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Stories by Joseph O'Brien

A chance to say, “God, I messed up”

Thoughts from Joy Lutheran Church's Deacon Don Heien

Joy Lutheran Church Contact: 810 Buena Vista Way, Chula Vista, 619-262-4444 Membership: 100 Pastor: Deacon Don Heien Age: 56 Born: San Diego Formation: Lay Leadership Program for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Years Commissioned: 3 San ...

Leave the fear behind, dare to love

St. Paul Episcopalian Cathedral welcomes all

They do say there are only two or three sermons, of course, other than “send money.”

It’s not about floating around on a cloud playing harp

Pastor Carlton Harris preaches on God

College Avenue Baptist Church Pastor: Carlton Harris Age: 59 Born: St. Louis, MO Formation: Dallas Bible College, Dallas, TX; Dallas Seminary Years Ordained: 33 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach? ...

Gil Baloy, as much a shepherd as he is a pastor

The mission at Covenant Reformed Church is to reach as many people with the gospel as possible.

Covenant Reformed Church Membership: 40 Pastor: Gil Baloy Age: 65 Born: Subic Bay, Philippines Formation: San Diego State University, San Diego; Westminster Seminary, Escondido Years Ordained: 15 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on ...

Beer's essence — without the beer

Quad Ale House’s Summer Saison: a beer-esque cocktail for non-beer-drinkers

As inexplicable as it sounds, some folks in this world have no taste for beer. But thanks to the Quad Ale House, even for these poor souls, there’s hope. Nicknamed “Beer Study Hall,” this new ...

God seen in both gutters and high-rises

Pastor Derek DaPena of New Community Church of Vista

Membership: 250 Pastor: Derek DaPena Age: 35 Born: Bellflower Formation: Biola University, La Mirada; Azusa Pacific University Seminary, Azusa Years Ordained: 8 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? Pastor Derek ...

Gaslamp Tavern’s Heisman

The drink named for Helix High School graduate and Heisman recipient Marcus Allen

Since the Gaslamp Tavern is a come-as-you-are watering hole for the local crowd and parched tourists alike, Gaslamp Tavern bartender Marshall Gillen has come up with a way to draw the home team and visitors ...

The beauty of holiness, plus organ concerts

Interview with Father Joseph Dirbas of All Souls' Episcopal Church

All Souls’ Episcopal Church Membership: 400 Pastor: Father Joseph Dirbas Age: 49 Born: Lavonia, MI Formation: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, NY Years Ordained: 6 San ...

The Bees of Bennett Valley

Fresh, herbaceous and very refreshing

Inspired by a photograph his fiancée took during a recent visit to Bennett Valley, Bankers' Hill bar manager Zack Gray developed the Bees of Bennett Valley cocktail, a cross-pollination of the lemon-honey-and-gin classic Bee’s Knees, ...

The language of the hammer

Pastor Alvin Helms: “There is going to be a final separation and there is going to be justice rendered.”

Carlsbad Community Church Membership: 400 Pastor: Alvin Helms Age: 55 Born: Houston, TX Formation: Seven Bible College, Houston; Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT Years Ordained: 25 San Diego Reader: ...

God got second-career guy’s attention

Q&A with Mt. Olive Lutheran Church Pastor Bill Baker

Mt. Olive Lutheran Church Membership: 128 Pastor: Bill Baker Age: 58 Born: Buffalo, NY Formation: Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Years Ordained: 8 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject ...

Pastor Burkey appreciates the wrestling

Christ Lutheran Church: “Developing dynamic disciples for Christ.”

Membership: 1000 Pastor: Richard Burkey Age: 56 Born: Chicago Formation: Concordia College, Austin, TX; Concordia College, River Forest, IL; Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Years Ordained: 31 San Diego Reader: How long do you ...

The Old Fashioned turned Hawaiian

Duke's merges bourbon, black tea, and mango

According to Duke’s bar manager Peter Stanmeyer, the mango Old Fashioned made at this Hawaiian haven of haute cuisine has as much to do with Waikiki luaus as it does with Wisconsin supper clubs. He ...

A lot of people probably see religion as an opiate

Pastor Dale Huntington takes some questions

4325 Park Blvd, University Heights Membership: 25–30 Pastor: Dale Huntington Age: 33 Born: Visalia Formation: Grossmont College, El Cajon; Southern California Seminary-San Diego Christian College, San Diego Years Ordained: 5 San Diego Reader: What’s your ...

