Statues on a hilltop in Brazil moved Pastor April Herron to tears, “and I was really surprised by it.”
  • Statues on a hilltop in Brazil moved Pastor April Herron to tears, “and I was really surprised by it.”
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Pacific Beach United Methodist

1561 Thomas Avenue, Pacific Beach

Membership: 300

Pastor: April Herron

Age: 53

Born: National City

Formation: Pomona College, Claremont; Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley; Drew University, Madison, NJ

Years Ordained: 28

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor April Herron: There’s always a text, so if I had to pick one text it might be the resurrection story of the Road to Emmaus, where the two disciples are walking along feeling miserable and wondering what the heck just happened. Some stranger walks along with them who, we get tipped off as we’re reading, is Jesus, but they don’t know that and so there’s a long conversation; they arrive at their destination; they invite him to come and stay with them. When Jesus breaks the bread, they realize who it is. He is no longer visible to them and they run back to tell the other disciples what they’ve experienced. This story seems real to our experience. Momentous events happen and we really don’t always know the full meaning. It helps us to have someone walk along beside us, reflect on it with us, and bring in the Scriptures as a way to help us reflect on our experience. I think Christ does that for us and with us.

SDR: Why Methodist?

PH: Among the things I appreciate about it is there is not a separation between how we live our faith in the world and our relationship with God — both aspects are important.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PH: There is a church on a hilltop in Congonhas, Brazil, with 12 statues out front of it of the Old Testament prophets. The statues were made a couple hundred years ago by a sculptor named Aleijadinho, who had some disease which caused him to lose use of his hands. So to sculpt, someone had to strap the tools onto his hands. His story is compelling; but the statues themselves are out on this terrace looking out over the city and countryside. When I was visiting, the sky was foreboding, and I was really moved because it seemed the personalities of the prophets were evoked by the statues. I feel that the prophets lived such lonely lives. They lived in different points in history and didn’t know each other in their lives, but here they all were standing in the vicinity of one another on this hilltop. It moved me to tears, and I was really surprised by it.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: When I look around the world, there are certain situations, places, or circumstances that seem pretty hellish, and I think there are a mix of the two — heaven and hell. If that all has eternal manifestation or not, I don’t know. I feel that the Scriptures focus a lot on heaven on earth and God coming to be on earth, the kingdom of heaven here on earth and Jesus encouraging us to seek first the kingdom here and now, letting everything else take care of itself. I don’t like using fear as motivating factor and won’t preach fear as a motivating factor. I don’t spend any time threatening people with hell and would much rather focus on the goal, that the kingdom might be more perfectly realized here and now, that Jesus is an indicator that in some ways the kingdom is here among us.

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