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The evangelical Shadow Mountain Community Church of El Cajon now occupies the Grace Campus at 3844 Georgia Street in Hillcrest, the former site of Grace Baptist Church.

Pastor David Jeremiah's views are similar to the controversial "Focus on the Family" religious group in that they are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Video:

Shadow Mountain video

Commenting in a church-produced video about the grand opening, a parishioner was happy “to get a chance to grow and to flourish in what would be a dark, dark neighborhood.” Said another parishioner in the video: “This church was going to be torn down, and it was going to be used for condominiums.”

Pastor of the Shadow Mountain megachurch, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is David Jeremiah of Turning Point Ministries. Jeremiah has an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio (where he received his bachelor's degree).

On the American Family News Network in October 2012, Jeremiah spoke about the presidential election, saying: “If we have another four years of moral slippage in our national politic [like] we've had in the last four years, it may not be possible for it to be turned around.”

Luke Terpstra, chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, said of the church members: “I hope they don't take to the street corners to condemn us to hell; that would be tacky. It's a free country; that means all of us.”

San Diego LGBT Community Center CEO Dr. Delores Jacobs and a center spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Reader’s request for comment.

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Comments

GaryAllmon June 9, 2014 @ 3:08 p.m.

Gosh I've lived in North Park for three years and I always thought Hillcrest and North Park were a pair of the lightest, brightest neighborhoods around. You might even call them GLITTERY. ;)

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dwbat June 9, 2014 @ 10:04 p.m.

RE: Bryan Monteith's comment

Grace Baptist Church was a voting locale last year, but this June it moved to The Center.

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colbymartin June 9, 2014 @ 10:17 p.m.

Well... that's kind of a bummer. But for those looking for a Progressive Christian Church (aka, not Shadow Mountain), check out San Diego's newest church plant in North Park/University Heights: Sojourn Grace Collective

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dwbat June 11, 2014 @ 3:54 a.m.

It's interesting how two different religious groups can use the word "grace" in their name, but have a very different approach and set of principles.

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Jeff_O June 10, 2014 @ 8:25 a.m.

Interested in community fellowship, connecting for service projects, and celebrating life? Not really into a vengeful sky god and his zombie 'son' ...check out Sunday Assembly San Diego! They meet on the 4th Sunday @ the SD Women's Club. Learn more at http://www.sundayassemblysandiego.org/

None

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dwbat June 12, 2014 @ 2:26 p.m.

RE: vengeful sky god and his zombie 'son' LOL! Good one.

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Letter to the Editor June 19, 2014 @ 11:52 a.m.

Last week news broke that Shadow Mountain Community Church had taken over an almost-shut down church building in Hillcrest. The conservative Evangelical Mega Church from El Cajon saw an opportunity to acquire a building and expand their mission to “teach the truth of God’s Word,” as stated on their website.

The new satellite campus was launched with a video that included one woman declaring how excited she was “to actually get a chance to grow and flourish in what would be a dark, dark neighborhood.”

To be fair, we don’t know precisely what she meant. My initial assumption is that she is borrowing a metaphor used by Jesus to describe the church’s mission to be “lights of the world.” And the darkness she mentions? Presumably (and I don’t consider this a stretch, here) that is in reference to what many conservative Christians often call “the gay lifestyle.”

Again, we may not know exactly what she meant, but I don’t think it’s a huge leap to go: A) Conservative Christian Church opens campus in Hillcrest; B) Church-goer uses typical metaphor to label a place as dark; C) Hillcrest is known for its strong LGBT presence; therefore D) The darkness of the neighborhood is linked to the gay community and the church sees itself as having an opportunity to be a light in a sinful place.

As a fellow Christian pastor I am, in some ways of course, grateful for the years of service that Dr. David Jeremiah and Shadow Mountain Community Church have invested to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if he and I differ significantly on what that Gospel message actually is.

And I can identify with the woman in the video who genuinely is enthused about the possibility of bringing the Light of Christ to other people. I was that woman for a number of years, confident that I knew what “light” and “dark” looked like, and certain that my mission was to seek out darkness and be a source of light.

Confident. Certain. Two words that, incidentally, also describe the men who were caught throwing rocks in John 8 (you likely know the story by its other, less helpful or accurate name, “The Woman Caught in Adultery”). They were confident the woman was darkness and certain in their role to be light, i.e. execute judgment. And yet, Jesus forced them to reconcile with the fact that perhaps they didn’t know as much as they thought they knew. Their confidence turned to diffidence and their certainty to shame as they dropped their rocks and walked away, questioning their capacity to be arbiters in the whole game of light and dark.

Both the men holding rocks and the woman in the video are products of belief systems they were raised and/or trained in. So rather than just attacking “them” by picking up our own rocks, what if we changed the conversation from the tired old us-versus-them language and theology, and instead leaned in to the words of Harvey Milk to reach out to all of humanity and “give them hope”?

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Letter to the Editor June 19, 2014 @ 11:54 a.m.

[continued] I guess that’s a big reason why my wife and I decided to start a church here in North Park. Because we think a lot of the issues at the heart of Christianity are systemic, and it’s going to take movements of new thinking to start truly making a difference. Simply criticizing the us-versus-them messaging and theology of churches like Shadow Mountain isn’t enough. And, quite frankly, won’t help in the long run.

But getting a Gospel message out there that is centered around the love and grace of Jesus for all people? That recognizes everyone’s place as sons and daughters of the Creator? That does away with the insider/outsider language? A church that collectively drops the rocks of judgment, which in turn frees up our hands to reach out and grab someone else’s in a gesture of peace and unity? That, I think, is what Christianity can start humbly offering the world again.

Sojourn Grace Collective is San Diego’s Progressive Christian Church. Ironically, we started holding services at Garfield Elementary School in North Park at about the same time that Shadow Mountain moved in to Hillcrest. Beyond responding to the call we felt to create a faith community that celebrates all, we adamantly believe that this world is more ready for a message of hope and love and peace and grace than ever before.

So, if you live in the area and are bothered by the new Shadow Mountain campus, please know that there is at least one other church in the neighborhood that doesn’t see you as darkness that needs light.

There is a church, a Christian church, advocating for a new understanding of the call of Jesus. That is what Sojourn Grace Collective is all about, and we are thrilled to be a movement of love here in San Diego.

Colby Martin, North Park

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