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Penasquitos Lutheran Church: the good news on Earth

Mantra: Connecting people to Jesus and one another

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly

Penasquitos Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 14484 Penasquitos Dr., San Diego 858-672-3466 www.plc-church.org
  • Membership: 1,500
  • Pastor: Sean Kelly
  • Age: 48
  • Born: Fullerton
  • Formation: California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN: Fuller Seminary, Pasadena
  • Years Ordained: 21

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

Pastor Sean Kelly: The Kingdom of God intersecting with the Kingdom of Earth, and how the two are not mutually exclusive. Our mission is to be disciples and followers of Jesus — not just wanting to do the right thing here on earth so I can punch my ticket in heaven. It’s an old way of thinking about heaven and the purpose of church. But the reality is that Jesus has given us a mission to be the good news on earth for a people who are hopeless and in despair.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PK: I had a significant calling from the Lord I couldn’t shake, and significant spiritual and character formation in my late teen years and early 20s. By the time I was in college, I had trusted people who spoke into my life — many of them didn’t know each other — had said similar things — “Hey, this could be your calling. You’re really good at this.” Just hearing those trusted voices allowed me to take one step at a time.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PK: We have a mantra we use; we say it and remind each other of it often; and we use it make decisions: Connecting people to Jesus and one another.

SDR: Where is the most surprising place you found God?

PK: Once the COVID-19 lockdown began, we had to shut our doors. A few individuals remain at our facility, keeping a safe distance from one another, working every day with local community groups. Food bags are gathered and assembled by these organizers and volunteers, and some of the volunteers go out to deliver to our community, to those who have significant need of food. I was on campus filming our church-on-demand Sunday morning services to go up on YouTube for our people and it dawned on me as I watched these people going out with the food: this is the Lord at work in the hands of his people, So in the midst of the sorrow of not being able to use our space, I saw, in a surprising way, that God showed up anyway.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PK: Heaven is less a destination than a constant state of being. I’m limited by my own flesh and blood and in the space and time of the natural world. But heaven — and hell for that matter — are eternal states of being. My idea of hell isn’t a matter of sitting and roasting by a fire in eternal damnation – although I’m not minimizing hell. Hell is simply the absence of God, seclusion, isolation and loneliness. So to be isolated for all of eternity, absent of God — that is hell. Heaven, on the other hand, is a constant state of being in the presence of God, which is a celebration that rivals none. A pastor friend once said, “When I get to heaven, I think it’s going to be me standing before the throne of God, probably for a thousand years, saying over and over again: ‘I had no idea. I had no idea. I had no idea!’”

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Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly

Penasquitos Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 14484 Penasquitos Dr., San Diego 858-672-3466 www.plc-church.org
  • Membership: 1,500
  • Pastor: Sean Kelly
  • Age: 48
  • Born: Fullerton
  • Formation: California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN: Fuller Seminary, Pasadena
  • Years Ordained: 21

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

Pastor Sean Kelly: The Kingdom of God intersecting with the Kingdom of Earth, and how the two are not mutually exclusive. Our mission is to be disciples and followers of Jesus — not just wanting to do the right thing here on earth so I can punch my ticket in heaven. It’s an old way of thinking about heaven and the purpose of church. But the reality is that Jesus has given us a mission to be the good news on earth for a people who are hopeless and in despair.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PK: I had a significant calling from the Lord I couldn’t shake, and significant spiritual and character formation in my late teen years and early 20s. By the time I was in college, I had trusted people who spoke into my life — many of them didn’t know each other — had said similar things — “Hey, this could be your calling. You’re really good at this.” Just hearing those trusted voices allowed me to take one step at a time.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PK: We have a mantra we use; we say it and remind each other of it often; and we use it make decisions: Connecting people to Jesus and one another.

SDR: Where is the most surprising place you found God?

PK: Once the COVID-19 lockdown began, we had to shut our doors. A few individuals remain at our facility, keeping a safe distance from one another, working every day with local community groups. Food bags are gathered and assembled by these organizers and volunteers, and some of the volunteers go out to deliver to our community, to those who have significant need of food. I was on campus filming our church-on-demand Sunday morning services to go up on YouTube for our people and it dawned on me as I watched these people going out with the food: this is the Lord at work in the hands of his people, So in the midst of the sorrow of not being able to use our space, I saw, in a surprising way, that God showed up anyway.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PK: Heaven is less a destination than a constant state of being. I’m limited by my own flesh and blood and in the space and time of the natural world. But heaven — and hell for that matter — are eternal states of being. My idea of hell isn’t a matter of sitting and roasting by a fire in eternal damnation – although I’m not minimizing hell. Hell is simply the absence of God, seclusion, isolation and loneliness. So to be isolated for all of eternity, absent of God — that is hell. Heaven, on the other hand, is a constant state of being in the presence of God, which is a celebration that rivals none. A pastor friend once said, “When I get to heaven, I think it’s going to be me standing before the throne of God, probably for a thousand years, saying over and over again: ‘I had no idea. I had no idea. I had no idea!’”

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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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