- Calvary Lutheran Church
- Contact: 424 Via De La Valle, Solana Beach, 858-755-2855, www.calvarylutheranchurch.org
- Membership: 450
- Pastor: Lawrence L. Hand
- Age: 63
- Born: Philadelphia, PA
- Formation: Susquehanna University, PA; Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
- Years Ordained: 37
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Lawrence Hand: God’s unconditional love and grace. That comes through in most of my sermons, because I believe that is the core of what the Bible teaches. We don’t earn the grace – but we are called to respond to it. We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. That’s how God’s grace works. It not only accepts us, it also inspires and challenges us to share that love with the world, with everyone we meet.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PH: We live in a culture where we can’t decide enough is enough. So it is a challenge to be relevant as a church with people who are affected by this culture every day. At the same time, we can’t be focused on our own survival as a church; we have to first focus on a revival of God’s mission in the world.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PH: Our mission is to share God’s love and grace with the world, and to encourage and invite people into a loving and grace-filled relationship with God and Christ. All we do is in order to accomplish that mission. We don’t do programs just for the sake of doing programs to make us feel good; rather, there is a purpose behind everything we do, and there should be a purpose behind all we say and do. We’ve developed a number of wonderful outreach programs, such as Cycling to Hope. A team of people refurbishes used bicycles and bicycle parts, donated to us to help provide them to people in our community who don’t have transportation. Either homeless people or unemployed people who want to get to a job interview — or even to a job.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PH: When we die, we will experience life as it was always intended in its most perfect and complete form, which has been brought about because of God’s grace in Christ and God’s love for all of us. There are people who reject God’s grace, but nonetheless Christ died for them too. They are already surrounded by God’s grace, but I don’t think it’s a sin not to have faith. There are a lot of reasons people don’t come to believe, and there are a lot of onramps to the highway when it comes to God. For my community, Christ is the way to God, but there are other faith-expressions that view God differently. It behooves us to find common ground with one another. What’s common to most of the major religions is that they’re supposed to care about their neighbor and the stranger, to serve the world around us and make it a better place, to come as close as we can to what God intended the world to be.
SDR: Do you believe there is a hell?
PH: There are times when we experience hell here on earth. In biblical terminology, hell has more to do with the things that separate us from God and one another, causing division, pain and suffering in the world. We experience that sense of hell here now. For example, the shootings in Christchurch in New Zealand — that’s hell being experienced right now by those people.