11211 Sorrento Valley Road, Suite G, Sorrento Valley
Senior Minister (outgoing): Tom Sannar
Formation: University of California-Berkeley; University of Pacific-McGeorge School of Law; Fresno Church of Religious Science; Milwaukee Church of Religious Science
Years Ordained: 29
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite topic on which to preach?
Pastor Tom Sannar: My favorite topic is the evolution of the soul. Why are we here and what is the meaning of all this? Everyone has their own individual vision but we teach that every person is a spiritual way-shower, and they come into that presence and power themselves.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PS: Many of the churches are dying because they’re not being supported. That doesn’t mean the people are less spiritual…. It used to be the traditional method of delivery was that you went to church on Sunday and got the message. That’s not true anymore. Now there’s the internet, movies, television, books — and there’s a much greater emphasis on individual searching. You can talk to lots of people who say, “I don’t go to church but I do read spiritual material.” So, what is the relevance of the 21st-century church? That’s the issue.
SDR: Why spirituality rather than religion?
PS: We are in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but there are people who are Buddhist and Hindu and Muslim and even agnostics who come to our center. There’s no pie in the sky by and by — our job is to live our lives right here and right now as spiritual beings. It fits with the experiences I had. I studied all these other religions and I studied the Bible and how it was made. How do you handle the issues of ordinary life and especially science and religion? Can a person be a man or woman of faith and still be a person of science? The answer to the questions is yes.
SDR: What’s the mission of your spiritual community?
PS: There are different levels of the mission, but the biggest level of the mission is to awaken people to their spiritual nature so they can live their lives as spiritual beings and we think that if enough people have become awakened to this nature we can make a difference. Really it is our nature to be unconditionally loving, and not in our nature to hurt other people, and so we’re here to lift up ourselves and other people. If enough people do that it can change society. So the ultimate purpose is peace on our planet where everyone participates.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PS: The soul is immortal, traveling from lifetime to lifetime, gaining more experience and becoming more aware. So, this Earth life experience is not the only one we’ll have, and everything we learn here is recorded in our minds that goes on with us. So, when you’re born into another experience, you’re not a blank slate. That’s why you’ll see these three-year-olds get up in front of a piano and start playing like a professional…. How are people judged? By their own actions — in the Hindu religion, it’s called karma. So, if you do something that goes against your true nature, you’re going to pay the consequences of that. It’s not that God or someone is going to judge you; it’s that you’re judging yourself by your own activities.