Point Loma Community
- Presbyterian Church
- Contact: 2128 Chatsworth Boulevard, San Diego 619-223-1633 www.pointlomachurch.org
- Membership: 965
- Pastor: Karla Shaw
- Age: 45
- Born: Bismarck, North Dakota
- Formation: Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena
- Years Ordained: 10
San Diego Reader: What is the mission of your church?
Pastor Karla Shaw: Our vision is to love everyone to life with everything we have. That idea comes from the Book of Deuteronomy, when Moses was expounding to the Israelites to choose life and you will live. There’s a difference between living and intentionally choosing life in order to have abundant living. We as a church believe loving everyone to life with everything we have involves not just the spiritual nature of a person, but also the physical, mental, emotional and communal parts of a person.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?
PS: I went through a period of about six years during my time in seminary when I wondered whether I believed in God. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I didn’t believe – but I certainly engaged in a rational thought process as to whether this belief in God was all total crap. At the end of that six years, I remember sitting at a desert at the Getty Center in L.A. — there is a desert portion to the Center, and I was there to spend a quiet day with a group. We could choose anywhere to go in the Center, and I chose the desert because that’s how I felt internally. I remember, though, that I was bowled away, sitting in that desert, by the presence of God — I hadn’t felt the presence of God in years. I sensed the presence, not in the desert, but far away on a balcony I could see in another part of the Getty Center. I sensed God saying, “I see you. You’re OK. Stay there as long as you want. I’m still here.” Even though it took me another year to come out of what I called the dark night of the senses, it was a very powerful experience for me in my faith journey.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PS: Scriptures don’t talk much about that. There is a lot of theology that has come out about a lot of things that scripture doesn’t talk about much. I believe who we are in this life and the relationship we begin with God continues in the next, which includes being in the presence of God in a powerful way. But heaven is not a place; it’s a person and a presence, and it doesn’t start when we die. It starts now. And don’t ask me about hell, because I don’t really know. I think hell is just the absence of God, and if it’s God’s desire that all people come to know him, which scripture says is clearly the case, then does God not get what he wants? Because this arbitrary thing we call death is the end of life as we know it, biologically, we assume that’s the final door. But who knows? There might be another door, and another door, and another door, until God gets what he wants. I’m not a Hindu, but I can understand the idea of reincarnation. It’s not part of the Biblical text, but it does fit with the sovereignty of God. How do we know? We don’t.