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Stories by Joseph O'Brien

Next stop won’t necessarily include brimstone or clouds

Pastor Brian Oltman on where we go when we die

Resurrection Lutheran Church of Coronado Membership: 75–100 Pastor: Brian Oltman Age: 59 Born: Glencoe, MN Formation: St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN; Golden Valley Lutheran, Minneapolis, MN; Antioch University, L.A.; Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA; ...

I was popular in school and played sports, but I felt so isolated

The Pentecostal Church is experiential much more than analytical

Denomination: Pentecostal Membership: 400 Pastor: Marc Stevenson Age: 45 Born: Anaheim Formation: Christian Life College, Stockton; Urshan Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Years Ordained: 15 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? ...

Reply to Missionary Cram of the Boston Missionary School

From Red Jacket of the Seneca tribe

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, ...

God’s in the water at Tourmaline also

Sometimes the surf community feels like the best of what we do in church.

Membership: 270 Pastor: David Nagler Age: 52 Born: Anaheim Formation: Humbolt State University, Arcata; University of Redlands, Redlands; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley Years Ordained: 24 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which ...

God's love is far bigger than pastor Iona Dickinson can understand

"My college chaplain said to me if I can do anything else and be happy, do it!"

A heart for justice for all people in University City.

Fat-wash did the trick for Patio on Goldfinch’s Sheer Determination

The concoction has less to do with pigskins or gridirons than with making a cocktail using coconut water.

Brandon Curry, bar manager at the Patio on Goldfinch, presumed that the rollercoaster ride that was Super Bowl XLI would end with the Atlanta Falcons joining the New York Giants (who did it twice) as ...

Pastor Parcel is concerned about the state of our nation

Person A and Person B need to agree on the essentials

First United Methodist Church Membership: 650 Pastor: Brian T. Parcel Age: 42 Born: Taft Formation: Louisiana, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA; Claremont School of Theology Years Ordained: 16 San Diego Reader: How long do you ...

Top of the Hyatt’s Strawberry Rhubarb Gimlet

Rhubarb gives the cocktail a little earthiness to balance with the sweetness

The strawberry-rhubarb gimlet is the result of a quest to find the perfect San Diego winter cocktail, says Andrew Guerrera, Top of the Hyatt’s assistant food and beverage manager. “And since we are in San ...

Elvin Harrison’s service to the church began at age five

"I found God at 51st St. and Park Ave. in New York City."

Community Congregational Church of Pacific Beach Membership: 40 Pastor: Elvin Harrison Age: 53 Born: El Centro Formation: Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, TX; Howard University, Washington DC Years Ordained: 26 San Diego Reader: What’s your main ...

Carnitas’ Snack Shack's Hot & Buttered has a latte feel

The right balance between coagulating decadence and comprehensive excellence

While winter has been more wet than cold around San Diego these days, Carnitas’ Snack Shack’s Hot and Buttered — a new take on hot buttered rum punch — serves as an effective stay against ...

Pastor Sam Nunez warns that Jesus is coming soon. "Be ready."

The Bible’s holistic message

Fallbrook Seventh Day Adventists Membership: 499 Pastor: Sam Nunez Age: 43 Born: Philadelphia, PA Formation: Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen, Austria; Institute Adventist Collonges Sous Saleve, France; Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI Years Ordained: 11 San Diego ...

Travel light and fast to heaven

Pastor Mel Svendsen on how to become a true Christian

Riverview Church Membership: 900 Pastor: Mel Svendsen Age: 59 Born: Brooklyn, NY Formation: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago; Northeastern Bible College, Essex Fells, NJ Years Ordained: 35 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on ...

A lot of people who assume they’re going to heaven are not

Pastor Jared Osselaer knows religious stuff.

Generation Church Contact: 1106 Whaley St., Oceanside; 760-439-8411; gotogeneration.com Membership: 110 Pastor: Jared Osselaer Age: 41 Born: Tacoma, WA Formation: U.S. Navy (bodyguard for Navy chaplains), Golden Gate University-Gateway Seminary (attending) Years Ordained: 4 San ...

An interesting time at Alpine Community Church

Things have changed a lot since Pastor Thomas Truscott was in the seminary.

Alpine Community Church Membership: 110 (with 30–40 friends) Pastor: Thomas Truscott Age: 76 Born: Detroit, MI Formation: Simpson College, Indianola, IA; San Francisco Seminary (Presbyterian), San Anselmo, CA; McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL Years Ordained: ...

Catania's Canella is an introduction to fall with a taste of summer

Applesauce adds body to the cocktail

Catania’s cocktail menu holds a full offering of autumn nostalgia, including something called the Canella, created by Catania’s head bartender Cesar Sandoval. The Canella was inspired, in name and content, by San Francisco liquor producer ...

Caesar was too old, it seems to me

Should have been more mature

Advent The time of the first advent was foretold; the time of the second is not so; because the first was to be obscure, and the second is to be brilliant, and so manifest that ...