Maybe we get to work alongside the Creator later on

Q&A with Hope United Methodist's pastor Brian Kent

Hope United Methodist Church Contact: 16550 Bernardo Heights Pkwy., Rancho Bernardo; 858-485-5840; Membership: 870 Pastor: Brian Kent Age: 60 Born: Greeley, CO Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley Years ...

Great coffee to foster the next churchgoing generation

Palisades Presbyterian pastor prophecies about the church's future

Membership: 380 Pastor: Daniel L. Hagmaier Age: 55 Born: Union City, PA Formation: Florida Bible College, Hollywood, FL; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA; Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA Years Ordained: 20 San Diego Reader: How ...

You want to live in heaven? Or hell?

At a young age I knew I would be a pastor, even as a child....

Membership: “less than 100” Pastor: Kurt Bergquam Age: 54 Born: Grand Forks, ND Formation: Berean Bible College, San Diego; Christian Bible College and Seminary, Blue Springs, MO Years Ordained: 25 San Diego Reader: What’s your ...

People choose to turn to God or not

"As clergy, we get too caught up in doctrine, dogma and drama."

Southeast Community Presbyterian Church Pastor: Deb Mitchell Age: 58 Born: Fort Wayne, IN Formation: Perdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Mount St. Mary’s, Los Angeles, Bethel Seminary, San Diego Years Ordained: 4 San Diego Reader: What ...

The jazz link to God

Pastor J. Lee Hill takes our questions

Christian Fellowship Congregational Church UCC Membership: 140 Pastor: J. Lee Hill Age: 37 Born: Chesterfield, VA Formation: George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC; Emory University-Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA Years ...

Come 3 p.m. it's Hollapeño Atcha Boy time

A variation on a tequila slushy

Andaz bar manager Shannie Lee says, “Our entire cocktail menu is inspired by our bartenders. We give the bartenders free rein.” Hollering for a margarita? The Hollapeño Atcha Boy! is the name of an up-spiced ...

Nolen's Bee's Knees

Barman Robert Yumul makes a clean-drinking cocktail with honey and lemon

If you intend to go to the Nolen Rooftop, you’ll figure out pretty quickly that the only way is up — and Nolen’s lead barman Robert Yumul is leading the way by upping the ante ...

Folks get caught up in old ways of thinking

Love of god and neighbor

"I was called by God. I tried to say no and God didn’t take that as an answer."

Scripture served warm

Pastor Darin Johnson answered the call

Membership: 34,000+ (entire SDSU faculty, staff and student body) Pastor: Darin Johnson Age: 49 Born: Sioux Falls, SD Formation: Iowa State University, Ames, IA; Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago; Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA Years ...

Why are we here and what is the meaning of all this?

What is the relevance of the 21st-century church?

Interview with Pastor Tom Sannar of One Heart One Mind Center for Spiritual Living

Church for the religious and irreligious alike

The doors of hell are locked from the inside

Covenant Presbyterian Church of San Diego Membership: 150Pastor: Patrick KingAge: 34Born: ChicagoFormation: Wheaton College, Chicago; Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, ALYears Ordained: 4 San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach? Pastor ...

Newbreak pastor sees God surfing all the time

Pastor Quinn’s pet subject is the why of suffering — theodicy

Membership: 2600 (on five campuses: Tierrasanta, East County, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Scripps Mesa) Pastor: Mike Quinn Age: 62 Born: Great Lakes, Illinois Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Bethel West University Seminary, San ...

When Jesus was found in the Monkey Place

Interview with Pastor Rob Savlato

“Some will ask, ‘How can a loving God send people to hell?’”

Bible in one hand, newspaper in the other

Pastor Jonathan Doolittle of Concordia Church takes some questions

Clairemont Lutheran Church Membership: 800 Pastor: Jonathan Doolittle Age: 50 Born: Columbus, OH Formation: Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, IL Years Ordained: 21 San Diego Reader: How long do you ...

Two Christmas Poems

Native Scene The beasts of Jerusalem will murder him, but in the meantime the beasts of Bethlehem warm him with their breath. — Giovanni Papini Nights are still cold on the starry hillside; Dew still ...

Masters' Vieux Carre goes down like soda

"One of the smoothest cocktails I’ve ever had.”

The classic Vieux Carre oozes with the decadence of a New Orleans cathouse even as its name invokes the baroque sophistication of the cast iron rail- and grillwork that entwines the French Quarter. Named for ...

Church of God's mission: Win. Build. Send.

“The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.”

Something pure and holy about downtown’s streets.

