John Kent Reimann
St. Anthony the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church
- Contact: 2825 Merton Ave, San Diego 858-268-4100 www.st-anthony.org
- Membership: 520 (200 families)
- Neighborhood: Linda Vista
- Pastor: Father John Kent Reimann
- Age: 63
- Born: Downey, ID
- Formation: University of California-Los Angeles; Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Boston, MA
- Years Ordained: 25
San Diego Reader: What is the mission of your church?
Father John Kent Reimann: To glorify God first and foremost, and to be sanctified and saved, and in that process, hopefully to help save those around us. Whoever wants to can join us on this pilgrimage and journey. The goal of this church is to take in sick people — those afflicted with the sickness, brokenness and woundedness of sin — and bring them healing. It is also a part of our mission to reach out to the world around us. As we are healed, we bring that healing to others; as we take the Eucharist in the church, we become the Eucharist to the world around us. We become changed and transformed; we become sanctified. Our goal is to make living saints out of our people who in turn will sanctify a world that desperately needs to see that holy presence in this day and age.
SDR: What work of literature has had the greatest impact on your ministry?
FR: Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Some people say that in Russia, aside from the scriptures, no other text has brought more people to the Orthodox Church. Dostoevsky tells the story of three brothers — Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha and their father Fyodor. The brothers’ upbringing has been just terrible, but the novel turns on how each brother responds. Can they be held captive by the abuse or neglect that happened in their upbringing or are they going to reach out for something greater than themselves to help heal and sustain them to give them the strength? You see this in Alyosha, the youngest brothers. He chooses to follow the Christian way, while the eldest brother, Ivan, is very bitter against God, and that is represented by some people’s view of the world. It is remarkable though that Alyosha doesn’t have to be held captive to the past, but allows his relationship with Jesus Christ, through the sacraments and the example of holy people, help touch him and heal his heart. In this way, he chooses a better way in following Christ and bringing himself into conformity with Christ in his church. It’s a long book, but it’s well worth reading.
SDR: Where do you when go you die?
FR: The Orthodox understanding is to be preparing now for heaven and that’s why our worship is trying to orient us to how the heavenly worship is going to be. We also are trying to bring our lives into conformity to Christ so that when we leave this life, we understand that we’ll be in the presence of Christ, and that his angels will also help accompany us to that presence…. Christ at the judgment in the Second Coming will be the one who determines whether we’re put among the sheep or the goats. Because he is fully God, he knows everything about us. There’s nothing secret or hidden. He knows all we’ve done but he is also the one person of the Godhead who has become man for us and our salvation. He knows what it’s like to be tempted, to walk in our shoes. But by the choices we make in this life, we set ourselves on our course — we determine it. That’s why we’re constantly being called to repent.