Father David Madsen: "I don’t know so much about hell."
490 Farragut Circle, El Cajon
Membership: 100 families
Pastor: David Madsen
Born: La Junta, CO
Formation: Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI; General Theological Seminary, New York City; New York Theological Seminary, New York City
Years ordained: 9
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Father David Madsen: My sermons tend to be more topical than exegetical. I like to think they’re well put together, too — if you can’t say it in ten minutes, it’s not worth saying. The key is to have a 30-minute sermon within 10–12 minutes. I approach my sermons as a scholar. I spend probably 12–15 hours on the sermon.
SDR: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
FM: What does it mean to be a Christian? In particular, I think it’s important to meet the needs of the community. If the church were to go away, would anyone in the community miss it? That’s always been my philosophy — to love God and your neighbor. Loving your neighbor means impacting your community.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
FM: I was a sales manager for a paper company and started hanging around with this men’s group and then started going on weekends to a Benedictine monastery, St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, MI. That became my home away from home. I got addicted to the monastic side of the Episcopal Church. So that’s where it all started — I began speaking with the bishop and going through the ordination process. I thought I was too old, being in my early 50s, but here I am. I never thought in a million years I’d be an Episcopal priest. I also blame it on reading the Bible too much.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FM: The mission of our church is to share the love of God with everyone, everywhere and as often as we can. This church has always been involved with homeless ministry. I’m involved with the city council and chamber of commerce, working within the system to help the homeless; St. Alban’s is there as an advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves. We want to work with everyone and encourage everyone, but if others want to sweep the homeless situation under the rug and not mention it, we’re going to be a rock in their shoe. We’re going to make them uncomfortable; that’s the prophetic side of our ministry. Our message is that God loves you just the way you are right now, no strings attached, not based on what you may have done in the past or might do in the future; but right now in this present moment God loves you and we love you — let’s be the church together.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FM: When you die, you’re going to the afterlife, whatever that means. It’s described as heaven, paradise, and eternity in the Bible. Whatever it is, I believe in life after death. I don’t know so much about hell. That’s a mystery to me. I do believe in judgment, but I don’t know that that entails…. When it comes to a judgment at the end of the world, I’ll be upset if there isn’t one, but it’s not in my hands. I think some people are living in literal hell right now, and it bothers me there are people like Adolf Hitler and I’m hoping there might be a judgment for such people.