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“Keep the party going”

Building my heart for homeless neighbors

Van Tarpley
Van Tarpley

First Baptist Church of Bostonia

Contact: 1025 N 2nd St, El Cajon 619-444-1374 www.firstbaptistchurchofbostonia.weebly.com

Membership: 150

Pastor: Van Tarpley 

Age: 46

Born: Baltimore, MD

Formation: Johns Hopkins, Baltimore; Indiana University, Claremont school of Theology, San Diego State University

Years Ordained: 3

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

Pastor Van Tarpley: I grew up in the mission fields of Nigeria and West Africa. I’ve also been in the former Soviet Union. I’ve always been around loving, committed Christian people in diverse settings throughout my entire life. I was on track to become a historian specializing in Russian history (and still teach one class a semester at San Diego State University). But I was also doing all kinds of lay ministry, college ministry and other kinds of ministry along the way. I love working on the day-to-day journey of faith and helping people understand and see God in the long journey. I basically felt called to do that as a vocation, and I love it.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PT: God loves you—you grow as you serve—church should be joyful.

SDR: What work of literature has influenced your life as a pastor?

PT: I do love Dostoevsky—I’m more of a Chekov guy than a Dostoevsky guy, but don’t get me wrong, Dostoevsky can write. But the work that does the most for me is The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov, a satirical Russian novel set in the early Soviet period. It’s a wonderful book for showing the power of hope and the danger of false hope. The main character is a con artist – but a funny con artist. He convinces this town on the Volga River that they’re going to be the new center of the chess universe and helps them raise money for a new chess tournament, which of course he steals. So the people of this town are seeking something to believe in, and hope is powerful but also dangerous.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PT: I was visiting Kate, now my wife, when we had just become engaged. We threw a big party for friends and because we were not experienced in entertaining, we made way too much food. There I was scraping leftover chicken and mashed potatoes into Tupperware, saying, “We’re going to be having leftovers for a couple days.” That’s when I had a strong sense of God saying, “Keep the party going.” This is not common for me – I don’t get a lot of clear messages from God. He speaks to me a lot, but it’s usually much more subtle. I thought and prayed about it, and realized we were supposed to take these leftovers to homeless neighbors and give it out. And so we made up plates, covered them with foil and we did. That was an early step for building my heart for homeless neighbors here in San Diego.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: I believe Christ comes to save and believers go to be with God, participating in the love and relationship at the heart of the Trinity. Heaven is being with God and with the community of other people who are there. I also believe that for those who don’t believe, there’s a possibility of separation from God, and we call that hell. I emphasize the call saving grace of God, but there is this other reality, well testified to in scripture, this separation from God, and we can’t discount or underplay that reality.

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Van Tarpley
Van Tarpley

First Baptist Church of Bostonia

Contact: 1025 N 2nd St, El Cajon 619-444-1374 www.firstbaptistchurchofbostonia.weebly.com

Membership: 150

Pastor: Van Tarpley 

Age: 46

Born: Baltimore, MD

Formation: Johns Hopkins, Baltimore; Indiana University, Claremont school of Theology, San Diego State University

Years Ordained: 3

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

Pastor Van Tarpley: I grew up in the mission fields of Nigeria and West Africa. I’ve also been in the former Soviet Union. I’ve always been around loving, committed Christian people in diverse settings throughout my entire life. I was on track to become a historian specializing in Russian history (and still teach one class a semester at San Diego State University). But I was also doing all kinds of lay ministry, college ministry and other kinds of ministry along the way. I love working on the day-to-day journey of faith and helping people understand and see God in the long journey. I basically felt called to do that as a vocation, and I love it.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PT: God loves you—you grow as you serve—church should be joyful.

SDR: What work of literature has influenced your life as a pastor?

PT: I do love Dostoevsky—I’m more of a Chekov guy than a Dostoevsky guy, but don’t get me wrong, Dostoevsky can write. But the work that does the most for me is The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov, a satirical Russian novel set in the early Soviet period. It’s a wonderful book for showing the power of hope and the danger of false hope. The main character is a con artist – but a funny con artist. He convinces this town on the Volga River that they’re going to be the new center of the chess universe and helps them raise money for a new chess tournament, which of course he steals. So the people of this town are seeking something to believe in, and hope is powerful but also dangerous.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PT: I was visiting Kate, now my wife, when we had just become engaged. We threw a big party for friends and because we were not experienced in entertaining, we made way too much food. There I was scraping leftover chicken and mashed potatoes into Tupperware, saying, “We’re going to be having leftovers for a couple days.” That’s when I had a strong sense of God saying, “Keep the party going.” This is not common for me – I don’t get a lot of clear messages from God. He speaks to me a lot, but it’s usually much more subtle. I thought and prayed about it, and realized we were supposed to take these leftovers to homeless neighbors and give it out. And so we made up plates, covered them with foil and we did. That was an early step for building my heart for homeless neighbors here in San Diego.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: I believe Christ comes to save and believers go to be with God, participating in the love and relationship at the heart of the Trinity. Heaven is being with God and with the community of other people who are there. I also believe that for those who don’t believe, there’s a possibility of separation from God, and we call that hell. I emphasize the call saving grace of God, but there is this other reality, well testified to in scripture, this separation from God, and we can’t discount or underplay that reality.

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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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