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Escondido First Church of the Nazarene

1555 S. Redwood Street, Escondido

Membership: 165

Pastor: Tom Fry

Age: 67

Born: Lafayette, IN

Formation: Pasadena College/Point Loma Nazarene University; Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY

Years Ordained: 42

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

Pastor Tom Fry: I’ve been thinking about that question, because in four or five weeks I’ll be preaching my last sermon before I retire. I think I would preach probably from the Gospel of John and tell some of the stories of Jesus’ life and ministry. I think that becomes the most basic thing. If I only had one sermon to preach, I’d rather people heard what God says than what I think. In these last sermons, I’m going to be preaching from the first 18 verses of John, especially the 14th verse: “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” Given that I’ve got one more chance — that’s what I want people to know. Jesus is not somewhere way out there, but He came down here, lived with us, and understands us.

SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PF: People take an almost casual attitude toward the spiritual part of their lives. The church has become less a place where you come for a constant refilling and continual training, if you will, and it’s become more like an emergency room where you come only when there’s trouble. That concerns me, that the church becomes less and less important in people’s lives.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PF: I felt the call of God on my life to do something for people and with people. I wanted to be a journalist and a writer…I was interested in sports but probably would have ended up in the news end of things. I didn’t think I’d win a Pulitzer Prize or anything, but it was something I really enjoyed and wanted to do. But God impressed upon me that He had a better and a different idea, and I followed that leading.

SDR: Why Church of the Nazarene?

PF: I was attracted to the church initially because of the people, and stayed in the church because I believe in the doctrines they teach; I believe in the emphasis on holy living and purity of life. It’s a place where I felt comfortable with what I believed and where I wanted my spiritual journey to go.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PF: To reach people all around the world and help them come to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Savior. From the beginning of our denomination, there’s always been a concern for the poor, humanly as well as spiritually.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PF: I believe there is a heaven that God has set aside for His people. I believe there is also a final judgment, which means that some of us won’t make it to heaven. I’m glad I’m not the guy who has to decide who goes where. I believe a person has to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to get into heaven, but I know for me what that is — I’m not sure I would want to define that for every person. I don’t see myself as the final judge of that question. I know where I have to be so that I’m ready.

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