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Found church while USIU grad student

Hell seems not on par with choices that lead us there

Dee Kelley, not a pastor until he was 50
Dee Kelley, not a pastor until he was 50
Place

San Diego First Church of the Nazarene

3901 Lomaland Drive, San Diego

Membership: 600 (attendance: 375)

Pastor: Dee Kelley

Age: 61

Born: Springfield, OH

Formation: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbornnais, IL; United States International University, SD; Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma City, OK

Years Ordained: 8

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Pastor Dee Kelley: I feel like I spent a lifetime writing my sermons. I certainly set time aside each week but every message preparation is drawing on experiences that go back the six decades of my life and my journey in exploring the lives and spiritual journeys of other people that span centuries. The preparation for each sermon is constant.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PK: Given the culture we’re in, the church at which I serve and the time in history in which we are, I find it vital to speak about God’s grace towards God’s creation. Tied up in that notion of grace is the notion of redemption. One of the ways in which the Christian faith tradition could contribute to solutions for making a difference in our culture would be to speak more about God’s grace and how it transforms us to be civil toward others and to listen with ears that respect the other person and the journey the other person is on.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PK: The movement toward full-time pastoral ministry for me is only 11 years old. At age 50 I came out here to pastor this church. I attended it while in grad school. I would not put myself on the same plane as people who have known since the beginning of their vocational career what they wanted to do. I had taught a Sunday-school class here about 30 years ago and they invited me to come back as their pastor.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PK: We have a very short mission statement: “To lift up Christ.” It is expressed locally and toward those who are part of the congregation, in all the places our people live and work, and all the places globally where we have natural connections. Our church is about 110 years old; we started downtown not too far from where Petco Park now stands, in a tent revival that lasted about three weeks.

Video:

History of San Diego Nazarene church

From tent revival downtown in 1907

From tent revival downtown in 1907

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PK: The vessel of our body can no longer contain all that the soul is needing to do or attempting to do. I believe that the soul remains recognizable and individual. I don’t think it’s taken into some large spiritual pot of some sort, but we remain individuals in God’s creation and God receives who we are. After we die, we have the opportunity, as we do now, to be in fellowship with God; or, if in our life we chose not to do that, God respects that as well. I think there is this division that happens where if our desire is to be in fellowship with God, that is the reward of having chosen that direction, and the consequence of not doing that is a respect by our creator of that freedom of choice. Separation from God would then take place, and that separation would no longer be balanced or mediated by God’s grace. Often the notion of hell is equated with the kind of punishment that seems not on par with the choices that have led in that direction.

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Dee Kelley, not a pastor until he was 50
Dee Kelley, not a pastor until he was 50
Place

San Diego First Church of the Nazarene

3901 Lomaland Drive, San Diego

Membership: 600 (attendance: 375)

Pastor: Dee Kelley

Age: 61

Born: Springfield, OH

Formation: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbornnais, IL; United States International University, SD; Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma City, OK

Years Ordained: 8

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Pastor Dee Kelley: I feel like I spent a lifetime writing my sermons. I certainly set time aside each week but every message preparation is drawing on experiences that go back the six decades of my life and my journey in exploring the lives and spiritual journeys of other people that span centuries. The preparation for each sermon is constant.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PK: Given the culture we’re in, the church at which I serve and the time in history in which we are, I find it vital to speak about God’s grace towards God’s creation. Tied up in that notion of grace is the notion of redemption. One of the ways in which the Christian faith tradition could contribute to solutions for making a difference in our culture would be to speak more about God’s grace and how it transforms us to be civil toward others and to listen with ears that respect the other person and the journey the other person is on.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PK: The movement toward full-time pastoral ministry for me is only 11 years old. At age 50 I came out here to pastor this church. I attended it while in grad school. I would not put myself on the same plane as people who have known since the beginning of their vocational career what they wanted to do. I had taught a Sunday-school class here about 30 years ago and they invited me to come back as their pastor.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PK: We have a very short mission statement: “To lift up Christ.” It is expressed locally and toward those who are part of the congregation, in all the places our people live and work, and all the places globally where we have natural connections. Our church is about 110 years old; we started downtown not too far from where Petco Park now stands, in a tent revival that lasted about three weeks.

Video:

History of San Diego Nazarene church

From tent revival downtown in 1907

From tent revival downtown in 1907

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PK: The vessel of our body can no longer contain all that the soul is needing to do or attempting to do. I believe that the soul remains recognizable and individual. I don’t think it’s taken into some large spiritual pot of some sort, but we remain individuals in God’s creation and God receives who we are. After we die, we have the opportunity, as we do now, to be in fellowship with God; or, if in our life we chose not to do that, God respects that as well. I think there is this division that happens where if our desire is to be in fellowship with God, that is the reward of having chosen that direction, and the consequence of not doing that is a respect by our creator of that freedom of choice. Separation from God would then take place, and that separation would no longer be balanced or mediated by God’s grace. Often the notion of hell is equated with the kind of punishment that seems not on par with the choices that have led in that direction.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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