Clairemont Lutheran Church
Pastor: Jonathan Doolittle
Born: Columbus, OH
Formation: Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, IL
Years Ordained: 21
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Pastor Jonathan Doolittle: It’s a long process and it usually starts on the Monday beforehand, just reading the texts and getting into the mood for the appointed lessons for that Sunday. The actual writing process I do on Fridays, which can be anywhere from two to five hours to get it all organized. The sermon, though, is never done until it’s preached. It always gets edited and reedited. A couple weeks ago I heard part of one of the lessons that piqued my curiosity and gave me a whole new idea to throw into the sermon there at the last minute…. I would call my sermons biblically based but daily focused…. One of my professors in seminary said you should preach with the Bible in the one hand and the newspaper in the other — we have to be both in the Bible and the daily lives of people to be relevant.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PD: Our mission statement is “One congregation worshiping in two languages celebrating many cultures.” I think that’s what we try to be about, a place where people can connect to God through Jesus Christ, and see where that real presence of God’s love and mercy makes a difference for this community in their life.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?
PD: A while back, we had a guy wander into a Bible study with his guitar, and he sat down and asked if he could sing a song for us. It was a song he wrote himself about the peace God had shown him in his journey in all the places he’d been: “I don’t have all these other things, but I have this peace with me.” It was so full of faith and grace. Here was a guy who was sleeping in the canyon who was sharing his faith story with us. I expect God to do things like that. That’s a quirky place to experience God — but it’s where God reminds us, “Hey, keep your eyes open all the time — because I’m everywhere.”
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
4271 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Clairemont
PD: We have this unending relationship that God has implanted in us. Somehow we’re all living on in that relationship in which we recognize those whom we love and we know the eternal blessing that God has prepared for us. I don’t know if it’s a place, but I know it’s a relationship and a peace-filled reality that is in our consciousness. God always wants to say yes to us, but there are still those who say no. They may end up in heaven anyway because they didn’t want to be there in the first place —and that may be God’s final joke. I believe God is always there for everybody and that blessing is what God desires for us most completely. I don’t like to think there is a hell. I would like to think that everyone in that ultimate moment recognizes God’s love and says yes to God. But doctrinally there is a place called hell. It’s there somewhere, but I think it’s lonely because no one is there. God loves us all so much.