Brian Oltman: “I meet God in the people I talk to in conversation.”
  • Brian Oltman: “I meet God in the people I talk to in conversation.”
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Resurrection Lutheran Church of Coronado

Resurrection Lutheran Church

1111 Fifth Street, Coronado

Membership: 75–100

Pastor: Brian Oltman

Age: 59

Born: Glencoe, MN

Formation: St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN; Golden Valley Lutheran, Minneapolis, MN; Antioch University, L.A.; Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA; Ryokan College, L.A.

Years Ordained: 26

San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

Pastor Brian Oltman: I’m always concerned about how things are applied to daily life. Right now there is a lot of division in the country. What I hear from the people I work with is that same concern. There’s a lot of uncertainty for some people.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PO: When I graduated from college, I realized I wanted to do ministry and had been accepted into seminary. I had to take a summer crash course in Greek, and that’s all I did that summer was study Greek. Even though I had already been accepted in seminary, it was that moment of passing and doing well in a subject I never thought I could do well in that convinced me it was something I could do.

SDR: Why Lutheran?

PO: I grew up in the Lutheran Church. My understanding of God and God’s grace fits with what this congregation understands and how the congregation has evolved. We believe that there’s an openness to God’s grace and that God’s grace is open to all people without restrictions.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PO: Reaching, loving, and caring. The folks in this church reach out, love those around them, and care for them. We do things here based on those three ideas. We started a Good Neighbor Sunday where we invite members of the community to celebrate the community we have together. We want to reach out because of the grace given to us and share that intentionally with others in our daily lives.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PO: I meet God in the people I talk to in conversation. When I talk to people, they’re surprised to find out that I’m a pastor and a therapist. They say they don’t want to talk to me or they don’t want me to change them. Then they start talking to me anyway. It can be at the grocery store or the gas station or anywhere. Someone saw the cross I have in my car at the gas station once, which started a conversation.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PO: When I was a kid I’d lie on the lawn and look at the clouds, trying to see angels. But there’s more mystery to the idea of heaven than that. If I worry about where I’m going, it takes away from my daily life. I’m not one to make judgment on who’s going to hell and who is not. God’s grace is sufficient and what we do is in response to God’s grace. Sometimes we don’t do as much as we can in that response, but God’s grace is self-sufficient. So to say if someone is or isn’t somewhere is God’s job. Let God take care of all that and when I die I’ll understand more. I acknowledge that there is a hell but I don’t place it in a specific place in the center of the earth full of fire and brimstone and that kind of thing, and I wouldn’t defend heaven as a place in the clouds. Heaven is where God is.

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