- Contact: 204 S Freeman St., Oceanside 760-722-8522 www.oceansidesanctuary.org
- Membership: 200
- Neighborhood: Oceanside
- Pastor: Jason Coker
- Age: 49
- Born: San Bernardino
- Formation: Vineyard Institute (www.vineyardinstitute.org/usa); Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena.
- Years Ordained: 19
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Jason Coker: The Lord’s Prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us an unusual way of thinking about spirituality. When the prayer talks about how the rule, the power or the love of God comes on earth as it is in heaven, that message of love and goodness is translated as food for those who are hungry and forgiveness for those who have made mistakes. The ability to avoid making those mistakes in the future – deliverance from sin – all of that opens up the reality that what we do, in terms of people who follow Christ, is practiced here on earth in tangible ways. But it’s not about fire insurance for where we go after we die.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PC: Our mission is to make disciples for the sake of the city. For us as a church, that means learning to become followers of Christ not for our own sake but for the sake of our neighbors, for the sake of Oceanside, for the sake of North San Diego County. We practice our faith not to make ourselves more comfortable, but to be of good use to the people in our community. We believe in being a radically inclusive church – so anyone and everyone is welcome here. We celebrate open communion, which means we share communion every time we gather and everyone is welcome to come to the table of communion, no matter what they believe, their socioeconomic status, their sexuality or gender or creed or race. We run a few small-scale social service programs to meet the needs of the poor in our community…. We also are actively engaged in advocating in policy change locally on behalf of those marginalized or oppressed.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?
PC: Myself. I never expect to find God in myself. In my experience, a sense of God’s grace, presence and goodness coming out of myself is always a surprise, and I’m always grateful for it. A big part of what I try to open up people to the possibility of is that God is present and working through them even when they don’t feel like it.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PC: Obviously I don’t know where you go after you die. Ultimately, I’m counting on the idea that in the end God will have turned out to be much bigger and more gracious than any of us could possibly imagine. Whatever happens after we die, in terms of our consciousness, we can trust it will be good. I don’t subscribe to a traditional belief in eternal conscious torment in hell; I don’t think a good God would subject anyone to an eternity of torment because of mistakes they made on earth, and I understand scripture to be referring very figuratively to this idea of judgment. When Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, if a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, the father wouldn’t give him a stone. To me, Jesus is teaching us that God is a good God who gives us good things, and gives us exactly what we need. That applies not only to our temporal lives on earth but also to whatever happens to us after we die.