Church for those who got burnt out or burned

Riverview Community Church meets in an old bar

Riverview Community Church Membership: 600 Pastor: Todd Tolson Age: 40 Born: Waukegan, IL Formation: Christian Heritage College, Santee (previously San Diego Christian, El Cajon) Years Ordained: 16 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend ...

Stock up on coconut for Miss B’s Caribe Welcome

A funny feast of coconut meat

Ask for the Caribe Welcome at Miss B’s Coconut Club and the bartender will whip and dump a creamy white concoction into a young shaved coconut with Miss B’s logo burnt into the glistening white ...

God can be found in a gay bar as well

Pastor Dan Koeshall on preaching

Membership: 200 Pastor: Dan Koeshall Age: 56 Born: Pipestone, MN Formation: Evangel University, Springfield, MO; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena Years Ordained: 25 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach? Pastor Dan ...

Drink your charred corn

Make a cocktail from Campfire's fall menu

Campfire’s Charred Corn Cocktail is exactly what its name describes. “We think the drink is delicious,” Campfire’s chief drink master Leigh Lecap says. “You smell corn in the aroma. Its appearance is mysterious — it’s ...

The strangest place pastor Caleb Lines found God

Disciples of Christ aren’t looking to change anyone

University Christian Church – Disciples of Christ Membership: 130 Pastor: Caleb Lines Age: 31 Born: Monett, MO Formation: Missouri State University, Springfield, MO; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT Years Ordained: 5 San Diego Reader: ...

Bad behavior leads you to become a hungry ghost

Bill Helm, director of Taosist Sanctuary, takes questions

Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego Membership: 75-100 Director: Bill Helm Age: 66 Born: Tucson, AZ Formation: Taoist formal training with John Davidson, Share K Lew and Khiegh Alex Dhegh Years ordained (Lawshr): 40 San Diego ...

Numbers jump at Santee United Methodist Church

Pastor Christian DeMent opens the door to God's love

Santee United Methodist Church Membership: 200 Pastor: Christian DeMent Age: 43 Born: La Mesa Formation: San Diego State; Claremont School of Theology, Claremont Years Ordained: 10 San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister? ...

A chance to say, “God, I messed up”

Thoughts from Joy Lutheran Church's Deacon Don Heien

Joy Lutheran Church Contact: 810 Buena Vista Way, Chula Vista, 619-262-4444 Membership: 100 Pastor: Deacon Don Heien Age: 56 Born: San Diego Formation: Lay Leadership Program for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Years Commissioned: 3 San ...

Leave the fear behind, dare to love

St. Paul Episcopalian Cathedral welcomes all

They do say there are only two or three sermons, of course, other than “send money.”

It’s not about floating around on a cloud playing harp

Pastor Carlton Harris preaches on God

College Avenue Baptist Church Pastor: Carlton Harris Age: 59 Born: St. Louis, MO Formation: Dallas Bible College, Dallas, TX; Dallas Seminary Years Ordained: 33 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach? ...

Gil Baloy, as much a shepherd as he is a pastor

The mission at Covenant Reformed Church is to reach as many people with the gospel as possible.

Covenant Reformed Church Membership: 40 Pastor: Gil Baloy Age: 65 Born: Subic Bay, Philippines Formation: San Diego State University, San Diego; Westminster Seminary, Escondido Years Ordained: 15 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on ...

Beer's essence — without the beer

Quad Ale House’s Summer Saison: a beer-esque cocktail for non-beer-drinkers

As inexplicable as it sounds, some folks in this world have no taste for beer. But thanks to the Quad Ale House, even for these poor souls, there’s hope. Nicknamed “Beer Study Hall,” this new ...

God seen in both gutters and high-rises

Pastor Derek DaPena of New Community Church of Vista

Membership: 250 Pastor: Derek DaPena Age: 35 Born: Bellflower Formation: Biola University, La Mirada; Azusa Pacific University Seminary, Azusa Years Ordained: 8 San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon? Pastor Derek ...

Gaslamp Tavern’s Heisman

The drink named for Helix High School graduate and Heisman recipient Marcus Allen

Since the Gaslamp Tavern is a come-as-you-are watering hole for the local crowd and parched tourists alike, Gaslamp Tavern bartender Marshall Gillen has come up with a way to draw the home team and visitors ...

The beauty of holiness, plus organ concerts

Interview with Father Joseph Dirbas of All Souls' Episcopal Church

All Souls’ Episcopal Church Membership: 400 Pastor: Father Joseph Dirbas Age: 49 Born: Lavonia, MI Formation: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, NY Years Ordained: 6 San ...

The Bees of Bennett Valley

Fresh, herbaceous and very refreshing

Inspired by a photograph his fiancée took during a recent visit to Bennett Valley, Bankers' Hill bar manager Zack Gray developed the Bees of Bennett Valley cocktail, a cross-pollination of the lemon-honey-and-gin classic Bee’s Knees, ...

The language of the hammer

Pastor Alvin Helms: “There is going to be a final separation and there is going to be justice rendered.”