Potential to scandalize scotch drinkers

It's mixed, but the drink is not exactly full of peach schnapps and little umbrellas

For a cocktail on Humphreys’ newly revised drink menu, bar manager Austin McAdams uses as a base liquor a perfect 15-year-old scotch. But before serious scotch drinkers storm Humphreys with broadsword and targe, McAdams asks ...

The only alternative for having eternal life

Pastor Bancroft’s urgent message

To say that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven is not a politically correct thing to say, but it’s certainly what the Bible says.

We’ll all be judged for our actions in this life

Unfortunately, we’ll fail to meet God’s standard

Q&A with Pastor-elder Craig Marshall of Grace Bible Church in Kearny Mesa.

Whisknladle arranges a meeting between margarita and negroni

Tortugas all the way down

For Adam Lockridge, bar director at Whisknladle, it’s turtles all the way down — at least, that’s how his guests will feel when they get their first sip of the Tortuga… Original to Whisknladle, this ...

Yes, there will be Harleys in heaven

It all flows from knowing God

Interview with Pastor Al Hester of Evangelical Free Church of America

Off the Market is no one-and-done

Draft arranges a light conversation between sweetness and acidity in its beery cocktail

Draft in Belmont Park combines the best of beery cheer with a mix of high spirits (think: boilermaker in a cocktail dress) — such as the Off the Market. “We don’t incorporate beer into all ...

There’s a unique emphasis which Lutherans have on grace

Jesus will forgive some cruddy things

Pastor Richard Schmidt of Concordia Church in Chula Vista takes our questions.

The Draconids

Reader staffer shares rhyme and verse

For Norah And especially were we led to cultivate that discipline developed in respect to divine and heavenly things as being the only one concerned with the study of things which are always what they ...

Cannonball's Rum Manhattan breaks the surface with a balance of taste and texture

Not one, but two, variations on a classic

While the usual vodka- and gin-based poolside-fixtures are welcomed mixtures on the menu, Cannonball’s general manager Ray Means says Cannonball also serves up the brown liquors and offers seasonal variations on classic cocktails. “We could ...

It’s not about the religion; it’s about the relationship

The appropriate response to grace is a life of thankfulness

Pastor Glen Larsen of Community Church of Poway takes questions.

From eternal death to eternal life

We are in the last of the last days, says Pastor DuVal

We who live in America — our blessings get in the way.

Nestor United Methodist is a nurturing center

You won’t find God in Hell

Membership: 150 (attendance: 100) Pastor: Luis Garcia Age: 53 Born: Monterrey, Mexico Formation: State University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena Years Ordained: 14 San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on ...

Caribbean drink, Hawaiian twist

Lazy Dog's Pineapple Mojito comes from two popular spheres of influence

Over at the Lazy Dog, it’s “Hasta la vista!” to the lime and “Aloha” to the pineapple, now that accidents of circumstance have brought two popular spheres of influence – the lime and the pineapple ...

The Brethren share the unconditional love of God

Sometimes our best is not so good

Membership: 53 Pastor: Sara Haldeman-Scarr Age: 59 Born: Bird-in-Hand, PA Formation: Millersville University, Millersville, PA; Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook (now Richmond), Ill. Years Ordained: 28 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which ...

The world seems terminally ill

From a corner in La Jolla to the four corners of the Earth

Membership: 100 (Attendance: 190) Denomination: American Baptist Pastor: Adam Stadtmiller Age: 45 Born: San Diego Formation: Point Loma Nazarene College, Point Loma; Azusa Pacific University, Azusa Years Ordained: 20 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite ...

A drink that is not a pick-me-up so much as a wind-me-down

Perfect home for the Quick Fix

Like New Yorker Tony Bennett singing his heart out for San Francisco, Counterpoint bartender Ryan Andrews has made the East Coast cocktail known as the Quick Fix his own — and in the process a ...

A pimp stands between a prostitute and Jesus

Membership: 250 Pastor: Stephen Phelan Age: 40 Born: Montgomery, AL Formation: University of Virginia & University of Virginia Law School, Charlottesville, VA; Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL. Years Ordained: 10 SDR: Why did you become ...

Bleu Bohème's Basil Martini: So fresh, so green

Spring sprang a few months ago, but over at Kensington’s Bleu Bohème, things are still looking — and tasting — pretty fresh and green. “It’s a really fresh, delicious, and easy-drinking martini,” bartender Sarah Proctor ...

God is out to save everyone he can

He might destroy you, but God won’t torture you.

Membership: 600 Pastor: Eddie Dopp Age: 63 Born: Seattle, WA Formation: Loma Linda University, Loma Linda; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena Years Ordained: 25 SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy? PD: ...

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