Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church
- Contact: 1735 Main St., Ramona 760-788-7456 www.sojchurch.com
- Membership: 400
- Pastor: Dan Erlenbusch
- Age: 68
- Born: Columbus, OH.
- Formation: California Sate University-Fullerton; Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC.
- Years Ordained: 42
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Dan Erlenbusch: My wife Karyn and I have been here at Spirit of Joy since the beginning. In fact, this year is the 25th anniversary of the congregation, and the mission of the congregation itself speaks to who we are – spreading the good news of Christ to everyone by reaching people through worship, prayer, teaching, fellowship and service. My favorite subject to preach about centers around our mission—what is our outreach, and how do we touch those who don’t know Jesus Christ? One of the most important things for us as a church family has been to cultivate an inclusive environment for the community as a beacon of light, a different voice in the community.
SDR: How does that church family manifest the church’s mission?
PE: When I think about how we try to spread the gospel, I think of our worship life. We have been a community that has welcomed everyone, regardless of who they are, what their background is, whether they’ve been churchgoers or they’re unchurched and seeking the Lord. We have provided a very user-friendly type of worship experience so that people feel comfortable with who we are. In particular, we have a “Prayers and Squares” group that has met on a weekly basis for the last 20 years here. They have made over 1500 quilts, specifically for individuals who need prayers. We bless the quilts on Sunday morning and then tie the knots on the quilt squares, each knot representing our prayers for the individual receiving the quilt. We’ve received, over the years, letter upon letter from individuals all over the world, thanking us for the quilts and the prayers.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PE: In the world we live in today, I’m concerned with trying to encourage families and individuals to live faithfully everyday. It’s so easy for us to move away from that in the climate of our world condition—so we find ourselves needing to stand up against a lot of negative voices in the environment and our communities. It’s important to stay focused on Christ.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PE: I believe that Jesus Christ died for me, and I believe in the resurrection and that we will all be with Christ on that day. We are dead to the body but alive to Jesus, and that happens for everyone who believes in Christ. We live on in Christ. This is a very brief part of our existence here on earth, and the better part of our life is spent in eternity. I also believe that even in that experience of dying, that we will come face to face with Jesus; and, since we have a God of compassion and love, I think that we will have that opportunity to accept Christ. Obviously, blessed are those who believed but have not seen (John 20:29), but I think there will be those who need to see it to believe it. I would pray they had that opportunity. At the same time, I think there is a hell. Those who have rejected Christ completely will then be separated – and that’s what hell is, separation from God.