St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
- Contact: 3502 Clairemont Dr., San Diego 858-273-1480 www.stmarksumcsd.org
- Membership: 600
- Pastor: Lydia Sohn
- Blog: www.revlydia.com
- Age: 36
- Born: Seoul, South Korea
- Formation: Scripps College, Claremont; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT
- Years Ordained: 2
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Lydia Sohn: God is always with us, no matter what, helping us, guiding us, and comforting us in our pain and confusion. That’s the meaning of the name of Jesus—“Emmanuel”—“God with us.” In a crucial moment of struggle in my life, I prayed and I was surprised by the words that came out. It wasn’t “Dear God, solve all my problems and make them go away!” but rather “Dear God, as long as I know you care about me and are walking with me throughout this process, I know I’m going to be OK.” That’s when I realized the essence of my theology was the fact that God was always with us in the midst of our struggles and using those struggles to help refine us.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PS: St. Mark’s is a community that wants to connect with God and, with God’s help, connect with others around us. We have weekly services, Bible studies and book studies. These are all internal ministries that strengthen our faith in God. Then, as we strengthen that faith, we are then healed in the process by seeing how God meets us in our own lives. Then we cultivate our own love and compassion for others so that we can go outside the church doors and meet others in their pain and longing for connection.
SDR: What one book has had the most impact on your ministry?
PS: The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen is full of deep thoughtful reflections about God—this one who lives among us, suffers and rejoices with us, and guides us.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?
PS: I’m a mom now of two children and one is a three-year-old and one is a three-month-old. It’s been challenging for me at times, because I’m the kind of personality that likes to be productive, be at work and involved in my career. Sometimes playing with my kids, especially my older one, can feel tedious because I want to be immersed in grown-up activities or conversations. But I have learned through these most mundane moments of playing Legos with my son on the floor or going on a little walk that the sacred is so present in these moments of being present to my son in his world as a three-year-old. I get to see the world for the very first time through his eyes.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PS: I don’t believe in a hell, but that every single person is infinitely loved by God, no matter who we are and what we do. God is compassionate in a way that transcends human understanding. I do believe in heaven—I have no idea whether it looks like rainbows and clouds as some childhood illustrations might picture it, or if it’s resting in eternal peace or union with God. But I trust heaven is glorious, a place we know we are fully loved. I think that hell is like the impossible possibility, which C.S. Lewis describes in trying to understand how we could say no to God. Why we would ever choose hate over love? Humans are essentially oriented toward love. That’s the greatest source of our happiness and fulfillment.