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Grace for gangs: Father Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart: The Boundless Power of Compassion influences First United Methodist Church of San Diego

God’s to give and ours to receive

Trudy Robinson
Trudy Robinson

First United Methodist Church of San Diego

  • Contact: 2111 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 619-297-4366 www.fumcsd.org
  • Membership: 2,000 (pre-covid)
  • Neighborhood: Mission Valley
  • Pastor: Trudy Robinson
  • Age: 58
  • Born: West Covina
  • Formation: California State-Fullerton; Claremont School of Theology; Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO
  • Years Ordained: 25

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

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Pastor Trudy Robinson: It’s always on grace. That’s such a churchy word, but by it, I mean the ability that God gives us to try again, and the ability to keep on being forgiven or being given the opportunity to have another chance. That’s all surrounded by a gift of love. Grace is the biggest gift we have to give. Actually, it’s not ours to give, but we remind people that it is God’s to give and ours to receive.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PR: I’m trying to figure out how to invest in the ministries we’ll need for our future. As we come out of the pandemic, we’re being given great opportunities to respond to the world and our community differently. We’ve been seeing different tools that we can use to reach people, and that’s very exciting to me. We’ve been livestreaming forever as a church, it seems, and with the pandemic it took on a new role. We were getting well over 2000 viewers before covid; we now have 1,660,100 viewers during the covid time, which is incredible. Folks are looking for something, and if this is the way they are finding it, then the church ought to keep giving it this way. We need to reshape what church membership looks like and what worship really means.

SDR: Why Methodist?

PR: The easy answer is that I was born and raised Methodist. But I find that the theology of the Methodist Church is very inclusive when you get down to understanding the grace of God. I am grateful that the Methodist church I am serving has taken that literally. While the larger Methodist denomination has been trying to figure out what kind of relationship we have with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, my particular church is embracing people of all kinds — gays, lesbians, transgender. It’s in the Methodist theology to understand that, at least from my perspective.

SDR: What one book has had the most influence on your ministry?

PR: I am a huge fan of the Jesuit priest, Father Gregory Boyle, who wrote Tattoos on the Heart: The Boundless Power of Compassion. He speaks of grace beautifully and lives it as he is trying to offer that love and grace to gang members in LA and has been doing this for I don’t know how many decades. His persistence in being grace-filled to those that most people want to write off, and his persistent hope in doing that, is inspiring to me.

PR: Where do you go when you die?

SDR: I am content not knowing the answer to that question. But I have a sense that it is going to blow my mind. The best way I can describe what I believe is that we will know the fullness of God; we will be embraced by the fullness of God in way that will render all our preconceived notions of heaven irrelevant. It’s true there are people who don’t want to be with God, but I think that if God is a God of grace, then we have to be open to the idea that even after death there might be an opportunity for those people.

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Trudy Robinson
Trudy Robinson

First United Methodist Church of San Diego

  • Contact: 2111 Camino del Rio South, San Diego 619-297-4366 www.fumcsd.org
  • Membership: 2,000 (pre-covid)
  • Neighborhood: Mission Valley
  • Pastor: Trudy Robinson
  • Age: 58
  • Born: West Covina
  • Formation: California State-Fullerton; Claremont School of Theology; Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO
  • Years Ordained: 25

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Sponsored
Sponsored

Pastor Trudy Robinson: It’s always on grace. That’s such a churchy word, but by it, I mean the ability that God gives us to try again, and the ability to keep on being forgiven or being given the opportunity to have another chance. That’s all surrounded by a gift of love. Grace is the biggest gift we have to give. Actually, it’s not ours to give, but we remind people that it is God’s to give and ours to receive.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PR: I’m trying to figure out how to invest in the ministries we’ll need for our future. As we come out of the pandemic, we’re being given great opportunities to respond to the world and our community differently. We’ve been seeing different tools that we can use to reach people, and that’s very exciting to me. We’ve been livestreaming forever as a church, it seems, and with the pandemic it took on a new role. We were getting well over 2000 viewers before covid; we now have 1,660,100 viewers during the covid time, which is incredible. Folks are looking for something, and if this is the way they are finding it, then the church ought to keep giving it this way. We need to reshape what church membership looks like and what worship really means.

SDR: Why Methodist?

PR: The easy answer is that I was born and raised Methodist. But I find that the theology of the Methodist Church is very inclusive when you get down to understanding the grace of God. I am grateful that the Methodist church I am serving has taken that literally. While the larger Methodist denomination has been trying to figure out what kind of relationship we have with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, my particular church is embracing people of all kinds — gays, lesbians, transgender. It’s in the Methodist theology to understand that, at least from my perspective.

SDR: What one book has had the most influence on your ministry?

PR: I am a huge fan of the Jesuit priest, Father Gregory Boyle, who wrote Tattoos on the Heart: The Boundless Power of Compassion. He speaks of grace beautifully and lives it as he is trying to offer that love and grace to gang members in LA and has been doing this for I don’t know how many decades. His persistence in being grace-filled to those that most people want to write off, and his persistent hope in doing that, is inspiring to me.

PR: Where do you go when you die?

SDR: I am content not knowing the answer to that question. But I have a sense that it is going to blow my mind. The best way I can describe what I believe is that we will know the fullness of God; we will be embraced by the fullness of God in way that will render all our preconceived notions of heaven irrelevant. It’s true there are people who don’t want to be with God, but I think that if God is a God of grace, then we have to be open to the idea that even after death there might be an opportunity for those people.

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Comments

Where do you go when you die? If you understand the teachings of Christianity, it's Heaven or hell. Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, and Heaven will be your eternal destination.

I'm not sure why any pastor would feel uncomfortable answering that question. I've seen kids in Sunday School who understand, and it's a comfortable feeling. Being truly committed to your faith.

Oct. 29, 2021
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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