We’re fearfully and wonderfully made

God asks us to fully participate in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth

Janine Schenone
  • Janine Schenone

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church

Membership: 300

Pastor: Janine Schenone

Age: 56

Born: San Francisco

Formation: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; University of California-Davis; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT

Years Ordained: 6

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Janine Schenone: We need to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world for others, to take care of others around us. Doing that transforms us and brings us deeper into the heart of Jesus…. We need to remember that God made us and we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). God does not abandon us, but asks us to fully participate in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PS: I always wanted to be a priest as a child, but I was a Roman Catholic and they told me only men can do that. I wanted to be a priest because there was this draw that I could not resist. At first I resisted it, because I did not see myself as an evangelist. I did not want to talk about God or Jesus, ever. But it’s amazing what God can do, because within six months I was talking about God and Jesus all the time. It was a matter of wanting to share the news of how God changed my life for the better, lifted me out of a period of loss and grief, and transformed my life and filled it with joy…. At the end of 2003, soon after I started attending the Episcopal Church, my little brother, with whom I was very close, died after a long and painful illness of many years. I was only a year older than him and I had been taking care of him. I prayed a lot while he was sick over an eight-year period. Losing him was painful. He was like a father to my daughter (I was single after a divorce). But I had this experience driving home after my brother’s memorial service, my daughter asleep in the back seat. I felt lifted up and completely surrounded by warmth and light. I knew it was God taking care of me. It wasn’t my only God moment, but it was the only one I needed…. That’s when I said to God, “You’ve got me—I’m all yours!”

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: We are here to draw everyone into a closer connection with God, to empower people to bring about the peace and justice of God, and we are leaning together into the mystery of Jesus and discovering what it means to us in this day.

SDR: What book has had the greatest influence on your work as a pastor?

PS: The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins – I quote him often in sermons and taught his works when I was an English professor. The fact that he was a priest helps. That sense of joy and encountering God in nature that he found often is inspiring to me, such as “God’s Grandeur.”

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: I do believe that there is a plane of existence around us that we don’t see which I call heaven. While I also believe heaven is a state on earth we can have a glimpse of, heaven is a state of existence that has eternal being….I anticipate great peace and joy for everyone. I don’t believe in a place of eternal fire and pain, but I believe people choose to turn away from God or not…. Our God is a God of boundless mercy; we have been promised that God will accept any repentant person.

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