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 the 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) and a member of the Concordia University System board of directors. 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. 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, receiving a call to serve in the position full-time in 2006. In 2018 she retired from full-time work. On 13 September 2021, God the Holy Spirit granted Linda a holy death in faith in her Savior from sin, death, and the devil’s power and took her home to rest in the arms of Jesus to await the resurrection of the dead. Deaconess Linda is survived by two grown children, Elizabeth Strickland and Ben Cosgrove, and four grandchildren. She was married to Clayton Kinnett who also survives.

Audio from Linda's Funeral

Sermon Text from Linda's Funeral

Pastor Roger M. Goetz

Pastor Roger M. Goetz, a native of Chicago, Illinois, served as the ordained kantor at St. John’s from 1980 until 2018, when he retired. 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.

Bethany Johnson

Bethany Johnson has served St. John’s since 2015, first in the capacity of kantor intern, followed by associate kantor. She has been kantor since 2018. Her hometown is Plano, TX, where she began her work as an organist at Faith Lutheran Church in 2010. Bethany graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Parish Music and Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin in 2015. During this time, she participated in two touring choirs, the Alleluia Ringers and Kammerchor, and served as an accompanist and organist for various LCMS churches in the Milwaukee area. Bethany earned her Masters of Church Music degree at the University of Kansas in 2017. She has been a private music instructor in piano and violin since 2010, serves on the committee for the American Guild of Organists in Topeka, and has served as the organist for Higher Things conferences since 2016. Bethany is married to Kyle Johnson and they have two children.