Staff Biographies

Pastor J. S. Bruss

Pastor Bruss, a native of Hartland, Wisconsin, has been at St. John’s since 2013. He earned his MDiv from Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary (ELS) in 1994 and was ordained into the ministry in 1997. He colloquized into the LCMS in 2006. Pastor Bruss also earned an MA and PhD in classics and philosophy from the University of Minnesota. He served his vicarage at Norseland Evangelical-Lutheran Parish, New Sweden, Minnesota. His first Call was to Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, where he taught Greek, Latin, German, Western humanities, and theology, served on the chapel preaching staff, and provided pulpit supply for parishes in Minnesota and northern Iowa. In 2008-2009, he was vacancy pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Topeka. He was called as assistant pastor to St. John’s in 2013, and in 2015 as senior pastor. In addition to his preaching and teaching duties at St. John’s, Pastor Bruss serves as circuit visitor, represents St. John’s on the board of Topeka Lutheran School, and is a contributing translator to Luther’s Works (Concordia Publishing House). He and his wife, Kris, have one daughter, Ingrid.

Pastor D. M. Kerns

Pastor Kerns, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been at St. John’s since August, 2016. He earned his MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2000 and was ordained into the ministry in 2001. After planting and pastoring a non-denominational church for thirteen years, he began to read Luther and the Book of Concord. This field of study led him to other Lutheran authors, which eventually convinced him to be Lutheran. After resigning from his non-denominational church he colloquized into the LCMS and was accepted in March, 2016. Pastor Kerns is currently pursuing a DMin from Reformed Theological Seminary on the subject of the Lutheran liturgy. He served his vicarage at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Newark, Delaware. He and his wife, Edith, have four children: Caroline, Greyson, Mollie and Owen.

Deaconess Linda Kinnett

Deaconess Linda’s hometown is Fredericktown, Missouri. She earned a B.M.E. from Southeast Missouri State University in 1972. Her work experience prior to becoming a deaconess includes teaching, clerical work, real estate sales, and parent education. In 1997, Deaconess Linda was catechized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church after having held membership in a Southern Baptist congregation. She earned a Master of Theology degree in 2004 from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, after which she was accepted into the deaconess program at Concordia Theology Seminary in Fort Wayne. She served her deaconess internship at St. John’s in Topeka and received a call to serve in the position full-time in 2006. Deaconess Linda has two grown children, Elizabeth Strickland and Ben Cosgrove, and four grandchildren. She is married to Clayton Kinnett.

Pastor Roger M. Goetz

Pastor Roger M. Goetz, a native of Chicago, Illinois, serves as the ordained kantor at St. John’s. As an undergraduate at Iowa State University, Pastor Goetz earned degrees in chemistry and mathematics. He went on to earn an MDiv in Systematic Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary, where he was employed as seminary organist and assistant to the dean of the chapel. He also holds a Master of Sacred Theology degree in church music from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to his arrival at St. John’s in 1980, Pastor Goetz served as associate pastor, organist, and choirmaster at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Maplewood (St. Paul), Minnesota. A published composer, he is a member of the American Guild of Organists and is past Dean (president) of its Topeka Chapter. He and his wife, Betty, had one daughter, Anne-Katharine (deceased) and have two grandsons.