Pastor John F. Steinbruck, seeker of justice

March 3, 2015

John Frederick Steinbruck, pastor, community organizer, seeker of justice, 84 of Lewes, died Sunday, March 1, 2015, at Cadbury at Lewes.

Mr. Steinbruck was born Oct. 5, 1930, to John and Martha (Schock) Steinbruck, in Philadelphia, Pa.

He attended Philadelphia schools, earning a bachelor's and master's degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After an unfulfilling sojourn in industry, he entered The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Upon graduation, in 1959, Pastor Steinbruck briefly served as assistant pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church Nazareth, Pa.

In the early 60s he was called to Zion Lutheran Church in Easton, Pa., subsequently merging this congregation with St. John's Lutheran Church, Easton, just three blocks away; thus bringing together a group of strong minds and gentle spirits to carry on a faithful presence in downtown Easton. Joining with other congregations, Protestant, Jewish, and Catholics, a community outreach program, ProJeCt, was formed to address pressing social issues in the area.

In 1970, Pastor Steinbruck was called to Luther Place Memorial Church at Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C. At that time, the area around Thomas Circle was a gathering place for many homeless and hopeless, and also a haven for prostitution. The mission was clear for the brave folks at Luther Place, open the doors. Using his strong community organizing skills and seeing a need for broad participation, thus began an interfaith ministry with numerous congregations in the D.C. metropolitan area that would culminate in the N Street Village, a continuum of services for homeless women.

During these years, Steinbruck wrote his doctoral dissertation "The Church as Refuge," which became a biblical-theological response and study addressing the painful problems faced by today's disenfranchised.

With the tireless help and dedication of his parishioners and the Interfaith community, he always stood ready to support those facing injustice, be it migrant workers, Salvadoran refugees or Soviet Jews seeking liberation from abuse and oppression. This creative social justice environment also gave birth to new expressions of ministry such as the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Bread for the City, the D.C. Hotline and the Thomas Circle Singers. For this work over the 40 years of his ministry Steinbruck was honored with numerous honorary doctorates and awards. He retired from Luther Place Church in 1997 to take up residence in Lewes.

Pastor Steinbruck served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, for 22 years, both enlisted and commissioned, retiring in 1987 as a captain, U.S.N.R. Chaplain Corps.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Erna Guenther Steinbruck; and four much loved children, John Andrew Steinbruck (Julie), Elisabeth Ann Steinbruck, Michael Paul Steinbruck (Kimberlee) and Katy Steinbruck; a son Mark John Steinbruck passed away in 1990; and his beloved grandchildren: Claire, Alex, Erika, and Lane Christian, children of John and Julie Steinbruck and Hope and Erin, children of Michael and Kimberlee Murray-Steinbruck.

A Homegoing Service will be held Friday March 6, at 11 a.m., at The Cadbury Retirement Community, in the auditorium, 17028 Cadbury Circle, Lewes.

A Memorial Service will also be held at Luther Place Memorial Church, 1226 Vermont Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. at a later date. Arrangements are being handled by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to: N Street Village, A Continuum of Services for Homeless Women 1333 N Street N.W., Washington, DC 20005.

Please visit Pastor Steinbruck's Life Memorial webpage and sign his online guestbook at

"and what does the Lord require of you but to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with your God" Micah 6:8