6745 Amherst Street, La Mesa
- Affiliation: Christian Reformed Church
- Interim Pastor: Adam Stout
- Age: 32
- Born: Davenport, Iowa
- Formation: One year of Yucatán, Mexico, mission work; Calvin College and Calvin Theology Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. (2010).
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
PA: I like to preach Psalms but that’s because they cover the entire human experience — I like Psalms because they touch on the highs and lows of human experience and they are from the gut — you can tell, a place of emotional honesty, and there’s a lot of variety: thanksgiving, lament, praise, in all different kinds of situations. I think they also cover a lot of ground theologically; there’s a lot of prophecy in the Psalms…. There’s also reflection on the Torah, and also mention of justice and the prophets. So you get a really broad scope in the Psalms, but it’s all in earthy language.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PA: It sounds very simple, but my main concern is learning to love people the way God loves us, and growing more to understand just how much we are loved by God. I think a lot of people, especially on the outside of the church, understand Christians to have an agenda. I think partly they’re right because a lot of Christians are concerned about growing the size of their church, and maintaining their church structure and facilities. I think sometimes Christians do get caught up in that, when really the whole gospel message is that we’re more screwed up than we know, but we’re also more loved in Christ than we could ever imagine. My main concern is that it is obvious not only to the people who walk into church but also the people who come into contact with the people at my church; I would hope that both would sense there’s not an agenda but just a desire to get to know and share life. For Christians, obviously, that life is in Christ. If that’s an agenda, it’s the right one to have.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PA: Our core values are to be biblical, missionary, prayerful, grace-filled and grace-giving, empowered by the Spirit to serve and committed to maturing as disciples. Our motto is “Loving God in our neighbors and joining God in his mission.”
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PA: The soul has to look forward to being in the presence of God. That’s what I’m basing my life on, and there’s only one way to find out and I won’t be able to tell you afterwards. There have to be other possibilities besides heaven, of course; God’s not going to make people come into heaven. Jesus didn’t work that way; He didn’t twist people’s arms behind their backs and say, “Say my name and accept me as Lord.” So I certainly believe people have the choice, and that certain people will choose to go their own way. They have chosen it in this lifetime and I think there are other destinies besides heaven and the presence of God. The other destiny would be the absence of God. Now, there’s no red man with a pitchfork and horns, and there’s quite possibility not even fire or an inferno as Dante had pictured it. But the point is that absence from God is hell.