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!’”