Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Q&A Loma Linda Adventist Pastor Randy Roberts

The long-time Pastor looks back on the his church and community.

By Gina Tenorio

April 27, 2012

Loma Linda and Redlands has changed a lot in the 25 years since Pastor Randy Roberts, senior pastor at Loma University Seventh-day Adventist Church, settled into the area to minister to the community.

Roberts heads one of the largest Adventist congregations in the world. As time has passed, both the church and community have changed. In a two-part interview, we talk to the Pastor - who ministers to the spiritual needs to roughly 7,000 members of the church - about his work, the church and the community.

Part two will run Saturday.

How long have you been in the ministry?

Just overall, about 30 years in some branch there - of either pasturing or chaplaincy or teaching. But overall, about 30 years.

How many at Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Almost 12 years.

Are you a Loma Linda native?

No. My family is originally from Texas, although I grew up outside of this country. I grew up in a lot of Latin American countries. Quite a few. My dad was a pastor also. In that day and time (we) tended to move a lot. I was born on Columbia, South America. We lived in Columbia, Venezuela, Curacao, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico; Quite a few places.

Did you always know you wanted to be a pastor?

Fairly early on, probably mid-teen years, yeah, something like that.

Was it because it was logical you would follow in your father’s footsteps?

I’m sure that the fact that my dad was a minister had an affect on that, no question, but I had deeper sense that that’s where God was leading me, guiding me, calling me.

What do you find the most fulfilling about what you do?

Being able to have a positive influence on people’s lives, moving them maybe in a more God-ward direction; being able to share with them a vision of a God of love; A god who has a big heart; A God who desires a forever friendship with us. I think some of those things are part of the same package of wanting to make a difference in people’s lives in a positive way for God.

Do you live in Loma Linda?

We live in Redlands. But I’ve lived Loma Linda/Redlands a little over 25 years. I worked first at the Chaplain's office in the (Loma Linda University) Medical Center. I was there a little over seven years. And then I taught at the School of Religion at the university. I was there for 6 1/2 years or so. And I’ve been at the church since.

How important do you think the Adventist church and Adventist community is to Loma Linda?

There are a lot of us as Adventists in Loma Linda just by sheer numbers. But I hope that we’re important in a greater sense than just our numbers. I hope we’re important because this specific church and other churches are making a difference in the community. We’re trying to be cheerful neighbors and helpful neighbors. We’re trying to reach out and touch them in ways related to health, in ways related to needs for food, money, clothing, shelter, whatever or spiritual needs, a deeper and better understanding of God. We strive to be a church that, if it was gone, would be missed and not an isolated, insulated group of people.

But a group of people involved in their community, loving their community and trying to be a positive influence on the community.

There have been a few figures on the size of the population of Adventists in Loma Linda. Does the church track that? Pastor Roberts answered that the church does not, but he did make some observations on the subject:

I think it has changed over time. If you go back 20 years, maybe 25 years when (his family) first moved here, I would say that Loma Linda was probably heavily weighted in the Adventist direction. If you drove up here on Anderson (Street) up to Lawton and that whole subdivision up here, my guess would have been that most of the people would have been Adventist. Not all, but most of them. But then when the building boom came, buildings were going up everywhere. There were new subdivisions were built south of Barton (Road) and on Mission Road and on all these other areas all around, not just Loma Linda, around this area and certainly in Loma Linda.

Then I think many, many other people moved in and this became, as is true down this corridor, a bedroom community to people working more down in the LA and Orange County direction. The housing was cheaper. Then I think the percent, because of the growth that came into Loma Linda, I suspect that the percentage of Adventists went down pretty significantly. That’s all anecdotal. That’s just my observation.


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