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Is your God framed by Fyodor Dostoevsky or C.S. Lewis?

Faith Presbyterian Church: gathering and nurturing community

Sam Codington
Sam Codington

Faith Presbyterian Church

  • Contact: 5075 Campanile Drive, San Diego; 619-582-8480 www.faithchurchsandiego.org
  • Membership: 175
  • Neighborhood: College Area
  • Pastor: Sam Codington
  • Age: 34
  • Born: Clinton, SC
  • Formation: University of South Carolina; Columbia International University, Columbia, SC; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena; San Francisco Theological Seminary
  • Years Ordained: 6

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

Pastor Sam Codington: The Sermon on the Mount, which is a pretty good baseline for how to live with one another, follow the way of Jesus in the world, cultivate a tender heart, and practice compassion on a day-to-day basis.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PC: We are a family of Christ welcoming all, worshiping God, growing in the Spirit, and joyously serving others all across San Diego. The common life we share, whether through small groups, Bible study, choir or women’s study groups, is aimed at gathering, nurturing and sending people out to the community.

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

PC: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. That was a pretty influential novel in my life early on when I was in college and seminary, and it continues to be an influential book on my spiritual and theological thinking. At the heart of The Brothers Karamazov is the problem of suffering, and the problem of suffering is something that authentic faith must respond to. The novel is big and that can be daunting, but it’s worth the trip from start to finish. The youngest brother, Alyosha, and the middle brother, Ivan, get into a series of arguments. Alyosha is going to be a novice entering a monastery, and Ivan is an apostate. He doesn’t believe in God at all – or at least, he contests the existence of God. Alyosha’s mentor essentially embodies love, and teaches that love is the ultimate response to suffering — our love for each other and God’s love for us.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PC: God shows up all over the place, and I am perpetually surprised by that. But one of the framing moments for my life was when I was ten years old and I was on the island of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic. I was with my parents and we were visiting Haitian migrant workers in a sugar cane field. My parents were working with local schools; my mom was a teacher and my dad is a retired pastor. That day, my dad knelt down next to me and said, “Sam, this is their home — do you understand?” Of course, as a ten-year-old, I didn’t understand, but I found that question to be one that framed what I think of as God’s presence in the world and what I think of God’s presence being. God is with the least of these — that’s what Jesus says in Matthew 25: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” That’s my framing for faith: God’s presence is being with the least of these.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PC: I think we read in Colossians that Christ will be all in all, and that’s enough consolation for me.

SDR: Do we have a choice in the matter of whether we go to heaven or hell, as C.S. Lewis asks in The Great Divorce?

PC: That would be C.S. Lewis’s way of framing things; but I don’t think that would be my way of framing things. I would totally leave the question of heaven and hell up to God.

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Sam Codington
Sam Codington

Faith Presbyterian Church

  • Contact: 5075 Campanile Drive, San Diego; 619-582-8480 www.faithchurchsandiego.org
  • Membership: 175
  • Neighborhood: College Area
  • Pastor: Sam Codington
  • Age: 34
  • Born: Clinton, SC
  • Formation: University of South Carolina; Columbia International University, Columbia, SC; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena; San Francisco Theological Seminary
  • Years Ordained: 6

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

Pastor Sam Codington: The Sermon on the Mount, which is a pretty good baseline for how to live with one another, follow the way of Jesus in the world, cultivate a tender heart, and practice compassion on a day-to-day basis.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PC: We are a family of Christ welcoming all, worshiping God, growing in the Spirit, and joyously serving others all across San Diego. The common life we share, whether through small groups, Bible study, choir or women’s study groups, is aimed at gathering, nurturing and sending people out to the community.

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

PC: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. That was a pretty influential novel in my life early on when I was in college and seminary, and it continues to be an influential book on my spiritual and theological thinking. At the heart of The Brothers Karamazov is the problem of suffering, and the problem of suffering is something that authentic faith must respond to. The novel is big and that can be daunting, but it’s worth the trip from start to finish. The youngest brother, Alyosha, and the middle brother, Ivan, get into a series of arguments. Alyosha is going to be a novice entering a monastery, and Ivan is an apostate. He doesn’t believe in God at all – or at least, he contests the existence of God. Alyosha’s mentor essentially embodies love, and teaches that love is the ultimate response to suffering — our love for each other and God’s love for us.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PC: God shows up all over the place, and I am perpetually surprised by that. But one of the framing moments for my life was when I was ten years old and I was on the island of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic. I was with my parents and we were visiting Haitian migrant workers in a sugar cane field. My parents were working with local schools; my mom was a teacher and my dad is a retired pastor. That day, my dad knelt down next to me and said, “Sam, this is their home — do you understand?” Of course, as a ten-year-old, I didn’t understand, but I found that question to be one that framed what I think of as God’s presence in the world and what I think of God’s presence being. God is with the least of these — that’s what Jesus says in Matthew 25: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” That’s my framing for faith: God’s presence is being with the least of these.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PC: I think we read in Colossians that Christ will be all in all, and that’s enough consolation for me.

SDR: Do we have a choice in the matter of whether we go to heaven or hell, as C.S. Lewis asks in The Great Divorce?

PC: That would be C.S. Lewis’s way of framing things; but I don’t think that would be my way of framing things. I would totally leave the question of heaven and hell up to God.

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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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