Imagery of church-related people and places.

Rev. Steven Renner

Ministry setting

Steven is the pastor of Third Lutheran Church in Louisville KY. He was ordained in April, 2015 in the Indiana-Kentucky Mission Territory. Steven went through the TEEM program through Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Luther Seminary.

What brings you joy in your ministry?

The diverse people of God that I am surrounded by at Third Lutheran Church. Third Lutheran is sometimes referred to as Third Lutheran Church of the Misfit Toys and we are because we truly welcome all to join us on this journey.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

My pastoral colleagues who are courageous to be on the front lines in terms of equality before God. They span the spectrum from Lutheran to Baptist and Jewish to Buddhist to Muslim. They were active in my life in college and throughout the rest of my life.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

Traveling, dining out, cooking at home, spending time with friends and relatives, biking, going to plays and musicals, touring vineyards, watching films, walking and hiking.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

This one is hard since I live to eat! I have not found an ethnic cuisine I don't like and typically prefer them over American cuisine. One of the meals that stands out in my mind was made by a boyfriend's mother who is from Vietnam. It was fresh and amazing! One of the best meals that I have had was, oddly enough, in the Amish country in Ohio with Sean. It was fresh and so filling that it felt like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinner combined into one! On an emotional level, the best meal was Holy Communion at Christ Lutheran Church in Athens, Ohio because I had come back home again.

Brief bio

Steven is the youngest of nine children and grew up in Ohio where he and his family were members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. As a freshman his parents moved them to Cambridge Ohio where he graduated from John Glenn High School and studied Theater Management at Ohio University. He was heavily involved in the Gay and Lesbian Association as well as many community organizing groups including OU Anti-Apartheid, Hunger Coalition, and United Campus Ministry. He eventually was lured back to his Lutheran roots to the ELCA and Lutheran Campus Ministry. Steven has lived in Wilkes-Barre PA, Ithaca NY, and Evansville IN where he met his future husband, Sean Patrick. They celebrated their 20th anniversary by getting legally married in Indianapolis IN in October 2014.

Did you always want to be clergy?

I have felt a calling to be a pastor since I was about eight years old. At church I would volunteer to do anything they would let a kid do. Within a couple of years it also dawned on me that I was not attracted to my female classmates as my male friends were and indeed I was more attracted to them. Around this same time, we youth were at a WELS youth gathering in Michigan and I recall seeing a film that was very fundamentalist, which depicted that America was going to abandon God and even allow marriage between two men!! Our pastor starting preaching homophobic sermons on a regular basis. It was clear that being gay and a pastor was not compatible, so I successfully pushed the little voice in my head that talked about ministry so far down it no longer ruled my life.

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