3850 Westgate Place, San Diego
Pastor: Sara Haldeman-Scarr
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 to preach?
Pastor Sara Haldeman-Scarr: Social justice. My personal mission statement is sharing Christ, friend to friend and heart to heart. I will try to see what’s going on within my life or the people I’m around and try to speak some kind of message of hope or unconditional love. So, I would tell people that you are not alone but you belong.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PHS: We as people of faith are so focused on our own faith and dogmas that we oftentimes neglect to recognize we’re all part of a global community. We each have a piece of the light — the understanding of who God is and the divine is — and we need to be more about building bridges than about standing on who we think God is.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PHS: I wanted to be able to share the unconditional love of God and be able to help people explore questions and to walk together on a journey. We’re so individualistic, but together we have a better ability to understand. Being a woman in ministry in the Church of the Brethren — I was really a pioneer. The first woman minister was ordained in 1950 and I felt my call to the ministry in 1981.
SDR: Why First Church of the Brethren?
PHS: We first landed, if I remember history, in America sometime in the 1720s. We’ve been around for a while but we’re a small denomination nationally. Our main webpage is www.brethren.org. I am born and bred Church of the Brethren. I love the ideal the Church has, the values of simplicity, peace, and justice.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PHS: We have a faith statement that bases our mission: Jesus is the center of our faith; community is the center of our life; reconciliation is the center of our work. We do this as a congregation that advocates, educates, and appreciates equality for all. We have on our campus what we call the Friends Center with a collaborative ministry here — we call the entire campus the San Diego Peace Campus, and we have a collaborative of four different organizations: the Peace Resource Center of San Diego, the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers), the American Friends Service Committee Border Project, and our church.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PHS: I believe there is some kind of spiritual something. Some call it heaven…. I’m more of a universal salvation person — I believe no matter what happens afterwards, it’s not ours to control but God’s. I will trust God — God created us in God’s image and whatever happens after this is really for God to decide. It’s more than likely God loves each of us, and if we’re going to put that in terms of parental love. I don’t know of a single parent who would send someone bad, disappointing, or evil to a place like hell. I don’t use that kind of language. Rather I say, God loves us all — and we’re doing the best we can here, folks. Sometimes our best is not so good but it’s the best we can do in the situation we find ourselves.