The strangest place pastor Caleb Lines found God

Disciples of Christ aren’t looking to change anyone

Pastor Caleb Lines
  • Pastor Caleb Lines

University Christian Church

3900 Cleveland Avenue, Hillcrest

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: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Caleb Lines: Love of neighbor, in particular for those who are marginalized. We talk a lot here about caring for people who have been pushed aside by society. We’re an open and affirming congregation, so we welcome all people into the life and leadership of the congregation. A lot of congregations will say all people are welcomed. What they really mean is, “All people are welcomed as long as they look, think, and act as we do.” It’s our stance that we welcome all people into the full life and leadership of the congregation as they are; we’re not really looking to change anyone. For instance, we welcome with open arms the LGBT community into the life and leadership of the church. We try to be a multiracial and multicultural congregation.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PL: University Christian Church Disciples of Christ is a progressive, welcoming, open, and affirming community that brings people together through worship, love, faith, and service to others by following the example of Jesus Christ. Our vision statement is that University Christian Church Disciples of Christ seeks to embody God’s inclusive love through creative and vibrant worship, and by working toward peace and justice in an ever-changing world.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PL: I went to school in New Haven, CT, and I was walking by this step and there was this woman sitting there who asked me for money. For some reason I decided not to walk on by. I realized I was hungry and that she might have been, too. I asked her if I could buy her a sandwich. I was standing next to a Subway restaurant and so I asked her for her order. I got us both a sandwich and sat on that stoop there with her; we talked and I got to know her. She had just gotten out of prison and had nowhere to go. She didn’t have a house, a family she was close to, and didn’t really have friends outside the system. She was released and just let out on the street. We sat and talked for several minutes as we ate out sandwiches together. That was a sacred moment for me. There wasn’t anything I could do to fix her situation but we were able to break bread together. Even though we had different backgrounds and different experiences, that meeting was a God moment for me.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PL: None of us knows for sure. We ought to instead focus on our lives here and now as best we can, and God will take care of the rest. Disciples of Christ believe in individual theological interpretations, so different people have different answers to the question of heaven and hell. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to get a concise view of that question, but it’s a reality that different people here believe different things. We’re okay with that and try to meet people wherever they are on their journey. So there are likely people who have a traditional notion of heaven and hell and likely people who don’t believe in an afterlife at all. Both of those things are okay.

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