16550 Bernardo Heights Parkway, Rancho Bernardo
Hope United Methodist Church
Contact: 16550 Bernardo Heights Pkwy., Rancho Bernardo; 858-485-5840; hopeumc.com
Pastor: Brian Kent
Born: Greeley, CO
Formation: Point Loma Nazarene University, Point Loma; Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
Years Ordained: 32
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Brian Kent: The grace of God. Scripture says that the kindness of God leads to repentance. I find when we start with grace we can reach just about all of the different parts of scripture. It also gives people the power to be able to see themselves honestly if they know that grace is there to meet them.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PK: I have two main concerns. My whole calling in ministry is to help people to trust the Bible as an accurate record of what God has done through Christ. My immediate concern is that when we try to face different cultural issues, whichever is the most divisive at the moment, some people think that we therefore need to divide. I do not think we do — but we need to stay together to continue struggling with the issues.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PK: I felt called first to be a Bible translator, and then in the final half a year of seminary, I felt God was nudging in another direction and I tried it. I found out that God was trustworthy in the midst of this task, and as I gained security I realized that this is what I was called to do. After walking back to my dorm from my introduction to ministry class at Point Loma, it was not an audible voice, but a clear voice that said, “Brian, do you love me?” I said, “Yes.” The voice said, “Do you love me enough to trust me?” I said, “Well, not really, but okay….” About the last four or five months of seminary, I felt the nudging and realized that’s the direction God had been leading all along.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PK: To anchor ourselves in the center, in Christ. There are so many people involved in such a broad range of outreach service and missions. So, it’s that inward journey together to Jesus and then outward together to serve in very practical ways. Some of the outreach things we do together are feeding programs, clothing programs, and supplying local shelters. There are also annual service projects to do throughout the year. One thing is the Sierra Service Project, where about 35 people go to northeast Arizona to help people in improving their homes.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PK: I believe that heaven is real. I was responding to a question about hell the other day. I think that Jesus talks a lot about warning of eternal punishment. Most of our ideas of hell come from Dante’s Inferno and other popular literature, but I believe those who say yes to God in Christ, even a little bit of yes, are welcomed into heaven to be with God and in living fellowship with those who have gone before us. My imagination also says it’s not a place of rest only; I’m looking forward to find out what kind of creative work we get to do alongside the Creator. I think there are some great surprises in store.