Carlsbad Community Church Membership: 400 Pastor: Alvin Helms Age: 55 Born: Houston, TX Formation: Seven Bible College, Houston; Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT Years Ordained: 25 San Diego Reader: ...

God got second-career guy’s attention

Q&A with Mt. Olive Lutheran Church Pastor Bill Baker

Mt. Olive Lutheran Church Membership: 128 Pastor: Bill Baker Age: 58 Born: Buffalo, NY Formation: Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Years Ordained: 8 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject ...

Pastor Burkey appreciates the wrestling

Christ Lutheran Church: “Developing dynamic disciples for Christ.”

Membership: 1000 Pastor: Richard Burkey Age: 56 Born: Chicago Formation: Concordia College, Austin, TX; Concordia College, River Forest, IL; Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO. Years Ordained: 31 San Diego Reader: How long do you ...

The Old Fashioned turned Hawaiian

Duke's merges bourbon, black tea, and mango

According to Duke’s bar manager Peter Stanmeyer, the mango Old Fashioned made at this Hawaiian haven of haute cuisine has as much to do with Waikiki luaus as it does with Wisconsin supper clubs. He ...

A lot of people probably see religion as an opiate

Pastor Dale Huntington takes some questions

4325 Park Blvd, University Heights Membership: 25–30 Pastor: Dale Huntington Age: 33 Born: Visalia Formation: Grossmont College, El Cajon; Southern California Seminary-San Diego Christian College, San Diego Years Ordained: 5 San Diego Reader: What’s your ...

Maybe we get to work alongside the Creator later on

Q&A with Hope United Methodist's pastor Brian Kent

Hope United Methodist Church Contact: 16550 Bernardo Heights Pkwy., Rancho Bernardo; 858-485-5840; hopeumc.com Membership: 870 Pastor: Brian Kent Age: 60 Born: Greeley, CO Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley Years ...

Great coffee to foster the next churchgoing generation

Palisades Presbyterian pastor prophecies about the church's future

Membership: 380 Pastor: Daniel L. Hagmaier Age: 55 Born: Union City, PA Formation: Florida Bible College, Hollywood, FL; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA; Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA Years Ordained: 20 San Diego Reader: How ...

You want to live in heaven? Or hell?

At a young age I knew I would be a pastor, even as a child....

Membership: “less than 100” Pastor: Kurt Bergquam Age: 54 Born: Grand Forks, ND Formation: Berean Bible College, San Diego; Christian Bible College and Seminary, Blue Springs, MO Years Ordained: 25 San Diego Reader: What’s your ...

People choose to turn to God or not

"As clergy, we get too caught up in doctrine, dogma and drama."

Southeast Community Presbyterian Church Pastor: Deb Mitchell Age: 58 Born: Fort Wayne, IN Formation: Perdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Mount St. Mary’s, Los Angeles, Bethel Seminary, San Diego Years Ordained: 4 San Diego Reader: What ...

The jazz link to God

Pastor J. Lee Hill takes our questions

Christian Fellowship Congregational Church UCC Membership: 140 Pastor: J. Lee Hill Age: 37 Born: Chesterfield, VA Formation: George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC; Emory University-Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA Years ...

Come 3 p.m. it's Hollapeño Atcha Boy time

A variation on a tequila slushy

Andaz bar manager Shannie Lee says, “Our entire cocktail menu is inspired by our bartenders. We give the bartenders free rein.” Hollering for a margarita? The Hollapeño Atcha Boy! is the name of an up-spiced ...

Nolen's Bee's Knees

Barman Robert Yumul makes a clean-drinking cocktail with honey and lemon

If you intend to go to the Nolen Rooftop, you’ll figure out pretty quickly that the only way is up — and Nolen’s lead barman Robert Yumul is leading the way by upping the ante ...

Folks get caught up in old ways of thinking

Love of god and neighbor

"I was called by God. I tried to say no and God didn’t take that as an answer."

Scripture served warm

Pastor Darin Johnson answered the call

Membership: 34,000+ (entire SDSU faculty, staff and student body) Pastor: Darin Johnson Age: 49 Born: Sioux Falls, SD Formation: Iowa State University, Ames, IA; Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago; Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA Years ...

Why are we here and what is the meaning of all this?

What is the relevance of the 21st-century church?

Interview with Pastor Tom Sannar of One Heart One Mind Center for Spiritual Living

Church for the religious and irreligious alike

The doors of hell are locked from the inside

Covenant Presbyterian Church of San Diego Membership: 150Pastor: Patrick KingAge: 34Born: ChicagoFormation: Wheaton College, Chicago; Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, ALYears Ordained: 4 San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach? Pastor ...

Newbreak pastor sees God surfing all the time

Pastor Quinn’s pet subject is the why of suffering — theodicy

Membership: 2600 (on five campuses: Tierrasanta, East County, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Scripps Mesa) Pastor: Mike Quinn Age: 62 Born: Great Lakes, Illinois Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Bethel West University Seminary, San ...

When Jesus was found in the Monkey Place

Interview with Pastor Rob Savlato

“Some will ask, ‘How can a loving God send people to hell?’”

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