- Sweetwater Community Church
- Contact: 5305 Sweetwater Rd, Bonita 619-479-8208 Facebook Page
- Membership: 80
- Pastor: Chris Hughes
- Age: 55
- Born: Brooklyn, NY
- Formation: San Diego State University; Wesley Seminary-Indiana Wesleyan University, Indianapolis, IN.
- Years Ordained: 15
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Chris Hughes: I’m going through a series right now called “The Big God Story,” and I’m basically taking the Bible and breaking it into 13 different eras. Each week we go through it. I want the people to get an overview of the Bible. It’s very much exegetical, but I try hard to take a point out of that era and connect it to today. That was then—but here’s today. I want the Bible to be real for them. Because I literally started here as lead pastor in June and hit the ground running, even during these COVID times, I usually spend on average anywhere from six to 15 hours a week preparing my sermons, but it’s not all in one shot.
SDR: Why Wesleyan?
SDR: A couple things drew me to the Wesleyan Church – it was a beautiful blend between the formality and structure of the Catholic Church and the structure of it….The other thing I like about the Wesleyan Church is that in Christian theology there are these two views of God as being completely sovereign or being all love. In the Wesleyan Church, the theology sees love trumping the sovereignty, but not to the extent that it is free love, anything goes and there’s no accountability…. He’s completely sovereign, but not in the sense that there’s no free will involved – we still have to make choices…. I also appreciated the fact that obviously they allow women in ministry and support that fully.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PH: The name of our church comes out of Isaiah where he talks about out of the ruins comes a spring of sweet water – and since the church is located on Sweetwater Road, they tied the name to the road in that way by finding a beautiful verse about living water and refreshment. Our mission is to build relationships with God, with others, and with the community.
SDR: What one book has most influenced your ministry?
PH: Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, which is a collection of letters which describe God as being in everything we do. Brother Lawrence [Nicolas Herman] was a Carmelite monk back in the 1600s, and much of his life was spent in manual labor, and he’d note that even in washing the dishes, God was present. He wasn’t present just in the church services, but throughout the whole day. The letters show how to develop that idea in practice.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PH: We have a choice to follow Jesus or not follow him; that will determine whether we go to heaven. I believe there is a literal hell and there is a literal heaven. Just as we love our kids, and there are consequences for our actions and the choices we make, it’s the same thing with God. He loves every single one of us, and he desires that all should have eternal life and none should perish. He doesn’t choose to put people in heaven or hell. He wants us all to go to heaven, but we make those choices of whether we choose to believe, and we have up to our last nanosecond here on earth to make that choice.