625 Pennsylvania Avenue, Hillcrest
Pastor: J.D. McQueen
Born: Peoria, Ill.
Formation: Eureka College, Eureka, IL; Nashotah House Theological Seminary, Nashotah, WI
Years Ordained: 6
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Father J.D. McQueen: Love. It’s a deep subject, but it’s also the context for the whole Bible. None of the Bible makes any sense if we’re not talking about a God who loves us and acts and is motivated only by that love. I find that theme tends to resonate with people — probably because love is what we as humans were made for. Even though love is what we were made for, it’s still challenging and calls us to be selfless, to live into a greater purpose. And love is not just a saccharine affection, but it’s a challenge.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
FM: I think probably the biggest challenge is communicating that God’s love is a challenge but it’s also live-giving and attractive. I think there is a real joy that comes from being in a loving relationship, and that’s what gets us through the challenges, and even sometimes causes us to look forward to the challenges. But when we don’t do a good job of talking about how it’s a life-giving message…when it’s just a bunch of rules about what we’re supposed to do or not do, I don’t think that galvanizes people in a life-giving way.
SDR: Why did you become a priest in the first place?
FM: I was encouraged to pray about it when I was in high school. I had a couple priests at the cathedral where I grew up who thought that I might be called to serve, and they encouraged me to pray about it. I didn’t really want to, but after trying to do some other things, nothing else really made sense.
SDR: Why Episcopalian?
FM: I grew up in the Episcopalian Church. My dad was and is still the organist and choirmaster at the church where I grew up. That was my primary experience of the faith. At times, when I looked at some other places and explored some other things, I found it just wasn’t home. I didn’t find the worship, the sacraments, and the depth of an historic church and established spiritual tradition in some of the other places I was looking.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FM: We’re actually working on our mission statement right now. We see our mission, though, as a matter of meeting Jesus in our worship so the world can meet him in us.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FM: When we die we come into contact with the reality of who God is and as Christians we believe that our contact with God is through Jesus. Jesus is how we enter into that relationship of perfect love. In terms of heaven and hell, it’s a matter of where one is in this relationship. C.S. Lewis has a great way of putting it. There are two kinds of people in this world, he says — those people who say to God, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” and those people who demand that God has to say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” He means that we ultimately choose God or we choose ourselves. It’s all a matter of relationship.