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Teaching the individualism of Christianity led to the basics

In Japan, there is a responsibility to the collective whole but not to the individual

Kate Schlechter
Kate Schlechter

Atonement Lutheran Church

Contact: 7250 Eckstrom Ave, San Diego (Balboa) 858-278-5556 www.atonementlutheranbalboa.weebly.com

Membership: 45

Pastor: Kate Schlechter 

Age: 59

Born: Glendora

Formation: California State University-Long Beach; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN; Pacifica Institute, Carpinteria

Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Kate Schlechter: Hope. We all need it. I think we can generate, create, and be it, but sometimes we tend to get in our own way. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need to wake up every morning and see that hope goes hand in hand with the good news that we need to be community to each other and that the community is the incarnate good news of Jesus Christ. As Deuteronomy says, “Now choose life…” (30:19). So God tells us to choose life, and we weave that idea back into what Jesus says, that he came to give us life and give it abundantly.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PS: I was in Japan serving as a missionary for a hearing impaired congregation, teaching the faith in Japanese… One day I had an experience on a train platform in Tokyo. I was alone in downtown Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world, and I heard this voice, an internal call: “You’re going to go to seminary but not the way it’s usually done.” That was a shock because it never occurred to me to attend seminary. I was going to finish my work in Japan and go back and live in Los Angeles to work for a shipping company because I spoke Japanese. Until then, I thought I was headed to a whole different world, the business world.

SDR: What was greatest challenge in teaching Christianity in Japan?

PS: The concept of sin and why there is a need for an atonement. It is such an individualistic idea in the Western mindset. In Japan my experience is that the people are collectively oriented and there is a responsibility to the collective whole but not to the individual. So this individualism of Christianity, the idea of personal sin, led me to start with the basics, telling the story of what Jesus is trying to tell us. Why did someone have to die for me? Who is God? What is the concept of God?

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: We’re in transition right now, but our mission is that we’re grounded in faith and growing to serve, learning how to serve from where and what we have.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: I think my soul will live on in the stars, which may be heaven, but I don’t see gold paved clouds and that sort of thing. I believe after we die we enter into complete and full communion with the divine. I think we’re all called to heaven and that’s why I go back to Luther who said we all walk single file through life into heaven and stand before the creator. When I stand before the creator one day and my life flashes before my eyes, I’m not going to see everything I did wrong, but I’m going to see those missed opportunities where I could have been more kind and empathetic to others. That’s where the judgment comes in. We judge others because we’re so afraid of how we judge ourselves. Hell is right now. I don’t think I’m going to burn in hell and I don’t think anyone else is.

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Kate Schlechter
Kate Schlechter

Atonement Lutheran Church

Contact: 7250 Eckstrom Ave, San Diego (Balboa) 858-278-5556 www.atonementlutheranbalboa.weebly.com

Membership: 45

Pastor: Kate Schlechter 

Age: 59

Born: Glendora

Formation: California State University-Long Beach; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN; Pacifica Institute, Carpinteria

Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Kate Schlechter: Hope. We all need it. I think we can generate, create, and be it, but sometimes we tend to get in our own way. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need to wake up every morning and see that hope goes hand in hand with the good news that we need to be community to each other and that the community is the incarnate good news of Jesus Christ. As Deuteronomy says, “Now choose life…” (30:19). So God tells us to choose life, and we weave that idea back into what Jesus says, that he came to give us life and give it abundantly.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PS: I was in Japan serving as a missionary for a hearing impaired congregation, teaching the faith in Japanese… One day I had an experience on a train platform in Tokyo. I was alone in downtown Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world, and I heard this voice, an internal call: “You’re going to go to seminary but not the way it’s usually done.” That was a shock because it never occurred to me to attend seminary. I was going to finish my work in Japan and go back and live in Los Angeles to work for a shipping company because I spoke Japanese. Until then, I thought I was headed to a whole different world, the business world.

SDR: What was greatest challenge in teaching Christianity in Japan?

PS: The concept of sin and why there is a need for an atonement. It is such an individualistic idea in the Western mindset. In Japan my experience is that the people are collectively oriented and there is a responsibility to the collective whole but not to the individual. So this individualism of Christianity, the idea of personal sin, led me to start with the basics, telling the story of what Jesus is trying to tell us. Why did someone have to die for me? Who is God? What is the concept of God?

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: We’re in transition right now, but our mission is that we’re grounded in faith and growing to serve, learning how to serve from where and what we have.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: I think my soul will live on in the stars, which may be heaven, but I don’t see gold paved clouds and that sort of thing. I believe after we die we enter into complete and full communion with the divine. I think we’re all called to heaven and that’s why I go back to Luther who said we all walk single file through life into heaven and stand before the creator. When I stand before the creator one day and my life flashes before my eyes, I’m not going to see everything I did wrong, but I’m going to see those missed opportunities where I could have been more kind and empathetic to others. That’s where the judgment comes in. We judge others because we’re so afraid of how we judge ourselves. Hell is right now. I don’t think I’m going to burn in hell and I don’t think anyone else is.

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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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