The Rev. Steve Rutter


I grew up in North Dakota, where my Dad was a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).  I graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul, MN, with a degree in Social Science. I pursued my theological education at Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN and completed my internship in an urban parish in Baltimore, MD. I graduated from seminary in 1984 and was ordained in the LCMS.

I served a small congregation in northern Minnesota for 13 years, and then at St. Matthew in Eau Claire for 21 years. During those years of ministry, I soon discovered that I was on the more progressive side of the church. In 2016, my son Brad told us that he was gay. After much prayer, study and conversation, this eventually led to my decision to leave the LCMS in pursuit of serving in a more affirming church. I resigned from the LCMS in May 2018, and was received as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin ELCA in August of 2018. I have appreciated the welcome I have received from the people of the ELCA, and I love my new home in this church body. My wife and I have become fully affirming of the LGBTQIA+ community and I love serving in congregations that will receive and welcome all people!

In this last season of ministry, I have served a Bridge and Interim Pastor in four parishes (Neighbors United in Christ in Amery, St. Paul’s in Medford, Evangelical Lutheran in Black River Falls, and Good Shepherd in Marshfield). I have completed the “Intentional Interim Ministry Training,” “Boundary Training,” and “Intercultural Development Inventory.” While in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, I served on the Synod’s Social Justice team, working for LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

My wife, Sandra, and I have been married for 38 years. Sandy has a Master’s degree in early childhood special education, and taught early childhood, kindergarten, and elementary school for 30 years, before eventually teaching at the college level, and then training and consulting for early childhood teachers. She recently retired, and is now spending time with our two year old granddaughter. We have three adopted children, all from Korea: Alex lives and works in Eau Claire; Kammi lives in Menomonee Falls with her husband, Alex, and our granddaughter, Olive (and another one on the way!). Bradley recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Health, and is working in the Milwaukee area.

Sandy and I moved from Eau Claire to Milwaukee in April of 2022. We love our new home and neighborhood. In our free time, we enjoy spending time with family, tandem bicycling, walking, and reading. I’m excited to be serving at Lake Park Lutheran Church in this season of transition and look forward to being a part of the Greater Milwaukee Synod for the remainder of my years in ministry!