Luis Garcia: “We are a mutual community, a nurturing center for all, making disciples for Christ.”
1120 Nestor Way, Imperial Beach
Membership: 150 (attendance: 100)
Pastor: Luis Garcia
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 which to preach?
Pastor Luis Garcia: Faith. If we are believers, I want to know how is the faith going to help our relationship with God and neighbor. Our faith leads us into the direction of God and also to our responsibility to people around us, our family, our church fellows but also community around us and even the worldwide community.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PG: I tell people that it was not a specific moment but a progression of events. For example, my college education led me to work in the community and from that work I saw the need to minister. I realized that this is what I need to be doing and so I went to seminary and discovered that I liked to do mission and pastoral work at the same time. Through the practice of pastoral ministry, now I know this is where I need to be.
SDR: Why Methodist denomination?
PG: I was a nominal Catholic in Mexico, and certainly through one of my sisters, I discovered the Bible and went to a youth camp. In this case Jesus wanted a closer relationship with me, and I was 17 years old and almost ready to go to college. It became a very definite foundation for my faith. That was in Mexico. It was a different story here in the States. Although there were other churches around the one I started going to was a Methodist church and I began learning about John Wesley, who started the Methodist movement. As Methodists, we have a connection to social responsibility in the community and the world.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PG: We are a mutual community, a nurturing center for all, making disciples for Christ. In that sense, the church has been playing a nurturing role in the community through ministries to the food pantry we have in connection with Metro, a city nonprofit organization, and also through cultural sense of the arts, especially the community arts…. We hope that we are a nurturing center and as Christians we need to be examples of Christ to the world.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PG: If we accept Christ and live according to his word we will live in an afterlife in the presence of God. As Christians, we accept Christ when we know him and walk with him. How does that happen in other cultures or other religions? I don’t know. I only can speak for my religion: “I am the way, the truth and the life” and that means for everyone. “I am the way,” Christ says, and that way is open to everyone, even those not exposed. They also have to make the decision to follow Christ. That’s not my decision to make for them. At the same time there are people in hell, although how hell is going to be is not a question I can answer. One thing I do know is that hell is the place where God is not — he is not there. Hell is the absence of God.