Karla Shaw, who recently assumed the helm at the church, is the new senior pastor at Point Loma Community Presbyterian at 2128 Chatsworth Blvd.
“In 2016, our senior pastor retired, at the time I had no interest in pursuing that role,” said Shaw, who has a young family and feared the toll her new role might take on them. “As time rolled on, though, it became clear that I was the one God had (chosen) for the next phase of this church — and I could no longer resist the call.”
Noting Point Loma Community Presbyterian is part of the Presbyterian Church USA, Shaw pointed out, “Our denomination has only allowed associate pastors to step into senior roles for the last couple years, and it is rarely done. This, combined with my gender and my age, make this a really unique advancement within our region.”
Shaw earned her masters in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary with a concentration in African American church studies. She added she and Point Loma Community Presbyterian didn’t seem a “natural” fit at first.
“I had a background in outdoor education, had been a college pastor for a number of years, went to high school in a majority African-American context, taught history on a traveling bus, and even lived out of my car for a two-year period,” said Shaw. “But I felt ‘called’ here, and it really has been a wonderful love relationship between me and the congregation.”
A successful and progressive program Shaw started as association paster at Point Loma Community Presbyterian, which she intends to continue into 2018.
“Our ‘Talk Race’ series was born out of a five-week class I taught to a small group (12-15 people) at the church in October 2013 on racism and the African-American experience,” Shaw said. “There were a handful of people from that class who had a life-transforming experience, and their eyes were opened to the disparities in our world. This was before race became such a hot bed in our national conversation.”
Talk race forums were held Wednesday evenings at the church throughout last October discussing the history between blacks and whites in the United States, attempting to come up with thoughtful solutions to racism in local communities like the Peninsula.
Classes were open to all people regardless of race or religious affiliation, focusing mostly on the African-American and caucasian-American populations within a Christian context. Classes included lectures, activity, and small-group interaction promoting honest conversation.
Shaw said the race forums produced at least one positive development: outreach into the black community of San Diego caused the formation of a nonprofit called Continuing the Conversation (CTC) at talkrace.org. “Over the years, this group and/or its members, still rooted at Point Loma Community Presbyterian, have been involved in helping to end racism in San Diego in a number of ways.”
Looking ahead, Shaw said: “I am not sure when the next big event will be for Talk Race, but we do have a group now meeting monthly at the church on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. We are hoping this group will grow.”
For more information on the Talk Race group, contact Gordy Lutes at firstname.lastname@example.org.