — to reach out to people for the gospel and for the love of Christ, to help equip them and help them discover their gifts and talents, and then to send them out as witnesses of Christ to make a difference in the world.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PA: According to our gospel, we go to Heaven. According to the Scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Jesus says, “Because I live you shall live also.” He says, “There are many rooms in My Father’s house and I’m going there to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go, I will return and take you to be with Myself.” So we believe we are going to be in Heaven with Christ and God and reunited with loved ones. I do believe Scripture speaks also about Hell…a place separated from God.
SDR: How does one end up in Hell?
PA: That is a question in the realm of God’s mind and God’s will. Who will be going to Heaven and who will be going to Hell? I don’t presume to have that kind of knowledge or information. Scripture makes it clear that God does expect human beings to live good lives and righteous lives and that our lives do have consequences which aren’t only earthy, but also eternal.