Thomas Truscott: "Whatever God chooses is fine."
Alpine Community Church
2225 W. Victoria Drive, Alpine
Membership: 110 (with 30–40 friends)
Pastor: Thomas Truscott
Born: Detroit, MI
Formation: Simpson College, Indianola, IA; San Francisco Seminary (Presbyterian), San Anselmo, CA; McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
Years Ordained: 51
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Thomas Truscott: A long time ago one of my seminary professors said, “Fellas” — and in those days it would be “fellas” since it was mostly men in the seminary...it’s changed a lot since then. But my professor would say, “Fellas, you’re going to be writing a term paper a week, and if you’re not up for that, there’s the door.” It turns out that that was exactly what it came out to be. I always liked school but when the professors would assign term papers my heart would turn around a little bit and my stomach would flop. If anyone asked me many years ago if I was going to write a term paper a week for 50 years, I’d tell him or her probably not. But I did. I tend to write early in the week, early Monday morning; it takes between eight to ten hours to write a sermon. I write them out longhand — I’m an old-fashioned guy. I’ve had the fortune of good church secretaries and assistants who type them out. It turns out to be anywhere from a five- to seven-page manuscript, doubled-spaced. In my sermons, I try to apply the scripture to practical, everyday life.
SDR: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
PT: God’s love for us, which in turn requires us to reach out and care about one another. That may sound too general, but no matter what season of the year, that’s basically what I’m talking about. God has loved us in a variety of ways and it’s our responsibility on a day-by-day basis to reach out and love other people, people whom we encounter at work, at play, in the way we drive on the freeway, and the way we encounter people in stores, wherever it is that we are. That’s our calling.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PT: It’s an interesting time here at Alpine because the church is slated to receive a new pastor in March 2017. I’m going to retire for a while and help out where I can. The new pastor may want to redefine the mission based on his preferences and skills and interests. It seems to me the primary mission of this congregation now is to address the faith to people within the local community. It’s primarily an older congregation; so it has a responsibility to address the Christian faith to an older population but at the same time the challenge is to reach out to younger families and kids, to build up the church school and youth groups and groups like that.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PT: As someone unworthy but loved and forgiven by God, I will share in God’s eternal presence. As a professor once said, “I’ll leave the details up to God.” Whatever God chooses is fine. Whether that is a physical life as we experience now or a spiritual life, the up and down of heaven and hell don’t make sense to me. Sharing in the eternal presence of God is how I would see the afterlife. Likewise, I think hell is defined as the total absence of God and heaven is the total presence of God.