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St. Mark’s Lutheran: God worshipped in four languages

We do some youth events together with the Chinese congregation, and we’re good friends with the Koreans.

Karla Halvorson
Karla Halvorson

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 580 Hilltop Dr., Chula Vista 619 427-5515 www.stmarkschulavista.org
  • Membership: 190
  • Pastor: Karla Halvorson
  • Age: 54
  • Born: St. Paul, MN
  • Formation: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Lutheran Bible Institute, Issaquah, WA; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley; San Diego State University
  • Years Ordained: 15

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

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Pastor Karla Halvorson: I love the idea of having a newspaper in the one hand and the Bible in the other. I spend about ten hours a week putting my sermons together, which includes Bible study with members here at the church where we look at the upcoming gospel reading… But then of course, the whole sermon usually gets changed by about Saturday!

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

PH: St. Mark’s is very aware of whatever prejudice of the day comes up. We have four languages in which people worship here. We, St. Mark’s, are Spanish and English-speaking. So we have two services, one in Spanish and one in English. We also rent the church space to Glory Lutheran, which has services in Chinese and Mandarin. We also have another rental group, a Korean group, Areumdaun Church, which means “beautiful” in Korean. We have good relationships with all these congregations. Under one sanctuary roof, every Sunday, God is worshipped in four languages. We do some youth events together with the Chinese congregation, and we’re good friends with the Koreans.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PH: In celebrating God’s love and forgiveness, we serve others. We say that every single week, right up front at the beginning of our Sunday service. The vision right now is to live into what I call our tagline: “Two languages, one congregation.” We’re welcoming anyone who comes our way. These are the kind of people we have in our congregation — and all are welcome. I keep experiencing that with the people here, and they are very loving, welcoming people.

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

PH: A cousin of mine, who is also a pastor, Cindy Halvorson, wrote a wonderful book, Real Faith, Real People: Preaching Biblical Characters. The book helps us enter fully with all five senses into the gospel characters’ lives, and as a result of that, they come to life and we see how much we have in common with them. Their encounter with the living God is then something we feel we can also experience.

Place

St. Mark's Lutheran Church

580 Hilltop Drive, Chula Vista

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: I’m not at all concerned about hell. In last week’s sermon, there was a very horrible description of hell that Jesus gives. But the point is, what do we do here and now? We come from love, we live this life, we try to bring as much love as we can into this life, and in the end we return to love. I expect warmth and happiness and joy and peace and serenity in the next life. If I really keep doing diligently what we’re doing now, I truly expect to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As for hell, there’s nothing outside God’s forgiveness; so, if people truly see the living God with all their presuppositions about God removed, would they say, “No” to God? We still have free will and the choice to say, “No,” but why would we?

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Karla Halvorson
Karla Halvorson

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 580 Hilltop Dr., Chula Vista 619 427-5515 www.stmarkschulavista.org
  • Membership: 190
  • Pastor: Karla Halvorson
  • Age: 54
  • Born: St. Paul, MN
  • Formation: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Lutheran Bible Institute, Issaquah, WA; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley; San Diego State University
  • Years Ordained: 15

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

Sponsored
Sponsored

Pastor Karla Halvorson: I love the idea of having a newspaper in the one hand and the Bible in the other. I spend about ten hours a week putting my sermons together, which includes Bible study with members here at the church where we look at the upcoming gospel reading… But then of course, the whole sermon usually gets changed by about Saturday!

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

PH: St. Mark’s is very aware of whatever prejudice of the day comes up. We have four languages in which people worship here. We, St. Mark’s, are Spanish and English-speaking. So we have two services, one in Spanish and one in English. We also rent the church space to Glory Lutheran, which has services in Chinese and Mandarin. We also have another rental group, a Korean group, Areumdaun Church, which means “beautiful” in Korean. We have good relationships with all these congregations. Under one sanctuary roof, every Sunday, God is worshipped in four languages. We do some youth events together with the Chinese congregation, and we’re good friends with the Koreans.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PH: In celebrating God’s love and forgiveness, we serve others. We say that every single week, right up front at the beginning of our Sunday service. The vision right now is to live into what I call our tagline: “Two languages, one congregation.” We’re welcoming anyone who comes our way. These are the kind of people we have in our congregation — and all are welcome. I keep experiencing that with the people here, and they are very loving, welcoming people.

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

PH: A cousin of mine, who is also a pastor, Cindy Halvorson, wrote a wonderful book, Real Faith, Real People: Preaching Biblical Characters. The book helps us enter fully with all five senses into the gospel characters’ lives, and as a result of that, they come to life and we see how much we have in common with them. Their encounter with the living God is then something we feel we can also experience.

Place

St. Mark's Lutheran Church

580 Hilltop Drive, Chula Vista

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: I’m not at all concerned about hell. In last week’s sermon, there was a very horrible description of hell that Jesus gives. But the point is, what do we do here and now? We come from love, we live this life, we try to bring as much love as we can into this life, and in the end we return to love. I expect warmth and happiness and joy and peace and serenity in the next life. If I really keep doing diligently what we’re doing now, I truly expect to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As for hell, there’s nothing outside God’s forgiveness; so, if people truly see the living God with all their presuppositions about God removed, would they say, “No” to God? We still have free will and the choice to say, “No,” but why would we?

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