1475 Catalina Boulevard, Point Loma
All Souls’ Episcopal Church
Pastor: Father Joseph Dirbas
Born: Lavonia, MI
Formation: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, NY
Years Ordained: 6
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Father Joseph Dirbas: God loves you. There’s a lot of judgment in the world, but if we focus on God’s love for us and God’s call for us to love others and love God, then the world can be in a different place. Instead of trusting in God’s love, we sometimes try to trust in our own abilities. But resting in the fact that God loves us gives us the strength to do what God is asking us to do.
SDR: Why Episcopalian?
FD: I was raised in the Episcopal Church. Both of my parents are from Palestine. My mother was raised in the Anglican Church when she lived in Palestine, so when she came to this country she went to the Episcopal Church. As I continued to grow in my faith and my relationship with God, I began to see the Episcopal Church as a church that holds on to tradition but is also socially aware. To me it matters that we are grounded in the apostolic faith and have that connection to the early church. We have a foundation in who we are as a church, but also have our eyes open to what is going on around us in the world as God continues to reveal himself to us. One of the taglines I use for All Souls’ is that we are liturgically traditional and socially progressive.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FD: Our mission is that we want people’s lives to be transformed by God. We want to embody God’s love and share that love with all people so they can experience it as well. We feel very much called to be the church in and for the community. We invite people to come in and use our space — to hear concerts such as the organ recitals we have scheduled [including a recital by organist Bob Thompson on November 20] and All Souls’ ensemble-in-residence, the Bach Collegium San Diego [which continues to offer free monthly noon concerts, September through May]. We want people to come experience the beauty of holiness not only in our worship but also in the arts.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FD: I believe God’s love is sufficient for all people and ultimately wins so that we’re all drawn into God’s love. I believe there is an afterlife and that there is a bodily resurrection. I have no idea what it looks like nor how to frame it because it’s non-temporal. But I do believe it’s a place where we’re all living together united in God’s love in communion with each other and the Almighty. I don’t know how that formation is going to happen for some — or how comfortable it will be for some — to make that transformation, but I believe that God’s love makes enough room for that transformation. If there is such a place as hell, I believe it’s because people continue to constantly refuse the love of God. I don’t believe God damns anyone to hell but rather we make that choice on our own. That said, I believe God’s love is waiting for us. All we need to do is submit ourselves to it.