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First Congregational Church of Ramona: belonging, believing and becoming

A simple but also difficult slogan

Wes Ellis
Wes Ellis

First Congregational Church of Ramona

  • Contact: 404 West 8th St., Ramona 760-789-3348 www.fccramona.org
  • Membership: 250
  • Pastor: Wes Ellis
  • Age: 36
  • Born: Ramona
  • Formation: Azusa Pacific University; Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ; University of Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Years Ordained: 2

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

Pastor Wes Ellis: Curiosity, initially. From a very young age, I was so interested in who God is and what scripture is teaching us. The second answer to that is that God wouldn’t let me get away. I considered going more into a teaching route, becoming a professor. I got my PhD with that in the back of my mind. But what drew me back to the church was my sense that the way God encounters this world and brings healing is through relationships. There’s nowhere better for me to teach and wrestle with scripture and do those things I’m passionate about in the context of giving myself and immersing myself in a family of church-faithful people. The turning point for my calling was covid. I know that is recent, and I’ve been a pastor for much longer. But even up to the time of covid, I was thinking, OK, I’m a pastor, I’ll get my PhD, teach, of course remain part of the church and do some pastoring on the side. But during covid, because I was separated from my own ambitions and I needed the support of the people around me and of the church, I was drawn back to the simplicity of caring about a community of people. So, I’m deeply passionate about the bigger theological questions that haunt the church, but my calling is to minister to this small family of people in Ramona who are faithfully trying to follow Jesus. I’m finding joy and fulfillment in being part of that.

Place

First Congregational Church of Ramona

404 8th Street, Ramona

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PE: Our mission is fairly simple but also difficult: live a life of love. It’s a simple slogan but it has become a watchword for our church. It’s the prism through which we enact all our ministries. We have a strategy behind our mission too: belonging, believing and becoming. Everyone belongs to this family because we all belong to Christ. In that belonging we endeavor to believe the good news of Jesus Christ together. Ultimately, we want to become more like Christ.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PE: The good news of Jesus Christ is that love wins, death does not have the last word, and there is no way we can get away from the love of God. Wherever we go, Jesus will be there. I leave it there. There are people in my church who believe in a traditional heaven and hell, and I’m not going to argue them out of that, and there are people in my church who are less traditional in their approach. Where I sit, if there is a hell, I’m assuming it’s occupied by people who are forgiven and loved by Jesus. That’s my best theological approach to that mystery. I don’t know anyone who prefers hell over heaven, but God is probably gracious enough to oblige those who want to go to hell. But I also believe God’s will is more powerful than mine. The grace of God is that my salvation does not depend on me — not even my decision to follow Jesus. Certainly, there are texts in scripture to contend with, but if I’m going to err on one side, God is going to get what God wants — and it’s clear he wants to save people.

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Wes Ellis
Wes Ellis

First Congregational Church of Ramona

  • Contact: 404 West 8th St., Ramona 760-789-3348 www.fccramona.org
  • Membership: 250
  • Pastor: Wes Ellis
  • Age: 36
  • Born: Ramona
  • Formation: Azusa Pacific University; Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ; University of Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Years Ordained: 2

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

Pastor Wes Ellis: Curiosity, initially. From a very young age, I was so interested in who God is and what scripture is teaching us. The second answer to that is that God wouldn’t let me get away. I considered going more into a teaching route, becoming a professor. I got my PhD with that in the back of my mind. But what drew me back to the church was my sense that the way God encounters this world and brings healing is through relationships. There’s nowhere better for me to teach and wrestle with scripture and do those things I’m passionate about in the context of giving myself and immersing myself in a family of church-faithful people. The turning point for my calling was covid. I know that is recent, and I’ve been a pastor for much longer. But even up to the time of covid, I was thinking, OK, I’m a pastor, I’ll get my PhD, teach, of course remain part of the church and do some pastoring on the side. But during covid, because I was separated from my own ambitions and I needed the support of the people around me and of the church, I was drawn back to the simplicity of caring about a community of people. So, I’m deeply passionate about the bigger theological questions that haunt the church, but my calling is to minister to this small family of people in Ramona who are faithfully trying to follow Jesus. I’m finding joy and fulfillment in being part of that.

Place

First Congregational Church of Ramona

404 8th Street, Ramona

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PE: Our mission is fairly simple but also difficult: live a life of love. It’s a simple slogan but it has become a watchword for our church. It’s the prism through which we enact all our ministries. We have a strategy behind our mission too: belonging, believing and becoming. Everyone belongs to this family because we all belong to Christ. In that belonging we endeavor to believe the good news of Jesus Christ together. Ultimately, we want to become more like Christ.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PE: The good news of Jesus Christ is that love wins, death does not have the last word, and there is no way we can get away from the love of God. Wherever we go, Jesus will be there. I leave it there. There are people in my church who believe in a traditional heaven and hell, and I’m not going to argue them out of that, and there are people in my church who are less traditional in their approach. Where I sit, if there is a hell, I’m assuming it’s occupied by people who are forgiven and loved by Jesus. That’s my best theological approach to that mystery. I don’t know anyone who prefers hell over heaven, but God is probably gracious enough to oblige those who want to go to hell. But I also believe God’s will is more powerful than mine. The grace of God is that my salvation does not depend on me — not even my decision to follow Jesus. Certainly, there are texts in scripture to contend with, but if I’m going to err on one side, God is going to get what God wants — and it’s clear he wants to save people.

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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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