People in Your Neighborhood: La Jolla Lutheran interim pastor Dan Hill brings humor and help to congregants
In an appointment that was meant to be a few months, area resident Dan Hill has been the interim pastor for the past year at La Jolla Lutheran Church. And in that time, he has brought what congregants call “wonderful, inspiring” sermons that bring the teachings of the church into everyday life.
“I also like to bring some humor,” Hill told the La Jolla Light. “God is love, and when we have that as a filter for how we spend our time … life is more fun. There is more purpose and meaning, and that is a lot of what the Gospel is all about.
“Some people think of God as a cosmic killjoy and that when they become a Christian there is a lot they can’t do. But it’s the other way around. He wants us to have an abundant life. I think as Christians, if we follow Jesus, we have the most joy and the most fun.”
Get the La Jolla Light weekly in your inbox
News, features and sports about La Jolla, every Thursday for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the La Jolla Light.
After more than 30 years at San Diego’s St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Hill retired in 2021. But when La Jolla Lutheran Church pastor Mark Dahle retired in April 2022, Hill offered to step in to help in the short term. Soon he was asked to be the interim pastor until a longer-term leader could be found.
Hill, who is originally from Washington state, earned a doctor of ministry degree from Claremont School of Theology in Los Angeles County. When he completed his education, he served in Liberia for seven months. Upon his return to the United States, Hill and his wife, Colleen, wanted to come back to Southern California.
“We really enjoy the beaches, surfing and riding our e-bikes,” he said.
Hill said he enjoys the community of congregants at La Jolla Lutheran and the “unbelievable spread of food” offered on Sundays.
His mission, he said, is to leave his flock with “something they can take home, reflect on and use to help guide their decision-making and choices.”
“We want it to be life-changing,” he added. “Sharing the Gospel helps your relationship with God, and being a Christian is about enjoying relationships — with God and each other — and it’s about understanding people.”
“Some people think of God as a cosmic killjoy and that when they become a Christian there is a lot they can’t do. But it’s the other way around. He wants us to have an abundant life.”
— Dan Hill, interim pastor at La Jolla Lutheran Church
People often turn to the church when they seek “meaning and purpose in life and better friendships and relationships, which I think there is a real need for right now,” he said. “Most churches try to have that energy of healing and dealing with fears, from climate change to political stress and personal troubles. People want God to help them bring purpose.”
La Jolla Lutheran celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2020. The church began May 20, 1945, with services held originally in a mortuary before it broke ground on the current location at 7111 La Jolla Blvd. in 1947.
The church, designed in the Spanish Mission style by architect William Stone, was first led by pastor Leonard Johnson. As it grew, Johnson looked for help in financing a second building.
A large contribution came from Johnson’s friends in Wisconsin, beekeepers and international honey traders Carl and Hazel Aeppler. Thus, the church honored the Aepplers’ gift with a plaque in the sanctuary that declares La Jolla Lutheran “the church that bees built.”
Learn more at lajollalutheranchurch.com.
People in Your Neighborhood shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to email@example.com. ◆