St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
- Contact: 8350 Lake Murray Blvd, San Diego 619-464-4211 www.standrewslutheran.church
- Membership: 750
- Pastor: Manuel Retamoza
- Age: 50
- Born: Stockton
- Formation: Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
- Years Ordained: 15
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Manuel Retamoza: We’re called to serve one another because that’s what God has called us to do as his disciples. This idea is so countercultural to where we are in our times right now. We’re definitely a “me” culture – and often the question tends to be for some people who come into St. Andrew’s – “What do I get out of this?” rather than “What can I do? How can I serve?”
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PR: Our main concern is that the greater community is being served during this pandemic, through whatever means we have at our disposal. St. Andrew’s as a congregation has always been generous. It comes through the character of the congregation. They were already doing this – but now it’s more focused because of the need that’s arisen from the virus. We talk about tithing and we typically lay it down as pastors: 10 percent. For as long as I’ve been here – and longer – this congregation has given 20 percent away. So whatever comes in, 20 percent goes out. That is the model of giving to and serving others. We give it to non-profits and other ministries in San Diego, around the country and around the world. We’ve been a kind of food pantry at this time. We’ve left our narthex open during office hours so people can come in without talking to anyone or seeing anyone, and drop off in the narthex whatever they have – food, diapers, masks. We had about 400 masks in the narthex this week.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PR: Our mission statement is “To be disciples and make disciples.” We do that in many ways. Lutherans have a culture of quietly serving, which comes out of the Norwegian culture where you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, but you serve and do good things. Their witnessing is very subtle. It makes a challenge for people to witness as we understand it as U.S. Christians. They go out and serve and look for good they can do in the world as God has called them to do. Whether that’s in giving, serving or whatever, there is a culture here that is always looking for ways to do and serve in the congregation.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PR: We have this place called heaven we like to speak about – but it’s really just being in the full presence of the divine. That is beyond our real comprehension or any way we can put into words what that means. We only know this world is broken, and to be someplace where it’s perfect is something we cannot comprehend – it’s beyond our thoughts. There also has to be an absence of God – what most people would call hell - but I couldn’t begin to understand and conceive that anyone is there. We have a God who went to the cross—allowed creation to murder him, and hang him on a cross, and so, if you say you believe, you’re going to the gate. You have to say it, though, in this life. This God died for us and rose to show us his love and compassion for what we couldn’t do for ourselves.