11240 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego
Pastor: Bohdan Vadis
Born: Bemidji, Minn.
Formation: Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley
Years Ordained: 8
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Bohdan Vadis: It varies from week to week. Sometimes my sermons come fast — a couple hours at different points in time throughout the week — and other times it may take a lot of time reading and researching. I would resist giving you a definite number, though, since it varies so much. For example, a Christmas Eve sermon is going to take a lot more time to figure out than a regular season during the year. Since everyone knows the story of Christmas, it’s more difficult coming up with something that’s going to meet the people and proclaim the message of the Gospel.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PV: As I look at church attendance nationally, and within my denomination and across all denominations, there isn’t one denomination that is currently growing in the U.S. Even the Mormons have started to lose membership. To quote a famous book title, Will Our Faith Have Children? [by John H. Westerhoff], is the faith being passed on to a new generation? Is it going to make the move to a new generation of believers? Why is church attendance dropping off?… I don’t want to focus on numbers. Numbers are important, but they’re not everything. Rather, I’d ask, where is the disconnect with the younger generation and the children of the church? Why are a generation and a culture okay with the younger generation not making that connection?
SDR: Which of the Ten Commandments does your congregation have the hardest time keeping?
PV: Bearing false witness is probably the big thing — anytime I don’t speak about my neighbors in the most uplifting and encouraging ways. According to our teaching, we’re not just supposed to not speak badly about our neighbor, but we’re always to put the best possible construction on our neighbors’ behavior.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PV: I responded to the call of the Holy Spirit and the call of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel, a call to public preaching and teaching in the church. Of course, my father is a pastor, my brother is a pastor, and my great-grandfather was a lay preacher in the church. So, in some ways, I say, tongue-in-cheek, it’s a family disease.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PV: I don’t know anyone with 100 percent scientific proof that have died and come back to tell us about it. People do have near-death experiences, but are those experiences real?... Do we all get a harp, a halo and a cloud? I don’t know; I’ve never been there. In the afterlife, heaven is closeness to God, and hell is distance from God, however you want to define that. For me, the hope and belief is that when I die, based on the grace of God through Jesus Christ, that my sins are forgiven and that I have a right relationship to God, not based on what I did in my life, but on the fact that God wants to be with me.