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St. Peter’s by the Sea Lutheran: “Seeking and sharing the love of God.”

Tales from the deathbed

Bekki Lohrmann
Bekki Lohrmann

St. Peter’s by the Sea Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 1371 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, San Diego 619-224-2894 www.stpetersbythesea.org
  • Membership: 150
  • Pastor: Bekki Lohrmann
  • Age: 35
  • Born: Carlyle, PA
  • Formation: Valparaiso University, IN; The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Years Ordained: 7

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your sermon?

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Pastor Bekki Lohrmann: I probably put a good five to seven hours a week into a sermon. We use a lectionary, so I always have a text assigned to me each Sunday. Four, in fact: an Old Testament, a psalm, a New Testament, and a Gospel text. The way I preach tends to be full of stories. I might have a theme such as housing insecurity, racial injustice or grief or something like that, but it’s always a theme coming out of the text. I see preaching as this intersection of God’s story, my story, the congregation’s story and the story of the world, coming together in the sermon I deliver.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PL: Our mission statement is, “Seeking and sharing the love of God.” The folks who come here are looking for something — so many of us are looking for that kind of love that will heal, restore and save us from ourselves. People come here seeking that, and receive it in worship, in word, and sacrament, and in the community of friends we have here. In sharing, this church is a smaller congregation, but we have an endowment and so quarterly we make disbursements to everything from Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO) at First Lutheran, which does wonderful ministry with the homeless, to our Lutheran camp and Lutheran Refugee and Immigrant Services. We’re always working in partnership with different organizations for all kinds of opportunities for generosity, service and fellowship.

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

PL: At the deathbed. I wanted to be a pastor, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t cut out for doing funerals, visiting the dying or going to hospitals. It seemed scary and I thought it was pulverize me. Every seminarian in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does a summer of hospital chaplaincy, and I didn’t really want to do it. I thought it might be my breaking point: Never mind, I don’t think I need to be a pastor after all. I decided I would stay in the chaplaincy program for one week, and after that I could quit. But in that first week, being called into the bedside of the dying or recently deceased, to be with the families, I found God in that work. I ended up loving it – doing the work of accompanying the dying.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PL: We return to God, although I’m not totally sure what that looks like. But we return to our source, to God. The mystery is bigger than I can see this side of heaven. Lutheran doctrine holds there is a heaven and a hell and what we know of Jesus is that when he died, he went to hell. So much of Christian art in history tells the story of Jesus emptying hell, and so it seems that that’s the work that Jesus is about, emptying hell. I believe in free will and that God doesn’t just write the story for us. Whatever God’s intent for eternity for us is one based on love. God is in pursuit of us, to bring us home to ourselves and home to God.

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Bekki Lohrmann
Bekki Lohrmann

St. Peter’s by the Sea Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 1371 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, San Diego 619-224-2894 www.stpetersbythesea.org
  • Membership: 150
  • Pastor: Bekki Lohrmann
  • Age: 35
  • Born: Carlyle, PA
  • Formation: Valparaiso University, IN; The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Years Ordained: 7

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your sermon?

Sponsored
Sponsored

Pastor Bekki Lohrmann: I probably put a good five to seven hours a week into a sermon. We use a lectionary, so I always have a text assigned to me each Sunday. Four, in fact: an Old Testament, a psalm, a New Testament, and a Gospel text. The way I preach tends to be full of stories. I might have a theme such as housing insecurity, racial injustice or grief or something like that, but it’s always a theme coming out of the text. I see preaching as this intersection of God’s story, my story, the congregation’s story and the story of the world, coming together in the sermon I deliver.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PL: Our mission statement is, “Seeking and sharing the love of God.” The folks who come here are looking for something — so many of us are looking for that kind of love that will heal, restore and save us from ourselves. People come here seeking that, and receive it in worship, in word, and sacrament, and in the community of friends we have here. In sharing, this church is a smaller congregation, but we have an endowment and so quarterly we make disbursements to everything from Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO) at First Lutheran, which does wonderful ministry with the homeless, to our Lutheran camp and Lutheran Refugee and Immigrant Services. We’re always working in partnership with different organizations for all kinds of opportunities for generosity, service and fellowship.

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

PL: At the deathbed. I wanted to be a pastor, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t cut out for doing funerals, visiting the dying or going to hospitals. It seemed scary and I thought it was pulverize me. Every seminarian in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does a summer of hospital chaplaincy, and I didn’t really want to do it. I thought it might be my breaking point: Never mind, I don’t think I need to be a pastor after all. I decided I would stay in the chaplaincy program for one week, and after that I could quit. But in that first week, being called into the bedside of the dying or recently deceased, to be with the families, I found God in that work. I ended up loving it – doing the work of accompanying the dying.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PL: We return to God, although I’m not totally sure what that looks like. But we return to our source, to God. The mystery is bigger than I can see this side of heaven. Lutheran doctrine holds there is a heaven and a hell and what we know of Jesus is that when he died, he went to hell. So much of Christian art in history tells the story of Jesus emptying hell, and so it seems that that’s the work that Jesus is about, emptying hell. I believe in free will and that God doesn’t just write the story for us. Whatever God’s intent for eternity for us is one based on love. God is in pursuit of us, to bring us home to ourselves and home 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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