Spiritual reset for life’s deep questions hosted by local church
We all know about New Year’s resolutions — those commitments to make new beginnings in our eating, our exercising, our housekeeping and more.
But some resolutions go deeper, and to help with that a spiritual reset is being offered through a program hosted by King’s Cross Church. It is a non-denominational church on the border of Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
Last fall the church hosted a series of seven weekly meetings for anyone looking to discuss serious questions ranging from life to faith and spirituality. Another series will be offered at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday from Jan. 16 through Feb. 27 at a local venue.
Obed Brefo, lead pastor and one of the church’s founders, said the idea came to him due to the pandemic. Born in Ghana, Obed and his family moved to Southern California in 2010.
“After COVID and the lockdowns and so many people knowing others who died as a result of the pandemic, people were asking really hard, really important questions about life — more so than ever before,” he said. “They told me they felt like there just has to be more to life. So we started asking ourselves what would it look like for us as a church to have a space to have conversations like this.”
Their answer was a program suited for “anyone pursuing spirituality and joy.” The church asks attendees to be open minded and ready to have an honest conversation.
In the fall, meetings were held at Charlie’s Best Bread, a local Pacific Beach bakery. Participants don’t have to be members of the church, aren’t asked to bring a Bible, make any donations, pray or sing — they don’t even have to ask any questions. The meetings are not a place for hardcore debate. The event is hosted by a Christian church with its own convictions.
During the last gathering in November, the smell of fresh bread and coffee wafted through the meeting. About 15 people — a mix of churchgoers and non-believers — were seated at tables clustered around the monitor, discussing a short video they just watched.
After the general discussion, Sierra Corban, the event’s co-leader and a King’s Cross Church member, gave a brief talk. Using modern language, the 26-year-old explained some selected Biblical passages.
Corban is a scientist at the UCSD Gaulton Laboratory studying diabetes genetics. As part of organizing the series, she said the decision to hold meetings in a public venue brought challenges. For example, she was among those who met with the bakery owner to negotiate use of the space.
“But everything has worked out easier and better than I anticipated,” she said.
On this particular Sunday, Luca Tucciarone of Clairemont attended his first session. Originally from Italy, his accent came through when the 30-year-old spoke. As a biologist working on his doctorate degree, he is studying diabetes. Tucciarone and Corban work at the same laboratory.
Although Corban had invited him several times, Tucciarone said he wanted to attend the last session when he learned she would be the speaker. As Corban kept the conversation moving, Tucciarone explained his understanding of what had been said.
“What’s the difference between me being a good guy and me being accepted as a good Christian when I die?” he asked. His inquiry was not sarcastic or condescending.
“Spoiler alert: I’m not a Christian, but I do respect you. I do not believe in Jesus or God,” Tucciarone added.
Corban answered, “Where do you put your hope? We put our love in someone who has the ability to end death.”
The conversation continued; lively and serious by turns. Although there were plainly some differences of opinion, there were no mean-spirited, argumentative or belligerent comments heard.
Meanwhile, Gary Miller of Pacific Beach hadn’t missed any of the weekly sessions. When asked why he initially decided to attend, the Hollywood agent and script writer responded with “That’s a good question.” After mulling it over briefly, he said, “As I look back, I think my coming here was a sort of litmus test. I kind of came in with a loose, humorous attitude.”
But Miller said he ultimately wanted to improve his own relationship with God and be able to help others. He said his friends often ask him for relationship advice, and he wanted to dive deeper into his faith.
At one point after the video, some passages from the Book of Matthew were read during the discussion.
“The books of the Bible were written hundreds of years after Jesus’ death — how much of the story is part of a parable?” Miller asked, referring to the scripture that had just been read.
Corban and some of the others present gave answers such as “look at the context of the story” to “it depended on who he was talking to at the time.”
Miller seemed satisfied and the conversation continued.
The sessions were timed to end when the bakery closed. With tables outside and plenty of light available from nearby businesses, many participants lingered to continue their discussions.
As he ate a sandwich after the meeting, Tucciarone had only good things to say about his experience.
“I like people that are thoughtful about life. They still want to listen to me, they accept my opinion even if we aren’t on the same page,” he said.
“To know that people feel safe and that they can actually have these meaningful conversations — it’s really, really touching.” -- Sierra Corban, discussion series co-leader
Although Tucciarone said he was not sure if he will attend the next round of meetings, he was considering it.
“Maybe,” he said. “It goes beyond believing in God. I like them. They’re good people and you need good people in your life.”
Meanwhile, Miller said his next step is to attend King’s Cross Church.
“I want to get deeper into it. Coming here made me realize how good my relationship is with God. I want to continue my own journey,” he said.
Ultimately, Miller said it was the people he met from the church that kept him coming back.
“It’s the authenticity and honesty of the people here. I like the warmth,” Miller said.
As they heard the positive feedback, Corban and the other church members said they felt humbled and satisfied.
“To know that people feel safe and that they can actually have these meaningful conversations — it’s really, really touching,” Corban said.
Brefo said the sessions showed him that it was important for people to not just be listened to, but to be heard.
“Participants are telling us this is way more helpful than they thought it would be,” Brefo said. “It’s really meaningful for people to be heard and process what they’re going through.”
While the next series has been scheduled for Jan. 16 to Feb. 27, Brefo said he hopes even more sessions can be offered in the months ahead.
To attend or learn more, visit lifeexploredsd.com. Attendees need to register to receive venue details. For more about King’s Cross Church visit kingscrosschurch.us, call 858-999-0117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.